Are we Islanders?

In a couple days, on May 27, 2021, we have lived on the Island for a year.  I prepared this post a while ago, assuming life would be ‘normal’ and to release it on May 27, but life took a twist and has not been ‘normal’ since Eric took ill and we suddenly flew to Ottawa to be with him. The good news is that Eric is out of the hospital and awaiting test results, so we are taking it a day at a time right now and being thankful that he came through the acute event so well. So even though we have not been in Ladysmith for the past little while, it’s still worth celebrating our 1-year anniversary.

Being back in Ottawa for a while has shown us that yes, we definitely miss seeing our friends and being close to Eric. We were surprised, however, that Ottawa no longer feels like home. We don’t miss the bugs, humidity and bumpy/terrible roads! Oh, and it’s just too flat here!

So, at the 1-year mark, we have to ask the question:  Are we still “From Away” or can we now consider ourselves true Islanders?  I’m not sure living here a year will qualify us as ‘locals’ yet, but since we have done a full year cycle of weather, activity and customs, we can stop comparing Vancouver Island to Ontario or using our newness as an excuse.  We have loved the last year and plan to make this our home for a long time to come.

So to answer the question, let’s look at our score card on what defines an Islander:

E-bikes:  Yep, we own them and love them, as do so many here on the Island.  They have allowed us to explore places that we may not have even considered.  More importantly, we have been able to enjoy biking year-round.

 

By rough calculations we have done over 3300 km of riding and climbed Mt Everest 3 times, having logged over 28000 m of elevation gain! We knew there were hills here!

√ Kayak: This may not be unique to the Island; we did it in Ontario too. But we do it ALL YEAR and we have the drysuits to prove it. AND, we have converted to using a greenland paddle so we fit in much better with the kayak crowd here on the Island!

Hike: Yep we do it here too, in all kinds of weather. Sun, rain and snow. Our hikes are not death marches. They are usually <10 km, but they will have several hundred metres elevation gain and, more importantly, we have always had great views and surroundings. That’s why we hike. By the stats: over 300 km of hikes and about 9100 m of elevation gain (that’s worthy of one Mt. Everest!)

√ Retired: There are lots of this species here. People are flooding to the island, both because of Covid and because it’s just a great place to live. We are glad we bought our home and moved when we did; we may not be able to afford this home that we love so much.

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√ Love the outdoors: We still revel at the diversity, variety and sheer beauty all around us, no matter how we travel or where on the island we go.

√ Bald Eagles: We appreciate them but we no longer jump up and down in awe when we see one.  They are very common here but they are beautiful and are always a welcome sight.  More interesting is the chase we saw first hand, while waiting at a stop sign at the end of our road. An eagle swooped down low to chase bunny.  He got quite close to it, but the bunny was faster and more agile so the eagle didn’t get his lunch.  He sure was pissed and sat by the edge of the thicket glowering until he flew away majestically, looking for his next victim. It was pretty exciting to see something that close.

√ Spring: We love flowering bushes in spring. But more importantly we love bragging that spring starts in March.  We now affectionately call Rhododenron bushes “Rhodos” because they are so common and put on such a beautiful show here on the Island.

√ Lingo: We know what “skookum” means. (Look it up!)

√ Blackberries: We only like the ones picked on the side of the road. Buying them in the grocery store is just not worth it.

√ Favourite places:  We have revisited many already:  Stoney Hill, Old Baldy, Koksilah bike loop to name a few (Tofino is just assumed).  And more importantly, we have been able to share some of these with people who have been on the Island longer than we have.  So we feel pretty awesome!

X Dog: A vast majority of Island residents have a dog. We do not; we feel so inadequate.  Yes, we would love the company but it would cramp our style!

X  Island Stickers: Islanders are proud folk and love to show it, but we do not sport an Island sticker on the back window of our car, nor do we plan to. 

X Food: Contrary to popular belief, we do not eat granola every day.

So I believe, on balance, we scored pretty high and are on the right track to becoming true Islanders! We are still pinching ourselves about our life on the Island. We are settled and very happy and look forward to many more years here.

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