Whales!

Yesterday was a magnificent morning.
That is really saying something, especially for those of you who may be sadly familiar with my lack of fondness for consciousness before 10am.

Anyways, Francois called me at about 8:30, on his way to the university (to study for the last exam of his undergraduate degree!). Still sound asleep – of course – I awoke groggy, and unprepared. I spoke to him, quite dozily, in what he fondly calls my ‘morning voice’, and after we chatted, I felt a strong pull to actually get my ass up and look out the window.

Now, I should probably mention what whales are in my life. They were the first thing I’d wanted to see in Haida Gwaii. It’s a big part of why I felt so pulled to this place.  I dream about whales all the time, humpbacks mostly, but also orcas and Grays. There’s just something about them, and I’ve always felt like I knew when they were around. The few times I’ve had an inkling about it, they’ve shown up just moments afterwards. I’d say it’s eerie, but then I’d be saying that my connection to my environment is odd – which it isn’t. It’s like when the antelope knows that the lion is in the grass, the way the cat bats in reflex at the string, or how the sea lions know to head towards the shore in springtime to catch the herring. It’s all just instinctual sensation.

So there’s just this tugging feeling to get up and look out the window. And I’ve never been so grateful to have been woken up in my life. As I cast a glance out to marvel at the ocean, a big Gray whale appears, breathes, slaps his tail and dives back down.

Grey Whales in Haida Gwaii
A good morning whale-wave.

I’d like to say I was speechless, but my friends in the house would definitely argue otherwise. I came tearing out of the room yelling and hollering, somehow with my camera already in-hand, and I got Tara and Rodrigo to the window just in time for him to appear again. We walked across the road to sit on the rocks and just watch for a while, now two whales coming up and diving down again, having – dare I say it – a whale of a time. They seemed as happy to be back in Haida Gwaii as I was to see them. I wept with joy.

Not to be outdone, of course, the seals bobbed over to check us out at the same time.

Ohai!
Ohai!
Too cute.
Too cute.

The rest of my day felt like a fantasy. Too beautiful to be real, and yet too full of sensation to be but a figment of the mind. Racing furiously over to Jags’, I asked to borrow an ocean kayak so that I could share in all of this vibrant ocean energy that was bringing everything to life. Sue kindly obliged and out I went! I sat quietly out there for hours, feeling the power of these incredible creatures. One Gray surfaced only a hundred metres or so off my bow. It seems far away, but not so when you realize their size; their sheer scale. The day was crisp and clear, the village of Skidegate going about its day timelessly in the distance.

Hello, Skidegate!
Hello, Skidegate!

The sealions, too, provided entertainment. A group of fifteen or so popped up to the surface, 20 metres or so from my boat. They were huge. And very loud.

Realizing that, even in play, they could flip my boat in a moment, I was a little startled. So I started talking to them.

“Sii.ngaay ‘laa, Kay!” I said.
(Good day, sea lions!)

Made more curious by the sound, they stood themselves tall out of the water, and nominated a scout to come and investigate the situation. She surfaced not five feet from the starboard bow of my tiny little kayak, turning sideways as she slid past, her eyes lighting up as she took a look at such a strange terrestrial creature. The others peered onward, as she looped around me and returned to report.

I must not have been that big of a concern, because they stayed near me for two hours as I bobbed around in the open sea.
In that time, I saw incredible things – an eagle snipe a fish from a seagull, and harbour porpoises come up for air and cruise around the eastern tip of Skyaas Island. I just lay back and relaxed, the tide kept my position steady and consistent.

When my sea-legs felt they needed a stretch, I headed to Skyaas to beach-comb and relax in the afternoon sunshine. My lucky streak continuing, I found piece of a sea-lion jaw, with a big tooth still intact.

Sea-lion jaw!
Sea-lion jaw!

After my beach-combing, I got adventurous, stripped naked and swam in the ocean on the far beach of the island. I dried on the warm rocks in the sunshine, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so beautiful in my whole life. One of those rare moments (at least in our twisted culture) where being naked is about feeling at home in the environment, and not at all about being sexual or enticing.

By 3:30, it was time to row along home. Upon returning to shore, Jags was so impressed at the tooth, he suggested that I put it on a string around my neck. I made it into a pendant and tried to give it to him, but he insisted I hang on to it for good luck – though I’m very grateful, I must admit that I already feel like one of the luckiest creatures on earth!  Haa’wa Jags!

Sea-lion tooth, glazed, rounded with deer-hide and put on a leather cord.
Sea-lion tooth, glazed, rounded with deer-hide and put on a leather cord.

Haa’wa Salana (thank you, Creator), for another blessed day on planet Earth. I will forever remember this experience, in particular while I am fighting this disastrous pipeline idea, and working to keep these coasts as sacred and clean as they have been since time immemorial.

Francois arrives tomorrow, and I’ve never been as excited to see someone as I am for him.
Life’s good.
🙂

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