June’s heat tricked me into thinking summer had started a month ago, then I got behind the wheel of my mini-van in July and realized I’d seen nothing yet.
It’s an infusion of confusion out there and the frustration stems well past the traffic.
The season’s sunshine merged alongside this Coast’s turned-on hospitality and we’re rolling along a highway of tourism success. There’s gold in them there tourists and we’re mining it in full.
While our new friends enjoy our warmth, they’re apparently being introduced to crosswalks for the first time, spreading far-fetched tales about our wildlife and trashing our parks for no reason.
They’re basking while we’re stewing and it’s getting hard to obey the yield signs. Smiling through summer’s peak is beginning to look as tough as reaching Mt. Everest’s. Both are feats worth achieving though.
They’ve come here to unwind and their desire to do so puts food on our plates. Some of them are winding us up in the process and stress is setting in. It’s rarely relieved in the right direction.
Most of our guests, almost all of them, are legitimately delightful and just want to love what we love.
The thoughtlessness expressed by the ones who trashed memorial benches within Tofino’s Anchor Park last weekend is solely their own and does not reflect the views of the entire out-of-towner population.
Every party has at least one pooper and you can’t open the door to a paradise this bright without attracting a few of them.
For my money, the most direct route towards understanding the perplexity of summer is to stand in the centre of Ucluelet, right where Main Street meets Peninsula Road, and watch the beautifully effective interpretive dance that’s performed there countless times a day on an authentic asphalt stage.
It’s there where locals and tourists truly shine in their roles as perplexed counterparts. Each side holding firm to the belief that they’re the protagonist, drivers move to the beat of a drum inaccessible outside their vehicle and the confused dance that ensues is filled with all the creative abstraction Isadora Duncan dreamed of when she popularized translative movement in 1900.
We know where the stop signs are and what they mean, but that knowledge is nullified by the fact that we know they don’t and thus we cannot perceive what they’ll do. We can try to gesture them in the right direction, but that only adds to the confusion as the initial frantic wave-throughs are ignored just long enough for us to lose patience and creep forward at the precise moment they hit the gas.
About four years before Isadora Duncan was known, Georges Melies produced what is considered to be the world’s first horror film: Le Manoir du Diable. That’s ‘The House of the Devil,’ for those who passed on French Immersion.
While Duncan’s creative outlet comes alive in Ucluelet, Melies’ work is more apropos to Tofino. Fourth and Campbell in July is not a dance, it’s a nightmare. It’s where movement goes to die and commuters become trapped in motionless steel tombs of despair. The terror would be enough to lure drivers towards bicycles if the highway was wide enough to share and the MUP wasn’t covered with rooted wheel-wreckers and wide-eyed, meandering, pedestrians.
It’s all very frustrating, but we all get through it. We have to. Those are our towns’ main intersections and the source of each one’s frustration is the aorta of our economies. If either was easy to get through, our plates would be bare.
Our elected officials are perpetually tinkering with ideas to make those intersections easier just like they’re perpetually looking at ways to diversify this peninsula’s marketplace.
Each spring we come up with new surefire ways to help them understand what our signs mean and each fall we wonder what to try next. Perplexingly, more signs is a consistently popular answer.
July is a hot and confusing traffic jam. You’ll miss it when it’s gone.