As I had worked right through to a degree with virtually no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up – a familiar story for a lot of young people today, I understand – I decided to be a secondary teacher. And I was indeed one for about 8 years or so, but that is a different story.
What I want to consider here is my numbness of the brain whilst I took prescribed courses (to fulfill a requirement of employment) in the most banal, brain-atrophying, so-called (though it had no right to be so-called) ‘faculty’ on the campus of an otherwise highly-rated university. Hmm, still have some residual spleen it seems. Well, no worries now, they can’t kick me out by this late date.
So, anyway, I am stunned with torpor. Between classes, in my ennui, I would trot up to the top floor of the Ed building where there was a kind of library and large study area. Once there I would attempt to study the nonsense that was passed off as scholasticism in that faculty.
Generally I was extremely bored and could feel my life passing me by. What in the fuck was I doing with my life by doing this crap? I should be out on the road. I should be in a garret in London or Paris. I should be having torrid affairs with any of a number of the comely (pretty girls were still comely in those days) li’l elementary teaching students in their lusciousness that were sitting in the same venue and keeping me from my (ahem) studies.
But when not perusing the pulchritude of those student teachers, I would gaze longingly out the window in the direction of the snow-capped peaks of Vancouver Island across Georgia Strait. I had no inkling at the time that those peaks would represent my future home. But, at that time they symbolized escape for me, and I would think how I’d rather be ‘there’ than where I was.
As it turned out I took my first teaching job on the Island (always capitalize to differentiate ‘The’ Island from a mere ‘the island,’ as in Santa Catalina is the island off the southern California coast. We live on THE Island.
Vancouver Island is big. A lenth of 290 miles, and a commodiousness of 12,407 square miles. Indeed, the largest Pacific island east of New Zealand. I have thought that would be a fitting motto for Vancouver Island – ‘We’re the largest east of New Zealand’ Sounds impressive, no? It’s also the largest island on the west coast of North America, and Canada’s 11th largest island. But, of the other 10 (with the exception of Newfoundland), none are of any consequence and boast populations of about 5 since they’re in the high Arctic.
Our Island has around 700,000 people or so. And they are largely situated in a narrow strip along the benevolent east coast, with the provincial capital of Victoria being at the south end.
Victorians, I might add, while being on Vancouver Island aren’t really ‘of’ Vancouver Island, they’re of Victoria and are leery of the Island’s hinterland to the north where they believe ‘there be dragons.’
I live a bit less than half way up the Island. About 200 and something kilometers north of Victoria (or about 120 miles in ‘real’ rather than Trudeauesque measurement).
As I say, we most of us pitch our tents to the east. So, it was a pleasure earlier this week to spend a few days on the west coast of the Island. Not an easy passage to get from here to there, with a winding, badly maintained road going to the tourist destinations of Ucluelet and Tofino.
It’s very different there. The sea is less tamed and the wildlife is abundant. There was concern in Ucluelet (where we stayed) that a wolf had taken up residence in the streets of town. A conversation with a woman in Tofino, at the northern tip of the area revealed that her daughter’s Chihuahua had been scarfed by a wolf a couple of weeks before. An agreeable snack for the lupine, no doubt.
Anyway, it was all good. We stayed at a lovely resort called the Black Rock, and it was civilized enough that one of the guests was driving an Aston Martin.
So, if you’re looking for a vacation getaway, come along to the Island. Remember the motto: ‘Biggest East of New Zealand.’