For those who drop by regularly, you might have gathered that I am enamoured of my new home. The vistas, the weather, the pace, our friends old and new—I am captivated, invigorated and inspired. This province is an artist's dream. There is a niche for every performer, visual artist or writer. And, if you want to experience art, to learn more about any of those mediums, or to simply surround yourself with talent, you do not have to look very far.In August, we had the pleasure of joining some friends at their summer home on Hornby Island. Nestled in the Salish Sea, it is a funky eclectic retreat, two ferry rides from Vancouver Island. Its rustic ambience is entirely misleading. As you drive along the only road from the ferry, it lulls you into believing there is little there except nature's beauty. But, it is dichotomous. Definitely a place to unplug and unwind if that is your desire, but it's also teeming with a vibrant arts community that will keep you hopping if you so choose. We enjoyed a little bit of both.
The ten-day Hornby Festival included a one day Writer's Festival. Featuring Canadian writers of all ilk, it was right up my alley. The weather was iffy that day so they promptly moved it to the community hall. It was a beehive of activity, buzzing with anticipation. And, it did not disappoint. Such joy to meet and to listen to new-to-me authors! Claudia Casper's reading about a cougar attack, from her novel The Mercy Journals, was appropriately cringe-worthy. I laughed and cried as Michael Christie talked about his inspiration for If I Fall, If I Die. A renowned skateboarder turned author, he is a writer to watch.
The day was capped off with a keynote address by Lawrence Hill. Seriously, does it get any sweeter? His soft cadence lulled, made it feel comfortable and intimate, while his sincere candid sharing about his life, his sister's death and his take on the world in general thumped in my heart and mind. He is clearly a man who cares deeply about what he says both in his writing and in person. A signed copy of The Illegal now sits at the top of my TBR pile.
There were many authors that we didn't catch because we wanted to tour this oh-so-small island (~30 km²). So, in true Keev and Rose fashion, we hit our version of tourist highlights. We visited the charming Carbrea Winery, sipped Pinot Gris and enjoyed fresh peaches. We dropped in at Island Spirits Distillery, where the owner is quite the character. Samplings of gin and vodka were very interesting—black jelly bean…mmm. As an added bonus, we ran into Michael Christie at the distillery. He is so disarming and genuine, I almost cried again. And, to top off the tour, we had cocktails at the beautiful Breeze Restaurant overlooking the ocean.
Yes, the arts are supported, nurtured and celebrated. So, it seems, is the making of alcohol. No wonder I'm so darn happy here!