Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sooke Harbor to Hollyhock

The excitement for the morning, at Sooke Harbor? Eagles. Bald eagles. Thanks to a man with a camera in the parking lot, I looked up and spotted a fledgling,

perched on the high branch of a nearby tree. A big bird, already, as big as his parents, but without the distinctive black and white plumage. I rushed back to our room to grab the camera and got this picture. Okay, our camera doesn’t have much of a zoom, but I think you can spot him there, if you look hard enough.

Back on the porch of our room for breakfast, I worked out that if the fledgling was there by himself, the parents could not be far. Turns our, according to our neighbor, that they had indeed been out there fishing in the early hours.

I kept an eye on the stand of pine trees while we enjoyed our breakfast (scrambled eggs, and probably the best smoked salmon I ever ate!) and finally patience was rewarded. First the fledgling did a couple of practice flights, a hundred yards out, a hundred yards back to his perch. Here he is…

Then the parents showed up, both of them wheeling around the stand, and one of them settling down for long enough to be sure the big chick was okay. I got this picture of her.

Okay, again, it’s a bit of a search. Look for the black and white spot! Then, as if to show her disregard for her earthbound observer, she turned away, lifted her tail, and squirted out a long white trail of bird poop. Quite a sight. But no picture. Not fast enough with the camera. But anyway, we were blessed with this visitation, and were able to leave Sooke Harbor with the feeling that this one piece, at least, had found completion.

A long drive north—three and a half hours, to be precise, along the coastal highway,

with a brief stop for lunch at Qualicum Beach, a wide, open cove with a great view of the distant islands and the mainland mountains; then on up a virtually deserted stretch of highway to Campbell River, where we took the water taxi

out to the remote Cortez Island. Here’s a view from the speeding taxi.
Oh, and a self-portrait, taken with outstretched arm.

We arrived at Hollyhock, our destination,

late afternoon, had a good dinner—very different from Sooke Harbor! This one all vegetarian, all organic, no wine… But good, a good change from the haute cuisine we have been enjoying until now. I guess you’d call this good, honest food.

After dinner, we decided to attend a lecture. While I could not but agree with the main thesis—basically that the world is fast going to hell in a handbasket, and that we all need to pay attention if we want to save it, and ourselves; and that the old dualistic split between mind and matter must be replaced by newer thinking—I found myself in fundamental disagreement with the lumping-together of Buddhism with the "authoritarian" religions which have misguided us with their top-down, paternalistic attitudes. There evolved a sometimes rather sharp discussion between myself and our lecturers, myself arguing that their association of Buddhism with those other "old religions" was a misleading simplification. Their idea about karma was essentially a kind of god-driven predestination. I put forward the notion that the basic principle had to do with actions and their consequences, a theory not out of line with our lecturers’ insistence on individual responsibility for the planet and each other. I was particularly distressed—and said so—when meditation was described as a kind of self-indulgent waste of time. Sure, I agreed, we all need the passion and the commitment to set our world aright, but the chief ingredient in that action is precisely what the Buddha taught: consciousness.

Hmmm. A lot to digest. It was a good and lively discussion, well worth having. And I trust there was some learning on both sides of it.

To bed, later than I would have wished. And unsure about the availability of Internet access on this remote island. If I miss a day or two, I trust you’ll bear with me. (Note: Got it, today. Tomorrow, my birthday. I might take a couple of days vacation...)


Fred said...

Happy Birthday, Peter!

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Happy birthday. I loved your description of the lecture where you, an impassioned buddhist, got a bit hot under the collar. Do buddhists shout it out aloud and give someone a serve?
When people make you mad, what do you do - keep silent, let them go on with their prejudices and ill-informed views, or tell them to wake up?
Okay, a Christian might simper and say quietly, 'I'll pray for you brother,' so perhaps that is just as bad as shouting it out.

PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks, Fred. Thanks W! Yup, Buddhists get mad too. Best to everyone, PaL