When I was small, the biggest treat life held was to go to the beach. When you live on an island, this isn’t very hard, but when you’re not so well off and dad had long hours and gas to put in the big Sun Valley was expensive . . . well, the beach was a big deal.
And not just any beach, either, because I was a shell collector from the very beginning. I identified a beach’s quality not by its sand or whether there was a playground, but by the kinds of shells I could find there.
Rathtrevor got an A+ because that was where the moonsnails laid their eggs, and you could find not only moonshells, but sand collars, too.
Sandy Beach (now called Bamberton) was closest to home, and it got an A because of the moonshells. But then a seagull pooped on me when I was lying in the sand, so its grade fell to a C after that.
Botany Bay, out on the wild west coast, was marvellous for the marine life thriving in its potholes, but getting there took a whole day and there was nowhere to camp.
But the best one of all was the aptly named Miracle Beach. When the tide went out, there were miles of shoals and sandbars and mussel beds. Rafts of clamshells, stained purple with wampum. You could walk out until the water was up to your waist, look back, and be half a mile from shore. It was heaven. But we only went once or twice as children, because it was all the way up at Campbell River, which to a kid from Victoria, was the end of the earth. Certainly nothing but logging roads went past that. And like many things that are most precious because they’re rare, that beach took on mythic proportions in my mind.
Years passed. My parents moved up-Island. So did my brother and his family. And wouldn’t you know it, they moved to within 20 minutes of Miracle Beach. So guess what was the first thing I did when I went to visit?
Yup. I went to the beach.
Who says you can’t go home again?