Long ago, I made my plans to visit some place named Sechelt. Some place “up there” that housed a cabin, that somehow called my name. Seven months ago, I think it was, I checked the dates, signed the tab, and paid the bill. And then went on to forget all about this stay that was to be. But as the months went by and others asked about my plans, I would sometimes dare to pronounce the name of my upcoming January home (See-Shell? See-Chelt? Say-Shell?). And from others who knew, I learned that I’d be seeing the Sunshine Coast.
It’s hard to explain the beauty of this place. In what spans such a short stretch of space, the entire region is densely packed with sweet surprises from nature. 101 is the main highway lining the coast, curving for miles as it takes travelers past tiny towns, beautiful beaches, and majestic mountains. Like nowhere else I’ve ever been, there are hiking trails wherever you go. Numerous times I stopped at the side of random roads and within minutes would find a trailhead that led to beautiful, well-marked networks of trails. In forests of bright green moss-covered trees, sprouting out from carpets of ferns. The handful of towns that sit beside beaches are small and quaint, but offer all of the amenities that this (newly and nearly) reformed city girl requires (including a whopping three theaters that play movies!).
And all of this is housed within a space between mountains of all shapes and sizes that hover over lakes and straits. Shielding us all from the outside. It was here, in this space, for a month and 4 days, that I lived like a happy hermit…surrounded by silence and smells and peace like only nature knows how. I lived in an area called Tuwanek, a 15 to 20 minute drive from the small town of Sechelt, in a sweet 2-story cabin nestled among tall trees. The tiny bedroom upstairs – in a triangle loft – looked out onto the Sechelt Inlet. For the first few weeks, I slept with my head at the foot of the bed, as this allowed me a direct view of the moon as it grew to its full size and reflected off the inlet water. As I slept, my dreams fell in step with the movements of the moon and those hours brought me closer to connection. I kept the little window over my bed open so I could hear the sounds of rain drops and smell the scent of trees. On some of the more stormy nights, with every twist and turn of my body, I would wake to hear the crashing rain and howling winds, all sounds more soothing than the last.
Cabin photos by the owners
And then during some moments throughout the day, I would stop whatever I was doing and just listen…and hear nothing. Nothing at all. Total silence. And I’d dive into it and swim around. And feel the intense power of the stillness that I’ve craved for so long. I held onto this silence like a blanket, and knew that at some point I’d have to let it go.
the view from my bedroom!
But until that time, I lived this life of hermit-dom. And loved every minute. And somewhere in there I read this excerpt from a book about the Sunshine Coast that shed some light on my reclusive response:
“Among those in the know the Sunshine Coast has long been seen as a haven where people might do their own thing in their own time with a minimum of interference from the outside world. This has made it a refuge for painters, writers, hermits, handloggers, stumpranchers, trappers, prospectors, fishermen, and draft dodgers…They are willing to do without a lot of consumer goods considered necessary to life in most of the western world, which allows them to do without the income normally used to buy such goods.” Now, I might not be a handlogger or stumprancher (or even know what those things are…maybe I am?), but there’s a feeling here that fits me. Something aligned with that strong seed in me that’d taken me down this path. A place where people know the need to listen in new ways. And just when pleasures of sweet seclusion might have started to wear thin…I discovered an amazing community of people through the Gibsons Curling Club and Gibsons Paddle Club. Welcoming, warm, and, as I have been required to note…”a bunch of old people who are incredibly active and fit!” (all of whom had me tired out and beat within 10 minutes of activity). In the short amount of time that I’ve been here, I feel like I’ve made good friends with good people. I smiled the other day while I was a bit lost after a hike, realizing that I actually had people to call if needed. Here in this town full of hermits.