Wednesday, April 21, 2010

No Man Is An Island On An Island

I am in the process of becoming "islandized" since we moved to Salt Spring just over a week ago. Yesterday I decided to gather some nettles and make nettle soup (with a little help from google). When I saw some nettles growing by the road (a little travelled one) I remembered gathering them with a friend years ago. It made me feel very islandish to serve the bright green soup.

And I am learning to wave. When someone passes you in the car they give a little wave (as in hi neighbour). This is especially apparent on the smaller, less travelled roads. And I'm enjoying the good natured chit chat that goes on everywhere, at the grocery store, at the lumber yard. And more than one island car sports a bumper sticker that says, "Relax, it's not the mainland."

We have even picked up hitch hikers several times, once a young couple heading up the road in the direction of our house and then a young woman heading towards town. It's been a long time since we picked up hitch hikers but here on the island it seems part of what happens. On a quiet stretch of road with spotty public transport it seems almost unkind to pass by perfectly harmless looking folks when your back seat is empty.

And then of course there are the things that are simply rural, not necessarily island things; the birds and the deer, the veg from the garden and the glorious clothesline you see pictured here. My island experiences made me think of a post over at 108 Zen books about the help of sentient and insentient beings, those seen and unseen. This is sinking in as I observe and participate in island life. It is easier to see our connections when you pick up the young couple who lives down the road, when you partake of some spring nettles or when strangers wave at you as if they were old friends.

I am reading a book called "Zen Architecture - The Building Process As Practice" by Paul Discoe. In the foreword Reb Anderson says "... although it may appear that you and I and Paul Discoe can produce something on our own, that is just a deeply entrenched delusion.... Although it may not be apparent, all great artists have coworkers, living and nonliving.... everything that exists does so interdependently."

So maybe I needed to come to an island to learn "that no man is an island." Is that you waving over there?


  1. Having lived in a rural community for 30 years, I had to learn many different waves. Driving past each other there's the "fingers tip off the steering wheel" for newcomers, "hand with palm out lift" for tentatively accepted, the "full hand up and snapped to right salute" for hey-good-buddy-'n-g'day. For you, I'd invent a double hand off the steering wheel Yahoo! that might have me in the ditch a lot. :-)

    PS: don't the nettles sting when you pick them?

  2. Thanks for the great wave! I have heard that there are different waves, I will have to watch more closely, ah the refining process! And yes the nettles can sting. You need to wear gloves. I wore some rubber gloves covered by a pair of very holey leather gloves and then I handled the nettles with tongs and scissors to get them into the steaming pot. Nettle season should be coming up soon in your part of the country??

  3. I sense your inner contentment with "island life", a sense of hominess and belonging (?) I am soooo happy for you that life has presented this experience to you at this time in your life! Will also say I'm a little envious - like the green of the nettle soup :)

    And oh yes, the wave thing. I had a taste of that when visiting my husband's relatives some 30 years ago in New Mexico and Texas. It was like everybody knew everybody else, everyone was "family". It was usually the 4 finger wave off the top of the wheel. I cracked up with the different kinds of waves that Genju describes! And I agree - the double-handed Yahoo, definitely. LOL!

    And a big Yahoo wave from here! :)

  4. "Although it may not be apparent, all great artists have coworkers, living and nonliving.... everything that exists does so interdependently." In art and in life. Welcome home.

  5. No nettles yet. We're still enjoying daffodils and our (political) narcissii. ;-)

    But we always have fields full so I'm looking forward to putting them to good use!