This Ain’t the Mainland

Island Kids Have Tougher Feet




I don’t get island fever. Quite the opposite, actually. There is a feeling of safety that transpires with the last ferry-crossing and a sense of geographic direction provided by land completely surrounded by water. Named after the island between Quadra and Cortes, I spent my childhood in an off-grid home built by my father. You could find us with four-wheel drive, down a very long and bumpy driveway through the forest on the north-end of Quadra. There were times at which all I wanted was a “normal” family, but today I am grateful that we were anything but.

As shellfish-growers, our family relied on the ocean as a source of income and nourishment. Our boat was used as much as our car, commuting to Surge Narrows for school; delivering oysters to the transport trucks in Heriot Bay; and visiting our outer-island friends. Wave-dodging during winter storms and diving from the cliffside for starfish on long, summer days were our entertainment. A sweet-tooth fix (and microbes for future health) could be found under the moss in the form of licorice root. Propane lanterns provided a romantic mood, and a visit to the outhouse on a cold, moonless night took some serious courage. Taking the ferry to school added urgency to the journey and often resulted in soggy shoes and dust-marked shirts as we squeezed our way through cars to the offload ramp. But island kids are tough, and we’ve stuck together across oceans and continents to this day.

read island homestead

My grandmother lived in the Virgin Islands and her open-air home was always my dream. Most rooms had only three walls, allowing a constant connection to nature and temperatures regulated by the tropical breeze. Sundays were for sailing and snorkelling at the reef systems that surrounded the island. My go-to doodle as a kid was always the same: a girl lying on a towel on a sandy island under a palm tree.

So, it doesn’t come as a big surprise that I chose to move to a tropical island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, with my now-husband, to build a life of outdoor adventure. We moved to Maui in 2014 with two suitcases and dual citizenship. One thing we knew for sure was that if we did create a family together, it would be one in which our own children could enjoy the immense benefits of island life and connection to nature.

There is a sense of community that comes with sharing an island, where life moves at a slower pace. As the bumper stickers will tell you, this “ain’t the mainland” and those who thrive on island time wouldn’t have it any other way. In Hawaii, the concept of “Aloha” can be compared to the friendly wave of a passing driver on the remote gravel roads of Quadra.

Today we live by the beach and are parents to two girls with very tough feet, salty hair, and a preference for nudity. Vayda Pearl and Layla Coral have the best of two beautiful islands. I see a balance of wild Quadra and sun-kissed Maui shaping them into well-rounded humans who value the environment and find joy in the simplicity of their natural surroundings. The crest of a wave provides consistent thrills and the shoreline is an endless treasure hunt. We follow the migration of the humpback whales, foraging for exotic fruit in Hawaii and fresh seafood during our summer vacations in British Columbia. My heart belongs to these two islands, where I continue to seek peace through a stillness found only under the surface of the ocean. I am immensely thankful for the unusual path chosen by my homesteading, hippy parents. It has influenced the island lifestyle that my own family enjoys today.

“My soul and my conscious, that is what my Self is, and I am part of it like an island in the midst of the waves, like a star in the sky.”
(Julien, 214 Lord of the Flies)