Halffro Productions

heart and soul video production

21. Expectations of Wilderness

Before coming to Canada, I envisioned it as a great wild north. I pictured long meanderings on dusty roads where not another human face would be seen for miles. I hoped there would be bears and wolves walking conveniently along those roads at a perfect distance for zoom lens portraits. I fancied countless beautiful places where I'd be able to simply pull the Jeep over, pitch a tent and make an evening meal because I wanted to call that patch of dirt home for tonight. But I've found none of those things.

The truth is, the real wilderness is far north of the places our journey has taken us. It's accurate to say that Canada is large and mostly sparsely populated. But not these parts. Vancouver Island is beautiful and ecologically fascinating, no doubt. But it's mostly private land held by homeowners and logging companies. The timber industry is what brought western civilization to the area, and that legacy remains.

Coming from the United States, especially the western ones, I've grown quite fond of the whole National Forest idea. I'm a connoisseur of public land and I believed I'd be able to frolic freely in some sort of Canadian equivalent. But to find our camping, we've had to turn to private campgrounds, Provincial and National Parks. We've paid nightly fees to access the beauty and especially in the National Parks, the crowds have been staggering.

But the scenery has been astounding, and the experiences have been special even so! We asked locals about their favorite spots routinely, and nobody has avoided sharing. We sought out a secluded spot aptly named Secret Beach and while the confusing journey to get there had me picturing scenes from The Hills Have Eyes, I wouldn't trade that experience for the world. The beach was literally paved with the jagged shells of live oysters! That's something I couldn't have dreamed up, coming from the mountains of Colorado.  And Chloe saw her first bear last week, so that's been checked off the list.

So I guess what I'm saying is that any beef I have with this trip has been a matter of expectations, not false advertisement. And I think life is like that in a lot of ways: finding peace can be achieved by altering our assumptions in a time of turmoil. Often that's the most accessible approach into life's vast wilderness.

Here is a short video I cut of some of the coolest things my cameras saw on our 3 week journey through Vancouver Island. When I watch these clips, I remember how tricky it was to get to some of these places and how many u-turns we had to execute en route. And the images hold so much more beauty because of these winding journeys.

19. Thank a Farmer

I rarely buy organic produce. That may come as a surprise to some of my friends who know how passionate I am about great food and vegetable gardening. But for me, it's always been a cost benefit analysis. I'm a budget shopper. I know organic foodstuffs are generally more healthy and nutritious, but is 10% more vitamin X worth 25% more dollars? I've usually thought not.

A birds-eye view of our little farm

But coming to work on an organic farm has started a bit of a paradigm shift for me. What I've learned is that the jump in cost has nothing to do with nutrition. It's simply a factor of the amount of work that's required to bring each and every organic fruit, vegetable, or tuber to market compared to their conventionally grown counterparts. I spent an hour and a half this afternoon pulling weeds by hand on a single row of spinach. I had a partner, and we only got about a third of the row done before the work day ended.

An organic farmer has to love what they do. There is no way around that fact. They've voluntarily chosen to do things the hard way day in and day out because of a personal conviction that it's the right thing to do. It's a special kind of love they're pouring into their daily work, and many rarely even meet the end customer they are loving so hard on.

That's generally not the case at this particular organic farm I find myself on. Our main clientele is a local farmer's market where customers often shake the very hand that picked their strawberries or baked their bread. It's a very special role these farmers play, as a vector by which Mother Earth provides sustenance to her constituents. It's a beautiful thing to be a part of.

So I am not writing this as a declaration that I am now a loyal Whole Foods customer. Especially in the same week I've learned that they are about to cozy up under Amazon's massive umbrella. But I will say that it's become very clear to me that farmer's markets are a very important part of your community. They will play a huge part in any move our society may be able to make toward a more equitable relationship with our earth. There's no reason besides ignorance and stubbornness that hundreds of people and gallons of petrol should be required to get an apple to put into your kid's lunch box. So I encourage you to take a stroll to your local farmer's market this weekend. Grab some seasonal veggies, herbs, meats and breads. Your belly will thank you. And while you're there, be sure to thank a farmer.

Our stand at the Comox Valley market.  Photo credit Chloe Johnson