Qualicum Beach, Canada
There’s an ancient saying, “When a bald eagle flies across your path, followed by two seagulls, you will undertake an unexpected journey.” David and I are relaxing at the kitchen table, talking about the crochet patterns we found in the drawer. We plan to just chill out today and maybe run up a couple of new teapot covers. Nanette, Kirsty and Kai are down on the foreshore looking for treasures among the rocks. All is good.
Then we hear it. Loud raucous squawking. A bald eagle flies across fast and low, chased by two angry seagulls. Kirsty thinks we missed it so she gestures wildly, somehow managing to point to her head and do a chicken dance imitation at the same time. David and I pretend not to understand, but we know that our quiet morning is doomed.
Our wives are pretty smart. “How would you guys like to go that electronics shop we passed yesterday?” Our resistance crumbles to dust. “And then on the way back we might -.” We grimace waiting to hear the word “market” or maybe “shop” pop out at the end of the sentence. To our amazement, all we hear is “- head to the beach.” We look out the window. Isn’t that a beach right there? “No, a beach with Sand.” This sounds fair enough and we all pile back into the Dodge yet again. All is going smoothly until we hit the highway. Apparently our magnanimous wives didn’t realise that the electronics shop is about twenty minutes down the road in Nanaimo. OK, we’ll be really quick, then beach – here we come.
We make a couple of unplanned stops in addition to the promised boy’s toys shop but, hey, we’re on holidays. Then, it’s back north to the beach. Ah, which beach are we going to? “The main one where everyone goes.” Which one is that? “You’ll know it when you see it.” We take a likely road into the forest and end up in one of those hidden bits of woodland suburbia where everyone knows one another, and nobody trusts strangers. David plucks up the courage to ask directions from a lady who may or may not be guarding the entrance to a shady lane. She points a gnarled finger back the way we came, and we beat a retreat back to the highway.
At long last we arrive at Rathtrevor Park. There is definitely a beach here. It’s low tide and the ocean has retreated way off on the horizon, leaving an enormous expanse of “sand” exposed. We grab the buckets, spades, shade shelter and a compass and head off. There are families scattered at various points doing the usual beach things, looking for crabs in the mud pools, building mud castles, or just lying around under their wind shelters. Actually, it isn’t really muddy, but the grey sand is not quite the same as that hot golden stuff that burns your feet back home.
It’s still technically a beach, and Kai has lots of fun splashing in the pools and playing a new game he calls “mutt ball” which consists of throwing small handfuls of the grey stuff at the legs of any adult too slow to get away. David and I are starting to relax, thinking we have dodged the predicted “unexpected journey” when we hear cries overhead. A pair of bald eagles swoop across on their way to look for fish. As if on cue, Kirsty looks across and comments “oh, about tomorrow …”