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The summer of my eighth birthday, (1964) My father gave me a most incredible gift... our first summer of many on Salt Spring Island.

Our cabin was called "Beach". Like its name it was located at the forests edge on the rocky shore.

Along with the cabin we had our own rowboat. This is where my love of the sea began.

Dad would take us fishing, in this little boat. Sometimes all five of us would go. Mary, Bobbie, Stephen, Jimmy-joe and myself, the oldest.

We usually caught dogfish. Occasionally a ling cod or salmon.

When the tide was way out we would dig for clams in the soft sand. As well we would pick oysters off the rocks in front of our tiny cabin.

At night the sounds of the waves hitting the shore would be the last sounds I would hear before falling asleep.

I remember one night, my Dad trying to get the young ones to settle down and go to bed. Dad would tell one of his many stories of "The Big Rock Candy Mountain"...

My brothers were almost a sleep when Dad's younger brother, our Uncle Rick, stood outside the cabin bedroom window, a huge pile of seaweed on his head, a bright flashlight under

his chin growling a loud, "GRRRRRRRRRRR!" This frightened all of us, including my Dad. My little brothers and sister were so startled within seconds began to cry big tears.

Dads efforts to get everyone to sleep that night were ruined.

Rain or shine my sister brothers and I would swim in the clear water. Crofton on Vancouver Island was off in the distance, across Stuart Channel. By the age of twelve I was rowing across to Vancouver Island or just to Vesuvius on Saltspring Island for Fries and coke, at the "Marina". That is what the restaurant was called at that time.

Most times, if I was lucky, I got to go rowing by myself.

I was about twenty years old when we had to give up the cabin. It felt like my heart broke.

Shortly after that I began an eleven year career commercial fishing off the west coast of B.C.

Today my sister has a small property on Gambier Island, just a short hike up from the beach. As well, my brother Stephen and his wife have a lovely forest property on Salt Spring Island. Fortunately they both love to share their property with me!

Recently my sister Mary has become a Grandma and I am very proud Great auntie!

We hope to share with our children, precious experiences living near the sea. For them to be able to explore clear shorelines, to see otters, seals and whales. To take late afternoon swims and night swims, jumping off the dock into the dark water, like fireflies under the surface, a magnificent firework of tiny light, phosphorescence, that sparkle, with the movement of your hands....

Such a magic gift our parents gave us, growing up by the sea. I feel blessed and so fortunate to have had all these ocean experiences.

Thank you Mom and Dad.

I pray that all the ocean waters remain clean and safe, so that many generations to come may experience the gifts of the sea.

http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/oceans/projects/healthy-oceans/pacific-ocean-stories/-a-precious-gift/

By Susan Pearson

Vancouver, BC

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