One of the best pieces of advice dispensed to myself upon my move to Victoria was from my parents. Make a list of everything you want to do which is close to where you now live; and endeavour to fulfill that list. You might be in Victoria for ten years, you might be there for ten months, but try your best to get to all those things. You'll never regret it.
As per usual, the advise is valuable, practical, and poetic. So was born The BC List, scribbled out in our day-timers, scrap pieces of paper, added to in the haphazard and moderately chaotic fashion in which we live our lives. I finally penned it out in the back of my grateful journal, and we've done our best both together and solo to accomplish the things on our list.
One item we'd listed was "Salt Spring Island". Fabled for its Hippy Market and large artistic population, the largest of the Gulf Islands was a place we wanted to check out. We landed that opportunity in a divine timing of events, a couple days off for me, the generous offer of a cabin in which to stay, and the ability of Jon to work it around training. We hopped on the short ferry and off we went.
Into the woods of this island, although we were only 35 minutes across the water Victoria, it felt like an eternity away. For a few days we rambled about, building a fire in the adorable cabin and reading books, checking out tiny inn for a charming dinner, biking through the island in the cool fall air. I was subjected to the most technical ascending and descending since living and working in Italy. The pitches steep, the downwards slopes thrilling, and I never rested long enough going down before another daunting hill appeared. We worked through a loop of the island, and I felt the aluminum of my "winter bike" (a term I only learned and have come to love out here on the island) shake and rattle below me. My heart threatened to explode going up. My nerves threatened to crack going down. In short, it was a magnificent ride. We lingered in the morning over double americanos and the paper, we lived without the internet, our iPhones or watches for a couple days. Although the getaway provided a list of highlights, I'd have to pick our ramble up to Mount Maxwell as my favourite. A small path a few hundred feet from our cabin lead us up through the woods to the top, providing a view point of the Gulf Islands, and across to Vancouver Island itself. The sun treated us to a little glisten, lighting up in the mid afternoon light.
I thought of Kris Hudson, a long-ago high school friend who I have lost touch with. "Huddy" is what the guys in the neighbourhood called him. Kris Hudson easily makes the list of one of the most quality people I've known in my life- hands down. Kind, generous, caring, and genuine to a fault, Kris had the feel of a country boy and the charm to match. It was Kris who introduced me to Jack Daniels, who would drive me home after rugby practice, who was an ear to chat to and a friendly face at school. Although we'd been pals all through high school, we lost touch when I went to University. I have thought of him often and I always try to send him the best energy when I do. I felt as though I had to add in this seemingly irrelevant piece of my history to make the next paragraph make sense.
On a hiking trip in my last year of high school, Kris and several others had "summited" a small mountain inside of Rocky Mountain House. When we spoke later in that week of the hike, he said with a maturity and wisdom far beyond his seventeen years, that on top of that mountain he found a sense of peace. That in reaching the peak of the mountain, he could put all his troubles up into that air, leave if up top, and then come back down feeling lighter, but still "on top of the world". I smiled into the brisk autumn air at the top of Mount Maxwell, indeed a little lighter, a little more bold, and certainly "on top of the world".

A refuge in the woods.

Me, in tree.

From the top.