Wain Rock lies just off Deep Cove at the north end of the Saanich Peninsula. It is (or used to be) a favourite fishing spot. It is not located where you might expect a big rock and although it is clearly marked on the chart and has a beacon visible by night and day, I always wanted to keep it clearly in view when leaving or entering the Deep Cove Marina aboard our sailboat. At low tide the rock is a favourite seal haul-out but there is little room for seals at high tide. It is a favourite destination for an early morning kayak cruise but I have always felt that the rock, despite its proximity to a densely settled shore, was not of the same world, remaining aloof and even a little threatening.
It’s good to come here early in the day
when the breeze strokes the water with her lightest touch
and the sun, half-wakened slow to rise,
warms and warns of noonday skies.
Kayak’s stern waves chuckle.
Arms learn the weight of water.
Body bends to breathing.
Mind floats free of chatter.
And now the rock itself,
protruding like a giant tooth,
contours looming while we glide,
it twists the slow assault of tide
to lazy whorls in silence.
Upon this rock is built
a clumsy cube of masonry,
a ladder and a beacon tower.
And I imagine, boat upset by carelessness,
climbing, scraped and soaked,
with darkness falling,
clinging to this bleak defense,
while calling to indifference.
On another morning visit to Wain Rock the tide was beginning to ebb strongly and the rock in mid-channel generated eddies as the water flowed by. My earlier feeling about the rock as an unfriendly refuge was replaced by a fascination with the oscillating tidal flows that would continue as long as the oceans were filled and moon circled earth.
Out here at Wain Rock in the warming early light
there is no sound of motors.
There is the whispering of water
as the Inlet exhales its high-tide breathing.
I nose the kayak into the riffle
Where Wain Rock shoulders the flow aside,
Let the current carry us some distance seaward.
Fronds of seaweed wave us on.
I imagine this to-and-fro in time,
obedient to the rhymes of gravity, and motion,
stretching before us and beyond us,
as long as there are hills and deep salt water.
Breathe in, breathe out…
(August 24 2017)