Sometimes it takes a newcomer to the Island to remind us how awesome our community really is. When we live here long enough our island paradise can be taken for granted and we can all too easily forget the Oooh Ahhh factor. You know, like when we were kids at the fireworks and we would look up and collectively go Oooh, Ahhh. Is this taken-for-granted phenomenon wrapped up in familiarity or are we simply too busy to stop and appreciate our surroundings?
I’ve been here for 28 years and I really don’t understand the cabin fever type comments of having to get off the island once in a while. It must be the Welsh in me, the homebody instinct but I love it as much as I ever did. I must admit though I had forgotten just how good we have it. When I take a step back to reflect on my own Oooh Ahhh factor, I take in the expansive view from atop the Malahat: Oooh … Ahhh! The scent of an arbutus tree in flower after a May rainfall, and taking photographs with my husband as the summer sun rises over Fisherman’s Wharf in Sidney’s harbour. And then, I took my revelry a step farther and started asking colleges and friends what brought them here and what was there Oooh Ahhh factor. Here is what Wilf Krahe, a proud Canadian citizen whose origins are Germany said.
Wilf’s first experience of this area came in 1975 when he was asked by a friend to travel with him to an uncle’s home in Canada. The result was a life long love affair with this Peninsula we inhabit. This trip long ago led to his immigration and desire to take out Canadian citizenship. Wilf’s Oooh Ahhh factor is the sense of space, the feeling of freedom and the friendly people. He still loves the slow pace and the fact that there is a space in the world with a park-like setting and few fences.
Another long time resident, Kim Erb, was fortunate enough to be brought here because of her husbands work. Like Wilf, Kim loves the slow unhurried pace, and the fact that geography saves us from urban sprawl. We will never suffer from the fungus of metropolis mushroom. What she loves most of all, her Oooh Ahhh factor, is that old country sense of community; the fact that when Kim is out and about she will meet and be greeted by the many people she has come to know is part of paradise. To quote her on contentment: “We have made our little nest here and we are cozy and comfortable.”
People still laugh when I tell them my husband and I came out here to retire, because at the time we were in our twenties and newly married. We had been watching our parents’ friends retire, move to there dream home away from all they had known most of there lives, only to find out they had left their friends and family behind. They had stopped looking at their particular paradise and, after much debating, wringing of hands and financial losses, they moved back to their original community, which had its own Oooh Ahhh factor. Taking our cue from their experience, we came to a place we wished to retire and here we are still. We have been able to make the dream a reality, having raised our kids and will be moving on into retirement, maybe not with ease but we are still afloat and will be here for the duration.
Thanks to newcomers, I now take longer looks at that summer sunrise that we photographed and hung on our wall; a welcome to all you new comers.
To the readers: are you, like me, taking our incredible community for granted? Do you remember why you came to the island? Or, if you’re from here, do you appreciate what we have? What’s your Oooh Ahhh factor?
First published in Seaside Times -February 2010, pg. 27 under the pen name Jesse Williamson
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