Cass celebrating the wild surf at Cox Bay

20 weeks, five days

I’ve fallen in love. Besotted, drunken, stupid love. But it’s not with a someone. It’s with a some place. Ray and the kids and I went to Tofino, BC last November in the worst weather. But that’s the objective with this crazy place, open to the Pacific with only Japan to spoil the view. It blew. It rained. It did what the Pacific Northwest does best, but in an environment that one couple from Minneapolis I met described as “fairy-like”. There is a reason that this is where they filmed Twilight. It is a deep, magical place. It is wet, mossy and spectacularly green. During our three days there, we walked on the beach, stood in the wind and cuddled by fireplaces — both in our cabin and in our favourite restaurants. Where could someone like me — deathly afraid of dark, sunlight-starved winter days — feel so happy in one of the wettest places on the planet. We vowed to return.

Tragically, we returned without Ray this July. We decided to test Tofino in “summer” (in quotation marks because we have waited patiently for summer here on the “wet” coast and it has just shown up in the second week of August). It was cool but not raining. One day, it was even sunny. I have never felt more relaxed or more well than when I returned after that trip. Something about this place is so healing and exceptional. I don’t know what it is, but I am drawn to it like a bee to honey. On returning from this trip, I felt compelled to see if I could find a place to live here….at least part time. And it is here that I have started to doubt my sanity. I have listened to my sisters with their gentle caveats: don’t rush into it; it’s your “first year”; don’t do anything rash. And, having lived these 50+ years, I know that it’s important to hear out the people who love and care about you. My life has taught me the perils of ignoring those who have the guts to stand up and say,” look out”. And yet, I am thinking about this place all day, every day.

I went back on an exploratory mission to look at homes and land there last week. My idea is to have a place that my family and I can use, but rent when we’re not there. I’ve consulted with one of the better rental agents in Tofino to learn what will rent well and what I would be best to acquire. I didn’t love any of the houses. One was okay, but in a “neighbourhood” that felt like a street of houses. I can live anywhere and have that. What I did gravitate to was an uncleared lot — a half acre, across the road from a path to the beach.

The lot, as yet untouched

I walked it and timed it. 12 1/2 minutes to one of the most spectacular beaches on earth, Chesterman Beach. I have walked through the lot twice. It is soft and silent and beautiful. I can see my friend Paul, a seasoned and talented architect, designing a magical place for us to be. I can see it built. I can see my dog, Willy and I setting out each morning to walk, having coffee and then settling down to work — remotely — with my office in Richmond. I want my family to use this place. I want friends to use it. The bonus of renting for 10 – 20 weeks a year makes it feasible and worth considering. So, am I mad? Wouldn’t something somewhere else work better? Couldn’t I skip the 2 hour ferry ride + 3 1/2 hour drive on a road that would make Mario Andretti pale? How about a nice rancher in the Cariboo? Or a house looking over the orchards in Kelowna? Why not any Gulf Island: Mayne, Pender, Galiano, Saltspring? I guess there are a few reasons. One: I’ve never been to any of the Gulf Islands save for Denman and Hornby, lovely as they are, I could never see myself there. And when I broached the subject of the other Gulf Islands with my kids they said, “but that has no sentimental link for us. Tofino is linked with Dad”. No other place we have ever been as a family has had this impact on us. We are all besotted to a point. So, what do I do. Stop drinking the Koolaid and get a grip? Listen to my heart and buy the land? Would not buying it be my greatest regret? Or would buying it be a massively stupid decision. Am I mad? What should I do?

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