The Oxygen, Humidity, and Salt Quotient
The fine art of living at sea level
It has been two years since I have been on a plane, let alone been inside an airport. Yesterday felt like there might be some normalcy on the horizon as I could finally fly Westjet over to Vancouver Island to see my family.
I’ve done this flight many times pre-pandemic, and the experience during the pandemic was not so different, with the notable exception that everyone wore masks — we were like a plane full of bandits.
After spending some time catching up with parents, unpacking, and having lunch, I decided to go for a walk and look for a house to buy (assuming that I won the lottery this week). The Cherry Blossoms and Daffodils are just starting to bloom, there is light rain, and it smells magical. Oh, and they have oxygen here, which I have clearly been missing. Humidity and oxygen.
My walk took me on a meandering journey that somehow always led me to the ocean. Weird. It’s like I couldn’t get enough of the salt spray. Humidity, oxygen, and salt.
Scuba diving in these parts around this time of year is ideal. Yes, it’s cold, but the visibility is outstanding. As I was standing on a moss-covered hill overlooking the pacific I could easily see down 15–20 feet to the ocean floor.
The temptation to just jump in and go for a swim was nearly overwhelming — almost like the call of the void, the High Place Phenomena (HPP) that calls to some enticing them to leap off tall buildings. Instead, I will name this feeling the Wet Place Phenomena (WPP) because I get it every time I’m near water, particularly the ocean. Hell, I feel the pull of WPP when I’m near a puddle; very rarely am I able to fight the urge to jump in one.
I stopped and watched an Albatross the size of a Messerschmitt drop clams onto a rocky shore and happily slurp down the chewy centre. People in skiffs and rowboats glided past, heading to their sailboats, fishing boats, and yachts. The rain was a little heavier than a mist. It didn’t fall in drops but hung suspended in the thick sea air for me to walk through.
What’s this? Another moss-covered path leading towards the ocean? Okay!
Making my way back towards the main road, I spent some time watching the ducks and cormorants fix their punk-rock hairdos and motor around looking for something to eat. People with wet and happy dogs were out for walks and enjoying the humidity, oxygen, and salt as much as I was.
The dogs were all very well-behaved but you could see in their eyes exactly how much fun they thought chasing ducks would be, and wouldn’t the ducks love it too? Their puppy eyes silently pleaded with their humans that it would really be great fun for the ducks, and didn’t they want to help the ducks have fun? Wasn’t it a dog’s responsibility to give ducks the best day ever?
The humans must not like seeing ducks have fun because as I walked to the corner store to buy a lottery ticket, I did not hear any splashing, quacking, or barking — the hallmark sounds of ducks having a great day.
Once again, my trek led me to another beach. It was duckless but not without its charm. I marvelled at the homes that backed right onto the water and thought how nice it would be to be sitting at the kitchen table writing this while looking out onto the Mighty Pacific Ocean.
I leaned on a lichen-encrusted stone wall, listened to the tide start to roll in, breathed in the salt air and cherry blossoms, and thought about Alberta winters, snow, and Conservatives.
“This. I could get used to this.”