As I was sitting down to write this, three harbour seals popped their tiny heads out of the water near the jetty and I just stood to watch them out of my front window for a few minutes. approach is slow and cautious as they look around to make sure there is no danger. When they get close enough, they haul themselves out with their little flippers edging forward until they reach a nice comfortable rock. Then, they turn on their backs often and fall asleep although at any time they hear noises, they’ll wake up and look around, always ready to get back in the safety of the water.
I feel a little bit like a tiny harbour seal right now. The “real” Eco- Guardian of the island, Ryan Murphy, has left with all the Project Week students to campus. He will be replacing a teacher during her maternity leave. The last week has been busy with 6 students staying in the other house, diving and cooking. It made this island feel a lot more inhabited than it usually does. The last two days, the “real” eco- guardian replacements have been here and we have been learning how to take care of the infrastructure and maintenance to keep this place running for the next few weeks. The other couple are Ryan’s friends and also Pearson alumni which is nice. Due to responsibilities, only one of them can be on the island at a time so we’re now two québécois- Pearson- girls on Race Rocks for the next little while which I find a tad bit hilarious but a propos nonetheless. As I saw Ryan’s boat leave, my panic sort of augmented as I realized that he wouldn’t be there to fix things and to know what to do when things go wrong here.
Race Rocks is about a 15-20 mins boat ride to Pearson College campus. But really, if anything goes wrong, help is rather far away so you need to be prepared to take decisions. If the weather is bad, you cannot launch a boat. We are literally two people on this island right now, with a lot of birds and sealions but thats about it. And its a little scary thought. I suppose we were always two, with Ryan here, but he’s my safe person. My lighthouse, my emotional rock. I’ve grown up in cities my whole life. Big, burly cities of frenzied people and places, cars and alleyways. Here, the weather and the wind rule our world. If a northeast wind blow even a little bit, it means there cannot be a boat launched because its too dangerous. If it is a strong southeast wind, the waves become crazy and come crashing down on the rocks with a fierce intensity that most people have never encountered. And when you know that you are alone on an island and the only way out is with a helicopter, it can be a little scary, but also exhilarating.
To be in charge of all of this and to be able to put yourself in this kind of a situation requires some sort of inner bravery I suppose. I am a little panicked inside. I wish I had followed Ryan outside when he was working and operating machines and asked more questions instead of sitting inside. But, its too late now. I’m here and its now. Its as much of a challenge as going to Rwanda and facing a different culture. This time, I face time, myself and the elements. How small we all are in this big, big world. I look outside and towards the mountains not too far away. My world is beautiful, clean and full of life. The rocks seem calm but if you look close enough, different birds are walking around eating small crustaceans and insects from the shorelines. Birds and fish, sea lions and history all mingle in this perfect island that less than 100 people a year can experience. But it seems like Ryan has been gone forever already and I miss his presence, as I always do when we’re apart. And my family is on the other side of the country. No Halloween treats to give out to kids. Its a beautiful, beautiful world. But I really do feel quite alone in the universe tonight.