Behest of the West: Get yourself a button and go

The Pacific Rim Whale Festival is at our doorstep.

Every time my son sees an eagle he yells at it.

“Eggle,” he proclaims—he struggles with hard e’s—as he triumphantly points with more gusto than I could ever hope to muster.

I find it adorable because, like the rest of my kids, he never does anything wrong but is it adorable or simply sensible?

Eagles are massive and every bit as majestic as they look on the postcards we send to out-of-town relatives. They should absolutely be gawked at and we should all be pointing and yelling in delight whenever we have the privilege of being awed by one. Yet, if my son didn’t yell at them I’d hardly notice them.

Many of us weren’t born on the Coast but we fell in love with its magic and planted ourselves in its garden. Even the best magic trick loses its luster once you’ve grown accustomed to the shine.

Growing accustomed to paradise is a gift we all earned but it’s also a gift that must be returned.

Mists of water meters, parking meters, affordable housing and sewage treatment might fog the view but the sunset is still there.

This won’t apply to everyone but many of us need to open our eyes and see what we saw when we moved here.

Over 20,000 grey whales are swimming through our backyards this week, each of them weighing about 36 tonnes. These colossal behemoths are on their annual 16,000-kilometre round-trip fromMexico’s nurseries to the Arctic’s breeding grounds.

Let’s ignore the familiarity of it all and let our jaws drop.

The excitement many of us are feeling about this massive migration is the tourist migration it sparks and the dollars it brings to our towns.

That excitement is valid to be sure; bills have a habit of racking up while we hibernate each winter, but can we see what the tourists see?

The Pacific Rim Whale Festival is at our doorstep. Admittedly I’m true to my school and let those colours fly but I assure you if that weren’t the case I’d still pump this festival’s tires.

It will almost assuredly rain on our opening parade, literally, but rain has never dampened the festival’s spirit and frankly watching parade floats hold up in the wind and the wet is part of the attraction.

That parade will kick off two weeks worth of festivities that won’t just floss our whale population but our picturesque landscapes as well.

Guided hikes and boat rides are opportunities to bask in the nature around us but this festival’s most key attribute is its ninja ability to sneak education and inspiration into the fun.

Your walks through paradise and oceanic adventures will be interpreted by brilliant local minds. The artwork you’ll see are creations crafted by a community of creative dynamos. Local kids designed each of the spectacular buttons you’ll need to get into events.

Annual cooking competitions aren’t rare in small towns but, while they might be quaint get-togethers elsewhere, our neighborhood chefs are world-renowned.

The chowder you’ll inhale at the chowdown won’t be standard fair fare.

This isn’t just an opportunity to tout the West Coast’s streaming-postcards, it’s a chance to tout us; why we’re unique and what that uniqueness allows us to accomplish.

We take ourselves and our neighbours for granted as much as we take this Coast for granted but 1 million visitors wouldn’t take on the highway to get here if they weren’t impressed.

The Pacific Rim Whale Festival is knocking. Get yourself a button and go.

 

Andrew Bailey is the editor of the Westerly News. You can find his weekly column ‘Behest of the West’ on page 4 of our print edition every Wednesday.