Fish Out of Water

Hello again from Mountain
Mecca & Hippie Heaven!

“Do you ski?”

That’s the question we’re
most likely to be asked about one minute after locals find out we are new to
Nelson. It’s a good question. I do ski, have skied, that is to say I know how to ski. Will I ski? That is the
question they really should be asking.

Prez and I hung up our
winter sports not long after we got together and discovered our mutual love for
all things warm, wet, and beachy. Oh, he did try to convince me to take up
sledding (snowmobiling) and I flirted with the sport. My relationship with
snowmobiles was short, cold, and painful…much like my first marriage.

So here we are, two
bona fide beach bums, land locked at the beginning of a long Kootenay winter. Which
begs the question: What the hell are we
doing here??!!

Rewind to July. We arrive
in Nelson, hot as a furnace, lakes galore, shorts and tank tops 24/7, the
Ripster and Mountain Momma plying us with wine and food, drool-inducing scenery
– we had “sucker” written squarely across our foreheads. As I write this, I am
in socks, slippers, sweats, a sweater, wrapped in a blanket, wishing Prez would
let me brave the $300 heating bill and put the damn fire back on! And I’m still
cold. But it’s not just the cold, there’s something more that separates us from
true Kootenayans (?).

Mountains.

This is a mountain
culture. Whether skiing down them, hiking or climbing up them, mountain biking
up and down them, or simply admiring
them, Nelsonites love, love, LOVE their mountains. And well they should; you
are unlikely to see a more stunning collection of peaks this side of
Nepal. The front window of our Shagalicious rental pad
looks out to a lush green mountainside that folks would pay stupid amounts of
money to see.

Yep, I like mountains.
Mountains are nice.

But the ocean…well…you
want to talk about amazing scenery? How about the time in the
Bahamas when Prez and I swam alongside a school of 16
eagle rays, flapping their wings in silent, underwater flight? How about the
days we spent in the middle of a dolphin feeding frenzy on the
Sea of Cortez with birds strifing the water like machine gun fire? How about our
night dive on the wreck of the USS City of Washington in the Florida Keys,
where 4 ft parrot fish slept soundly inside the bubble-membranes they blew around
their bodies? How about…

When we start talking
about that kind of stuff here, we are met by polite, yet blank, stares. We are
sea people in a mountain town. We are fish out of water.

But I like Nelson, I
really do. Everyone I’ve met likes Nelson. It’s hard not to like Nelson. So I
keep telling myself that I should make more of an effort to fit in. I should
learn to switch my paradigm and come to love the mountains the way I love the
sea. But here’s the thing,
when folks start talking about all the world class powder at Whitewater skill
hill, or the heli skiing that’s out of this world, or the glacier hikes where
you can walk to the base of a real, live, glacier, I kind of think OK, I guess that sounds like fun… for them. My heart doesn’t start
beating; I don’t start picturing what it would be like, and I’m probably
sporting the same polite, yet blank, stare they get when Prez and I tell sea
stories.

Can we be part of a
community so far removed from our number one passion?

One passion we do share with Nelsonites is a love of
really good food. For a little mountain town in the wilderness, the chow is top
notch. Thai, Indian, Mexican, Italian, Chinese, sushi, tapas, vegetarian,
vegan, organic, you name it you can find it here. There’s the All Seasons
Cafe
with five little tables and a wine list that puts most city restaurants
to shame. Taste one spoonful of Mazatlan’s tortilla soup and you’re there – in
Mexico! The new Thai restaurant…don’t even get me
started on the Pad Thai…yummm. And Chefs Wendy, of Baja fame, and Kozy, from
the
Kozak Mansion, could spend days exploring Culinary Conspiracy, our local gourmet
food store.

It was at El Taco, while
fulfilling a nagging taco hunger, that I experienced another passion shared by
us and the good people of Nelson – neighbourliness. You see, this little taco
stand only takes cash, which we don’t carry much of since Interac came about,
and we’d already ordered our meals and drinks. The friendly girl behind the
counter passed us our beers, pointed out the nearest bank machine, and told us
we could pay later. Now bear in mind, my southern readers, those Canuck beers
are very pricey. We could easily have left with our free brewski’s and, amid
the lunch rush, no one would have ever noticed. They trusted us to pay, and we
did. I like that. I like being trusted by strangers; makes a girl feel all
fuzzy inside.

That’s just one example.
I am forever reading, in the “Flowers & Fish Heads” section of the local
paper, letters thanking people for returning wallets and cell phones, helping
out old folks, and any number of kindnesses. (There are some funny “Fish Head”
letters too, but I’ll save those for another Chronicle). And it is not uncommon
for people to say hello or strike up a conversation around here. Folks go out
of their way to support local businesses and enterprises. Differences are
tolerated, if not celebrated and encouraged.

Wait.

Differences are tolerated, if not celebrated and
encouraged
. Mountain people and
sea people can live together. Maybe we don’t really “get” each other, but we
respect each other and that is
something worth being a part of.

So Prez and I will dream
of, and plan for, the day we can once again return to the loving arms of the
sea but, in the meantime, we’ll work on enjoying the all the mountains we must
climb.

And maybe, just maybe, we
will ski.

Question: Mountains or
sea?


“I must down to the seas again, to the
lonely sea and the sky,


And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,


And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,


And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must down to the seas again, for the
call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must down to the seas again, to the
vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over
.”


John Masefield, “Sea Fever

Until next week, I hope this finds you all healthy, happy & lovin’ life!

The Princess

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