Echoes from Baynes Sound

I hear them rising with the sun on Baynes Sound,
the voices of things past and things yet to come,
but I drown them out with what I can hear in the here and now.
Sounds echo through the valleys amplifying as they cross the sea.
They awaken my sense of sight to absorb the first morning light
shifting from shades of gray into all the colors of the rainbow.

There is a cold damp chill stirring the pregnant air of spring,
but it cannot dampen the warmth of the joy I now feel.
The sea lions agitate and nudge each other to the herring hunt.
They bark dog-like, a sound like a fish caught in a throat.
These fat fellows greedily urge each other on to renew the hunt,
desperate to store more fat to feed the pups that will follow.

The robins, much more gentle, sing a quiet song.
The towees’ too-wee emanate a sense of elation.
The northern flickers labor away with a tap, tap, tap.
The seagulls choose to cry about everything that is.
The crows, never happy, complain about the weather,
as the ravens laugh at their absurd habit of chasing eagles.

I am silent, listening mindfully,
absorbing the sweet sounds of my adopted world.
Baynes Sound ushers in a perfect peace;
it brings a stillness to my anxious mind,
a feast of peace to my hungry soul.

Baynes Sound

Baynes Sound is the body of the water that is a part of the Salish Sea and an offshoot of the Strait of Georgia that lies between Denman Island and Vancouver Island. It extends from Qualicum Bay in the south to Comox Bay in the north. It provides the safest route into Comox Harbour by avoiding the shallow Comox Bar between Denman Island and the Comox Peninsula. The sound is 40 km long and is 3.5 km wide at its widest point, with an average width less than 2 kms. Baynes Sound is named after British Rear Admiral Robert L. Baynes, who commanded the British Pacific Squadron from 1857 to 1860 before Canada officially became an independent country.

The land along the Sound is marked by Chrome Island in the South to Tree Island in the North. It is guarded by Arrowsmith Mountain to the South and Mount Washington to the North with the Beaufort Range in-between. Everywhere you go there is the sea, the mountains, and the rainforest. They form a piece of heaven on Earth. The Sound is dotted with the small communities of Royston, Union Bay, Buckley Bay, Mud Bay, Fanny Bay, and Deep Bay. These communities grew up around the opening of the railway, and the development of the logging, mining, and fishing industries. There are hiking and biking trails everywhere along the shores of the Sound that wind up along the rivers and creeks through the forests all the way up to the mountain ridges. The British Columbia Ferry Service connects Denman Island to the Vancouver Island at Buckley Bay.

The local oyster industry has resulted in an abundance of oyster farms. It produces 39% of the oysters and 55% of the manila clams farmed in British Columbia. Unlike the controversy surrounding the effect of fish farms on the environment, oysters are just the opposite. They serve as a filter system keeping the waters fresh and free of pollutants. However there is a problem with the plastic debris that is sometimes left behind by storms. The shellfish industry is maintained through tenures equivalent to private property that can be distinguished by red concrete markers. The Deep Bay Marine Field Station is working on developing a brood stock pool of Native Oyster seed that can adapt to the changing environment. They have received funding from the Environment Canada Habitat Stewardship Fund and the Canadian Wildlife Foundation. Fanny Bay oysters are exported around the world. Locally they appear on the menus of many of our restaurants. Some like them roasted in their shells. I prefer them breaded and tucked into an Oyster Burger.

Those of us who have called the Sound home have come to enjoy the peace and quiet of the forest, the majesty of the mountains that are just a few kilometers away, and of course the ever-present sea. Some of us find spiritual sanctuary here believing it is a vortex of creative thought and spiritual growth. The Sound is home to the arts: drama, music, fine arts, crafts, as well as published writers on both Denman Island and Vancouver Island. Baynes Sound has been the perfect place for me to spend my retirement. I live here in harmony with my Self, ever mindful of and grateful for the healing power of nature.