“This is paradise, hey?” We’re sitting on the beach on Hornby Island, the sun is shining, and the water, as the tide moves in over the hot sand, feels nearly tropical. It isn’t Hawaii. But it’s the next best thing.
I’m here camping with my kids, observing an important family tradition. This is a place we return to every year. My boys love it. The beaches are sandy and the water is warm; there are great trails for hiking and for mountain biking; and the campsite we stay at every year is filled with kids who gather in the playground every night to play “night games”: flashlight tag, hide and seek, and cops and robbers. It’s one of the few times when my youngest son, who is eight, gets to take off and play without any kind of adult supervision. He is in his element.
This year, the weather is particularly hot, and the water is warm enough that even I swim. My middle son, who is part fish, has to be dragged from the water from time to time, so that I can reapply his sunscreen and get him to drink some water.
One day, we wander out to the edge of Tribune Bay, clamouring over the lunar rock formations, and fish-boy leaps in part way back, electing to swim back to the beach rather than hike any further.
Our time at Hornby is all about patterns and tradition. We always stop for the homemade chocolate-plum or chocolate-rhubarb ice cream at the ferry terminal from Denman Island to Hornby. We always go to Helliwell Park for a hike through the forest and along the cliffs.
We always spend a day at “Big Trib” Beach (Little Tribune Bay is the nude beach), and another at the beach at Whaler Station Bay. The two older boys always haul their bikes up the side of the one mountain on the island so they can careen down the many mountain biking trails.
We always spend some time at the Wednesday morning market, where we indulge in the stickiest and most delicious cinnamon buns imaginable. And we always go for pizza at the Cardboard House, a bakery with fantastic pizza and homemade lemonade. On Wednesdays, they have a Marimba band playing in the gardens, and it seems as though practically everyone on Hornby gathers there.
Some years, my sister and her girls join us on the island too. This year, they came to our campsite for a smoky evening around the campfire, roasting marshmallows and eating “s’mores.” My sister went mountain biking with my older boys one day, and we spent a couple of beach days with them.
For a woman who so loves adventure and spontaneity in her life, I am all about stability and tradition where my children are concerned. If they want to return to Hornby Island each year, then I’m happy to do so. And I fall easily into the rhythms of our days here. I enjoy an early morning cup of tea and time to write in my journal. I enjoy the beach and the hikes, the pizza and the campfires. And I especially enjoy the low key, relaxed time with my boys.