Canada Speaks: April 2010: Richard Van Camp


A letter to Gabriola Island

By Richard Van Camp

I was welcomed into your peace the first time we met, and I was also amazed by how quickly the milky fog rolled over and through you.

One second I am having breakfast watching the sun  and I turn to put some honey in my coffee and I turn back and—WOW!—I can’t see a thing. We had literally been blanketed, folded, rolled and swathed in fog. I looked around and no one seemed surprised.  Had the zombie wars begun? Was this a nuclear winter? Um, no. This was how it just is in Gabriola.

“Well, I think it’s safe to say your flight home’s cancelled,” Hilary said as she motioned for the bill. “So, you have to leave right now and catch the ferry to Nanaimo’s Departure Bay and then catch the ferry to Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay and then bus it to the Greyhound and then taxi it home. Keep your receipts.”

What should have been a zip of a plane ride now turned into what looked like five hours of travel. Oh well, I thought. At least I get to travel with Jason Burnstick. He’s an incredible guitarist and it would be like in Dungeons and Dragons when you travel with a Bard. (Remember how bards can inspire their allies and bend others to their will when they strum their guitars and ukuleles?) “Okay,” I said. “Let’s go.”

As we waited for the driver to find his way  through the fog to get us and our gear, I weaved my hands through her. She’s like a spirit who comes to bathe you softly. You leave a path through her wherever you go. She’s like a curtain of webs. She’s so sensual and quiet. I should have tried to lap her slowly the same way I love to run my tongue through apple sauce. Raar!

I made my way home and it took hours. But during this time, Jason Burnstick played his guitar on the ferries, on the bus and I seem to recall he strummed his guitar as we walked. He brought with him joy, smiles and delightful surprise wherever he went.

Traveling with Jason Burnstick was better than DND because it was real magic and I was a part of it. I noticed wherever we went and wherever Jason played, people seemed to relax. People lowered their voices on their cell phones. People lowered their voices with each other. Many leaned in to listen. Others simply closed their eyes and surrendered. He united us all with his talent and generosity.

I am so looking forward to visiting Gabriola Island once again in the fall. I pray your fog comes back and hugs us all together. Thank you, Hilary Peach, for working so hard in all that you do. You take such great care of us. To all who call Gabriola Island home, thank you for sharing with us your everyday paradise.  And I do think you live in paradise.


Until we meet again, take care.


Mahsi cho. Thank you very much.




Richard Van Camp