Almost missing nature's boat

Volunteers at the Broom Bash event on James Island, BC (Photo by Ann MacDonald)

Volunteers at the Broom Bash event on James Island, BC (Photo by Ann MacDonald)

March 27, 2017 | by Megan Cooper | 0 Comments

The alarm went off much too early that early winter morning. My body was heavy with sleep, covered in a sea of cozy blankets and it hurt to open my gluey eyes. I was tempted to silence the disturbance. The forecast was calling for rain and it was uncharacteristically cold outside. The bed was begging for me to stay awhile, but I ignored its pleas and got up.

If I had chosen to stay in bed, I would have missed the boat (literally) to where I planned to spend the day volunteering with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). I would have missed the five-minute ferry ride from Sidney to James Island, British Columbia, where my fellow passengers and I saw porpoises cruising playfully in the distance.

Volunteers at James Island (Photo by NCC)

Volunteers at James Island (Photo by NCC)

I would have missed the scenic bus ride, where our tour guide and volunteer coordinator, Todd Carnahan, explained some of the different ecological features and rich military history of James Island.

I wouldn’t have had the chance to see small, fenced-off black knotweed, blue-listed native plants that are facing pressure from invasive species, such as Scotch broom, which are causing the rapid disappearance of their sand dune habitat. I would have missed the satisfaction of tearing a small, unwelcome Scotch broom plant out of its invaded soil and tossing it onto a pile of its fellow offenders.

I wouldn’t have seen the mist rolling in with the waves, covering us all in a fine, steady drizzle.

I wouldn’t have had the chance to explore the rest of the island with my good friend Jocelyn, NCC’s west coast stewardship coordinator, and her co-worker Melanie, to learn the basics of monitoring an NCC property.

Pink seaweed (Photo by Amanda Cashin Photography)

Pink seaweed (Photo by Amanda Cashin Photography)

I wouldn’t have glimpsed the bum of a fallow deer as it frolicked out of sight, startled by our footfalls on the trail.

I would have missed the sun breaking through the clouds, silhouetting the elegant arbutus trees that leaned out from the rocky outcrops toward the sea to soak in the sunlight.

I wouldn’t have sat under these trees, eating tuna sandwiches, laughing and sharing stories with my fellow island roamers.

I would have missed the green, pink, red and purple strands of seaweed mixed with tiny white shells, abandoned on the sand's canvas by the ebbing tide. I wouldn’t have seen the orange sea pens writing their stories across the shoreline.

And at the end of the journey, back in Sidney, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to cozy up at The Roost with a hot cup of Earl Grey tea and conversation with my fellow volunteers.

Sure, a sleep-in would have been great, but I would have missed the opportunity to engage, observe and learn. Always get up and go — you never know what boat you may miss.

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About the Author

Megan Cooper is a natural area practitioner within the Urban Forestry section of the City of Surrey’s Parks department. Growing up with in an adventure-driven family, her love of natural spaces began at a very early age.

Read more about Megan Cooper.

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