Saturday, 6 June 2015

On the Edge of the World

So, after driving for twenty odd kilometers on a dirt road and then walking some, I'm finally standing on The Edge of the World.  And this is what it looks like:


That's the Pacific ocean in front of me - the largest mass of water on the planet, and somewhere to the north of the picture is Alaska and the North Pole.  It doesn't get much wilder than this.

I'm on North Beach looking towards Rose Spit - the most northerly point of Haida Gwaii - the place where Raven discovered human beings hiding in a giant clam shell and tempted them out because he was bored and wanted something to play with.  Things have never been the same since!

Raven perching on the clam shell:  Bill Reid
It's a very long walk up North Beach to Rose Spit, and you can really only do it when the tide is low - 24 kilometers each way.  I was lucky enough to get a lift with one of the clam-diggers on the beach - a Haida fisherman called Randy driving a beat-up old pickup truck.
Randy, driving down North Beach to beat the tide.
I bounced around with the razor clams in the back.


He took me as far as he could go, driving on the beach with the tide coming in, and said I had about an hour to walk further up before he'd have to take me back.  It was wild and beautiful and I did a bit of beach combing before going back to the truck.
a crab arranging itself for the photograph

A deer's hoofprint in the sand
Randy was wearing a silver whale pendant as the mark of his clan group.
'I was born and raised here,' he said, making a gesture with his hand.  'This is my place.'
It was said simply, but it felt very powerful.  I wondered what it must feel like to belong somewhere in that way.  To look at a landscape and know that your ancestors have been there for ten thousand years, that all your stories are grounded in it, that everything you see has a meaning, explicitly for you.   We're such itinerants in Europe;  most of us have no idea what that kind of rootedness feels like.

It was difficult to leave the beach - the most truly wild place I've found since I arrived here.  Randy dropped me two or three kilometers from the road out and accelerated off to beat the tide and get his clams to market before they closed.


1 comment:

  1. I've just been catching up with your travels Kathy - fascinating posts. I love the idea of standing on the edge of the world as well as sleeping in Margaret Attwoods bed! The perching raven on the clam shell is a wonderful piece. Look forward to hearing more on your safe return

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