Do you ever read about a place that piques your interest and you hope to see it in person one day?
I used to read a little magazine called “Reader’s Digest” from cover to cover as a young girl.After I moved away from home my Father bought me a subscription to this magazine.“Reader’s Digest” was my pop culture, my humour, my miscellaneous trivia, and it contained an abundance of interesting, informative articles.
One of the articles in this magazine in the 1980’s was about a town that had recreated itself on Vancouver Island.At that time we were living in Northern British Columbia.
I always remembered this story and I was hoping to one day visit
Chemainus, “The Little Town That Did.”
Chemainus is in the District of North Cowichan, on the east coast of Vancouver Island.
Lumber used to be the primary industry in this town. The lumber mill operated off and on for 120 years until the mill closed down in the early 1980’s.
As part of a revitalization project, local and international artists were commissioned to create
Giant Murals on the downtown business walls showcasing the history and the culture of Chemainus.
And like “The Little Engine That Could” written by Watty Piper, Chemainus became known as “The Little Town That Did.”
We also drove to the picturesque town of Chemainus.Many times.
We often had visitors and Chemainus did not disappoint.It was the perfect place to explore on foot with family and friends of all ages.
Now, 28 years later
It occurred to me how I haven’t spent much time exploring Chemainus for many years.
I go to Chemainus at least twice a year to see the live theatre shows with family and friends.The performances are always excellent!In the month of August we saw “The Magician’s Nephew” and “Mamma Mia.”
We drive directly to the theatre to watch the productions and then we drive home.
This year, we decided to spend the day in Chemainus.
We decided to become a tourist again.
Chemainus has interesting galleries, boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants,ice cream parlours and
Forty-plus World Famous Giant Murals.
10 Takeaways When Planning a Visit to Chemainus
2.Bring a camera and good walking shoes.
3.Stop at scenic lookouts on the drive through the mountain pass called the Malahat.
4.Plan on visiting a show at the unique, intimate Chemainus Theatre.Book early!The shows are usually sold out well in advance.
5.Walk into a delightful candy store.It is a fun, colourful and sweet place to visit.You will learn how many of the decorations and trim were hand painted.
6.Make sure to leave room for an ice cream cone. The girls had strawberry cheesecake and cotton candy flavours. I had a double which included three flavours.Mine was blackberry, peanut butter chocolate and green tea (don’t judge me…….I love ice cream!)
painnt app – Mandala
painnt app – Mandala
7.Enjoy the visit with children and adults young at heart.
8.Visit Chemainus with a dear friend.The extra hours together, priceless!
9.Plan to spend time strolling along the streets looking at the murals and learning about the history of Chemainus.Pictures do not do the murals justice. Enjoy the extensive artwork and read the stories describing the murals.
Chemainus is now a world famous tourist destination showcasing forty-plus giant murals with new murals being added.“An Outdoor Art Gallery.”
Become a tourist again. I am glad I did!
I had fun playing with painnt app (free) on a few photos. A fun suggestion from Terri Webster Schrandt who is an amazing photographer with a very interesting blog site Second Wind Leisure Perspectives
1.You will waste your precious time spending hours walking on beaches and checking out tidal pools.
2.You will have to put up with fresh, clean air and a constant breeze.
3.People are very neighbourly and approachable here.Expect a friendly wave with the obligatory friendly wave in return. You will have to constantly say “hi,” a tiresome custom.
4.You will have to tolerate views of lakes and the ocean as far as the eye can see.
5.Camping outdoors on “The Island” will mean almost no bugs.You willnot have the pleasure of swatting, swelling, investing in bug repellent and Afterbite.
Gordon Bay, Cowichan Lake
Gordon Bay, Cowichan Lake
6.You will have to get accustomed to the colour green.Moss, ferns and diverse, spectacular trees are found in our forests.
Harris Creek Sitka Spruce
Harris Creek Sitka Spruce
7.You will take too many photos and have the challenge of selecting only a few favourite ones.One of the pictures below is an often photographed little bonsai conifer growing out of an old mossy stump.
This Fairy Lake tree became famous when Adam Gibb’s photo was selected as one of the 100 winning images from 48,000 global submissions for Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012. Adam Gibb’s photo
Fairy Lake Tree
Fairy Lake Tree
8.Hiking with friends will consume a great deal of your time.You will never run out of places to explore.Decisions.Decisions.
9.You will want to avoid the Malahat at the end of a long weekend in the Summer.Taking the Pacific Marine Circle Route home will add stress to your day.
You will have to drive an extra hour through a beautiful rain forest, gaze at stunning scenery and endure minimal traffic.
The extra one hour drive may turn into four hours because you will want to stop and explore the beautiful sites along this route. You may possibly include a leisurely lunch in the picturesque town of Port Renfrew.
An entirely wasted day! (in Paradise)
10.And most importantly, why you should NOT live on “The Island?”
Will you be able to keep “Vancouver Island” our little secret?
I think not.Especially when you call it “home.”
Dedicated to:All the visitors that come to “The Island” each year.The people that make “The Island” their home.And to Deb, Widow Badass Blog who has discovered“our little secret.”
A friend shows me her Grandmother’s ring on her finger.She is emotional and very moved telling me how much this ring means to her, how much her Grandmother meant to her.
Another friend shows me the ceramic bowls she created in her first few pottery classes.She describes preparing and centering the clay.She explains how this challenging process requires stillness, concentration, calm perseverance and becoming one with the clay.
Our three year old granddaughter brings me artwork she has created along with an elaborate description of the shapes and colours.Her unfiltered pride is evident in her smile when I display her painting on the refrigerator.
Are objects simply inanimate materials?
Is an heirloom handed down from past generations only symbolic of a special relationship?
Does artwork merely showcase the craftsman’s talent and skills?
Or is there an essence, an energy present that animates these physical materials?
I had not really thought about these concepts until I began to learn more about the Maori culture.
We were surrounded by many art forms visiting New Zealand this year.The Maori believe art is an expression of the life force, the energy within you.
They believe that a physical object, a Mauri, contains a vitality, an essence.
Maori art conveys spiritual information, ancestry and culturally important topics.
The Maori believe that the gods create and communicate through the master craftsmen.
We had the opportunity to visit Te Puia in Rotorua this year. Te Puia is home to the “New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute.”
Today artists learn through classes and much practise.The styles vary from region to region.
Traditional Maori art was created using the materials available at the time, such as wood, bone, pounamu (jade or greenstone), paua (abalone) shell, flax, and feathers.Many artists continue to use these natural, organic materials today.
What do I think?Do I believe a person’s energy can be attached to an object?
Entire fields of science and pseudoscience are dedicated to the concept of objects and energy.I went down the “crystals” rabbit hole when reading about this subject.Possibly a future story.
I had not given this topic much thought until we were exploring New Zealand and learning about the Maori culture.I respect the Wisdom of theAges. I try to keep my mind open to new ideas and possibilities.
I find I appreciate art more when I learn about the history and cultural significance of an item.
The Maori traditions have helped me recognize the spiritual connections we have with our environment and the emotional connections we have with our ancestors.
The effort and meticulous care taken during the creative process is an expression of our inner selves, our essence.
Are materials infused with love and energy during the creative process?
Is this life force passed on to the artifact?
I do believe it is.When I learn about the traditions, the history and the spiritual significance
This afternoon, sad, teary-eyed Sadie shared with me that her fish had died.She had this fish since she was born.
Children often bring up topics when you are unprepared and you least expect it.I looked at it as an opportunity to discuss death with a four year old.
“Everyone and every living thing dies.It is normal to feel sad.Love for each other never dies.Memories live on.It is good to share your feelings.”The usual things we say.
Questions from Sadie included:“Was her fish in outer space?Was my Dad in outer space?”She was aware that my Dad had died many years ago.
I told Sadie that I really wasn’t sure where her fish is and where my Dad is. We talked about heaven.
Sadie wanted to see pictures of my Dad.I opened up the file on my computer from my last visit with my Dad.My Dad was very compromised, elderly and in ill health.
Sadie noticed the Christmas decorations in the background.She asked whether he had died at Christmas.I told her, no.Some time in January.
The hair rose on my arms.
I hunted down his memorial script. May 4, 1929 – January 23, 2007.
A sob escapes my throat.
Part two – May 4, 2019
Sadie is now five years old.One year older and one year wiser.
After a long, fun-filled day,we were waiting for Sadie’s Mom to arrive to take her home.
This time I received an extra long hug.She wouldn’t let go.
Then she said “I don’t want to forget you.”I looked at her and she had tears in her eyes.
I paused.Where did this come from?Does she know something I don’t know?
I was taken aback.I didn’t have time to prepare an answer.I said what I think are appropriate things to say to a five year old.“You won’t forget me.I will never forget you.You will always be in my heart.”I was a little emotional, too, although I tried my best to hide these feelings.
I get it.I also don’t want to forget.
Memories surface around special holidays.This year my Dad would have turned 90 years old on his birthday.
A few of my memories:
I remember how birthdays were always a big deal in our house.We always celebrated with a Black Forest Cake.
I remember how my Dad valued an education. On a very limited income,he purchased the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica.We would actually read these books on a daily basis.
I remember how he was a gadget person.The latest knives, blenders, recording devices, projectors, movie cameras.We also had the first black and white tv on the block.
I still get misty-eyed when I hear a song from the Sound of Music, the first movie I saw with my Dad.
Most of all I remember the family values my Dad instilled in all of his children.To him, love was a verb.He showed us every day how much he cared about us. He loved children and unfortunately he did not have a chance to meet his amazing great grandchildren.
Memories can fade.We will forget details about our loved ones, especially grandparents that may have left us many years ago.We may have only a hazy recollection of events.
Sadie had questions about death and about my Dad in Part 1 of this story.
How do we teach children about death?
When we have the privilege of spending time with children, we quickly realize that we will learn far more from children than they will learn from us.
Sadie taught me that it is okay to ask the hard questions. It is okay to love someone and be afraid of losing them.It is okay to have tears in your eyes.
Sadie taught me that sometimes the only answer you really want is a very long hug and not let go.
A few weeks ago I was making some notes outside the yoga studio, waiting for my class to begin.I was debating on whether I would write and share this story.I walked into the studio and I met a friend who was telling me about her upcoming birthday plans.I asked her what day is her birthday?She said, May 4th.
Today would have been my Dad’s 90th birthday, May 4th.
When a word continues to appear on my radar, I need to pay attention.
I first heard about Pyt last year.The Danish Library Association chose Pyt as the nation’s favourite word.I was immediately intrigued. The Danes are known as the happiest people on Earth.I want to know their secret.
This is the same culture that coined a favourite word, hygge, a few years ago.I easily adopted hygge as a way to relax and destress. Reading, cocooning, snuggling, a feeling of contentment.A favourite way to spend my time.
Long Beach, Vancouver Island
Now the word Pyt has surfaced.I have read a variety of translations describing the meaning of this word, how to pronounce it and when to use it. I understand how a cultural word may not be easily translated into the English language. I speak German, and we have words that do not directly translate into an English word.
Pyt (‘pid’) is used for minor frustrations and annoyances. Pyt is used to express ‘don’t worry’, ‘accept it’, ‘move on.’ weblinklink
When I read further about Pyt, I found out that the Danes had even created a button with Pyt on it.When you press this button you will hear the Pyt word. A reminder to pause, gain perspective and let it go.
photo credit: Karen Rossinger
I could see how a physical symbol would help the expression Pyt seep into a culture’s language and values. I had a Happy Face button.The Happy Face emoji is still a part of popular communication. 😊
The underlying message that continues to surface for me is “acceptance.”This concept is emphasized in one of my favourite books, “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz.In 2017 my one word intention was “acceptance.”
I still need to be reminded to accept the things I cannot change.
I am usually a glass-half-full kind of person. Yet, we all have stresses in our life, even the Danes. Many of us use strategies to gain perspective, like walking in nature, meditation and creative outlets.The Danes also use words to help prompt a more peaceful, happy life.
Long Beach, Vancouver Island
We can learn from other cultures.We can share secrets.We, too, can be the happiest people on Earth.
postscript:amazon sells Pyt decals and wall stickers.I may have to create my own Pytbutton, even if it is in my mind.