Chapter One Salmonberry
Old Time Coast Village, detail, oil on canvas, c1928-29, 91.3 x 128.7 cm. Location:
Vancouver Art Gallery VAG 42.3.4. © Vancouver Art Gallery
Letting her cape snap in the wind, Emily gripped her carpetbag and wicker food hamper,
and hiked up the beach, feasting her eyes on Hitats'uu spread wide beneath fine-spun vapor.
Cedars elbowing firs and swinging their branches pushed against the village from behind.
One wayward fir had fallen and lay uprooted with its foliage battered by waves and tangled in kelp.
Wind whipped up a froth of sword fern sprouting in its bark. At last, she was right here,
where trees had some get-up-and-go to them, where the ocean was wetter than mere water,
where forest and sea crashed against each other with the Nootka pressed between them....
This, oh this, the west coast of Vancouver Island, wave-lashed and smelling of salt spray
and seaweed, the teeming, looming forest alive with raven talk and other secrets,
the cedar bighouses scoured by storms to a lovely silver sheen, the whole place
juicy with life was more wild, more free, more enticing than she remembered it
when she'd come here eight years earlier. Or was it she that was different?