The Wharf

There is a place that exists where beauty stands unblemished amidst the sands of time. A place that storybooks dream of. It rests unassuming next to the calm of a lake. The blades of grass flirt in a playful ‘pas de deux’ with the rolling shallows. Unless you mean to go there, you might never happen upon it.

I’m going to tell you about my favorite place in the world. I found it as a boy. From first glance I knew that this was a special place; I knew that because for a fleeting hiccup in time, a flutter befell my chest when feasting upon the visual splendor of this quiet little spot.

My life as a boy was hectic and disjointed. This place though, represented stillness, a stillness that exists even today. They call it, “The Wharf.” A wooden walkway masterfully crafted to arc out deep into the waters of the Shuswap. Its gentle curvature welcomes you to navigate its planks, guiding you to the end where you’re met with a sweeping vista of mountainous sprawl and crawling lake bed that stretches to the horizon and beyond.

If you time it right, you can stand at the end of the wharf just as the sun places itself to bed. A mesmeric golden hue embraces everything the light touches. The forested pines of the mountain become glazed with a warmth of a summer’s sun, no matter the season. The sky begins to melt into a brilliant pastel swirl, clouds fornicating with the abyss, and pinks and blues become one. This is a place that extinguishes all of life’s vexing predicaments, even if just for a short time.

This place was magic in touchable form to me as a boy, and for me as a man, well, when I’m there …I feel like a boy again — magic triumphs depression.

A couple years after my mum died, I found myself standing at the end of the wharf beneath a wool grey sky. Snow trundled its way toward the waters below while the low hanging clouds tucked the tips of the mountains away. I had a friend with me, but he knew by the reticence of my unspoken word that I could use a few minutes alone.

My family and I are a fragmented rabble. Trauma has that effect, as such, we have yet to hold a proper ceremony or funeral for my late mum. She died in 2017. It was 2019 when I stood at the wharf on a chilled winter’s morning. I placed my hands on the timeworn railings, the braille of wood and all it has seen grazed the palms of my hands.

I began to see a carousel of memory in image form dance ethereally across my view. I remembered fondly sights of my mother smiling — something she did far too little of in life. I recalled being “kidnapped” for graduation by the girls of my high-school class. The unlucky souls who were also captured, were placed into dresses and forced to stand together without movement so that a picture may be taken. A tradition back then.

My mother was not on my side that morning, she let the gaggle of women into my room to enact their mischievous intentions. So, on a warm June morning, I stood shoulder to shoulder alongside a defeated gathering of high-school lads. I hadn’t even brushed my teeth, and yet there I stood, donned in an oversized women’s sun dress, make-up on and shame in tow… (all playfully, of course). But in the background of that now infamous photo, the wharf. A place that invites playful intentions, welcomes ruminative introspection, and soothes those with aching thoughts. As I said before, a magical place.

When my ruminations ceased, I found myself with tear in eye and a pained heart. I looked out at the panorama before me, within an instant I relived and recalled my entire juvenile life, and more importantly, I remembered my mother. The times when she was happy. The dreary remembrance of her cancer and depression were omitted in favor of something else — rest…

On a grey morning some two years after my mother had died by suicide, I was finally able to find the perfect way to say a little goodbye. And as I did, the wharf held me in its wooden hand, comforting me and allowing me the time I needed to recite, “thank you — I love you — forever, always…” And just like that, for me, my mother was lain to rest in the most serene place I know of.

…There’s a place that exists where beauty stands unblemished amidst the sands of time… a magical place, a place tucked away within the embrace of a small-town, a place you might never happen upon, although I think you should. It’s a place called, “The Wharf”.

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