I have to take my shoes off. I can’t help it. Yes, it’s December. And yeah, it dumped a few feet of snow just a few days ago. But something about this place makes me want to touch it.
I want to feel the gray sand squish between my toes, the smooth freckled beach stones, the slippery seaweed, the rough cedar bark polished by the ocean. I stuff my socks into my runners and set them on a silvered cedar trunk, one of a stack jammed against the salal-fringed shore by the tide like discarded Tinkertoys. I start down the beach at a brisk clip, the wind whipping and the waves growling.
The surf is hammering the beach with such force, everything feels super-charged. It makes me frisky. And you have to understand, with two kids under four and a full-time job, my regular AM run resembles a pathetic hobble. But today, I rip through the surf and soak my sweats. I spring up, come down on a rubbery bull-kelp bulb and pop it. I stamp on seafoam and it sizzles under my heels. I zig past a marooned jellyfish and zag between sand dollar, mollusk, limpet and clam shells. I’m like a puppy frolicking on shore. I’m here to celebrate my 40th. My girlfriends say 40 is the new 30, but to be honest, usually I feel 80. Except today. How can these few raincoat-clad strollers just stroll?
The spa comes next and it’s pretty [expletive] amazing. But it’s the place that steals my heart. When you think about it, what’s special about Canadian spas is Canada itself. So much of our world today is packaged, sanitized, customized, positioned and conceptualized. Canada is just so huge, it’s practically unfeasible to package the experience. Thank God.
The morning’s memory lingers. My guy and I are cozied into Adirondack chairs, holding hands. We’re in plush robes under furry blankets in a stone-walled niche sipping licorice-chamomile tea and toasting our tootsies in mini hot tubs. Just steps in front of us, the storm is raging. Wind is whirling the cedars, spruce and doug firs like wheatgrass in a blender. A bald eagle rides a draft overhead, a seagull screams. It smells like salt and damp loamy earth. There’s nothing between us and Japan—just 156 million sq km of open ocean. Makes that pressing TPS report at work seem kinda insignificant, no?
And everywhere the outside is in. A wall of granite boulders, gargantuan hand-adzed cedar logs beams, a lattice ceiling of interlaced arbutus branches, a driftwood table base, a burl stand. A stone sawed on edge becomes a vase holding a single fern. Even the heated river rocks that “Sullivan” slips between my toes and traces up my spine—as we lull in a cedar, candlelit cottage perched atop a rock bluff battered by breakers and pelting rain—have been “charged” overnight by moonlight. Husbands might roll their eyes, but to me it’s an intoxicating elixir of place.
I close my eyes. I’m back on the beach and my feet are numb. I round the point at a full run and the wind stops me short. For a moment, I’m suspended in mid-air. I suck in my breath at the force. This isn’t the lulling, hypnotic ocean I grew up with in northern California. This ocean is angry. It crashes and boils. It wants to swallow you up and spit you out. It dares you to come in. Even the trees look hunched, bracing themselves against the assault.
I head back to our room, pull open the door. The wind tears the handle out of my hand and slams it shut. Papers scatter. “Wow. Should I close that patio door?” I ask.
“No! No. It’s so lovely here just listening to the waves. Leave it,” says James, my beloved anti-romantic huddled by the window under a Hudson’s Bay blanket. I know what he means.
www.wickinn.com The writer enjoyed her ocean-romping weekend at the Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino, BC. She forgot to mention she was compelled to run after enjoying a decadent five-course meal of divine local cuisine in the The Pointe Restaurant. Chef Andrew Springett was far too good to her.—editor