Vancouver Island Events Website

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September 21st, 2021

Peace is a journey of a thousand miles...

...taken one step at a time. ~Lyndon B. Johnson

Today is International Peace Day.

It's hard to envision a peaceful world though, if we can't imagine a peaceful day. What would that day look like to you? Maybe it would be a day without having to resolve family conflict or one with a quiet moment amidst the noise, when you can finally hear the silence. Maybe it's a walk with your dog on the beach or a workday without letting the chaos bruise your spirit. Maybe it's finally putting a nagging grudge away for good.

The funny thing about peace though, is that it doesn't just happen. It's made.

The dove doesn't simply fly in from the wide blue sky, but rather is incubated, hatched and cared for against incredible odds. The dove's will to live is hard-wired, and its flight a miracle of engineering and ingenuity. As a species, it lives to share its wisdom with the next generation, ensuring that the species thrives and lives on. And so it is with peace.

How will you make your peace today?

However you decide to spend the day, make it meaningful. That one peaceful day is a chick that takes flight, full of potential and possibility. A peaceful week is just a matter of repeating it six more times after that, and the sharing of it reminds us that we are not alone in this world. Soon we find ourselves high above, strong and weightless, drafted by the power of a flock moving in the same direction.

September 14th, 2021

Let everyone sweep in front of his own front door...

and the whole world will be clean. ~Goethe

It's amazing what variety of things you'll find when you go out for a beach walk, isn't it? Driftwood, shells, time-polished sandstone...fascinating tidepools filled with busy and productive miniature worlds. You'll also find plastic bottles, food wrappers and bags left from summer picnics and a myriad of flotsam and jetsam washed up on shore from places far away.

This week we have an opportunity to participate in a Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, and it's a fantastic and fun way to make a difference. Feeling like a few bags of trash isn't worth it, though? Thinking that the problem is too big, and that your contribution isn't important? Think again.

If you're feeling like you're just one small person and that the impact that one small person can make doesn't matter...then consider joining us in spirit at another special place this weekend. It's a place of inspiration, a reminder that the results of our personal actions can create a ripple effect that will last beyond our own lifetime. Although we won't be running together this year, you can participate in the virtual Terry Fox Run in your own way this Sunday, celebrating the power of individual commitment. Terry didn't let adversity stop him. Neither will we.

September 7th, 2021

Remember that you are absolutely unique.

There is no one on this earth who is exactly like you. Nobody.

The swirls and lines of our fingerprints mark the ways in which we're different from one another, and so do the lines on our faces. Only you see the world through your eyes. The way that you view yourself, the people around you, and the world's complicated issues is from an individual perspective that is the sum total of your very own life experiences. Your beliefs, values and opinions are your very own. They inform every decision that you make.

This week, all across the country, we're being asked for those opinions. With gratitude for the opportunity that we have in Canada to express them freely and without malice, let's all prepare to be counted in the upcoming federal election. Whether it is by mail, with a trip to the advance polling stations this weekend, or in person on the 20th...let's be sure to participate in the issues that will determine our shared future. Every voice needs to be heard. Although we all make a similar X shape in a box, your own mark speaks for you like no one else's ever can.

Leave your fingerprint.
Make your mark.
VOTE.

August 31st, 2021

Don't put away that backpack quite yet.

There's something empowering in having everything you need on your back. And when you prepare to head out into the unknown, the challenge of being tested is both invigorating and intimidating. You ask yourself once again: Can I do it? Do I have everything I need?

You've packed that bag with all the tools, but what you'll really need to rely on is your creative imagination, the strength in your body, and your will to succeed. You've got what it takes, so stand up straight and get out there.

August may be coming to an end, but the adventure goes on. Tomorrow it's September...and we're heading off to school.

August 24th, 2021

Living the vida local.

Don't you wish that there was a central place where people could shop outdoors at a safe distance, while still connecting with one another in a real and meaningful way?

It would be a place where you could stroll with your family and friends. Where you could chat with your neighbours and meet new people. Where you could invest in local business and grow your local economy. Where you could eat fantastic food. Where you could find all the basics for a fresh meal and have a conversation with the people who produced them.

Well guess what? That place is right around the corner from you...and looks suspiciously like your local Vancouver Island Farmers Market.

Looking for something fabulous to do this week? Get fresh. Get yourself to a market!

August 17th, 2021

It's not the destination, it's about the journey.

So why shouldn't we be making our journeys in style and comfort? If life is a journey, why not travel it well?

These questions niggle at us, as cozy looking trailers and spectacular air-conditioned land ships pull into our campground in the blazing sun...and our dear old tent starts to look smaller and smaller. Has this been happening to you? We used to take the long route home so we could stop at all our favourite outdoor stores to check out the newest backpacks, the tiniest camp stoves and the coolest new tarp technology. Now we find ourselves slowing down as we pass RV dealerships.

I'm not sure exactly when this shift happened...but I think it might have been that night the zipper on my sleeping bag got caught in my hair.

August 10th, 2021

Be careful what you wish for.

Not so very long ago, we were wishing for some hot summer weather because we wanted to go camping.

They say "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." But this is serious heat, and how many of us are staying out of the house entirely? Are you camped out in the backyard too, in a desperate attempt to get a good night's sleep? Now I find myself wishing that raccoons weren't quite so active at night.

To be fair, it's exactly what we asked for...and just in time for the Great Canadian CampOut this month. The Canadian Wildlife Federation has a goal to make camping Canada's official national pastime, and I'm predicting that they'll get an awful lot of takers right here on Vancouver Island. They've got you covered too, with great free information and tools to get your family and friends outside and connected with nature. Just think of all the money we'll be saving by vacationing close to home!

It'll go a long way towards getting those air conditioners we've all started dreaming about...or at least some new raccoon-proof tents.

August 3rd, 2021

Cleanliness becomes more important...

...when godliness is unlikely. ~P.J O'Rourke

Did you know that British Columbia has over 27,000km of coastline, making up about 10% of Canada's coast? That you might double that figure if you include lakeshores and rivers? And did you know that last year alone, over 130,000kg of trash was collected from it during the Great Shoreline Cleanup?

Cigarette debris, plastic wrap and plastic bottles are the top three items that you're likely to find on a BC beach, and there's never been a better time than now to help remedy the problem. This month you're invited to be part of the solution simply by getting outside and collecting things that shouldn't be found on our beaches and waterways. Wouldn't you rather see only driftwood, shells and smooth stones on our shores? Me too. Why not join a local cleanup as a participant, or consider organizing a cleanup yourself? It's a great reason to go out for a walk with friends...or to even create a plogging community in your area.

If you're looking for a great pickup line this week...try this one out: "Want to meet me at the beach? I've got garbage bags."

July 27th, 2021

Overshoot.

verb
/ˌōvərˈSHo͞ot/
def: to go past (a point) unintentionally, especially through traveling too fast or being unable to stop.

This week we'll be joining the rest of the world to mark a significant date on our planet. Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. This year it falls on July 29th.

"But how can that be? We're only just over halfway through the year!" you might be thinking. We only have a finite amount of resources though, and those resources must be allocated carefully. If we can make the comparison to our personal finances, we're currently at a place globally where our cash runs out this week, but we're only halfway through the month. We'll be living on credit for the remainder, with no idea how we'll make up the deficit...and we've got no means at hand to pay it back.

Leading thriving lives within the means of our planet is not out of reach, however. There are plenty of solutions available to us, which exist in five major areas for improving sustainability: planet, cities, energy, food, and population. Why don't we all put our heads together to create innovative and attainable ways to #MoveTheDate? We want to push it forward as far as we can by understanding the consequences of the choices we make, and by learning to live within our means on this beautiful blue planet. There happen to be some amazing incentives for exceptional ideas, too. The Earthshot Prize offers five, 1.7 million dollar prizes that will be awarded each year for the next ten years, providing at least 50 solutions to the world’s greatest environmental problems by 2030. Your solution could be among them.

Why not give it a shot? After all, big shots are only little shots who kept shooting.

July 20th, 2021

Get your motor running...

and head out on the highway.

Have you noticed the number of out-of-province licence plates out there on the road? We're finally welcoming visitors back, and are they ever excited about it. It seems we're not the only ones out there who are looking for adventure and whatever comes our way...and that's a great reminder for those of us who live here. Sometimes it takes a long red light after the ferry comes in to remind us that, to the rest of the world, we are sitting right in the middle of THE destination for summer adventure. Could there be any better inspiration for us to get up, get out, and experience the beauty of nature and the thrill of discovery also?

Seeing our hometowns through the starry eyes of summer vacationeers makes us fall in love all over again with The Best Place on Earth all over again.

July 13th, 2021

Good things come to those who bait.

With visitors once again being welcomed to our fair islands and all of the amazing summer things to do here, a person could almost forget to mention the classic Vancouver Island experience.

You know the one: Getting up in the dark, sitting patiently for hours and being rewarded with the ultimate prize. Or alternately, getting up in the dark, sitting patiently for hours and going home sad and empty handed. Sounds like waiting in line for the first concert tickets in over a year, but no...I'm talking about fishing. After all, we do live in one of the fishing capitals of the world!

Some of you may have never tried it and aren't in a hurry to, either. But if the rod and reel aren't your thing, and your idea of fishnets is more the wearing kind...then consider tagging along for the ride. As Thoreau famously said: Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. Let the quiet power of the open ocean, the call of the seabirds and the wide open salty sky cleanse your spirit. You'll find yourself thoroughly hooked.

July 6th, 2021

When the going gets hot...

...the hot go swimming.

There are many iconic moments that make up a classic Vancouver Island summer. But no matter who you are and where you're from, it's not summer unless you get yourself into the water. Did you know that because of its many deep inlets, complex shorelines and 40,000 islands of varying sizes, the total length of the BC coast is over 25,725 kilometres? And that doesn't even take into account our spectacular riversides and lakeshores.

That's a lot of water access. And that's good news for all of us...because with the way this particular summer has begun, we're going to need it more than ever.

Thankfully, we're never more than a few minutes from cool clear relief. Have you ever floated down the Cowichan River on an inner tube? Kite boarded on Nitinat Lake? Snorkeled the sculpted passages of the Nanaimo River? Let the icy waters of Ammonite Falls take your breath away? This is what summer's all about on Vancouver Island.

Water is life. So while you're making your summer memories, dive in deep.

June 29th, 2021

Are you a picky eater?

I sure am...and you can be, too!

There's a delicious joy in eating things that you've picked yourself. Summer fruit is beginning to appear on the trees, and lush produce of all description is almost ready. So much, in fact, that it can be hard to manage alone. Did you know that there are Gleaning and Foodshare programs in many of our communities? They match up the folks with more than they can handle with those with less than they'd like. It prevents food from being wasted and keeps our heritage Island trees healthy, too.

What a great opportunity to introduce your kids to the avenues of local food in their neighbourhoods. Because as they say...the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

And when it does...I'm going to be there with you to catch it.

June 15th, 2021

Barbecue may not be the road to world peace...

...but it's a start. ~Anthony Bourdain

We're finally within sight of summer, and all across Vancouver Island, folks are filling propane tanks and stocking up on briquettes.

When we finally brought home a barbecue, a whole new magical world was revealed. Why does every culture on earth have a signature grilled dish, you ask? Because it's the perfect meal, that's why. From tandoori to yakitori, from kebabs to shawarma, and from souvlaki to satay... it seems that the whole world loves to eat without doing dishes, following recipes or smelling yesterday's dinner tomorrow. Charles Darwin considered language and fire to be the two greatest achievements in humanity....and what brings them together better than an outdoor cookout?

Our whole family has embraced the thrill of the grill, from the cat who strategically waits for a moment of inattention, to the dog who enthusiastically waits for a moment of clumsiness. The only ones who aren't so excited are our pet chickens. But then again, after three thousand years of domestication as food--and about the same amount of time since the invention of the rotisserie---I really can't say that I blame them.

June 8th, 2021

Speaking words of wisdom...

let it bee.

On a hot afternoon, lazy and looking for inspiration, I can't help but notice that the only thing moving are the bees. And are they ever moving. Watching these marvelous creatures at work, it occurs to me that everything you really need to know about success in life can be learned from watching bees at work:

Think local. Everything you need can probably be found within a five mile radius of your home. Work together. What you do is important, an essential part of the bigger picture. Have purpose. Although a life may be short, there's no reason that it can't be incredibly meaningful. Reach high. Queens aren't born. They're made.

And be kind. if you've got a tendency to sting, then you'd better back it up with something pretty darn sweet, honey.

June 1st, 2021

Tread lightly...and carry a big stick.

A selfie stick, that is.

The season of summer adventure has arrived, and we live in a place of astounding natural beauty. Our love of it is tested each time we go out exploring the beaches and trails, though. Is it a true love?

If it is, we can resist the temptation to bike off the trails, knowing that rare ladyslipper orchids hide in our forests and that hummingbirds sometimes nest low. We can leash our dogs on the beaches where migrating seabirds are known to take their rest. We can thrill at discovering ancient ammonites in a river bed and remember the magic without needing to take one home. We can take our photos and leave nothing behind. True love is both a letting go and a quiet commitment to never taking something for granted.

Love well. And one day, when the tide washes away our footprints, no one will ever know that we walked this beach at all.

May 25th, 2021

Give a man a fish...and he'll have dinner for a day.

But give him a fishing rod, and he'll be out of the house all summer long.

Whether it's your commute, your passion or your livelihood, chances are that you spend some of your day on or around the water. If not...you probably spend most of your day thinking about when you will. Is this your year to do what you've always dreamed about? Leave the land behind and learn a new skill. Tackle your fear of water and try a new sport. Cast your eyes seaward and set sail. When you really think about it, out there with your family in the middle of open water, could there be a more socially distant way to spend a day?

Here on Vancouver Island, our lives are shaped by the water around us, and there's a fun and safe way to explore it for everyone. Will you be taking the plunge? The days are getting longer, the tax refunds are just arriving...and there's that empty space in your driveway just about the right size for a boat.

May 18th, 2021

The smell of excitement is in the air.

And it's only going to get stronger as the weekend approaches. It smells like bedding plants and barbecues. It smells like bike tires and picnic baskets. It's the smell of two-stroke engines, of boat motors being primed and lawnmowers started. The smell of a new tent. It smells like low tide and waffle cones, like wet dogs and sunshine.

And why is this so very exciting? Because it smells like summer, that's why....and all of the hope that comes with it. Close your eyes and breathe it all in. The long weekend is nearly upon us, and there's no shortage of amazing things to do. Get out and follow your nose!

May 11th, 2021

Life's a messy business.

The more people there are in your life, the bigger the mess....and the more love. ~Louise Rafkin

And judging by the state of things in this room, there's a whole lot of love in here. As it happens, we're celebrating National Clean Up Your Room Day this week. Yes, it's a real thing! It seems more than a little suspicious though, that it happens to follow right on the heels of Mothers Day. Nonetheless, according to the experts, organizing and de-cluttering our spaces also serves to de-clutter our minds, decrease our stress levels and improve the clarity of our thought processes. Statistically, we are also more creative, have increased energy and sleep better in tidy rooms.

So while there's love in making messes, maybe there's just a little bit more love in cleaning them up. And we won't need to wait long for our reward, either....as today just happens to be National Eat What You Want Day. I believe I will celebrate by cleaning the freezer of ice cream.

May 4th, 2021

April showers bring May f....

...armers' markets! And not a moment too soon, either.

While many Islanders were indoors during this past week of spring rains, our local farmers and growers were outside dancing in their gumboots. Now, things that are even more beautiful than colourful spring flowers are popping out of the ground: Things like ravishing radishes, succulent spinach, luscious lettuce and glorious garlic. In the upcoming weeks our seasonal community markets will finally be back, prepared with Covid safety plans and ready to celebrate the season of fine fresh food.

There are so many reasons why choosing to shop at Vancouver Island Farmers' Markets is important. These community treasures are a part of the cultural identity of our islands. They help to improve our regional food security, support the local agriculture economy and are a key source of home grown nourishment. And I don't just mean nourishment for the body, either. The kind local community spirit that you won't find anywhere else is nourishment for the spirit. So start planning your local neighbourhood route on the BC Farmers' Market Trail...and mark-et on your calendar!

April 27th, 2021

Running for our lives.

There's no real trick to running a marathon. Anyone can do it. You don't have to be fast, buy special equipment, have special knowledge or a professional trainer. At the end of the day, the person who finishes a marathon is simply the one who did not stop moving forward. Today, we find ourselves running a race we did not prepare for, and the distance is further than we've ever attempted. We're at the point in which the finish line is a real possibility, but is still well beyond our view.

And it hurts.

We're tired of having our activities restricted. We're afraid of an uncertain future. We're angry with those around us who have chosen not to help put a halt to the virus' transmission. We're lonely and we're grieving. We're tempted to throw our hands in the air and let fate take over. But fate has no interest in the outcome of our struggle, and this is exactly the point in a race when the mind must take us where the body won't go. It's the point when the heart must lead us forward. There is an African proverb that says: If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together. We all need to get there. It's worth remembering after all of these miles, because we're in a race that can only be won with one another's support and encouragement.

Let's walk if we need to, but let's keep going. There's only one thing worse than giving up...and that's forever wondering what might have happened if we hadn't.

April 20th, 2021

It's always the small pieces...

...that make the big picture.

It's a big world out there, and on it we face a great number of big problems. It's so very easy to feel small. Clearly, it's time to create big change by supporting initiatives that will have the biggest impact in the smallest amount of time. But how on earth can we make that happen?

Earth Day 2021 begins today. If each of us makes a big commitment to make small changes in our lives every single day, big things will happen. Individually, we won't be perfect. We can't do it all. But we can each make the choice to do something each and every day to create a shift. What will that shift look like for you? Together we yield real power and influence as consumers, voters, and members of communities that can unite for change. Don’t underestimate that power. When our voices and actions are united with millions of others around the world, we create a movement that is inclusive, impactful, and impossible to ignore.

And that's no small thing.

April 13th, 2021

It's wine o'clock somewhere...

And that somewhere is right here in British Columbia.

We must admit that this year hasn't exactly gotten off to an ideal start. Yes, we're still in the midst of a pandemic, and yes, the daily news hasn't provided nearly enough uplifting moments...but when good news arrives, it's a moment to celebrate. And do we have some good news for you today.

April is BC Wine Month!

Did you know that BC is home to over 950 vineyards, including more than 350 licensed wineries? That there are over 4,150 hectares of wine grapes grown in BC, including more than 60 grape varietals? Now that's a lot of wine. In fact, our fair province is recognized as one of the world's premier wine regions, and Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands are home to our very own, ever- growing group of fantastic vineyards and wineries. As the spring weather dries their patios and warms the vines, many of these beautiful establishments are opening their outdoors to the public once again, and a scenic drive down your local country roads is an amazing way to spend a day with your immediate family. Whether you're sipping or shipping, there are so many ways to drink local this month.

So while we're supporting our local food industry...let's not forget the wine. No great story ever started with eating a salad.

April 6th, 2021

Tell me what you eat...

...and I will tell you who you are. ~J.A, Brillat-Savarin

There was a time not too long ago, when we made clandestine stops at our favourite restaurants. We were tired, overworked and late. We had nothing in the fridge and no plan for dinner. So...we peeked up the street before going inside and glanced down the street when we came out, furtively carrying damp and steaming brown bags packed with wonderful smelling containers. Maybe we felt a bit guilty for spending money on a takeout meal or for not having cooked it ourselves. Maybe we were even cheeky enough to pretend that we had. But that restaurant and its staff saved us that day...and the food tasted even better because of it.

Today the tables have turned.

Our restaurant and hospitality industries are in trouble, and it's our turn to be there for that restaurant and its staff. The social effects of Covid threaten to take out some of the most vibrant businesses in our communities and take away the livelihoods, investments and dreams of thousands of British Columbians who rely on this sector. We can all help to support them by doing something so simple. Something we do so well. Eat.

This week, pick up the phone and call your favourite restaurant, or go online and choose a diner you've always meant to try. Order a meal and pick it up. With every bite, savour all that is great about our remarkable province and its culture, and consider what stand to lose if our local small businesses fail. We have the power to deliver help to our struggling friends, and that fragrant brown bag is the lifeline.

March 30th, 2021

March, that month of wind and taxes...

...is nearly at an end. Well, March is, anyway.

That blows us into April, the month of renewal. Last year's receipt piles are being transformed into this year's resolutions and last year's leaf piles are being transformed into this year's gardens. Last year's chicks have returned to be this year's parents, and last year's nests are being renovated into this year's homes. All around us the natural world is awakening, growing and transforming...and it's making us all feel ready for transformation also.

Whether you're gathering up brightly coloured eggs with your family this Easter or gathering up your seed packages for planting, get out there and celebrate the new life all around. We've got a long weekend to enjoy it, and a thousand reasons why we should. We are all a part of this wondrous great system. The magic ingredient for transformation is participation, and there are plenty of ways to be a part of the simple joy of life across our great green Island this week.

March 23rd, 2021

Keep calm and carry ̶o̶n̶ a phone.

Pandemic fear. Employment uncertainty. Family pressures. Tax-time worry.

There are a million reasons why we might not be feeling particularly calm these days. But cultivating a sense of calm is both a healing balm for our spirit and a nurturing act for our bodies. It is necessary. The Roman philosopher Seneca said: To bear trials with a calm mind robs misfortune of its strength and burden. But finding calm and holding it within us through the day can be a big challenge, and it can be hard to know where to begin. Where do you find your calm?

The City of Victoria’s brilliant Artist-in-Residence, Kathryn Calder, with the help of Emily Hamel and free services provided by TELUS, has created the 1-877-2BE-CALM project, a toll-free telephone number to bring calmness and joy to your day. The project is designed to offer soothing auditory experiences to individuals across Canada, and has a wide variety of comforting, surprising and joyful content featuring calming nature sounds, stories, meditations, music, poetry and children’s laughter.

It costs nothing. All you need to do is dial, close your eyes...and breathe.

March 16th, 2021

When life hands you dirt...

...plant seeds.

Whether you're a passionate gardener, a patio green thumb, or even a curious beginner, you'll have noticed something interesting by now. All across the islands and beyond, seed packages are flying off the store shelves faster than you can say double ply toilet paper, and it can actually be difficult to find particular varieties at all. Where does this frenzy of home gardening come from? What does it mean?

The impulse to plant is a deeply rooted one in our collective experience. It connects us together in a long line that began millenia ago, when we realized that growing crops meant that we didn't need to spend so much time, risk and energy moving around to hunt our food. We established communities that allowed us to provide for one another. At some time in the recent past though, we stopped growing and became hunters once again, competing fiercely with one another for the best bargain, newest product and fastest delivery. It is a tenuous way to meet our most fundamental needs, and we feel the truth of it deeply in our consciousness.

And so we plant.

With our hands in the soil, we are as grounded as we can be, connected to the active network of life. A seed is a powerful tool of self-determination and agency. It is a symbol of pure potential. So this week, as we approach the vernal equinox, find a way to plant one. A seed of diversity. A seed of change. A seed of hope.

March 9th, 2021

Home, tweet home.

Hear all that chattering in the trees and fields around us? Thousands of migrating birds are arriving in our communities right now, and I can't help but wonder at their songs.

Do they sing of their excitement, finally arriving home after such a long journey? Is it a story of the anticipation of reunion? Is it a song about the joy of adventure, as they take their rest in a stopping place? Is it an expression of encouragement, as together they fly further and further away from their homes? If only we could know.

And what about you? Home is where your flock is. Maybe, like the eagle, it's never too far from view. Maybe you're in an in-between place, like the snow goose. But just maybe, like the hummingbird, you've been here all along. Although so very small in a big world, you too have felt the strong winds and icy snows of winter...and have endured.

What perfect reasons to sing.

March 2nd, 2021

Marching onward.

The month of March was named after Mars, the Roman god of war. Apparently the ancients customarily took a break from fighting over the winter, and the beginning of spring heralded the beginning of another fighting season. As the first month of the Roman calendar, March signified new beginnings and the hope of success in battle.

After a long winter in close quarters we do feel a bit like weary and wounded warriors, don't we? One long year has passed since we engaged with our unseen opponent, and in that time we have seen acts of bravery in all corners of our communities. We have seen both frustration and perseverance from those on the front lines, and ingenuity and adaptability from those leading the charge. It has been a time of tremendous camaraderie among strangers as well as a time of social upheaval and division. We have experienced both joy in our successes and grief in our countless losses.

And time marches on.

There is hope in the turning of the calendar page and in the gradual lengthening of days. As we all continue to fight personal battles of our own, let's remember that the Romans achieved incredible success by learning to work together in ways that had never been seen before, and it won them a peace that would last centuries. We march on also...but now with the promise of Spring in our step.

February 23rd, 2021

Stop. Look. Listen.

Our country's history is a story that has been told through thousands of voices.

It is a rich story that we tell with pride, but as Donovan Bailey once said: If you're open for praise, you have to be open for criticism. And the truth of it is that our story is missing many pieces because some voices have yet to be heard. February is Black History Month, and it's a time to stop and consider the many untold versions of our history. It's a time to open our eyes and look for the gaps in our story. It's a time to seek out and amplify the experiences and accomplishments of Canada's Black community. And it's a time to listen. As Black History Month comes to an end this week, we'll be listening. And as we do that, we'll begin to understand that it's really just a start.

We must open the doors and we must see to it they remain open, so that others can pass through. ~Rosemary Brown

Let's listen to the Black & Rural Project. Listen to the voices of BC's Black Pioneers. Listen to the ways that Black Art Matters in Canada. And as we open our ears together, our hearts and our eyes will be opened as well.

February 16th, 2021

Baby, it's cold outside.

The weeks came and went without a cold shiver, and we headed into the homestretch of the season thinking that we had escaped Old Man Winter's wild white eye. In a year of twists and turns though, perhaps we should have expected that there would be more to the story. Winter has arrived, baby...and it's cold.

It's really cold. It's even colder for our neighbours who have no homes though, who take shelter in the outdoors. For those driven from their homes by fear and abuse. For those who struggle to feed their families. For those in the darkness of despair. The Coldest Night of the Year on February 20th is a moment when tens of thousands of Canadians step outside the warmth and comfort of home and shine a light of welcome and inclusion. It's an initiative that has raised over $33,500,000 in 149 communities across Canada, supporting local charities who serve people experiencing homelessness, hurt, and hunger.

This year is no exception. Why not consider participating in a Covid-safe, family-friendly walk this week too? Each step will bring someone closer to safety, health and home, revealing the warmth and strength of our communities. Anyone can slip and fall in life, but we can give support to lift one another up. It may not be a solution, but it's a step toward one that is easier together.

February 9th, 2021

Strong as an ox.

The Lunar New Year will be celebrated this Friday, the Year Of The Metal Ox. According to Chinese tradition, the ox is the second of all zodiac animals. In one famous myth, the Jade Emperor announced a party and decided that the animals' order would be set according to the order in which they arrived. Initially Ox was in the lead, but was tricked by the clever Rat into giving him a ride. Just as they arrived at the party, Rat jumped down and ran ahead, leaving Ox behind as the second animal.

What better embodiment for the year 2021 could we ask for than the ox?

Some animals will run when forced to do hard work for too long, but oxen will persevere and are known to be very loyal. A steadfast animal that can bear a tremendous amount of weight, the ox pulls heavy loads and quietly accomplishes the difficult work upon which we all rely. It's strong and it's stubborn. Only needing about four hours of sleep each day, the ox's gentle grazing belies its power and ability to overcome obstacles. There's a lot being asked of us all right now, demanding just that kind of steely and sturdy approach. Now that the sneaky and destructive Rat of 2020 is behind us, it is the patient willpower of the Ox that will see us through.

As we prepare to take up the yoke, there's another fact about the ox that is worth noting: They're most often found working in a team.

February 2nd, 2021

The trouble with weather forecasting...

...is that it's right too often to ignore, and wrong too often to be relied upon.

Today we're celebrating our most charming meteorologist: The Groundhog.

But how on earth did this lovable rodent end up with such a heavy responsibility, anyway? Apparently the rodent first won its reputation as a weather prognosticator in 1886, when Clymer Freas, the editor of western Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper, published a report that local groundhogs had not seen their shadows that day, signaling an early spring. This was likely based on an ancient European belief that badgers and hedgehogs can provide signals about the future. Lacking those species in his area however, old Clymer substituted the local animal that most resembles them. And so it was that Punxsutawney Phil arrived on the scene, whose namesakes have been working the shadow gig ever since.

Here on Vancouver Island, spring is visible on the horizon whether old Phil sees his shadow or not. The colourful primulas are out, the daffodils and tulips are beginning to poke up out of the ground, and the cherry trees are poised for early blooming.

There's still a lot to admire about his technique though. Did you know that a groundhog is one of nature's true hibernators, with a body temperature that can drop from about 99 degrees to as low as 37 during the long sleep? His heart rate slows from about 80 beats per minute to only 5, and his breathing slows from about 16 breaths per minute to only 2. A rotund little guy with a healthy appetite, he relies on his complex den to protect him from predators, as he is a slow runner and typically quite a solitary creature. Sound familiar, anyone?

If Phil's famously unreliable weather forecasting finally gets him fired, you can bet he's got a bright future as the Netflix mascot. The only shadow Chill Phil will be concerned about is the one his big old popcorn bowl is casting on the flat screen.

January 26th, 2021

A prescription for nature.

“Nature itself is the best physician.”

Hippocrates said that many centuries ago, and as the father of modern medicine...he knew what he was talking about. Did you know that people who spend at least two hours in nature each week report significantly better health and wellbeing? That kids who play in green spaces focus better, master motor skills faster and move more? Did you know that research shows definitively that connecting to nature is a powerful way to improve general health, resulting in improvements in conditions from diabetes to heart disease and from anxiety and depression to arthritis? It's true. And it's available to us all.

Living on Canada's west coast, we're perfectly positioned to experience the healing power of nature, and the BC Parks Foundation has launched an amazing new set of initiatives to make sure all British Columbians have the opportunity to experience parks and their therapeutic power. Developed with the help of community organizations and healthcare professionals, these fantastic tools are showing people of all ages new reasons to get outdoors.

This week, get inspired. Get outdoors and connect with the natural world. No matter who or where you are, a healthy dose of Vitamin Sea and Vitamin Bee are just what the doctor ordered.

January 19th, 2021

Set yourself down for a while.

Did you know that there is such a thing as the most depressing day of the year?

It might seem surprising at a time when every day is one likely to go down in history, but it's true. Scientists have created a formula to measure our happiness quotient using factors such as weather conditions, amount of sunlight, debt level, time since the holidays, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, and our low motivational levels. The answer that the formula calculated is called Blue Monday, the statistically worst day of the year.

Before you begin a downward spiral though, we have some good news for you. Blue Monday was actually yesterday. The worst is behind us.

That doesn't mean we won't have bad days, sad days, and reasons to feel blue. Who would we be if we didn't? When the blues come calling, one helpful thing we can do is simply to slow down, sit in solitude, and take time to breathe. To feel the breeze on our skin, to step away from the thoughts that worry us for a while and to let ourselves simply be, can help us find our centre once again. Sit down and take that load off.

There's a brand new opportunity to do just that in Qualicum Beach, where the Town has recently placed a special bench in its resting place on Memorial Avenue. This unique bench was carved by Marina Cole for the local Legion in honour of all those that have served so bravely in times of war. We were thrilled to be a part of this wonderful community project, and invite you to read more about it HERE. Stop and rest on that bench, and let the stories of history inspire you, the warmth of community comfort you...and the smell of the sea air restore you.

January 12th, 2021

A tree that is unbending...

...is easily broken. ~Lao Tzu

As we clean up the debris from recent storms, discouraged by the number of trees that succumbed to the powerful winds, I can't help but marvel at the hundreds and thousands that did not.

Trees fall because of lack of stability, perhaps being too heavily weighted on a particular side, weak or damaged already, or because of failure at the root. But the ones with enough flexibility to move with each gust of wind are more likely to remain standing. Can you imagine the amount of kinetic energy generated in the movement of a huge tree? It's a type of power that belies the silent dignity of an ancient sentinel standing quietly, remembering the many breezes of history that have caressed its branches. Remembering the gusts that have ravaged its limbs, it holds the wisdom of survival. It is rewarded with the highest and most expansive view.

Now just imagine the energy created by an entire forest. We are that energy. If we're solidly planted, healthily pruned and sheltered by the company of others, we are strong. But it's time to work on our flexibility also, so that we are supple enough to withstand the force of even the strongest storms.

We are a forest.

There has always been rain. There will always be wind.

January 5th, 2021

You can't reach for anything new...

...if your hands are full of yesterday's junk. ~Nancy Levin

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time for making space, isn't it? We need space to move, space to learn and space to grow. But we only have so much room, and we're going into 2021 confined to a smaller space than usual, already carrying a heavy load. So where will you be finding your extra space this year? Here in our little house if something new comes in, something must go.

So what will that be for you?

If we want to make space in our minds for new ideas, we'll need to shed old patterns of thinking. We'll also need to let go of what isn't working any longer to make way for inspiration. To make space in our bodies, we'll need to jettison habits that aren't serving us anymore. To make space in our hearts, we'll need to release the kind of bitterness that lets nothing else in. And in the space that's left, we'll find that we have both room to reach out and for others to reach in.

We'll find that the space that we're reaching for isn't an empty void. It's a hopeful, luminous place, a place to connect with one another in ways that we may never have understood before. May you find that place, our wish for you on this first week of a fresh new year.

December 22nd, 2020

The darkness before the dawn.

Winter solstice marks the beginning of our astronomical winter, and yesterday at 2:20am, for a split second, our hemisphere was tilted as far away from the sun as it can possibly be. It's a moment when we are at the furthest reach of darkness on the one day of the year with the fewest daylight hours. Isn't there a part in all of us that braces for adversity when winter begins, when we feel like a cold dark uphill climb lies before us? But when you really think about it, today is the most optimistic day of the year. It is the first full day of our journey back down towards the life-giving warmth of the sun. For this reason, the many cultures of our planet have marked this day with importance since ancient times, as a celebration of light.

It's been a difficult year. We have experienced darkness. But let there be light.

As we celebrate some of our most important cultural and religious holidays, let's leave the darkness behind us and turn together toward better and brighter days. Whether we stand in the warm glow of the Menorah or the Kinara, or under the Christmas Star...let there be light. Let there be lightness in our steps as we embrace the miracle of each wondrous new day. Let there be lightness in our minds as we learn new ways to navigate the unknown. Let there be lightness in our hearts as we gently acknowledge one another's humanity. Let there be lightness.

Let there be light.

December 15th, 2020

Chocoholics rejoice!

In the midst of festivities in anticipation of the coming holidays, it's easy to forget that there are some other significant dates approaching too.

One that comes to mind most immediately is actually happening tomorrow, December 16th. Is it a cultural holiday? A religious event? A date of national importance? Well, there are certainly some who would say yes indeed, as tomorrow is National Chocolate Covered Anything Day. It really is.

Did you know that the source of chocolate, the cacao bean, grows on an evergreen tree from the Malvaceae family, which also includes okra and cotton? That the cacao tree can live to be up to 200 years old? Did you know that the Aztecs loved and valued the cacao bean so highly that they used it as currency during the height of their civilization...and that the Fry and Sons shop of England concocted what they called “eating chocolate” in 1847 by combining cocoa butter, sugar, and chocolate liquor into a solid form? And did you also know that dark chocolate is rich in minerals such as iron, magnesium, and zinc? The cocoa in dark chocolate also contains antioxidants called flavonoids, which have proven health benefits. Chocolate goes perfectly with anything...and we've been covering all kinds of things up with it for centuries.

So how will you be celebrating tomorrow? And we do know that you will be celebrating because statistically, nine out of ten people love chocolate...and one out of ten people lies.

December 8th, 2020

It's beginning to taste a lot like Christmas.

Isn't it amazing how many of our holiday memories have to do with food? The smell of turkey cooking. Mulled wine. Gingerbread. Clumsily learning to braid the Challah. Listening to Bubbe go on about the brisket. Sneaking butter tarts out of the freezer. Tucking into a foot-long Toblerone. Wondering if this is the year you'll finally be seated at the adult table.

Food has always been central to the holiday festivities, and although our groups around the table will be much smaller this year, most of us will still be planning and preparing special meals. We'll savour those familiar flavours that deeply remind us of holidays past. We'll raise a glass to those we're thinking about, those who can't be with us this year. We'll FaceTime. We'll Zoom.

But for many others in our community there may be not even be a warm memory to look back on. Intensified by current economic and social challenges, the everyday struggle to put food on a table has been made greater than ever, and for many of us the holidays are a difficult and dark time. As we're filling our plates, it's well worth considering what Plato meant when he said: "The part can never be well unless the whole is well."

This year as we're preparing to pass the dishes around, let's not pass by the opportunity to lengthen our tables in any way we can. Let's make a promise to reach out generously in support of our local Food Banks, who need the support more than ever...and let's also make a pact to actively address the fundamental problems that continue to make them necessary.

December 1st, 2020

On the greatness of small things.

A raindrop falling. A leaf on the forest floor. A sand grain on the beach. They're each seemingly insignificant things; but gathered together, those tiny pieces create bigger and more beautiful things: a raging river, fertile ground for new life...a pearl.

Sometimes we need to think small to be big, and as the season of buying and giving looms before us this is more important than ever. Our local makers and business owners are facing the most desperate of times, and the small purchasing decisions that we make now will help to ensure the survival of our vibrant local communities. As we shop this season, we have the opportunity to give twice when we choose to buy locally; once when we give our loved ones unique and meaningful treasures, gift cards for great local dining, or the promise of exciting Vancouver Island experiences; and again when we give that gift of our support to creative and hardworking local business owners. If we commit to doing it together, this powerful decision to think small will make a big difference.

Are you a small business owner with a fantastic online shop? Know a restauranteur offering holiday gift cards? Are you an organizer of a virtual holiday craft fair? We invite you to let us know by commenting on this Facebook post, where we can work together to spread the word. And as we shop, let's take extra care. The word is the only thing that we want to be spreading around right now.

November 24th, 2020

It wouldn't be a rainforest...

...if we didn't have the rain.

Having said that, we've certainly had our share of it this past week.

So just how wet is it? Well, it's so wet that dogs have stopped barking and started arking. The frogs are wearing life jackets and the seals are staying underwater. It's so wet that we've all got waterfront property, and canoes are being sold with seatbelts and airbags. Boots have gone on strike. Umbrellas have formed a union. It's so wet that we're growing webs between our toes. And speaking of webbed feet...it's so wet that the ducks have started saying it's a good day to be a person.

Yes, it's really wet.

But it still is, in fact, a good day to be a person...and at least it's not snow.

November 17th, 2020

When it's dark outside...

That's when it's time to turn the lights on.

The world seems to be filled with uncertainty, the days are getting dramatically shorter, and the skies are turning to grey. But how would we know light if we hadn't experienced the dark? There may be darkness in uncertainty, but it is never as powerful as the hope that comes from unlimited possibility. Yes the days are short, but those short days mean longer nights, and with them more time for reflection and repose. The grey clouds may seem threatening but the sun is above them always, and grey clouds bring rain. Rain brings life.

When it's dark outside, turn inside. Let's inquire, repair and restore. Let's imagine, connect and create. Let's fill ourselves with the things that light us up from the inside, the things that allow us to be gentle with ourselves and generous with others. In that light we discover that we aren't alone. In its comforting glow, we can't help but illuminate everything around us, transformed into a warm beacon for our fellow travelers in the darkness.

This is the weekend we traditionally put up the holiday lights. It couldn't come at a better time, could it?

November 10th, 2020

The fragile red petals of the poppy.

The poppy is a delicate and graceful flower whose seeds will germinate in the harshest of climates, from the top of high mountains to the bottom of parched valleys. Their whisper thin petals are brilliant, but so very easily bruised. Atop impossibly thin stems, they open in a radiant burst of life, turn their glowing faces to the sun for a few short days, and then are scattered away by the wind.

Buy a poppy this week, in support of those that came home forever changed. Wear a poppy this week, and tell the world that we remember each brave and beautiful life lost in war, and that we share the weight of every sorrow endured because of that heavy sacrifice. Plant a poppy somewhere this week, too. When Remembrance Day is long past and the darkness of winter is over, a stranger will stop in their tracks, suddenly reminded of the fragile wonder of life...and will reflect on the power of seeds planted by unknown hands.

November 3rd, 2020

Is there anything more handsome than a man with a moustache?

Yes in fact, there is. A healthy man with a moustache.

We're celebrating Movember this month, and this year you're invited to participate too. No matter who you are, we challenge you to Mo Your Own Way, whether it’s a gruelling test of physical endurance or a not-so-sweaty pledge to kick a bad habit. Whether it’s for a day, over several weeks or across the year – take whatever Mo Your Own Way means to you...and run with it. Meanwhile, men all over the world will be growing fabulous moustaches over the course of November in a global challenge to change the face of men's health issues by changing the look of their own faces. These very stylish items of self-expression are a visible way to raise awareness and funds for the number one cancer affecting men: Prostate Cancer. Watch for whiskered wildness and moustachioed madness coming to your part of the Island this month!

After all, we want to be reminding our menfolk to shave those things off for many years to come.

October 27th, 2020

Once in a blue moon.

As sophisticated as our technology may be, the moon still has the power to provoke awe and mystery in us earthbound creatures.

Are you a selenophile? SInce the beginning of history, people have been fascinated by this massive silica-rich globe that casts its heavenly glow upon our planet at night. Many superstitions have arisen over the centuries out of our fascination with that beautifully bright disc, and there are still those who will attest that a full moon influences everything from increased hospital visits to higher crime rates and from mood changes to sleep disruption. And what about the legend of the werewolf? As Halloween approaches, that might be a good question to ask...because this week is extra special.

On October 31st, you'll want to look up and witness the Full Blue Hunter's Moon. Traditionally, October's full moon was important because the extra light allowed hunters to gather meat for the long winter ahead. This year it is extra special, being a blue moon. A blue moon is the extra moon in a season with four full moons, which usually only happens every two-and-a-half years, but this year the event happens to coincide with Halloween Night. It is a phenomenon that only occurs every two decades. How can that not ignite the deep and dark corners of our imagination?

This week let's consider the power that is created by the distance between heavenly bodies. Let's look for the brightness in darkness and the beauty in mystery. Let's look up and beyond the realm of earth...and just maybe offer up a howl or two of our own.

October 20th, 2020

What moves you?

We were made to move. Everything about our long bones, strong muscles and complex peripheral systems was designed for power, activity and for motion. Interestingly though, our amazing brains seem to be incredibly adept at creating ways for us to avoid it. But the miraculous machine that is our body suffers with disuse, and at the end of the day either we move it or we lose it. Regular activity has been proven to have a profoundly positive effect on every single aspect of our lives, and if we don't make time for regular exercise...we'll eventually have to make time for illness.

So what moves you?

Right now it may be challenging to take part in our regular activities if classes, groups and teams are usually a big part of our lives. That doesn't mean that everything joyful, stimulating and inspiring is out of reach though. It's only our imagination that's being challenged. Happily, ParticipACTION's Great Big Move Challenge continues until October 31st; inviting you to move with your family and friends virtually for health, fun...and chances to win great prizes. Simply download the app, create a team of 2-8 people, and get moving. As your team gets active, milestones are unlocked, increasing your chances to win those prizes.

So even if it's hard to do, let's all get up and move. Move for our physical and mental health, for stimulating our creativity, for connecting with one another, and for reminding ourselves that we're a living, breathing, energetic part of the wonder of nature.

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing. ~ George Bernard Shaw

October 13th, 2020

Dance like nobody's watching.

With many local venues shuttered and our opportunities to experience the local arts limited, our thirst for culture is raging like never before. Just because we may not be able to gather in person doesn't mean that there aren't great things happening around us though. Reimagined to engage and delight despite the times, this year Culture Days has extended beyond the traditional weekend to an interactive, immersive arts and culture experience happening across Canada; online and in person where possible. Until October 25, lose yourself in a labyrinth of hundreds of virtual concerts, live shows, exhibits, demonstrations, workshops and more...and what's even more wonderful? Every option is free.

Your very own dance moves will come in handy this week as we get ready for the biggest earthquake drill in history. Register now for the Great BC Shakeout on October 15th...and be sure that you know what to do when the serious rocking and rolling starts!

October 6th, 2020

Time to spice things up.

When the bigleaf maples start turning gold, the mornings are crisp, and wood smoke fills the air with the aromatic scent of cedar, then we know that fall has really arrived. We all know what that means, don't we? Things are about to get spicy.

All across Vancouver Island, folks are sipping spiced lattes. Pumpkins are being roasted in preparation for pies. Stuffing is being assembled in anticipation of the holiday feast. And families are preparing for a celebration that might be a little different than in years past.

If your Thanksgiving dinners are anything like ours though, they typically begin in a flurry of cooking, progress through a swirl of dishes, and then rapidly decline into a living room of inert, overfilled bodies. This year, why not spice things up and start a new tradition? Let's leave the dishes for later, and walk our neighbourhood shorelines. Let's stroll through the forest among those falling golden leaves. Let's get in a boat and witness the splendour of autumn from another point of view. Let's be participants in the changing of seasons in this magnificent place we call home.

We'll discover at least a hundred more things to be thankful for...and maybe even just enough room for another slice of pie.

September 29th, 2020

Prepare for the great escape.

When the first storm of the winter season hits, we usually start selecting our seats to far-away places. This year though, it probably won't be seats on planes. Lucky for us, there's a safer and way less expensive way to transport ourselves to places where the water is warm and the sun shining!

Across Vancouver Island and across the globe, fall marks the beginning of Film Season, when great films are released and classic film festivals curate the best work of the year. Selections from the virtual Vancouver International Film Festival, Films Across Borders and the Banff Mountain Film Festival are just a few of the ways we'll be getting away this season...and there are loads of more great global screening opportunities to be found HERE.

So select your seat, fill up your snack tray and prepare for take-off. We'll be traveling the world together this fall and winter...right here at home.

September 22nd, 2020

It's a fact.

Those beautiful fall colours happen because the days are getting too short for the trees to get any work done. They give up for the season and their leaves get pale and wrinkled, falling to the ground. Can't we all relate? Fall has arrived. Our summer tans have faded, the juicy enthusiasm has begun to dry up... and we've fallen listlessly onto our couches with books and knitting.

But before post-summer ennuie sweeps us up or blows us away, let's all get outside. It's time to discover* the most beautiful season of the year in one of the world's most spectacular places.

*That's what the D in Vitamin D really stands for, you know. And it's most effective when taken in combination with Vitamin Sea.

September 15th, 2020

Lights, camera...action.

Do you want to be a star?

Fall means fresh food, but it also means fresh TV programming. There are dozens of new shows premiering this month, and an overwhelming number of them are reality shows. If you're only watching life in two dimensions though, can it truly be called reality? There's no greater drama than the real thing...and no greater comedy than life being lived. If you don't believe me, come on down to the beach this weekend and we'll give kiteboarding a try.

The greatest action heroes aren't all on the screen, either. Think about someone like Terry Fox, whose short life was defined by his spectacular participation. True heroes aren't born, they're made...and some of the most heroic events happen when nobody is watching. The virtual Terry Fox Run is this Sunday, and Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanups are happening now in communities everywhere.

Let's consider them our opportunities to audition.

September 8th, 2020

If you're not hungry enough to eat an apple...

...you're not hungry. ~Michael Pollen

Crisp, sweet, and delicious, bushels of apples are a true symbol that autumn has arrived. By volume, we eat more apples than any other fruit, and it has actually been that way for centuries. Did you know that over 500 varieties of this ancient member of the rose family are grown right here on our islands?

There are other interesting facts to consider as well. As you’re sipping a cold glass of apple cider this week, consider that there is archaeological evidence that people have been eating apples since 6,500 BC. Did you know that apple juice was one of the earliest prescribed antidepressants? That many of the world's great histories and mythologies include ancient apple stories? The infamous apple in the garden of Eden was central to dramatic events in the bible, the golden apple started the ball rolling for the Trojan war in the Iliad, and many important events in Arthurian legend occur on Avalon: the island of apples. Further north, Norse mythology centres the apple at the source of eternal youth. That's some powerful medicine.

It's prime apple season in one of Canada's most unique apple growing regions. Make sure to visit one of our fantastic local farmers' markets this month, and pick up a bushel of the forbidden fruit for yourself, for the teacher...or for the apple of your eye. They say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away... and with the way things have been going this year, we can use all the help we can get!

September 1st, 2020

What's in a name?

There are a lot of creative people out there in the world, but don't you think that the folks who name products are at the top of the list? Why paint a room beige, when you can paint it French Toast? Isn't red nail polish so much better when it's called I'm Not Really a Waitress?

I really want to meet the people who get to name trailers and RVs, though. With their wry sense of humour and clever irony, they're definitely at the apex of the naming arts profession. This came to me on the highway this weekend after a couple hours following a Swift. And again at the campsite, parked beside a Pioneer...complete with patio lights, surround sound and full-sized deep freeze.

Whether you're being a Vagabond or an Adventurer, make sure to make time for a Getaway this month. Whatever we call it, there are three weeks of summer left, a long weekend before us...and so much open road to explore!

 

August 18th, 2020

Look up.

W-a-a-ay up!

One of our very favourite summer events is wrapping up this week. If you love light shows, if you love events with free admission, and if you love reveling outdoors until the wee hours of the morning, then I guarantee that it's quickly going to be one of your favourites too.

All you need to do is to stay up and look up. The Perseid meteor shower comes around every summer when Earth passes through the trail of dust and debris left in the orbit of the very large Comet Swift-Tuttle. The bits and pieces from the comet slam into the Earth’s upper atmosphere at over 200,000 km per hour, lighting up the night sky with fast-moving Perseid meteors. This year the light show reached its peak between the 11th and 13th, but we've still got plenty of time to see it this week, with virtually no moonlight to ruin the show.

The meteors originate from the direction of the constellation Perseus, who is the son of the god Zeus and the mortal Danae. An ancient Greek star lore it is said that the Perseid shower commemorates the time when Zeus visited Danae in a shower of gold. It's a wonderful story, isn't it? And this weekend, when you're lying quietly in the dark watching those beautiful trails sparkling across the night sky... you might just believe that it could be true.

August 11th, 2020

Is your glass half full?

Optimists across Vancouver Island are looking forward to a fantastic second half of summer.

We're counting ourselves among that group, because there are a lot of camping weekends left, tons of great things to experience in the weeks ahead...and many Island destinations still on our to-do list.

At the top of that list is visiting more of our many local vineyards and orchards, where winemakers and restaurateurs have put a great deal of thought and preparation into safe reopening strategies. Click HERE for all the details, and prepare to chart your course through spectacular west coast wine country. You'll meet skilled and creative producers of local award-winning wines, ciders and meads...and taste summer itself captured in a bottle.

Consider yourself more of a glass half empty type?
No problem. They can help with that, too.

August 4th, 2020

au·gust

(adjective): inspiring reverence or admiration; of supreme dignity or grandeur; majestic.

That sounds just about right. With its golden afternoon light and lengthening shadows, August has to be the most beautiful month of the year.

It's also the month with the weirdest holidays. Tomorrow, for example, is National Work Like a Dog Day. No kidding. I've always found this phrase puzzing, because from what I can tell, working like a dog involves playing hard, eating everything you can reach, and lazing around in the sun all day.

You won't have to ask us twice to observe that one....after all, the dog is truly an august creature. Without ever having to utter a single word, it is loved unconditionally. It knows our deepest secrets and doesn't judge. And we clean up after a dog willingly, no matter how big a mess it makes. Now that's deserving of reverence and admiration, wouldn't you say?

July 28th, 2020

It's the dog days of summer.

And what on earth does that mean, anyway?

Sirius was nicknamed The Dog Star by the Romans. For three weeks beginning in late July, Sirius rose and set with the sun...so the ancients concluded that the extra heat from Sirius must be making the sunshine extra hot during those Dog Days, when temperatures and tempers would be on the rise.

Well Sirius may not exactly follow the sun anymore, but there's still a lot to learn from the dogs. When the weather gets hot and sultry, follow their lead. Take your walk in the early morning coolness. Eat anything you want, spend as much time as possible in the water, and sleep in the shade all afternoon.

Dogs take their fun pretty seriously, and we should too.
If you're looking for us this week...we'll be out digging at the beach.

July 21st, 2020

We reap what we sow.

It's that time of year when the shadows are starting to get longer...and so are the zucchini!

Vancouver Island has a rich agricultural heritage, and Islanders have enjoyed the bounty of beautiful local food for more than a century. Award-winning produce, pasture raised meats, tasty preserves and artisan created products are just some of the things that make a Vancouver Island farmers' market so very special. Isn't there a place in all of us that yearns for simpler times, when we were closer to the land...and closer to one another?

We may not be gathering in groups and we may be standing 6 feet apart, but our local farmers' markets are bringing us closer together as communities. Shopping locally from local producers strengthens our food supply chains, improves our food security, supports our economies, and provides us with the freshest food possible. Right now our local markets are working hard to provide us with friendly and safe local shopping, so if you've never experienced the magic of a community farmers' market, make this your year to do it.

It's more important now than ever.

July 14th, 2020

What's on your bucket list?

And what's in your bucket so far?

Maybe you've dreamed of walking the Great Wall of China. Or sipping a café au lait at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Or sailing in the South Pacific and swimming with sharks. The world is a big and beautiful place, brimming with the possibility of incredible experiences...later.

In the meantime though, I'm not going to walk around carrying an empty bucket!

Have you hiked the West Coast Trail? Sipped a glass of wine at the western edge of the country? Sailed in Desolation Sound and paddled with orcas? Have you ever caught a salmon? Seen a Cape Scott puffin? There are world class adventures to be had right here on Vancouver Island, and for many folks around the globe those are right at the top of their bucket lists.

This summer, I'm going to get busy filling mine up one drop at a time... right here at home.

July 7th, 2020

A book is a magical garden carried in your pocket.

~Chinese Proverb

And just like gardens, children can't grow unless they're cultivated and fostered. Neither can the precious seeds of independent thought that germinate within them.

Do you remember the first book you ever read? It opened up a world of immeasurable size and limitless diversity. It changed your life. Books have the power to expand our view, shape our societies and change our world. Stories can also transport us through tough times, make us feel, and encourage us to see things from different points of view...even when we're not able to get out and see the world for ourselves.

As the pandemic stretches into summer, and schools, daycares and libraries remain closed in much of the country, many kids don’t have any access to books or reading activities. They are missing the joy of escaping into a book and an important opportunity to keep learning. Read On Canada was created to help. It's a summer-long initiative making more than 130,000 books available to families through food bank partners and the providing of great online reading activities through their website.

Looking for something to do on rainy days at home or sunny days in the park? Read on...and feel the world expand.

June 30th, 2020

O Canada!

While our festivities may look different this year, Canada Day remains a day to be celebrated.

While we may not be gathering for festivals, we will be joining our bubble of loved ones in gratitude. We may not be seeing spectacular community fireworks displays, but we will witness stunning summer sunsets from our beautiful island beaches. We may not be singing arm in arm in a gesture of patriotism, but we will be standing two meters apart in a gesture of respect for one another. We may not be enjoying parades, but we will be enjoying hikes and bike rides in some of our nation's most stunning spaces. We may not be grouping at parties, but we will be grouping online in new ways that amplify diversity, justice and fairness.

This year we've been offered an opportunity to truly reflect on what it means to be Canadian.
Let's embrace it, wave our flags...and celebrate the depth and breadth of our true patriot love.

June 23rd, 2020

The cure for anything is salt water...

Sweat, tears or the sea. ~Isak Dinesen

There is something deeply calming about being on the ocean. When we find ourselves in a place so vast and powerful, troubles that we thought were whales suddenly are revealed to be tiny little silvery fish, tickling our hands as they pass by. One of the things I've learned in that School Of Fish though, is that Mother Nature always has control of her classroom. And that she can be a tough and demanding teacher.

While we're fortunate that every season is boating season here on the west coast, we also need to remember to be lifelong learners. The joy of a cloudless day can become the panic of a storm in the blink of an eye, and safe practices and solid training can save a life. Fantastic local resources are available online, and the Government of Canada's Marine Transportation website is a great place to begin.

Get out on the water and experience that salt water cure for yourself. But remember to put in a little bit of sweat first...so you can avoid the tears altogether.

June 16th, 2020

When the the sun stands still.

The word solstice is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still) because on the longest day of the year it appears to do just that from our viewpoint here on Earth. Nothing is ever completely still though, is it? Coming to terms with this constant state of change is a universal part of our human experience, and we express it in the songs and stories we gather to share as the sun goes down for the year's shortest night.

It is fitting then, that this weekend we're also celebrating the culture of our First Nations people and the fundamental thread they weave into the fabric of our communities. In a time in which we're thinking deeply about both the past and the future of our country, it's the time to commit our shared responsibility to create positive change and initiate healing. It's also the time to listen. There are both magnificent stories and hard truths being told by the First People of our islands and June 21st, National Indigenous Peoples Day, is a day to commit to truly hearing them.

Lean in. Listen closely.

*********************************
Click HERE to hear a story about how Raven Stole The Sun.

 

June 2nd, 2020

Right out of the blue.

You probably already know that up to 80% of all life on earth is found under the surface of the ocean. And that the oceans contain 99% of the living space on the planet.

But did you know that the oceans contain 97% of the Earth's water? That fish supply the greatest percentage of the world's protein consumed by humans...and that each year, three times as much trash is dumped into the oceans as the weight of fish caught?

Monday June 8th is World Oceans Day, so let's wear blue and tell two. Because all of the water we'll ever have is already here, and since 72% of the world's surface is covered in it...we're really all Islanders on it together, aren't we?

May 26th, 2020

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I...

I took the one less traveled by. ~Robert Frost

Have you ever taken an early morning shower in Tsusiat Falls? Have you ever sipped a steaming cup of coffee while watching the sun set in Maple Bay? Ever bought fresh produce at a farmers' market in Errington? Biked in the Cumberland Forest? Paddled by starlight in Desolation Sound?

No? Then it might be just the time to take a Road-Less-Traveled Road Trip. There are hundreds of fascinating adventures waiting for you down one of Vancouver Island's many beautiful side roads and spectacular seaside byways. And what's even more beautiful than all that? The fact that we can still experience some of the very best that our island has to offer while maintaining a safe physical distance from each other!

Right now, the road less traveled is still the best choice for everyone.

May 19th, 2020

Are you ready to go mobile?

There's a revolutionary device gaining momentum across the country right now that will change the way you look at life.

It's affordable, user-friendly, and runs on any operating system. It's compatible with physical distancing. It updates daily, and has an infinite number of free apps. Whether your interest is fitness, social groups, shopping, travel, adventure, sport or entertainment...I guarantee that you'll find it incredibly useful. Not only is it energy efficient, it doesn't require recharging. In fact, it actually creates energy and recharges you with every use.

It's called a bicycle.

Upload yourself on two wheels this week...and let it augment your reality.

May 12th, 2020

Six of one, a half dozen of the other.

Have you been in the grocery store lately? On a park trail? If you have, then you might have noticed that perceptions differ widely on how much space is occupied by six feet. So exactly how much space is that, anyway?

It's six feet.

Six feet is the length of a standard dog leash, and any owner of a spirited dog knows exactly how much space that is. So does the oncoming pedestrian with an ice cream cone. An average sedan is six feet wide. Anyone who has ever discovered that the last parking space at the mall happens to be between two large pickup trucks has performed the calculation with scientific precision. It's a matter of survival. Just ask someone who's scaled a six foot high fence with a six foot long bull on their heels.

The long weekend is nearly here. While we're walking the beaches, grilling our burgers and savouring the spring sunshine, let's remember to look out for each other...from the height of a door, the width of a sofa and the length of a bed. Let's have one another's six.

April 28th, 2020

Hope is like yeast.

It rises with warmth. ~ Leif Enger

Do you count yourself among the many whose house is filled with the delicious aroma of freshly baked bread these days? All over the world, people are confined to their homes. They're reading. They're singing. They're gardening. And they're loafing.

So what exactly is it about homemade bread, fresh out of the oven, that we're craving so badly?

Bread is one of the most fundamental and ancient of our foods. It is a food of comfort and a food of survival, and for many of us the smell of bread is tied to memories of our loved ones and of the warmth and safety of home. When we bake bread, it's an act of resilience and a creative expression of our fierce determination to persevere. With hands covered in flour and the most basic of ingredients, we are nourished and we are reassured. So if you're lucky enough to find yeast on the grocery store shelf and have a little flour in the pantry this week...bake a loaf of bread.

Because when life punches us down, what we need to do is rise up.

April 21st, 2020

People got to move.

Now that we're a few weeks into a life of limited space and confined activities, the allure of the couch has begun to dim. We've learned to do things in new ways and we've adopted new routines. We've chilled. We've baked. We've Zoomed.

What we can't forget to do is simply to move.

Creative physical movement that challenges the body is essential for every part of human wellness. It brightens our thought processes. It initiates joy. It activates our chemical and structural systems like nothing else can, and our body answers us back in a joyful exclamation: Yes, I am alive! Taking care of yourself right now, like always, includes movement. We're all in different situations right now, in our bodies, our minds and the space we have to work with. It doesn't matter. Whether you're challenging yourself to a walk around the block, joining a Facebook workout group, or lifting soup cans in your apartment...move.

It's a gift that only you can give yourself.

April 14th, 2020

On Metamorphosis

How are you doing in this novel experience of solitude? For many, being isolated from others is a different and difficult way to be, and for others it is the normal way. In either case, this time of solitude will eventually come to an end and we will each be faced with change...and with choices.

It is a remarkable thing though, that as a group we are getting a behind-the-scenes look at what is a natural part of many other animals' regular seasonal behaviour. Take the bear for example. In many parts of Canada, this is the time when bears stir after a long period of inactivity. Having been in close quarters with their young for many weeks, they are restless for freedom. Unkempt and disheveled, with eyes narrow and unaccustomed to the light, they emerge from their dens hungry and impatient.

But there is also the caterpillar. The caterpillar takes shelter in a safe and nourishing creation of its own remarkable design. It miraculously draws on its own resources and mysteriously undergoes transformation during its period of isolation. It sheds everything that is no longer useful. Emerging into the daylight with fewer legs and new glorious wings, it reinvents itself as a beautiful new purpose-built creature.

Bear. Butterfly.
What will this time of change mean for you?

April 7th, 2020

Reach out to nature.

When isolated from others, it can be easy to lose our sense of connection to a larger system. ?If you find yourself feeling that way, go and sit in the grass. Walk in the trees. Look up to the sky. And if you aren't able to do that right now, then go to your window and open it.

At this very moment, the earth everywhere around us is teeming with life. From the billions of microscopic creatures that mysteriously fashion our soil to the millions of insects and birds in flight, and from the plants whose great green breath cleans our atmosphere to all of the moving, majestic beings of land and sea...we are all swirling together in a tremendous web of pure interconnected life.

We are a part of this, and it is a part of us. Reach out to it now, and feel the deep peace that happens when we reconnect with the life force of this world.

March 31st, 2020

Today is Tuesday March 31, 2020.

It's a special day for every one of us.

You might ask: Why is that? Are we celebrating something? Is it a holiday somewhere that I've never heard about? Yes it is.
We are celebrating this day because it's only going to occur once. When the clock strikes midnight it will no longer exist, filed away as a distant memory, never to be experienced again.?

Many of us are wishing we were elsewhere today instead of at home. Many of us might find ourselves in a space we don't feel we belong in today and are wishing things were different. Whatever we choose to do today though, let's not choose to kill time. Time takes care of that well enough on its own. Let's try to nourish time and embrace every corner of this day.

Let's choose to bloom where we are planted.

March 24th, 2020

Come together....right now.

The world has quite suddenly become an uncertain place, and our familiar systems have been shaken nearly beyond recognition. It can be difficult to know what to hold onto as this storm rages around us, can't it? Two things have become wonderfully clear though: People will always need to come together in support and hope, and people will find creative ways to do it under the most difficult of circumstances.

In the past, we have come together in concert halls, arenas, theatres and places of worship, united in song, sport, culture and prayer. There is a magical synergy that is created when we gather, and we all have experienced the power of that energy. Today, creative individuals all over the globe are discovering how to create that energy at home, replacing live concerts with livestreamed ones, community events with online chats. They're bringing fitness classes, family activities, classes and workshops right into our living spaces. And we're learning to gather together in new ways.

Feeling the need to connect? We've created a space to share online events with you and invite you to visit it HERE. It's a place to reconnect with the community things that you love. We invite you to submit your own virtual events HERE, as a network of hands across the globe begin to reach out to one another.

March 17th, 2020

On the certainty of hope in uncertain times.

They say that life can change in the blink of an eye, and this week we are watching the world change rapidly.

As our eyes are being opened wide to an enormous state of uncertainty, we are faced with the task of finding new ways to do things. When everything in our nature wants to group together, the wisest course of action is to work together by remaining apart...and that isn't easy. This week though, it is not only our health and wellness that is being tested, but also the strength of our character and of our communities.

Our hearts are with the many people who are experiencing difficulty right now, whether they be fighting illness, struggling with fear, or suffering financial loss. Our thoughts sincerely go out to the thousands of event organizers, clubs, organizations and artists whose daily work creates the vibrant cultural fabric of our communities, and whose very livelihoods rely on local events and the patronage of local audiences.

But while many events have been cancelled...some have not. We may not be attending concerts, but we can sing. We may not be witness to dramatic moments in theaters, but we can share irreplaceable moments with our loved ones. We might not be able to sit in the stands at sporting events, but we can rediscover the joy of play with our children. We can laugh. We can cultivate empathy and learn to show deep kindness. We can find innovative solutions to our problems and develop more curiosity. Creating, imagining and connecting with one another has not been cancelled.

And neither has Spring. Spring is still arriving this week, and it remains an eternal symbol of hope and joy after darker times.

March 10th, 2020

Growth always involves some pruning.

There is always a good deal of wisdom to be found in the garden. For example, at this time of the year it's not the watering and feeding of plants that's critical for their health, but rather it's some skillful pruning. Isn't that a life lesson we can all learn?

This dormant season, just before we spring into life once again, is the perfect time to do a little pruning of our own. The gardening books agree that it's best to remove anything that's dead, diseased or damaged. So let's get rid of our dead projects and abandoned ideas, because they're only shunting inspiration away from all of the budding creativity that lies so close to our thin bark. Let's cut away our diseased assumptions to encourage the growth of fresh new perspectives. And the damaged confidence that no longer serves us can be gently removed to let the light in.

Why not have a look at the state of your tree this week? There isn't another one quite like it, and the world is in need of the sweetness of its fruit.

March 3rd, 2020

It just needs a woman's touch.

We've heard that said about things that are broken or hurting, things with rough edges and things that have been neglected. Doesn't that sound an awful lot like the world around us?

A women's touch is one of creation and of healing, and a woman's hand is a powerful tool for bringing things together. It is hardened by work and softened in compassion as it lifts in encouragement and holds firm in protection. It closes powerful decisions and opens doors to change. International Women's Day is this week, and it's a chance to celebrate the influential women in our lives and in our communities.

Those who came before us shaped our world, and it's in our hands to shape the future, too. An equal world is an enabled world.

February 25th, 2020

So how will you be spending your bonus?

Don't you just love it when you put your hand in the pocket of an old jacket and find a ten dollar bill? When you check a forgotten lottery ticket and discover that you've won something? When you're having a terrible day and find a shiny penny on the ground? It's a lift.

We're all getting something extra this week, and it's even better than money. It's time. There are many myths and legends about Leap Day, but however you look at it...having more time is always a lucky thing. Only once every four years do we receive the gift of an extra day, and this week it's ours to spend.

Try something brave and new. Take a leap.

February 18th, 2020

There are only two types of speakers in the world.*

1. The Nervous
2. The Liars

People will do pretty much anything to avoid speaking in public. *Even Mark Twain, and he had a lot of really great things to say.

Facing that fear though, will give you one of the greatest skills that a person can learn: the art and science of powerful personal communication. Did you know that this is Toastmasters Month in British Columbia? It's true, and there are great local clubs all across the Island who would welcome you and your reluctant participation.

It's been suggested that imagining your audience in their birthday suits helps with nerves, but I don't get that at all. How would feeling really awkward help you overcome an awkwardness problem? My suggestion is simply to believe that you're safe, speaking among friends. Because you are.

February 11th, 2020

We are family. Get up everybody and sing.

Sister Sledge said that. And it was Marcelina Hardy who said that a family is what makes you who you are...and who you aren’t. Mitch Albom says that sticking with family is what makes it family. JS Foer said that family is the people who will do things for you that they hate, and Deb Caletti said that it is those who put their arms around you and love you when you're not so lovable.

I say that it's the people who you will find standing beside you long after everyone else has gone. The truth is, we are born into only one part of our family and then spend the rest of our lives finding the other parts. That's truly something special to celebrate.

February 17th is BC Family Day. However we define family, it's a day to treasure those brave souls who know us best...and still love us anyway.

February 4th, 2020

Like the seeds dreaming beneath the snow...

February is Heart Month, and there are a lot of things to love about it. The fact that it's no longer January, for example.

And here on Vancouver Island is there anything closer to our hearts than gardening? Interestingly, simply working in the garden can be a good activity for our hearts by burning calories, lowering our blood pressure and helping to relieve stress. It's a good thing then, that this month also marks the kickoff to another glorious growing season, with Spring gardening events popping up everywhere like early daffodils.

You'll find a handy listing HERE, offering plenty of sweet seedy goodness...and just enough inspiration to get us through these last grey weeks of winter.

January 28th, 2020

How wet is it out there?

It's so wet that the animals are lining up in pairs. Ducks are wearing raincoats, the frogs are seeking shelter, and even the fish are hanging on for dear life. It's so wet that we've moved on from cats and dogs to raining ponies. Yes friends, it's pretty darn wet.

It can be easy to feel discouraged after days of stormy weather, but every cloud has a silver lining. While our aquifers are filling up for the summer and our gutters are getting a thorough flushing, our dogs are also getting free washes and we can all work on our paddling skills without ever leaving home. When you've had your fill of this wild wet coast weather though, get yourself into one of the islands' many cozy arts venues to enjoy some great Concerts and Theatre. Why not take in a live Comedy show too? Some dry humour would be pretty welcome this week.

January 21st, 2020

When the water reaches the upper levels...

...follow the rats. ~Claude A. Swanson

This week we're celebrating the Lunar New Year, as we welcome in the Year of the Rat. We're going to want to do that carefully though, as once it's in, a rat is pretty difficult to get rid of. According to one Chinese myth, the Jade Emperor said that supremacy would be determined by the order in which the creatures arrived to his party. The Rat tricked the Ox into giving him a ride, and just as they arrived at the finish line, Rat jumped down and landed ahead of Ox...to become crowned first of all zodiac animals.

It's interesting that, although nobody wants them around, rats are some of the most charming, intelligent and ambitious of animals. They've caught rides to sail across the world's oceans, successfully reigned supreme over our largest subway systems, and survived the fall of entire civilizations. As this new year begins and we search for our own inspiration, we'd do well to consider the humble rat, who has managed to thrive by virtue of its simple resourcefulness and remarkable social skills. We'd also do well to be cautious when approaching pieces of delicious smelling, unattended cheese.

January 14th, 2020

Looking for life in all the wrong places...

...searching the skies and looking for traces.

I was just reading that scientists have recently discovered over 1,200 new planets and that dozens could perhaps support life. So it's quite possible then that we aren't alone. With our limited experience, it's hard to imagine what these others might be like. Do they get along with one another? Do they cruise around the void looking for signs, too? Do they have pizza on Friday nights and watch reality TV?

It's a fascinating thought. While we're speculating about life elsewhere though, there's plenty of life to discover right here at home. There are tons of great events happening this week, so let's get out and explore this wonderful world of our own!

January 7th, 2020

What are we waiting for?

Did you know that the average person sleeps for roughly one third of their lifetime? That the same person will spend an average of fifteen years watching television? And did you know that most of us spend six months of our life waiting in line? The truth is, our time is short.

So what exactly are we waiting for?

This is the time of year when we make promises to ourselves about who we'd like to be and what we want to do differently when the time is right. Wouldn't we all simply like to be the best possible version of ourselves, though? The only thing we can hope to do differently is to free ourselves of the thoughts that are blocking our path to that goal, and the time is right. Right now. If you were waiting for the new year, it has arrived. If you've been holding back until the new decade, it's here. If you seek the perfect time to take action, it's today.

December 31st, 2019

It's good to have an end to journey toward...

...but it is the journey that matters most in the end. ~E.Hemingway

There's nothing more exhilarating than the start of another journey, is there? The New Year is a bright and clean road ahead of us. And like most great road trips, it is an adventure that wouldn't be nearly as fun if we knew exactly where we'd end up. Sure, bring a map... but keep your eyes on the road, because every good driver knows that the wheels tend to quickly follow the direction of your eyes.

Let's take one last look in the rear view mirror as the joys and sorrows of 2019 fade out of view. They say hindsight is 20/20, but this year 2020 is all about the possibilities in front of us. Let's put it in gear...and then hit that open road together.

December 17th, 2019

There's no time like the present.

In the midst of hectic planning this week, I've caught myself wishing time away. Have you ever missed a moment because you were too busy trying to capture the picture? There's no greater gift we can get than to be truly present, and no greater present we can give than to take time. Time is something we can never get enough of, is always appreciated...and can never get back once it's gone.

This year, instead of letting the days melt away like snowflakes in my hand, I'm going to do my best to look closely and feel them fully. Because no two snowflakes are ever the same.

December 10th, 2019

The twelfth month.

There's something special about December, isn't there? It isn't just that the holiday season adorns it with twinkling lights, and it isn't just that the year's longest nights steep it in snug darkness. There's something extraordinary about the number twelve.

A number full of deep spiritual, cultural and mathematical significance, the number 12 is ubiquitous. The Twelve Days of Christmas. The Twelve Tribes of Israel. Not only is it the number of months in a year, the hours on a clock face and the number of members on a jury, we buy our eggs, roses...and our beer by the dozen. We count 12 inches in a foot and 12 steps in a program. We look up in the night sky to count the 12 signs of the zodiac and down the football field at 12 players. Twelve. It speaks to a completeness that we seek.

Let's start a powerful new tradition this season, then. Let's make a list of 12 Reasons for Gratitude. We're creating our own list each day this month, and today's begins with our gratitude to you, our subscribers. Thank you for inviting us into your lives each week to bring you dozens of great local events! It's our privilege to live in one of the earth's most beautiful places with you...wherever you may be.

December 3rd, 2019

It's the season of giving.

We learn to receive early in life. But the real gifts in life come to us along the way, don't they? A broader view. A sense of purpose. A willingness to share. When we give, we grow. We grow as people, with a sense of who we are in the world. We grow as communities, with an awareness of connections. And we grow together as a society, with a responsibility for the bigger picture.

Today is Giving Tuesday. It's the perfect time for us to reach out to the many organizations that enrich the fabric of our communities and improve that global picture. It's also the perfect time to think about making it part of how we live each day.

Grow. Give. There's no time like the present.

November 26th, 2019

There's nothing like being up to watch the sun rise.

Particularly when you haven't actually fallen asleep yet.

Surely I can't be the only one who's been having trouble sleeping lately. Is it the time change? Apparently there’s a part of the brain that uses light to regulate our circadian rhythms, so the short days and early darkness would explain it. Some animals need to wake from hibernation to get sleep, and no one seems to know why. So maybe we haven't just been feeling lazy these past few weeks, but have simply been hibernating.

Or maybe there are just so many great things to do at this time of the year, that we don't want to miss anything.

Whatever the reason, now that we're turning the calendar page this weekend, I'm switching from counting sheep to counting sugarplums. Like they say...a change is as good as a rest.

November 19th, 2019

A child is not a vase to be filled...

...but a fire to be lit. ~Francois Rabelais

Decorating has begun. All across our islands, anticipation is building, and in the upcoming days our communities will celebrate with beautiful light-up events that signal the beginning of the holiday season. Children are excited, and the child in all of us stirs too in the magical glow of those twinkling lights.

This week we also happen to be celebrating Universal Children's Day, a day designated by the United Nations to promote children's welfare around the globe and to foster dialogue that results in a better world for them. What a perfect opportunity to talk about the many ways we can promote wellness, fairness and peace in our communities and in our world. By being lights in the darkness ourselves, we light the fire of compassion in our children for life.

What better gift could we ever give them?

November 5th, 2019

I love the light for it shows me the way...

...yet I love the darkness for it shows me the stars. ~A. Mandino

Our clocks have been turned back, the days are shortening, and we are steadily moving into the dark time. While it's easy to look back with longing at the golden hours of summer, there are plenty of great reasons to love the season of long nights also. So, instead of looking back, look up. These clear cold nights offer spectacular opportunities for star gazing. Out on Vancouver Island's quiet country roads and high rocky places, far from traffic and city lights, Mother Nature puts on her free nightly light show...and it's incredible.

Those aren't the only stars that come out in the crisp fall Island evenings, either. When you've drunk your fill of the Milky Way, you'll want to move indoors to take in the warmth and cheer of a live musical performance. From country to classical and from rock to reggae, hundreds of stars will be gracing our local stages in the upcoming weeks. Check out our ever-growing Concert Listings, and start planning your journey across the sparkling Vancouver Island musical universe!

October 29th, 2019

On ghoulies and ghosties and long legged beasties...

...and things that go bump in the night.

Halloween night is sneaking up on us, and across Vancouver Island costumes are being crafted and parties being planned. You'll find tons of spirited ways to get your ghoul on with our big list of Vancouver Island Halloween Events...so get ready to eat, drink and be scary!

There are many more terrifying things out there than a monster costume, though. A cancer diagnosis, for example. Movember starts this week, and men around the globe will be growing frightening amounts of facial hair to raise awareness and funds for the number one cancer affecting men: Prostate Cancer.

Get informed, get registered, and get involved. Taking off the mask is the best way to take the fear out of men's health issues.

October 22nd, 2019

And to all a gourd night...

This week, fantastic lit pumpkins of all shapes will begin to line our streets and decorate our doorsteps.

Ever wondered where the idea came from? Apparently this festive tradition has its origin in Ireland with the legend of Stingy Jack, whose fate it was to forever wander the countryside with nothing but a glowing coal in a hollowed out turnip to light his way. Folks lit their own turnip and potato lights, placing them in windows to keep Stingy Jack, Jack o' the Lantern, away. After emigrating to North America, people found that the native gourds were perfect for lantern making...and it has remained a family tradition ever since.

Whether you're looking to find your own perfect pumpkin, to learn to carve like a pro, or to visit a fantastic community display, you'll find all kinds of inspiration and more on our big list of Vancouver Island Halloween Events.

From fun to fearsome, there's something for everyone. And that's a very gourd thing.

October 8th, 2019

If we're thankful for what we have...

...we end up having more. But if we concentrate on what we don't have, we'll never have enough.

We've all got so much to be thankful for this weekend, don't we? Maybe it's for family and extra time off work to share with them. For not having to water the garden if it rains, and for those last late-season tomatoes if it doesn't.

For a chance to run trails instead of errands, for driving the ball down the fairway instead of driving the car to work. Thankful for not having enough chairs to seat everyone and no space left for a second helping. For it being someone else's year to cook. And for the good fortune of not having been born a turkey.

This weekend, may the only pie charts we see be pumpkin ones...and may we all remember to save room for another big serving of gratitude.

October 1st, 2019

Food for thought:

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. ~J.R.R. Tolkien

It's about gathering together in the kitchen when there is much more comfortable furniture elsewhere. It's about recognizing life's milestones with a celebratory meal. It's about offering food when there's nothing you can say.

Food brings people together.

As harvest time peaks, we've got some unique opportunities coming up to gather in the name of great local food, and many of them start right at our local Farmers' Markets. We've tossed together a handy list of them HERE, so share it with anyone who's ever told you that it's wrong to play with your food. They've obviously never been to Vancouver Island in the fall!

September 24th, 2019

Are you a picky eater?

If "picky eater" means that you love eating stuff you've picked yourself...then count me in! There's something about fall that brings out the hunter-gatherer in all of us. After the wonderful autumn rains, are you finding yourself hunting for delectable chantrelles? Have you been gathering friends to hunt for abandoned apple orchards?

Fresh and local foodie goodness is one of our favourite aspects of Vancouver Island culture...and this is truly the season of plenty.  Why not celebrate Canada's Culture Days this week with a local food workshop or a delicious harvest feast?

We've even gathered up some great ideas HERE so you won't have to hunt too far for information. That's just a waste of precious foraging time!

September 17th, 2019

Peace is a journey of a thousand miles...

...taken one step at a time. ~ Lyndon B. Johnson

Friday September 21st is International Peace Day.

It's hard to envision a peaceful world, though, if we can't quite imagine a peaceful day. What would that day look like to you? Maybe it would be a day without having to resolve family conflict, or one with a moment amidst the noise when you can hear the silence. Maybe it's a walk with your dog on the beach or a workday without letting the chaos bruise your spirit. Maybe it's finally putting a nagging grudge away for good.

However you decide to spend the day, make it meaningful. Because a peaceful week is just a matter of repeating it six more times after that.

September 10th, 2019

Ever notice that animals don't procrastinate?

Or defer action, as I prefer to call it.

Out there in the natural world, creatures have an innate sense of what's good for them, and they dig in to accomplish as much as possible before hard times arrive. How is it, then that we humans can usually find a thousand ways to avoid taking action, when all signs indicate that we should be out there gathering our peanuts, too?

Friday is National Peanut Day. Really, it is. And if we take our cue from the squirrels, there couldn't be a more perfect day in the world to make a budget, make a will, make a fitness schedule...or make a big batch of peanut butter cookies.

September 3rd, 2019

The sweet smell of success.

It's the time of year on Vancouver Island when the air is particularly fragrant.

Our sense of smell is deeply connected with our memories, and the aromas of September take us back. For some, the scent of ripening apples and freshly mowed hay fields brings back memories of times gone by. The tang of campfire smoke reminds us of the special Island summers of our youth.  The scent of leaves beginning to fall reminds us of time passing. But for others, the smells of September thrust us forward: A freshly sharpened pencil. A pristine box of crayons. The pages of a book opened for the first time. A brand new pair of gym shoes. Erasers.

Going back to school has its own magical perfume, and it evokes the thrill of the unknown and the excitement of possibility.  Have you been missing that feeling? Have a look through the many Classes and Workshops happening this fall, and get a whiff of a whole new world of possibilities.

August 27th, 2019

If only we could bottle the summer sunshine.

Then we could save it for those cold winter days when the sky is grey and hidden in a blanket of fog.

Well guess what? Right now in our communities, there are farmers harvesting acres of fresh vegetables and fruit. Right here in our neighbourhoods, skilled producers of wonderful jams, jellies and more are working on preserving that bounty. There's nothing quite like summer on Vancouver Island, and you can taste the angle of the sun, the smell of the sea and the hot red-gold earth in each carrot, serving of beans and spoonful of jelly. As the shadows begin to grow longer, now is the time to visit your local Farmers' Market or Country Fair to pick up some award-winning sunshine of your own.

And when you open your jars this winter, the messages inside will say "Remember me? I'm summer...and I'm not so very far away."

August 20th, 2019

If you can't stand the heat...

...stay out of the kitchen.

Wise words indeed, and this week summer has finally arrived on Vancouver Island. Finding yourself simmering in Mother Nature's slow cooker? Never question an opportunity to get out of meal preparation if it's just too darn warm to cook inside! Why not make it an opportunity to pack a picnic and check out one of the Island's great river spots, lakesides or beautiful beaches?

When you're crispy and well done on both sides, there are some great Music and Theatre Events to enjoy...conveniently taking place in refreshingly air-conditioned venues.  Some may like it hot, but culture is always cool.

August 13th, 2019

Have you met your Inner Islander?

If you haven't been introduced yet, then it's time to get to know the fun-loving, relaxed and smiling, barefoot part of you who:

Thinks gumboots and flipflops are the only footwear they really need. Who doesn't ever check the weather forecast, but does check the boat and RV listings daily. The part of you who last wore a suit at their brother's wedding...and he just celebrated his 10th anniversary. Who spends $1000 on a cistern and $9.99 on a snow shovel. Who opens the trunk and finds a spare tire, a cooler and a crab trap. The part of you that makes their sales calls from the river.

Your Inner Islander called. They said to tell you that you haven't been spending enough time together. Make a date for one of the many fantastic events happening on the Island this week...and get reunited!

August 6th, 2019

Well that was fast.

And I'm not talking about a campground toonie shower or a bathtub race, either. What on earth happened to July?.

Every cloud has a silver lining. With the cooler weather, we've been able to defer the Annual Swimsuit Crisis for a whole month, we've caught up on a ton of great movies...and it'll sure be a great year for mushrooms. The front half of summer hasn't flown by for everyone, though. If you've got a gang of restless kids at home, I think you know what I'm talking about. Everyone's ready for an adventure, and there are some amazing family events and programs happening right now in a Vancouver Island community near you.

CLICK for the list, start your planning...and make this summer the one that those kids will always remember!

July 30th, 2019

They say only three things are needed for a good life...

Good friends, good food...and good song.

And there'll be plenty of that and more coming our way as the midsummer long weekend nears.

Across the Island, old friendships will be rekindled at outdoor concerts and new ones made at BC Day picnics. Gatherings of friends always involve tasty drinks and great food...so Food Day Canada on Saturday couldn't be better timed. Rejoice in home-grown culinary creativity! Seriously, is there anywhere better than here to revel in world-renowned local fare?

There's so much to celebrate this weekend that we get an extra day to do it, too. Let's toast to the beauty and bounty of BC: To the Good Life!

July 23rd, 2019

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Did you know though, that it also happens to be worth a hundred dollars?.

The fields are bursting with fresh, local goodness and BC's fresh bounty is being shown off at farmers’ markets all around the province.  Right now, you have a chance of winning one of two tasty prizes just by giving the BC Association of Farmers' Markets a taste of why you love our great BC farmers’ markets!  Simply snap a photo to post on Instagram and follow the easy instructions. In addition to all the fresh food that's already in your basket, you could also be bringing home $100 for your favourite market or a Bernardin Home Canning Kit.

Use our Vancouver Island Farmers' Market directory to begin planning your market trail, and tag us when sharing your beautiful photos! Farmers’ market season is upon us...and it's a season that just keeps on giving.

July 16th, 2019

Are you ready to meet your Maker?

Are you ready to meet your Maker?

Don't worry...I'm not talking about The End. I'm talking about The Beginning! The beginning of a fantastic ball of inspired DIY handmade goodness that's unraveling across the Island and weaving it's way into our lives. Have you caught Maker Fever yet?

If you've scanned the classifieds for used sewing machines, trolled the recycling depot for materials to recondition, or repurposed your spouse's expensive paring knife into a slick carving tool...you've definitely got it.

There's a revival of traditional skills and self-made sophistication happening in our communities. Look HERE for inspiration, grab some scissors...and get ready to make something happen.

July 9th, 2019

Wine is sunlight...

...held together by water. ~Galileo Galilei

Here on Vancouver Island, we're surrounded by water and an abundance of sunshine is what defines our summers. Our unique climate makes so many of the things we love possible, and it's no wonder that visitors come from all around the world to love them with us. An island summer is perfect for ocean swimming, for long festival evenings and for afternoons on the beach. For surfing. For farm-to-table cuisine, for watching whales.

And for growing grapes.

Did you know that Vancouver Island has 32 licensed grape wineries? It's true, and there's nothing quite like relaxing on a sun-drenched patio, sipping a glass of local, award-winning estate wine with friends. This week, why not plan an adventure through the Vancouver Island Wine Region? With all the great wine events we've listed for you HERE, your cup is sure to be overflowing all summer long!

July 2nd, 2019

Need a time out?

Close your eyes and imagine your special place. Or better yet...open them up really wide and go there yourself.

An Island summer is jam-packed with fantastic things to do, and the days whirl by like a festival parade. In the blur of activity, are you missing out on quiet time? There is restoration and inspiration to be found in Vancouver Island's many special places, and whether yours involve a beach, a dog and a tennis ball or a quiet lawn, a garden and a paint box...let mother nature nurture your nature this summer.

If you're looking for some great ideas, check out our growing list of outdoor events HERE. And we'd love to share the journey as you travel to those special Vancouver Island places, so tag us on Instagram...where pictures truly are worth a thousand words.

June 25th, 2019

Festivarian.

(noun) A lover of life, a Festivarian is a social animal who is both liked and feared by many due to an irresistible personality and tendency to have an amazing time all summer long.

Like a starting shot, the final school bells of the year will get another great summer festival season off and running in the upcoming days.

But how would you know if you're a Festivarian?

If you have a set of cutlery and a plastic plate hidden in your purse. If you have a collection of tarps in a drawer arranged by size and tagged by festival. If someone asks you to borrow sunscreen and you ask "15, 30, 45 or 60?" If you routinely wear a swimsuit under your street clothes because you're pretty sure the day will present an opportunity to get out for a swim...somewhere.

Then you're definitely a Festivarian, and THIS LIST is your required reading.

June 11th, 2019

Carpe Diem.

Believe it or not, this week we're approaching some of the longest days of the year.

That means we'll have the most time possible on the water before the sun goes down. The most time on the trail. We'll be sneaking in one more round of golf and one more swim in the river. We'll have more hours in the garden than at any other time of the year, and the longest evenings on the beach.

We'll be squeezing every drop of sunshine out of every day to remember while the nights are long, like a ripe red strawberry whose fragrant juice stains our fingers long after the last of the fruit is gone.

Seize the day.

And while you're doing that, seize the dad. This weekend we're celebrating Father's Day. There's nothing that dads want more than to seize those very moments with the people he loves most...and to savour those precious drops of sweetness together.

June 4th, 2019

And since all this loveliness cannot be heaven...

I know in my heart it is June. ~A. Woolson

Remember the joy of turning a calendar page, the end of a long school year finally within view? Remember knowing that a long and wonderful summer stretched out before you like a magical shimmering lake?

June is my favourite month. It's a time of anticipation. Of growth. Of infinite possibility. Did you know that the word June has it's origin in the Latin word iuniores, meaning youthful ones? June is the beginning of a journey, it's greatest beauty hidden in our knowledge that it cannot last forever.

Let's remember that as we approach the year's longest days, and seize every opportunity to dive in headfirst. Let's all ride the midway, run in the grass barefoot, laugh in the sunlight...and play outside until dark.

 

May 14th, 2019

May 7th, 2019

Life's a messy business.

"The more people there are in your life, the bigger the mess....and the more love." ~Louise Rafkin

Having said that...did you know that this Friday is National Clean Up Your Room Day? It seems to me like more than just a simple coincidence that this holiday happens to fall right at the start of Mothers Day weekend. So while there's love in making messes, maybe there's just a little bit more love in cleaning them up.

You won't need to wait long for your reward, either. Saturday is National Eat What You Want Day! Now that's also a holiday that moms obviously had a hand in designing, so why not celebrate with her over a decadent treat? Sunday is Mothers Day after all, and that's a day when calories don't count. My mom said so.

April 23rd, 2019

I think that I shall never see...

...a poem lovely as a tree. ~Joyce Kilmer.

And that's probably true. But that doesn't mean we can't give it a try.

With carefully chosen words, a poem can describe, convey and evoke in a way that no other form can. The truth that it reveals is greater than the sum of its parts. April is National Poetry Month, a celebration of the profound power of the written word, and the wonderful work of many talented people in our communities who write it. Are you a poet? Do you know?

It's time to find out. As it happens, we've all been issued a poetic license...and this is the week to use it: Earth Week. What could possibly be more thought-provoking than this blue green planet herself? Be inspired.

April 16th, 2019

April 9th, 2019

Nobody can do everything...

...but everybody can do something.

Did you know that Canada has 13.3 million volunteers working in local communities from coast to coast?

That's a lot of hands creating opportunities, filling gaps, shaping connections...and making things happen. In fact, many of the programs and organizations that make our communities vibrant and healthy wouldn't even exist without their work. Now is the perfect time to celebrate them, during National Volunteer Week.

Everyone's got something to offer, so if you're curious about where your unique talents might come in handy, THIS is a great place to start.

Maybe all you can give right now is your support, though. So lend an encouraging hand. There is only one thing you can say to a volunteer that's even more appreciated than "How can I help?"... And that's "Thank you!"

April 2nd, 2019

It's shoulder season.

Not quite yet the one of baring arms, though. Soon enough we'll be feeling the summer sunshine warm on our skin, but in the meantime it's the other shoulder season... the one of shoulders bearing the weight of garden soil and compost, of carrying watering cans and pathway gravel. Of digging fruit tree holes.

Luckily for us, shoulder season also means that it's the time for taking advantage of great off-season hotel and attraction rates! Here on Vancouver Island, our early spring means that we have beautiful weather to enjoy months before our summer visitors arrive, and tons of beautiful beaches, forests and mountains to explore. Feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders? Need a break from your spring cleaning?

Maybe it's time for a stay-cation. There's no better time to do it than right now....and no better place than right here.

March 26th, 2019

The favour of a drop of water...

...should be repaid as an overflowing spring.  ~Chinese Proverb

And Spring is a time of overflowing. When our rivers are rushing with snow melt and everything is bursting with green, it's so easy to forget that Mother Nature will soon be turning off that faucet, leaving us with long and thirsty summer days.

Not only have we just welcomed the first day of Spring, right now we're also celebrating Canada Water Week. Water is one of our most precious resources, and all of it that we'll ever have already exists on the planet. This week, take a look upstream. Each of our local and global communities faces unique challenges with obtaining and managing the life-giving water that we all need to survive, but we have the ability to do it.

We may be made 75% of water ourselves...but that leaves a solid 25% responsible for everyone's welfare.

March 19th, 2019

We're at the breaking point.

As the heavy winter weather begins to break and we're all feeling ready for a break ourselves...it arrives just in time.

We made it. Spring Break is finally here and it's not a time to pause, but a time to play! The herring are running, and so should we be also. Let's get outside and join the rest of the natural world as it breaks out of its winter sleep in a burst of new life. You'll find plenty of ideas for outdoor family adventure and more HERE. On the wild west coast, the learning never stops...even when school is out.

There's no better classrooms than the beach and forest, and there's no better teacher on Earth than Mother Nature herself.

March 12th, 2019

Life is not merely to be alive...

...but to be well.  ~Marcus Valerius Martial

So what are you doing to improve your state of wellness? For some, this might mean doing less, halting the chaos of life to find clarity. For others, it might mean doing more. I read somewhere that: "Happiness is that peculiar sensation you acquire when you are far too busy to be miserable."

Whether you're needing to feel your heart in the music or hands in the dirt, to lose yourself in dance or find yourself in sport, we hope that you'll find your own way in our Health and Wellness event listings. However you choose to do it...be well.

March 5th, 2019

In like a lion.

With another week of sub-zero temperatures in the forecast, March has come in with sharp teeth snapping.

But while the lion is often seen as a ferocious predator, it's important to remember that it has a more social side as well. Did you know that female lions, sisters, live together for life? And that it's the female lions who usually do the hunting together for the pride? That it's those same groups that also collectively raise the young cubs? It's true, giving us yet more examples of positive female energy to celebrate as we prepare for International Women's Day on March 8.

We've got a ton of other great things to celebrate this month also, with March bringing us the lion's share of great community events. Check out our High Five Events Video for some of the top picks this month...and get ready to welcome spring with us. That's definitely something to roar about!

February 26th, 2019

What's small and sweet, and makes you feel happy inside?

A brand new puppy? Yes. A cuddly furball of a kitten? Maybe a rabbit, hamster or a miniature horse? Yes! A cupcake? A cookie? Absolutely yes!

This week is BC SPCA Treat Week, when thousands of people across Canada are offering delicious goodies to friends, family, and coworkers in exchange for donations helping BC’s most vulnerable animals. It's a sweet way to help animals in need and to support the many fine folks who have made it their life's work. Whether your specialty is artisan handmade chocolates or stopping by the local coffee shop to pick up double-doubles and donuts for the office, know that your simple gesture will be treating local animals to a sweeter life.

If you're anything like me though, it's going to take a few tries before a tray of tasty cuppycakes or a batch of gooey cookies gets anywhere near its intended destination. As every dog lover knows...the sit and lie down are easy. It's the leave it that's the most difficult to master.

February 19th, 2019

One thing about cold weather:

It brings out the statistician in everyone. ~Paul Theroux

Isn't that the truth? With the worst of the winter storms hopefully behind us, we'll all be delighted to once again have conversations about topics other than inches of snow, days below zero, historical temperatures and the meteorological mysteries of windchill calculation.

There's one statistic we desperately need to continue talking about however. It's about the percentage of people in our communities who are hurting, hungry and homeless. Living without the warmth and safety of a home is difficult to imagine, and even desperately more so during these coldest days of the year. One way to better understand the difficulty another person faces is to simply walk in their footsteps, and we'll have an opportunity to do just that together at one of the many local Coldest Night Of The Year Walks happening on February 23rd. This family-friendly national event brings communities together in empathy and action, raising funds that directly benefit local organizations who help to ease the hardship of those left out in the cold. Let's bundle up and walk the walk.

That's the other thing about cold weather: We're always warmer when we gather close together.

February 12th, 2019

So much to love.

February can be a turbulent month here on the islands, when ill-tempered winter makes its last blustery campaign before surrendering to the gentle advances of spring. In Old English, February was called Sol-monath, the month of mud, or Kale-monath, the cabbage month. It seems like it our ancient forebears didn't care too much for the month then either...and I think that's exactly how we came to celebrate Heart Month as we do now. We looked for love at the time we needed it the very most. And we found it.

There's something to be learned from that, isn't there?

It's precisely the reason why there are so many fascinating holidays found during this shortest and stormiest of months. First and most obviously, there is Valentine's Day on the 14th for those who rejoice with their sweethearts. Also on the 14th there is Library Lovers Month, for those who observe the day curled up with a favourite book instead. The 15th brings us Singles Awareness Day, for those who delight in their own solitude...and then Do a Grouch a Favor Day on the 16th, for those who might need some help with that. In fact, we all could use a little help sometimes, which is how Random Acts of Kindness Day came to be celebrated on February 17th in many places. Here in British Columbia, we'll be observing Family Day with our loved ones on the 18th, the same date as National Drink Wine Day...which may or may not be a coincidence.

No matter where we are and what condition we may find ourselves, we can always find something to celebrate.
Sometimes it may be difficult to see, but love is all around us, this month and every month.

January 29th, 2019

Long may you run.

As we approach the end of the first month of the year, the darkest and coldest days of the year are now behind us...and with them, many of our New Year resolutions. How are you doing with that?

If some of your intentions for the coming year were to get outside more, to be more active and to see more of our glorious islands, then you may just want to consider buying a pair of running shoes. Did you know that even a modest recreational running program can improve your overall mental health, prevent high blood pressure, boost confidence and strengthen your immune system? It's true.

It's also true that there's no better place to do it then here on the glorious west coast. Whether your route takes you through forests, down country roads, along shorelines or above the mountain treeline, you'll always find something that takes your breath away. If you're needing some inspiration, a goal to get you started or some company along the way, you'll find just what you're looking for on our big list of this year's Vancouver Island Running Events.

And if you can't run, then walk. It's not about winning races or getting there quickly. It's about feeling the wind on your face, the strength in your body....and the freedom in your soul.

January 22nd, 2019

All of life's big lessons can be learned in the garden.

I believe this. While we're busy looking up to the skies for the big truths, they're hidden right before us in plain sight.

It is a wondrous thing to choose a seed, tend the plant, defend the fruit and feed yourself. It's also a difficult and humbling thing, and a fundamental act that unites everyone across all cultures and religions.

When we engage in the process of our own nourishment, we are forced to face the powerful natural systems upon which we completely rely for our very existence. We catch a glimmer of a system larger than any one of us, of which we are only one part. We know interconnectedness.

Vancouver Island's Seedy Saturdays are beginning now. Go. Grab a hoe. Plant a row. Sowing seed is the way to sow understanding, to cultivate cooperation... and to grow hope for our future.

January 15th, 2019

January.

The first month of the year gets its name from Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and endings, and he is often depicted as having one face looking behind and one forward. Now that we've had a couple of weeks to do our own looking behind, it's time to turn our faces forward. That is the direction we're headed, after all!

Have you made any New Year's resolutions? A wonderfully open road is before us. If we don't decide where we're going though, how will we know when we arrive?

If you're in doubt, go outside.

It's the one resolution that covers all of the others. Whether you need to slow down or speed up, bulk up or slim down, to disconnect or to reconnect...you'll find it there. If you need to meet people or spend more time alone, to be more creative or to find more focus. To simplify your life or to expand your horizons. It's right there out the window.

January 8th, 2019

Feel the magic of the silver screen.

Nestled snugly between the hectic holiday happenings and the green glory of gardening season is one of my favourite times of the year. Winter is the time for great films!

There's nothing more dramatic than real life. So why are we so drawn to reel life on the big screen, then? Maybe it's because the silver screen is a mirror that shows us what we really look like. It's a time machine launching us to a forgotten past and hinting at a mysterious future. It's a window through which we see our hopes and the truth of them.

Or maybe it's just that delicious buttery popcorn.

There are fabulous Film Events happening across the Island in the upcoming weeks. Get your ticket, take your seat...and let the magic begin.

January 1st, 2019

The new year is upon us...

...like a fresh blank page. Like untouched snow. Like a garden yet to be planted.

On New Year's Day, it's our special tradition to take out the crisp new seed catalogues and assemble our order for the upcoming year. We take stock of our leftover seeds, compost those that are no longer viable, and make note of those that will work well into this year's garden plan. In a way, we all do this at the start of the year, don't we? As we prepare to cultivate the fertile soil of our own hopes and dreams, we leave behind the things that will no longer grow in favour of those which will best nourish us.

What seeds will you choose to plant this year?

Let's choose things that are beautiful and things that are useful. Let's select good strong seeds that will withstand difficulties that the upcoming year may bring. Those seeds will grow into brilliant and delicious plants that we can rely on, that will feed our body and soul. Let's choose rare and fragrant things...the ones that are at their best when shared with others.

May your planting be joyful, and your garden productive. Happy New Year.

December 25th, 2018

Feel the warmth of an unexpected gift. 

Maybe you're joyfully getting ready to gather with family to open gifts around the fireside. Or maybe you're not, and you're feeling the chill of difficult times.

Wherever you are, however you are, be assured that there is something wonderful waiting to be opened this week. It's for you.

Open your eyes to the beauty of this incredible world. Open your mind to the infinite possibilities that such surprising beauty reveals. Open your arms to the hope that those possibilities will spark...

...and then open your heart to let them take fire.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas.

December 18th, 2018

Out of the darkness, and heading for the light.

Friday may be the first day of winter...but it's also the milestone that means that the longest night of the year is behind us.

Whether you're planning on dancing with abandon this weekend, or just looking forward to not traveling to and from work in the dark, there's a sense of renewed energy and hope that comes with the return of the light. Get out and celebrate it!

Since the earliest times, people have set fire to their regrets, disappointments and failures on the longest night and watched them disappear into the bright flames.

That's a good idea...and the ashes will help your spring garden grow.

December 11th, 2018

The only thing better than a white Christmas...

...is a green Christmas!

Dashing through the snow sounds good, but splashing through the surf sounds better. A one-horse open sleigh sounds romantic, but doesn't an open-top convertible sound pretty great too? And I just know that you'd trade those silver bells for a nine iron if you could. That's exactly what we'll be doing if this mild weather trend continues, and all across Vancouver Island we'll hear the sound of lawnmowers ringing out in the winter air on Christmas day.

Yes, I'm dreaming of a Green Christmas, one without footprints in the snow.

While we're at it, why don't we try not to leave any footprints at all? This year, let's challenge one another to make it a truly green holiday and work together to reduce the waste we leave behind. Some of the best gifts of all are the gifts of time spent, help given...and experiences shared. If we take only butter tarts, we leave only memories.

May your tread be gentle and light...and may all your Christmases be bright!

December 4th, 2018

Maybe it's much too early in the game...

...but I thought I'd ask you all the same: What are you doing New Year's Eve?

It might seem cruel to ask this question while we're still looking for the Christmas decorations, but New Year's Eve really is a night that requires some advance planning. Are you a toques and toboggans kind of family, gathering with neighbours at a community event? A sequins and slingbacks couple, welcoming the New Year at a formal gala?

Haven't thought about it yet? Then check out our ever-growing list of Island New Year's Eve Events for some festive inspiration.

However you decide to ring in 2019, make sure it's a night to remember!

November 27th, 2018

When we're wrapped up in ourselves...

...we make pretty small packages.

But when we give, we get. And when we share, we grow. Except when it comes to shortbread. (In that case, it's butter to receive and there's probably more growth in the getting than the giving.)

Today is Giving Tuesday.

It's a day to take stock of the gifts that we already have and think about how we can best regift them. We all have something significant to offer, whether it be our money, our time, our skills, our encouragement...or simply our attention.

No matter how small the gesture, what we leave behind is always going to be more than what we'll take with us.

November 20th, 2018

It's the season of lineups.

This is the time we wait for all year. Seemingly out of nowhere, the multitudes gather to begin their quests. Pressed together in masses and straining to get the best position, they move forward slowly but purposefully. With their eyes bulging and the very core of their beings fixed on their destination, nothing will stop them from reaching their ultimate goal.

Yes, this weekend does mark the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season, but what I'm really talking about is the salmon run. All across our islands, an incredible phenomenon is happening at this time of the year, as our local streams and creeks are the stage for one of nature's most compelling dramas. The salmon are returning upstream to spawn, and as a key part of the ocean food chain, it is critical that these beautiful creatures are successful.

This week, give yourself the gift of witnessing it for yourself. At a time when our attention is easily distracted elsewhere, take some time to be moved by the simple but overwhelming power of nature.

November 13th, 2018

If you could read my mind...

...what a tale my thoughts could tell. ~Gordon Lightfoot

Music is the language we use to express what's beyond the reach of words, and this week we'll have many opportunities to experience how that sounds in our uniquely Canadian voices. Canada Music Week begins this weekend!

And speaking of voices...some of the most beautiful and stirring music ever written for the voice is performed during the Christmas season. It's a deeply moving way to feel the holidays' heart and soul, so be sure to put a choral concert on your Christmas checklist. There are also hundreds of other ways to move and be moved by the power of music right here on Vancouver Island, and you'll discover all kinds of opportunities to support live local music-making HERE.

Music has the power to inspire us, to lift our spirits, and to unite us in our differences. Isn't that just the gift we'd all love to receive most this season?

November 6th, 2018

They say you can't truly know a thing's value...

...until you've held it in your hand.

And this weekend we'll be gathering to consider the many men and women who have held lives in their hands as they've worked to carry peace to those who most desperately need it in the world.

In the complexity of politics and the intricacies of government systems, it can be so easy to forget that peace is essentially a handmade item, and that each hand that has offered it has been the only one of its kind. Let's meet at our local Remembrance Day services this week and join hands together in honour of those who have risked everything to offer us that precious gift.

October 30, 2018

If I could turn back time...

...what would I do with those extra hours?

Like it or not, we'll be turning our clocks back this Sunday at 2am. The usefulness of Daylight Savings has been the subject of much debate, and we all know that the hour gained and lost by it must come from somewhere, whether it be from our morning sleep or our evening read. You can take a slice of pizza from my dinner and give it to me for breakfast, but you can't fool me...there's no extra slice of pizza.

Having said that, I really love the idea of turning the clock hand back to one when the little hand hits the two. We get a chance to live that hour over. What will you do with your midnight mulligan, your starlight second chance? Will you read your kids one more chapter of that book? Watch one more episode of your favourite show? Maybe sit down and have that conversation that you just didn't have time for before? Or maybe you'll dream up a new project or design yourself a fresh new look.

Or maybe, like me, you'll order one more pizza and enjoy it with your best friend under the stars. After all, as the Roman poet Virgil wisely noted: All our sweetest hours fly fastest.

October 23rd, 2018

Fear not.

Everyone is afraid of something, and many of the deeply rooted things that we seem to fear as a species have their origins in our own self preservation. Of course we'd be afraid of high places, because we might get hurt falling from them. A fear of snakes and spiders seemed reasonable, as our outdoor-living ancestors were terribly vulnerable to their venomous bites. Flying is terribly scary, because we weren't born with wings.

But did you know that our top five fears also include speaking in public, going to the dentist and having needle injections? If we can be afraid of three situations supported by trusted professionals that most often have positive effects on our lives, then it makes sense that trying to see things from another perspective is the most powerful step in overcoming that fear. Why not gather to embrace the things that scare us and have a laugh at them together?

This week we're celebrating exactly that point of view, as the streets fill with adorable little costumed monsters and goblins, and our communities host tons of fun and family-friendly Halloween Events. Zombies aren't scary at all when they're three feet tall and holding their mom's hand. Ghosts can't frighten you when they're wearing your spare room bed sheets. And monsters definitely aren't scary when they're asking politely at the door for those tasty little one-bite chocolate bars.

Hey, wait...maybe those terrifying dentists really ARE behind it, after all.

October 16th, 2018

Small things are a big deal.

You don't have to be large to be incredibly powerful. Consider the acorn. The ant. The atom.

Small business accounted for 99.7% of businesses in Canada last year. That's a powerful number. It's Small Business Week, and we're not only celebrating the economic contributions made by local businesses, but also the diversity and cultural signature that each contributes to our communities.

We're also recognizing the big challenges that business owners face as our consumer choices increase. It's in these small daily choices that our actions have the biggest significance, and every day we can choose to support a local option.

Like a wise man once said: If you think you're too small to make a difference, you've never tried to sleep with a mosquito in the room.

October 9th, 2018

There's some great folk on Vancouver Island.

And the people are pretty great, too!

Music festivals may abound in the summer, but the music doesn't end when the leaves start to fall. This month, coffeehouses and folk clubs are tuning up for another season of fantastic local music and it's a great way to get out and hear local talent in a friendly community atmosphere.

Have you always yearned to give it a try yourself? You'll never find a more encouraging and appreciative audience...so maybe this is your year for the spotlight. You'll find a great list of upcoming concerts HERE and a growing list of Island folk clubs HERE.

As for me, I think George Burns might have had me in mind when he said "I love to sing, and I love to drink scotch. Most people would rather hear me drink scotch."

 

September 25th, 2018

On the first week of fall...

it would be pretty easy to be sad, looking for a rake and thinking about how quickly the summer has gone by. Gone are those hot swimming days and long lazy lake weekends.

But as they say, when one door closes, another window opens. There are two ways to look at it. Are you a window half open, or half closed type? For me the onset of fall just means that it's more of an apple-picking and mushroom-eating, wide-open kind of window.

Fall means harvest time. It's easily the loveliest season on Vancouver Island, and Mother Nature is all decked out in her finest splendour. Put down that rake and get out and celebrate with her at one of the many fantastic autumn events happening this week across the islands.

And those leaves? They'll eventually blow away on their own anyway.

September 18th, 2018

For Those About to Rock...

...we salute you.

This week, the Canadian Cancer Society Cops for Cancer are gearing up for the 2018 Tour de Rock. The team will cycle from one end of Vancouver Island to the other over 14 days, covering a distance of 1,000km. They'll experience long days, difficult weather, grueling climbs and an exhausting pace. They'll endure discouragement, mental exhaustion and physical pain.

These are the same challenges that sick children face. The ride is about overcoming adversity and is a symbol of hope for the many kids who are fighting cancer in our communities right now. Let's get involved in some of the great events along the route, and be there to cheer on those riders when that lean, mean two-wheeled machine rolls through town.

They're riding those bikes so that others can get back up on theirs.

September 4th, 2018

It's back to the classroom, everyone.

All across Vancouver Island, lunches are being made, supplies are being collected and backpacks are being filled.

For many families, the kids are heading to school this week and another season of learning has begun. But that doesn't mean that September won't mean great learning opportunities for the rest of us. There is poetry in the evening breezes as they coax the drying leaves from their branches and there is chemistry in those leaves as they begin to change from green to gold. There is mathematics in the migration of great winged flocks as they begin their southward journeys. There is language in the bird song that greets us in the mornings, music in the tree frog chorus that sings us to sleep at night, and physics in those long shadows cast by the golden afternoon sun.

There is great wisdom to be discovered in the natural world. Make a lunch, collect your supplies, and fill your backpack. It's the most beautiful time of the year in our region... and our wild green places are the most inspiring of classrooms.

August 28th, 2018

So the long and short of it...

...is that the shadows are growing longer and time is running short.

Somehow I've managed to not tackle anything on my long list of summer home projects. Now I've drawn the short straw, and it's looking like this truly will be a labour day weekend at our house. While we're longing for the beach though, Vancouver Island will be buzzing with activity!

If you've got a long list of chores in front of you too, you'll find hundreds of great ways to avoid them on HarbourLiving.ca. Cash in short supply? That's not a problem either. We've got a growing list of fantastic FREE Events across the Island.

Finally the long weekend is upon us...and none of us are short on things to do.

August 21st, 2018

Walk in the footsteps of giants.

Long before there were roads and towns on Vancouver Island...there were giants.

Did you know that The Sitka Spruce, Red Cedar and Douglas Fir grow to be some of the largest and tallest trees on the planet? And that right here in our own communities reside trees that were standing before countries were formed, before wars were fought and before many of our ancestors arrived on the continent of North America?

This summer, don't miss the opportunity to take the Tall Tree Route and visit them. The Ancient Forest Alliance has a fantastic Tall Tree Tour Map and Hiking Guide, as well as great information on how we can work together to protect these magnificent sentinels from the past.

Stand in the shadow of their ancient branches and feel what it's like to travel back in time. It will take your breath away.

August 14th, 2018

Vegetables are a key part of a healthy diet.

Might I suggest zucchini bread, carrot cake and pumpkin pie?

After all of the planting, the weeding, the fighting of pests and the epic struggle to keep plants alive during the hot dry season...we've finally arrived at harvest time.

At this time of year, I feel a deep and soulful kinship with the marathon runner, who after fighting a grueling battle one painful step at a time, finally has the finish line within her sight. As we each cross that finish line, we may not have a medal placed around our neck, but what we will have is baskets of edible glory. I don't know about you, but I celebrate every misshapen tomato, every spotted apple and each sun-scorched head of lettuce, because I know that as I eat them, I'll be celebrating every small victory on the long road that brought them to my plate.

There are some folks though, who will be receiving awards in the upcoming days. They are the blue ribbon winning folks whose straight and sweet carrots, immaculately groomed chickens, and perfectly preserved pickles serve as inspiration for the rest of us. Get out to one of Vancouver Island's famous Country Fairs this month to admire their work and glean some hard earned wisdom. It's a fantastic part of our Islands' agricultural heritage.

But even if you find yourself irresistibly tempted to sample a prize-winning plate of cookies...don't. Just trust me on this.

July 24th, 2018

Be careful what you wish for.

Those are wise words, indeed. This week we find ourselves simmering in Mother Nature's slow cooker.

"If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen" are also very wise words. Never question an opportunity to get out of meal preparation. It's just too darn hot to cook inside! Why not make it an opportunity to pack a picnic and check out one of the Island's great river spots, lakesides or beautiful beaches?

When you're crispy and well done on both sides, there are some great music and theatre events to enjoy...conveniently taking place in refreshingly air-conditioned venues.

The summer may be sizzling hot, but culture is always cool.

July 17th, 2018

Summer traffic stressing you out? 

We're at the height of summer, and the roads are busier than ever with summer vacationers. If you're starting to feel like you need more space, then you just might want to get off the road and spend some time honing your park-ing skills. 

Saturday is Canada Parks Day, and it's a fantastic reason to get out and explore some of the many incredible natural places and historic sites that we've got here at home. A wealth of amazing spaces have been carefully set aside for your build-your own-adventure experience, so be sure to set aside time this summer to visit them.

Plan for lots of time, too. It won't cost you any extra. Parking in our beautiful BC Parks is FREE!

July 10th, 2018

There are two kinds of people in this world.

The people who love garage sales and the people who don't.

Which type are you? I'm definitely in the reuse before recycle, bargain-hunting, treasure-seeking group.

I've also observed that there's a natural law of the universe that prevents the pairing of two of one kind with one another; a kind of accumulation yin and yang effect. It's the same marvelous universe's way of keeping us from disappearing under a mountain of board games, canning jars, fiesta ware, and vintage National Geographic magazines...and also for giving one half of each couple some peaceful time to nap between 9 and noon on summer Saturdays.

Now that's what I call a good deal.

July 3rd, 2018

Two sunny days in a row means...

...summer has finally arrived. And three in a row means that it's time to dust off the festival gear!

I'm looking back at old festival pictures and fondly remembering the days when getting ready for festing season meant grabbing the blue tarp and a couple of sandwiches. Somewhere along the way our lives must have become way more complicated though, because now I'm packing sunshades and raingear, food coolers and beverage heaters, appetizers, three course meals...and nice comfortable chairs. Now that I think about it, this started happening when we moved to Vancouver Island, where there are so many great festivals happening that you've got to plan more for endurance than for speed.

Haven't made plans yet? We've got a great list of fantastic Island festivals HERE, so you can get started planning your summer festival marathon too.

June 26th, 2018

It's the biggest party of the year.

They'll hear the cheering all the way to the mainland this weekend, as thousands gather in celebration. Shops will close. There will be parades. Crowds of families will fill the streets as the sound of music and the mouthwatering aroma of delicious street foods fill the air. We will stay out late. There will be fireworks.

Parks and beaches will be running over with happy-faced revellers and people young and old will joyfully wave their banners, because the day we've all been waiting for has finally arrived. School's out for the summer.

Oh, and we're celebrating Canada Day this weekend too!

June 19th, 2018

We change the world, one story at a time.

~Richard Wagamese

We all tell our stories in the food we eat, the things we make, the clothes we wear and the songs and dances that we've been passed from our ancestors. But those are the ways we share our story...not the story itself. We have to get much closer than that to hear what it's really all about.

This week, lean in and listen.

Fantastic cultural celebrations are happening all across the Island this week in celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day. The spotlight is shining on this special aspect of the cultural mosaic of our communities, so get out there and have a part in it. Stories were meant to be shared, and not only do the stories we tell keep our past alive...they show us how to move us into the future, too.

June 5th, 2018

Think Deeply.

It's home to 94% of the planet's life, including its largest creature, but it is not home to human life. It covers 70% of the earth's surface, but is its most unexplored region. It's where you'll find the earth's tallest mountain, but also its smallest plant. It's the key to all life...but also our deepest mystery.

What is it? The ocean.

June 8th is World Oceans Day, a day when people all around our magnificent blue planet will gather in the spirit of collaboration to honor the water that connects us all. How will you be celebrating? Maybe you'll be paddling in a quiet cove or stopping to reflect on a rocky shore. But let's also find a personal way to make a contribution to the oceans' health, whether we participate in a local beach cleanup or simply refuse a plastic bag. Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean. ~Ryunosuke Satoro

After all, when you live on an island, every day is an ocean day. We may not be able to survive within it...but we won't survive without it.

 

May 22nd, 2018

Say it in the language of flowers.

All across Vancouver Island, the spring flowers are at their peak, and it's enough to take your breath away, isn't it?

In times long gone by, hopeful lovers would send fragrant little bouquets to the object of their affection, and the special meaning of each blossom would convey the secrets of their heart. Wouldn't it be wonderful to revive this romantic old tradition again?

If the recipient of a single passion flower misses the point, then they're just not paying attention. But a bouquet of dandelions would say I'm just going to keep on trying. A handful of scotch broom says You won't get rid of me that easily. A Garry Oak seedling says I'm in it for the long run. English Ivy? This love will outlast us all.

And if someone sends you a spray of apple blossoms? I wouldn't wait. That offer isn't going to last too much longer.

May 15th, 2018

Think Outside. No box required.

Simplicity: Identify the essential and eliminate everything else.

When the shadows lengthen and the evenings begin to get tinged with a golden light, what compels us to pack up our belongings and hit the road? Is it a faded collective memory of distant nomadic roots?

Whether you've been a lifelong outdoorsman or have yet to unroll a sleeping bag, you must admit that there's a special kind of freedom that comes with traveling light.
No matter how comfortable our beds may be, we're still drawn to sleep outside...and a bright fire, warm food and the company of friends satisfy something in us that can't be matched by even the most luxurious conveniences of home.

It's the May long weekend and it's time to think outside. No box required.

May 8th, 2018

We're counting the days.

It's one of the biggest weekends of the year.

The May long weekend is just around the corner, and lucky us...we get to enjoy it in The Best Place On Earth! All across Vancouver Island, the joyful sound of two stroke engines will fill the air, as lawnmowers are started and boat motors primed. We'll have three glorious days to discover the islands' beaches, lakes and trails, and take in some of the many special events happening in our communities. Where will your two feet and four wheels be bringing you?

Haven't made plans yet? Then you'll definitely want to have a look at this month's High Five video, featuring five of our top event picks for the long weekend. Will we be out there in the sun, making the most of the holiday too? You can count on it!

May 1st, 2018

Be prepared and have a plan.

That's good advice to follow on Emergency Preparedness Week, isn't it? Being ready for a crisis turns the crisis into something more like a situation.

And that's also excellent advice to follow as Mother's Day weekend quickly approaches. Have you made your plan yet?

If, like my mom, yours loves fresh local food, excellent entertainment, spring flowers and quality people watching opportunities...then the very best place to take her is to a Vancouver Island Farmers' Market. Combined with spending time with you, it's all of the very best gifts in one basket.

But perhaps your mother isn't with you this year. Get to the market anyway. Fill up on fresh vegetables, tuck into a hot cinnamon bun...and smile, knowing that she'd approve.

April 24th, 2018

A good gardener always plants three seeds.

One for the bugs, one for the weather, and one for himself. ~Leo Aikman

Well, the slugs may have carried off the first one, and the second may have floated away in the spring rains...but we've still got one left, and isn't it just burning a hole in in our green little hands?

The warm weather has finally arrived, and with it all the great green excitement of gardening season. You know what they say about April showers after all: They bring May flower....shows, garden tours, plant sales and gardening workshops. That means, no matter what your skill level, there's a place to find great plants and friendly experts to ask for advice about what to do with them. You'll find plenty of opportunities to be inspired at one of Vancouver Island's many upcoming Gardening Events...where you might just get so carried away that you wet your plants!

April 17th, 2018

What is present everywhere...

...but is often invisible? What has a heart bigger than its hands? It provides comfort with its presence and change with its influence. It brings things together with its imagination and holds them together with its will. What leaves a legacy without even leaving its name?

A volunteer.

This week we celebrate National Volunteer Week, the perfect time to recognize those people all around us who give of themselves to make our communities more vibrant, healthy and caring places. So what can we give them in return? A hand.

The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away. ~ William Shakespeare

 

April 3rd, 2018

There's no place like home.

In the spring, does the sound of birdsong on the breeze trigger in you a primal instinct to open paint cans, don gardening gloves and climb ladders? Me too.

Wherever we've chosen to make our nest, it's time to throw open the windows and tidy up our living spaces. Maybe that home is in a downtown highrise. Maybe it's at the end of a country road, floating in a marina...or even nestled in a tree. We have all found our own place in the world, and it's the time for making decisions about how to best manage it.

Let's also keep that in mind as we prepare to celebrate Earth Week this month. After all, Mother Earth the home that we all share... and the equity invested in it is priceless.

March 27th, 2018

Have you seen this rabbit? 

He's 8" tall, has brown eyes, and was last seen sampling the tulips in my back yard. This week I was expecting to see a bunny alright...the one who drops off tasty treats. Instead of the one with the sweet tooth though, I got the rabbit with a passion for fresh food who likes to shop locally.

While you're on the trail for eggs this weekend and you've got your Easter basket handy, you might want to do some local food foraging yourself. Many of our local Farmers' Markets are open year round, and you'll find some great suggestions HERE. It's true...the season of Vancouver Island's lovingly grown and carefully picked produce has begun!

Also...if you happen to see my new friend while you're there, please tell him I'd like a word. And a chocolate egg.

March 20th, 2018

Head north, young man...and then a bit west.

I've seen quite a few people with great tans this week, and those of you who've been around all winter know that they sure didn't get them here at home. If the snowbirds are back from the south, it can only mean one thing: Spring is finally here!

And while we're on the topic of northbound traffic...another important group of snowbirds are also on their way home. The Grey whales are making their way up from the Baja right now, and you too can be there to wave them in at the Pacific Rim Whale Festival this week.

After swimming over 3,000 miles in the cold, I'm sure they'd appreciate seeing some bright and friendly faces.

March 13th, 2018

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back...and may the rains fall soft upon your fields. ~Irish Blessing

When I think of Ireland, I think of the lush green fields and the misty rains. And as Irish luck would have it, St. Patrick's Day happens to be placed right beside United Nations World Water Day. While we're raising a glass of green beer in celebration of all that's good and Irish, let's also lift a glass of crystal clean water in celebration of all that's good and green.

May your mountains always be heavy with snow in the winter and your rivers overflowing in the springtime. May all of your friends upstream be wise and gentle so that your friends downstream may be in good health. May your rivers and oceans be clean, so your plate won't ever be empty...

...and may your glass be ever full. Sláinte!

March 6th, 2018

I think there might be something funny going on here.

It's the universal antidote to stress. It can break the ice, break the tension and break the barriers between people. It can spread like an infection and heal a hurt.

The world is full of difficulty and the absurdity of life can be a hard pill to swallow. But as they say...laughter is the best medicine. There is uplifting lightness in a giggle, and a joyful laugh rings out with restorative power.

Some conditions still require a professional though, and you'll be pleased to know that some fantastic comedy is coming to the Island in the upcoming months. We've got some great ideas for you HERE. Take at least one this week...and I guarantee it'll make you feel better.

February 27th, 2018

On The March

The Old English word March was a topographic name referring to someone who lived on the border between two territories. Isn't that exactly where we are right now? The bleak and dark territory of winter is nearly behind us, and on the other side of that frosty borderline is the promise of spring, well within our sight.

March was also the first month of the year in the early Roman calendar, named after Mars, the Roman god of war. I don't think that it's a coincidence that Mars was also the god of agriculture, either. Warriors ourselves, we've certainly fought a tough battle with Old Man Winter this year, and are getting ready to celebrate our victory with the emergence of the first spring blossoms and the sowing of garden seeds. Doesn't it make good sense to mark the new year with the beginning of spring growth, instead of in the middle of winter as we do now?

To the victors come the spoils. Let's celebrate our victory as the Romans did...with a season of festivals! From nature to music and from art to ideas, there are great festival events coming up this month on Vancouver Island, and this month's High Five Video highlights some of the very best.

February 20th, 2018

Citius, Altius, Fortius. 

Thility, as the world's Olympic athletes demonstrate the pinnacle of human achievement in sport.

But speaking of things Swifter, Higher and Stronger...the humans aren't the only ones demonstrating feats of incredible skill and stamina right now. Have you noticed how many birds are on the move? Some of North America's great winged migrations are passing right over our heads in the upcoming weeks, and their annual journeys are also among the world's most spectacular displays of strength.

Whether you get outside with your binoculars or join your local naturalist club, be sure to watch for these incredible athletes in flight. The Brant Wildlife Festival is just around the corner, where you'll get out in the fresh air, experience the beauty of Vancouver Island...and find out more about its natural wonders from the experts. The tickets are no or low-cost, so let's all gather and cheer on those birds. Every single one that crosses the finish line and reaches its destination is a tremendous win for all of us.

February 13th, 2018

Where we love is home...

...home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts." ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Love is in the air. And love is a great many things, isn't it? Love can be both as vast as the sky and as small as a breath, a lifetime of moments between two people and equally a quiet moment of reflection alone. Wherever we find love, it is a place of warmth and safety in this uncertain world.

Valentine's Day may be February 14th, but did you know that here in Canada, February 24th is statistically the coldest day of the year? Maybe we celebrate love during the coldest month because of our need for connection when the days are dark. Or maybe it's because our minds turn to thoughts of love when the nights are long. Or maybe it's really because love is a flame that raises us to be our best self, and now is the time we all need that the most. Could there be a better way to celebrate your love then, than to register with your sweetheart for the Coldest Night of the Year Walk on February 24th? It's a nationwide fundraiser that supports hungry, homeless and hurting individuals and families in our local communities.

Take your warmth to the streets for those living without a home...because to give love is to stoke our home fire to warm another.

February 6th, 2018

They say that running away from your problems...

...is a race you'll never win.

But if the problem happens to be that strange jiggly shadow following behind me, then running away might actually be the perfect solution. After all, what could be more natural than running? It's nothing more than putting one foot in front of the other, isn't it?

Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop.

Anyone who runs knows that it's deceptively simple though, and never easy. Except for that time I ran into a bear on the West Coast Trail. That was really easy, and probably could have been an Olympic qualifier. So maybe it's just a matter of motivation, then.

Island runners are a special breed, training in a place where it really is uphill both ways. But could there be a more spectacular setting to inspire us? Look for some incredible running events HERE, where you just might find the motivation to set a personal best of your own, too.

January 30th, 2018

Unleash your inner mongrel.

The Lunar New Year is approaching and, according to Chinese astrology, 2018 is the Year of the Dog. Get ready to gather your pack! It is the year for loyalty and prudent action. It's a year of social awareness, with conditions ideal for those who want to make a difference and have the selfless generosity to make things happen.

The dog is a remarkable creature who quickly recognized the advantages of making man his best friend. Using only his brain, charm and irresistible good looks, he set about accomplishing this task thousands of years ago, and has held the prime spot in front of the fire ever since. He has an exuberance that comes from living twice as fully as his human companions in a life that's seven times shorter. He has a resourcefulness that comes from having everything to lose. And he lives the present moment in a way that we will never understand until we too find ourselves propelled by the nose and heart, instead of by the mind.

If we could somehow learn to do this, then we too would wake up each day demanding more of the wholly visceral, thoroughly satisfying parts of life. More walks, more friends, more squirrels. More runs on the beach, more laughs, more naps. More treats, more play... and more love.

Why not resolve to approach the new year with the heart of a dog? Just run right up to it, give it a sniff, and experience the unbridled joy that is life itself.

January 23rd, 2018

75% of the Earth's surface is covered in water.

So we're not alone, then.

When the days darken and the skies open up, it's tempting to either curl up or bug out. But before we pack up our watercars and sail away though, it might be worth stopping to consider the many hidden opportunities that these days of deluge offer. Opportunities to test out some brilliant water-collection schemes, for example. To get free dog washes. To invest in a roofing company. Opportunities to not tackle all those nagging garden chores. And to go for evening paddles without even leaving the yard.

Need to get out of the house? There are plenty of outdoor and indoor adventures just wading to be discovered, and hundreds of great things happening across the Island this week. You'll find buckets of event ideas on our online calendar...where more great event listings are flooding in every day!

January 16th, 2018

There is no sincerer love...

...than the love of food. ~George Bernard Shaw

I must admit though, that my love and I have been on a bit of a break after seeing way too much of one another over the holidays. They say that we have to put the past behind us, but the problem was that was exactly where all of that shortbread and gravy decided to stay. So, no matter how wonderful a relationship may be, isn't it always a good idea to spend a little time apart and make time for other friends? If you're anything like me, your good friends the running shoes were starting to feel pretty neglected.

But that's all just an elastic-waisted memory now, and there's no cure for love. It's time to rekindle our passion for fabulous local dining.

There are few better places to do it than Vancouver Island, where our romance with fresh and innovative food is part of our west coast culture. From special regional dining events featuring fixed-price multi-course menus to artful winemaker's dinner pairings, and from gourmet cooking workshops led by world class chefs to community tasting tours...you'll find everything you're looking for in our Culinary Events listings.

Here we are, starting a new year in one of the world's most romantic fresh food destinations. Why not celebrate by taking our palates on a date night?

January 9th, 2018

The year ahead is a blank white page. 

What will you write?

I opened a beautiful blank book this week and the satisfying crack of the binding was a starting signal for this fresh new year. Do you find the purity of a new page inspirational? Do you look at those pages of thin blue lines and see pathways to endless exciting journeys? Does the smell of a freshly sharpened pencil fill you with explosions of great ideas?

Apparently me neither. All I've got so far is a grocery list embellished with doodles and a cartoon of the dog.

Have you ever noticed though, that once you write something onto paper, you can't ever seem to erase it completely? What is written endures. Knowing this to be true, I really should have planned more carefully when I was writing down my New Years resolutions. While using a pen certainly did show formidable commitment...perhaps a pencil might have been a better tool for that particular job. If I look closely at the page, I can still see traces of them!

January 2nd, 2018

Starting the new year with resolve.

What are your resolutions for 2018? You can't go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending. ~CS Lewis

I've read that people who repeatedly have attempted to quit smoking have a greater chance of eventual success. Let's hope that this is true for all the other kinds of lifestyle improvement resolutions...because if that's the case then I'm definitely on the brink of serious fitness, financial freedom and complete personal organization.

This year one of our resolutions is to seek out even more fantastic Vancouver Island events to share with you. With all of the great wellness and recreation events, classes and workshops happening in the upcoming months... that might just take care of all the others, too!

December 26th, 2017

Starting the New Year with a splash.

Polar Bear Swims are a Boxing Day and New Year's Day tradition all across Vancouver Island, and you have to admire all of those brave souls who will be starting 2018 with an icy plunge.

Polar Bears can swim up to 10km per hour and have been known to swim up to 160km at a time. Did you know that they swim with their front feet and steer with the back? And that polar bear fur is oily and water repellent, allowing them to easily shake free water and any ice that forms on their bodies? Did you know that they've got a 10cm layer of fat under their skin that keeps them warm in the icy water?

The thing is, I don't. Despite the impressive layer of fat that I've put on this holiday season, I'm really more of a Grizzly Bear type.

Right now the grizzly is warm and snug in her den, dreaming bear dreams and ending the year with a snooze instead of a splash. Why not start the new year well rested?

December 19th, 2017

Comfort and Joy.

Find out where joy resides and give it a voice far beyond singing.
For to miss the joy is to miss all. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Where does your joy reside? What does its voice sound like?

For me, it is found in the silhouettes of the tall trees in the fragrant winter fog. It's in the frosted red glow of the rosehips and the smell of cedarwood smoke on the air. It's in a warm fresh egg and a cold crisp apple. It's in a smooth white blank sheet of paper. Its voice is the sound of the salmon as they hurtle up icy stream beds and the deep flutter of quail wings as they burst from the hedges in surprise. Joy sounds like the laugh of my dearest one. The jingle of dogs' tags in the silent forest. The crunch of leaves.

There is no joy without difficulty and no comfort without struggle. I'm sure that like mine, your year hasn't been without its challenges and disappointments. As we approach the darkest day of the year though, we have the opportunity to acknowledge those struggles and then turn our faces away to the new year ahead with hope. We leave them behind like the fallen leaves. Gather them up to nourish the spring garden. Burn them and let the smoke of our regrets rise up and out of sight.

What we take with us into 2018 is that which remains evergreen. It is the pleasure of seeing our efforts bloom into accomplishments. It is the warm glow of friendship and the loving support of family. It's our ability to find peace in the quiet parts of each day and hope in the turbulent ones. May you find the joy that exists in every moment...and the comfort in knowing that it is there, even in those moments when it can't be seen at all.

December 12th, 2017

Do you believe in Christmas magic?

Magic involves making impossible things possible.

The word itself comes from the same Latin root as magi - those biblical princes who brought gifts to the Christ child. Gift givers really are magicians, after all. They have the power to make wishes come true using nothing more than a simple gesture. They arrive unexpectedly in the darkness to honour the spirit of the recipient by providing what is needed.

This week there are plenty of opportunities to make magic in our communities, with a great number of inspired events happening that were designed to make life easier for those experiencing hardship. Be a seeker of everyday magic. Open up the growing list HERE, and then open your hands and your heart.

Watch carefully the magic that occurs when you give a person enough comfort to be themselves. ~Atticus

December 5th, 2017

O Christmas Tree.

This week, tree lots are open and beautifully decorated trees are lighting up windows across Vancouver Island. Did you know that this beloved tradition goes back centuries, long before Christmas was celebrated?

Evergreen plants were once considered to have special power because they mysteriously kept their colour when all of the others appeared to die. Ancient people brought evergreen boughs, ivy and holly inside their dwellings during the darkest and coldest time of the year as a way to keep that magically regenerative power close. The greenery was thought to offer protection, and it was a reminder that spring would come again and with it all of the life-giving aspects of nature that the people relied upon.

We still rely upon the trees. Did you know that no other organism on Earth lives as long as a tree? A 100 foot tall tree can absorb 50 pounds of carbon dioxide and produce 6,000 pounds of oxygen in a year. Did you know that a shade tree can help cool your home by as much as 20 degrees in the summer? That each person uses the equivalent of one 100 foot tall, 16 inch diameter tree every year for their paper and wood product needs? And that our planet now has 46 percent fewer trees than it did 12,000 years ago, when agriculture was in its infancy?

This year, why not begin a new holiday tradition? Take a walk deep into the woods, and stand quietly among the great trees of our very special coastal rainforest. Marvel at their beauty, lit by sunlight and decorated with a million crystal raindrops. These trees protect our lives in silent humility...and they hold secrets equal to their grandeur.

November 28th, 2017

Meanwhile, up at the North Pole...

Santa's putting the sleigh up on blocks and firing up his twin Evinrudes. Toy production has come to a standstill as the demand for rubber boots, rain slickers and umbrellas reaches an all-time high.

If this weather pattern continues, good old Saint Nick may have to park the reindeer and pull out his second line, lesser known team...the eight tiny rain deer. "On Dasher, on Splasher, on Sprinkle and Mizzle! On Raindrop! On Rainbow! On Downpour and Drizzle!"

And we'll hear him exclaim as he floats out of town: "Merry Christmas to all...now get up to high ground!"

November 21st, 2017

We walk a fine line.

This weekend we're heading into the busiest shopping time of the year, a time when patience and budgets are often stretched thin.

It's up to us each to draw our own line between the getting and the having and the giving and the helping. Where will one end and the other begin? It's never simple and straight, and our journey across it is determined by the things we've decided to fix the ends to... and how strongly our knots are tied.

It's a delicate balancing act, isn't it? One thing I've noticed, though: The more time I spend in shopping lines, the less time I seem to have for reading lines, for
fishing lines...and for conga lines. That's important to keep in mind, because there are hundreds of great holiday events coming up across Vancouver Island this week!

November 14th, 2017

A few good days of rain...

...and we've begun to turn into bears.

Are you finding yourself foraging for snacks, more than a little on the growly side, and looking for a comfortable place to hibernate?
Before we all go crazy queuing up our Netflix playlists and lining our dens with potato chips though, let's just put down the slippers and hold on a minute.

Premature Hibernation keeps many Canadians indoors and inactive. Snap out of that fall slumber by queuing up the other, more fun playlist of the season: The Participaction 150 Play List. Get outside, get moving, and try some interesting new things. The more fun activities you check off the list, the more chances you have to win great prizes.

It's way too early to turn in for the winter anyway....even the bears are still out there running around on the beaches!

November 7th, 2017

They say you can't truly know a thing's value...

until you've held it in your hand.

And this weekend we'll be gathering to reflect upon the many men and women who have themselves held lives in their hands as they've worked to carry peace to those who most desperately need it in this world.

Our hands can be weapons of violence or they can be instruments of peace. Every moment offers each one of us a choice. In the confusing complexity of politics and the frustrating intricacies of government systems, it can be so easy to forget that peace is fundamentally a hand made item, and each hand that has offered it has been an irreplaceable one.

October 31st, 2017

Falling back.

What are you wishing you had more of? There's Halloween candy. Puppies. Shoes. Winning lottery numbers. And time...definitely more time.

If you were suddenly given an extra hour, what would you do with it? Replay a spectacular sunset? Hit a bonus bucket of balls at the driving range? Maybe read a second bedtime story to your kids. Watch one more episode of Stranger Things. Study sixty extra minutes for that big exam on Monday morning. Or simply indulge in one more hour of blissful sleep.

Well this is the weekend to do it, as Daylight Savings Time ends at 2am on Sunday and we'll be getting one extra hour. It's a mulligan. A do-over. And a gift.

How will you use yours?

Whatever we choose to do, let's be sure to make it good...because soon, on a beautiful day in March, we'll all be asked to give it back.

October 24th, 2017

They say "Do one thing each day that scares you."

But why on earth would you want to spend every day afraid?

Fnd ourselves being chased by a hungry lion? In fact, we usually overuse fear and mistake the unknown for hungry lions. The lifesaving flood of fear biochemicals that speeds up our heart and breath can lead to serious health problems over time.

Did you know that lions will scare prey because, stiffened by fear, it becomes easier to catch? Avoiding fearful situations can prevent us from life-changing and amazing new experiences. From the growth that comes with living fully.

So the trick is to do those things that scare us, but in the spirit of curiosity rather than fear. With all of the fantastic Halloween Events happening across the Island, from the hilarious to the horrifying, there will be dozens of great opportunities to try it out for ourselves this week.

And remember, there really is truth in the saying that there is nothing to fear but fear itself. Well that...and dentists, of course.

October 17th, 2017

Sign, sign...everywhere a sign. 

Do you ever get a feeling that the universe is trying to tell you something?

When I opened up my storage closet yesterday, the food dehydrator fell on my head. Clearly a sign. The world is full of all kinds of messages, but the problem is interpreting them properly. Am I supposed to be paying more attention to food security issues? Am I supposed to be eating more fruit? Maybe I'm supposed to be paying more attention to cleaning my closets.

Some signs are pretty clear, though. Last week's earthquake off Vancouver Island's west coast was a message that we all need to clean up our disaster preparedness plans. Why not join the 780,000 folks who have already registered for The Great BC Shakeout? On October 19th at 10:19am, we'll all drop, cover and hold on together...and it's the perfect time to make sure that our emergency kits are up to date, too.

Dried food would be perfect for an emergency kit. Right. Now I get it.

October 10th, 2017

The Fear of Falling

Fall has arrived, and its mighty mist is finally enveloping us in a great green embrace. The apples and pears from the highest parts of the trees are falling to the ground, and the leaves are beginning to gently show their golden intention to follow suit. We're standing on a wistfully glorious edge, knowing that we must move on too. With the brilliant colours of summer still clinging to every surface, we see them in a final backward glance as we prepare to let go and take that step forward.

I love the word fall. While autumn is just a season, hastily positioned between the two main events, fall implies action. It requires participation. Maybe the brilliant yellow leaves of the maples don't fall at all, but dive earthward, eager to carpet the forest floor with the food for next season's growth. Maybe those raindrops plunge towards us in a tearful longing to be reunited. And when the first snowflakes fall, maybe what we're witnessing is a selfless act of protection for the living breathing earth.

Are you looking back at a summer with regret? Towards a winter with dread? Then instead of stepping forward with your eyes closed, dive headfirst with them wide open. A fall is only a leap lacking intention.

October 3rd, 2017

Time for feeling full.

Many of us will be gathering around the table this weekend with family and friends, and we'll be full of turkey and gravy. We'll be full of stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. And we'll be full of conversation. This week, how can the discussion not turn to topics that make us feel wrathful and fearful?

But we are much more than the sum of our fears. So it's time to be mindful.

We sit at a long table in this world. As we serve our Thanksgiving meal, let's consider how every word and action serves our neighbours in this global community because it's a community that's starved of tenderness and desperately hungry for understanding and connection. No matter how full we may feel, there's always room to be more careful, more hopeful and more joyful with one another. And every moment of every day...more thankful.

 

September 19th, 2017

If food is the heart of good living...

then wine is it's soul.
If this is true, then there's plenty of heart and soul to go around. Grapes are hanging on the vines and luscious fruit is ripe for the picking all across Vancouver Island.

Whether you're a pie or a pinot lover, we're welcoming Fall this week... that beautiful bringer of bountiful things. This deserves a toast...so why not take a trip out to one of the Island's fantastic vineyards, meaderies and cideries, where you'll find all kinds of festive Island Wine Happenings.

The seasons may be changing, but let's choose to consider the glass half full. So that means we're not getting older. Like fine wine, we're simply becoming more complex!

September 12th, 2017

Shaking the tree.

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. ~Martin Luther

And there is plenty of reason to believe that the world is going to pieces. From political unrest to devastation caused by natural disasters, the news is filled with food for fear. But that doesn't mean that we have to eat it. After all, we are what we eat.

And the choices are in our hands. Cucumbers, tomatoes, plums and apples are plentiful, and the squash are ripening in the fields. Beehives are heavy with activity, and the fall vegetables are in the ground starting a new cycle of growing. There is a rightness to this process, and we all feel it at this time of year as we fill our baskets with fresh food.

In the garden, we're reminded that all of the wisdom that we need in life can be found there. We all need fertile ground to spread our roots, we all need clean water and nourishing food to grow, and we each will ripen and fall in time. These are the truths that bring us together; the things that make us realize that at the end of the day we all have everything in common with one another and with the land that we share.

So let's eat well, then. Let's take in the things that are good and helpful, grow things in life that nourish us and promote healing....and pass them around. Many of the seeds that we plant will be still growing fruit long after we are gone.

August 29th, 2017

Harvest time is the golden time.

It's that wonderful time of year when the shadows are getting longer...and so are the zucchini!

Vancouver Island has a rich agricultural heritage, and Islanders have gathered to celebrate the bounty of the harvest for more than a century. Award-winning produce, well-groomed livestock, tasty preserves and great entertainment are just some of the things that make a country fair so special. If you've never experienced the magic of a harvest celebration, make this the year to do it. You'll connect with the very roots of your community...and will quickly notice that some of the brightest ideas for our island's future are deeply grounded in its past.

A word of caution though: Don't try to sneak a cookie from a plate with a blue ribbon on it. Trust us on this.

August 22nd, 2017

On words to live by.

It's a pretty wordy world. People are busy, life is hectic, and sometimes the words of the day are "Just let me get through this one." In the midst of it all though, there are some really great words, ones worth hearing and repeating. They're the ones with the power to make our days meaningful and our world a better place.

What are the words you live by?

A couple of really good ones are Celebration and Participation, and this week there are more than 250 unique opportunities to get out and use them. Choose one HERE... and discover something new and exciting, interesting and significant, that's happening right in your very own community.

It's the most beautiful time of the year in one of the world's most amazing places. Let's treasure every moment...and strive to live a life worth talking about.

August 15th, 2017

Wanted...Dead Or Alive.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
If that's true, then wherever Michael Jackson, David Bowie and Elvis are right now...they must be sincerely flattered.

Did you know that there are at least 85,000 Elvis impersonators around the world today? There were only 170 when he died so, statistically speaking, one in three of the world's population will be swiveling their hips in the next decade. That's a lot of blue suede shoes.

Tribute artists consistently perform to sell-out audiences across Vancouver Island, and it isn't really because we love the wigs and sequins, is it? It's simply because we still want to hear the greatest pop music ever made, and we want to see it live, the way it was performed by the world's greatest pop stars. Although they may be gone, they're definitely not forgotten. Lucky for us, some of the most talented musical artists around feel the same way and will soon be bringing iconic music to life in one of the Island's many upcoming Tribute Concerts.

Your favourite band may have broken up a decade ago. Your ultimate diva might not tour any longer. And Elvis might be hiding out in suburban Saskatoon. But they're coming to a theater near you...and you don't want to miss it.

August 8th, 2017

Smoke on the water.

Fire in the sky.

There's an eerie stillness. The sky is dark and the sun a blood red pinpoint. Ash is falling and the birds are silent. The only sounds are the rumble of helicopters flying overhead, the hiss of hot wind and the crackle of trees as they fall.

It sounds like I'm beating the heat at a summer blockbuster action movie, doesn't it? Unfortunately this scene is a reality right now for thousands of BC residents.

There are at least 125 wildfires burning across the province this week, and the area that has been lost so far to fire is larger than the province of Prince Edward Island. What's even more shocking than the number of forest hectares disappearing every day is the number of new fires being started each day by human hands.

Take care. The only sparks we need to ignite this summer are those of inspiration and imagination.

August 1st, 2017

Ladies and gentlemen...start your engines.

The smell of split leather. The lustre of hand polished metallic paint. The deep growl of engine and the radiant glow of chrome. What is it about a car that makes the pulse quicken, anyway? After all, it's only a way of getting around. Or is it?

A fine car can be a work of art. A masterpiece of engineering. And a time machine.

Does the scent of engine oil, like a fine perfume, take you back to a time when the kids cruised the avenue and the boys greased their hair back? Or to a time of tie dyes and tape decks? Burgers and brake stands? Cars are the cultural emblems of our moments in time, from the first dates to the family road trips and from the hatchbacks of our first jobs to the convertibles of our retirement. And that's exactly why car shows are such fabulous and fascinating things, and a summer highlight on Vancouver Island.

Because whether you're waiting for your A&W root beer in a 1968 Camaro or waiting for your Starbucks latte in a 2017 Tesla...that car is your partner on the highway of life.

July 25, 2017

Golf. It's really just a little slice of life.

I've often heard that golf is an easy game to learn. I'm not convinced that it's actually a game, though.

There are life truths to be gleaned in the dimples of that tiny little ball: Power is nothing without precision. We learn more from the misses than the hits. There will always be people who play better than us. You can try too hard. And the more we practice, the luckier we tend to get.

With some of the best courses in the country right here on Vancouver Island, there's no better place to gather some golf wisdom of your own and no better time than now. Get out and have some fun. We play better when we're enjoying ourselves!

And if we don't... it's probably the clubs.

July 18, 2017

But tomorrow may rain...

so I'll follow the sun. ~Lennon–McCartney

Is there anything that embodies cheerful radiance more than the sunflower? A brilliant emblem of summer, it stands proudly with a strength and resilience that belies its impossibly thin and fragile frame.

Sunflowers are heliotropic, having the marvelous ability to turn their heads toward the sun, tracking the warm sunshine as it moves across the sky. The center of the sunflower is actually filled with hundreds of flowers growing individually, which can become other sunflowers if planted. They are also a natural decontaminator, and have been used to clean up soil at some of the world's biggest environmental disasters.

Thinking of choosing a personal emblem? Consider the sunflower. It's a reminder to stand tall. To be useful. To grow quickly. To enrich the world with the brilliance of simple happiness and know how to multiply it. And to be able to find the sunshine, wherever it may be, and reach toward it gracefully and with purpose.

July 11, 2017

Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue... 

And that somewhere is here.

It's summertime on Vancouver Island...and we're rejoicing in the fact that we get to partake in all the sun and fun without the busy campsites, ferry lineups or pricey RV rentals.

Why? Because we live here!

There's only one thing better than spending your summer holidays on the Island, and that's spending your summer holidays on the Island without ever having to go back home. It's time for us to get out there and be keen stay-cationers in our own communities. With so much happening this season in our region, we'll be carried away in a whirlwind of theatre, music, sports and outdoor adventure.

This week, close your eyes, tap your heels together three times and say those magic words...there's no place like home.

July 4, 2017

If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing.

~Ayn Rand

And if some is good then more must be better, right? You'd think so. But red wine can be good for you...and remember what happened last time you had too much of that? The line between happy sufficiency and painful overindulgence can be a fine one.

We're at the apex of summer, and the sun is high in the sky. Exposure to sunlight produces Vitamin D, builds the immune system and helps us to heal. But over 85,000 new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed this year in Canada, and an estimated 1500 deaths will result. As much as we love the summer sun, we really can have too much of a good thing.

Another interesting statistic: 18% of people think that they look good in a hat. 100% of them actually do.

June 27, 2017

On Vancouver Island, summer is a glorious thing.

The sun-kissed beaches, charming seaside communities and roadside markets are classic parts of it. But what's an even more iconic part of our island summer? 

The Festivals! And this year, we're launched into festival season with incredible Canada 150 celebrations from coast to coast.

There'll be banners flying, red and white, as fireworks light up the night.
Painted faces and flying aces, ticket lines and local wines.
Classic tunes and bright balloons, midway rides and days outside.
Food trucks, fine art, local bands...

The best of summer in our hands.

June 20, 2017

Some of the best memories are made in flip flops.

A golden sun has set on the final day of spring, and winter couldn't possibly be further away.

The shadows are getting longer, and the pants shorter. It's time to put away the socks and get our pale feet into sandals. To throw off the wool hats and bring on the straw hats. To say goodbye to sweaters and hello to swimsuits. The only gloves I want to be wearing are gardening gloves and the only fleece I want to see is on adorable new lambs frolicking in the tall green grasses. The only umbrella I want to be under is the kind on a hot seaside patio...and the only frost I want to feel is the kind on an ice cold glass of beer.

It's official. Summer is here.

 

May 31, 2017

The voyage of discovery...

is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. ~Marcel Proust

This is the season of discovery on Vancouver Island, and sometimes the beginning of a new adventure simply comes from looking at things from a new perspective.

Have you ever seen Victoria's rocky shores from the deck of a tall ship? What about the lights of downtown Nanaimo from the cockpit of a kayak? Have you ever witnessed otherworldly stone formations deep in a Vancouver Island cave? Seen a spectacular sunrise from the top of Mount Washington? Imagine what Salt Spring Island looks like from the bird's eye view of a seaplane. What our beautifully rugged coast line looks like from below the water.

Getting out of our comfort zone can be one of the most difficult things we can do, but the reward might just be one of the greatest moments of our life.

This summer, challenge your body in brave new ways, and your eyes will open wider, too. Move, and you'll be moved by the wonderful west coast like never before.

May 23, 2017

Ask and you shall receive.

Last week I was begging for summer sunshine, and like magic it appeared. The wellies have made way for watering cans, sweaters have been replaced with swimsuits, and the sweet smell of smoke in the air is finally from campfires instead of woodstoves.

The May long weekend is a kind of test run for the rest of the summer, and by the look of it, we're all going to need to learn to pace ourselves. This week I'm begging for aloe vera cream and an air conditioner.

Thankfully, summer theatre season has also begun. So when you're done playing outside...catch a play inside. Spending a few hours in a blissfully dark and cool theatre watching someone else's family drama is the perfect escape. This summer, the play's the thing! From comedy to tragedy and from musicals to satires, Vancouver Island theatre has everything you could ask for.

Read earlier posts:

There are things you'll just never hear a mother day - May 9, 2017

On the power of all things great and small - May 2, 2017

Want to drink from the fountain of youth? - April 25, 2017

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend - April 18, 2017

Put your bunny where your mouth is - April 11, 2017

This week's edition is brough to you by the number five - April 4, 2017

Paddles up, everyone. - March 28, 2017

I say spring, you say... - March 21, 2017

We're wearing green for Irish luck - March 14, 2017

Vancouver Island's beaches are legendary - March 7, 2017

A woman who cuts her hair - February 28, 2017

Never trust a rodent... that's what I always say - February 21, 2017

A discovery is an accident meeting a prepared mind - February 14, 2017

On making something worth crowing about - January 17, 2017

You've gotta ask yourself one question - January 10, 2017

Starting things off on the right foot - December 27, 2016

What's your special Christmas tradition? - December 20, 2016

On seasonal foolishness and seasonal silliness - December 13, 2016

It's the time for the Christmas wishes - December 6, 2016

Sometimes raising your voice is a good thing - November 29, 2016

Christmas is an illuminating time of year - November 22, 2016

Whoever said you can't buy happiness - November 1, 2016

Come on everybody...Let's Shake, Rattle and Roll! - October 18, 2016

It's a little known fact... - October 11, 2016

Thanksgiving - October 4, 2016

Talk about being under pressure - September 27, 2016

We have always lived on the river's edge - September 20, 2016

The winds of change - September 13, 2016

Great news from HarbourLiving.ca! - August 31, 2016

Thank you - August 23, 2016

They never forget - August 9, 2016

The heat is on - July 26, 2016

Reality can be beaten...with enough imagination - July 19, 2016

The whole is more than the sum of its parts - June 28, 2016

Can Ye Fathom The Ocean, Dark and Deep - May 31, 2016

Are We There Yet? - May 17, 2016

You've Got To Ask Yourself One Question - May 10, 2016

When Life Hands You Lebons - May 3, 2016

March, That Month Of Wind And Taxes - March 29, 2016

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective...Rabbits - March 22, 2016

Home, Tweet Home - March 8, 2016

Ever Been Told That You Run Like A Girl? - March 1, 2016

Why Is This Man Wearing A Pink Shirt? - February 16, 2016

Can We Talk About The Birds And The Bees? - February 9, 2016

Is it Just Me, Or Is It Starting To Get Warm In Here? - February 2, 2016

How Exactly Does One Address A Haggis? - January 19, 2016

There's No Substitute for Hard Work - January 12, 2016

Feel the Warmth of an Unexpected Gift - December 22, 2015

It's Beginning to Taste A Lot Like Christmas - December 15, 2015

Meanwhile...up at the North Pole - December 8, 2015

It's the Season of Giving - December 1, 2015 

 

 

 

 

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