we are one
While I was in Tofino, I went on a 5 hour kayak trip (in the rain). The trip included kayaking around a lot of islands and then landed us on Meares Island.
We hiked around the island for about an hour. It was a beautiful hike and having a guide was especially cool. Usually I hike with a purpose (heart rate and destination). This hike was chalk full of interesting facts and anecdotes. Our guide (let’s call him Ken) has been doing this for 25 years and knew a lot of things. So while the hike did nothing for my step count, it brought clarity to the term “we are one”.
I’ve been going to yoga classes and reading self help shit and the “we are one” saying is rampant in all of these things. And I never really got it. Until bird loving Ken explained to me how nature works.
And I feel like I should clarify, I get how nature works-in general. But this was my a-ha moment.
Meares Island is an old growth forest. The trees there are as old as 1500 years! The hike we went on was not one of the hikes you can find in the guidebook so it felt really close to nature-no boardwalks or stairs. It was while walking through this forest that it came clear that every living thing depends on each other.
We came upon a stream with a tree that had fallen over it. Ken explained the importance of the tree to the forest and the importance of the tree to the stream. This stream was a salmon spawning stream. Turns out salmon just don’t go anywhere to spawn.
The salmon need a pretty specific list of items in order for them to want to travel to this stream and die/lay eggs. It needs to have the right amount of oxygen, it needs to have the right amount of shade and sunlight, it needs to have a little place for them to rest without getting eaten by the bears, it needs to be the right temperature. Really, it probably needs about 100 more things, but I wasn’t taking notes.
But what was important is that the forest also needs the salmon to come here and die and provide the nitrogen to the soil. Its a CIRCLE of LIFE. And the trees need the salmon and the salmon need the trees and we need the trees and the salmon and they need us to not clearcut their entire habitat.
The other important thing to note is that the First Nations people have lived in the area for more than 1500 years and they used the trees for shelter, they made clothes out of the bark and ate the salmon. They have a “we are one” saying and live it. They know they need to keep things in balance.
So when I casually asked if Meares Island was a park or something- I got an earful. Turns out that in 1984 Macmillan Blodell (a lumber company) was about to completely clear cut the island for its treasured old growth cedars. Tofino environmentalists and the First Nations people banded together in a peaceful protest. The way Ken told the story was that the bad lumber guys showed up to start cutting down everything and the First Nations chief greeted them and said “welcome to the land of the Nuu-chah-nulth people. We are happy to show you around, please leave your chainsaws on the boat.” So basically they claimed the land as theirs and it went to court and the court ruled it wasn’t really clear if it was theirs or not- so until it is made clear there will be no logging.
This is monumental, because this was the first time that the environmentalist types won against the big lumber companies.
After being on Meares Island and learning about how nature works, I cannot imagine that anyone would really ever be ok with old growth logging. Is this still a thing? If so, I think they need to go on a 5 hour kayak trip with Ken the bird lover and learn about nature.
And now that I accidentally found out about this, I wonder about the other things we are doing to ourselves. And what else we are ruining. And it makes me want to stand in front of a logger and ask him to put his chainsaw down.
Did I just become a dirty nature loving hippie here on the island?
Unrelated Bonus Item: Urban Dictionary defines “RAMPID” as A non-existant word that mentally challenged people often confuse with the word “rampant” ….no reason.