Chapter One: Some buses and a ferry
I arrived at Island Thyme Bed and Breakfast on Labour Day Monday, five hours after leaving my Kitsilano apartment and after taking two buses, a ferry and a Bowen Island Community Shuttle – double the time it should have taken.
I missed the 11:10 am ferry at Horseshoe Bay by just 10 minutes. After standing beside the ticket booth listening to a grumpy traveller complain about the shitty transportation system, I shrugged and wheeled my bags off to Troll’s restaurant where I enjoyed some coffee and French fries.
Time flew. Soon I was on the ferry and had left Horseshoe Bay behind. In 20 minutes flat, I arrived at Snug Cove on Bowen Island. The Snug Cove Grocer in their main shopping district — at the top of the hill, I might add — was busy. It was a long weekend after all. I pushed my cart from aisle to aisle, trying not to run over the laid-back locals and confused tourists who blocked my path. Determined, I was on a mission!
The B&B was a half-hour shuttle ride from Bowen Island’s Snug Cove and Wynn, the hostess, had recommended I buy groceries on the way in. However, the meat selection was not appealing; I would have to make do with leftover lamb for dinner.
I rushed back down the hill, now overloaded with the bags I had packed and the groceries. There was plenty of time to wait for the community shuttle, so I found a bench and parked my bags in the shade behind it. I laid down to wait but was unable to relax.
Maybe I was too excited, but I couldn’t help but notice, now that I had stopped rushing around, that I felt vulnerable. It was a strange feeling and it caught me by surprise.
There were people around, but I felt SO alone. I was alone; parked on a bench with near more bags than I could carry, and I was all sweaty from carrying them. It was embarrassing to be carrying THAT many bags.
“This is Bowen”
I was glad when the bus finally came. The driver went to get a cup of tea and I lugged my belongings up the steps to find myself waiting, yet again. My transit ticket had expired but the driver let me use it. “This is Bowen,” she’d replied casually.
The bus rumbled along rough roads, meandering around tight curves and navigating up and down steep hills. I peered through the window hoping to see a deer and trying to keep myself from falling off the seat. I half wondered if the coffee cream would be churned into butter by the time we arrived.
I was the sole passenger for the entire 30-minute journey and because the driver was busy concentrating on the driving, there was little conversation.
Wynn met me at the front gate of Island Thyme on her way out to run errands. We exchanged pleasantries and she gestured me towards the house with an invitation to make myself at home. I couldn’t wait to ditch the bags! How lucky that it hadn’t been raining.
“This was it,” I thought as I climbed down the stairs by the side of the house. I was anxious to see where I’d be spending the next five days and hoped it would live up to my expectations from what I’d seen on the website.
I wasn’t disappointed. The suite was lovely; rustic and cozy, well furnished and decorated in natural earth tones. Windows surrounded the main room on all but one wall, the view offering tall cedar trees for as far as I could see. Two beautiful throw rugs were placed over the hardwood floor.
At the foot of the bed three votive candles were suspended in glass holders; I was going to light those candles, you could bet on that.
The dining area was a small solarium, separated from the main room by two glass doors. It was furnished with a small wicker table, two chairs and a beautiful dark wooden floor screen. Through the side door I could see a private stone patio where two chairs sat side by side… waiting.
In the southwest corner of the main room was an L-shaped ottoman, perfectly placed to enjoy the view across the Pacific Ocean and the spectacular mountainous backdrop. Next to the ottoman was a small pellet stove that offered a feeling of comfort, even though it wasn’t lit.
The kitchen was small but had all the amenities: convection oven, fridge, microwave, coffee maker, toaster and cookware, and the pantry was stocked with staples such as rice, cereals, tea and coffee, spices and cooking oils. Wynn had left a plate of fresh fruit on a small counter in the corner: pears, kiwi, apples, oranges and grapefruit.
Most women wouldn’t want to spend time in the kitchen while on holidays, but I was looking forward to putting a little tender loving care into my meals. I loved to cook and because I’d been so busy working over the last year, most of my meals had been thrown together.
After unpacking, I washed some strawberries and put them in a small bowl, gathered my cellphone, sketch pad and camera, and returned to the hammock. There was journalling to catch up on and pictures to take.
Imagine my surprise later, when I tried to go back inside and found the door locked. And there were the keys, sitting on the counter by the ottoman, glistening in the sunlight.
I walked around the side of the house and up the wooden stairs in my slippers to peer through Wynn’s front window. There was no response to my knock except for her cat’s curious stare from the couch.
To be continued…
This is the first installment of my five-day vacation on Bowen Island. Stay tuned for more chapters over the next few weeks. A lot can happen in the “Space of Thyme”.