While out in BC with my parents, I made sure that we took the time to go to Saltspring Island to check out the Saturday Market. My parents live on Vancouver Island, which is to the west of the Gulf Islands. The Gulf Islands (to which Saltspring belongs) are between Vancouver Island and the mainland. Saltspring is famous for hippies, a laid-back way of life, and artists. I’ve only ever had a great time on that island, and whenever anyone asks me that ‘what would you do with $Xmillion lottery winnings?’ my immediate answer is: buy my dream home on Saltspring with artist’s studio, grow all my own food, and raise goats and sheep.
A testament to the lovely quirkiness of the island: All businesses on Saltspring accept the Canadian dollar, they also accept the Saltspring dollar (the exchange rate, for the curious, is 1=1). We saw a man walking a sheep on a leash when we first got to the market, later we saw a different man walking a goat on a leash. We smelt a few whiffs of not-cigarette smoke. We saw booths with gluten-free treats, booths with raw treats, booths with vegan treats, booths with sprouted treats, booths with raw-vegan-sprouted-gluten-free treats, and (my favourite) booths with real-butter-real-everything treats.
The Saturday Market brings all sorts of people to the island to browse. There is tons of amazing food, plants, clothing, jewelery, accessories, just about everything, and all of it handmade. Treats from the French bakery booth above were delicious, and he was almost sold out a few hours later!
I might live at the epicentre of Canada’s cowboy culture, in the land of Hummers and oil rigs and energy companies (Americans, if you need an example, think Texas) but I am a BC girl at heart. And even though I’ve only visited, Saltspring feels like me. (Americans, think… I’m not sure where your equivalent is. I’d say Berkley, but Berkley is much too big and populated. Somewhere with a commune atmosphere, but none of the creepy bits.)
My whole trip I reveled in seeing and smelling the ocean and its creatures, so when we walked by the Fresh Silver booth, and I saw the sea-life inspired jewelery, I had to stop and look. He does amazing cast (or carved?) silver rings, pendants, everything, and a lot of it is wildlife inspired. When I saw the tidepool pendant, I knew it had to come home with me.
Tidepools are the pools of water left behind when the tide goes out. There is all sorts of amazing marine life in them, and the home I grew up in (not on Saltspring, but a similar community) was on the water, so dad and I did a lot of tidepool exploring. The purple starfish were ubiquitous in ‘our’ tidepools, so how perfect is the purple gem in the centre of that starfish?
And of course, there were always crabs in the tidepools – if you look inside the pendant from another angle, you see the crab! The detail in this work is amazing, it’s all one piece, with the amazing seaweed-y outside, and then the little lifeforms inside it. Just like a tidepool, you see different things when you look at different angles. The pendant is also the perfect weight and shape to hold in the palm of my hand and think of the ocean.
One of Tony’s lines as he was selling his wares was ‘Try it on, get attached!’. I was smitten as soon as I saw this piece. I thought (and after a few days back here, I know I was right) that having a little piece of the West Coast around my neck would be a wonderful thing to have.
Something else that I’m going to keep with me from that trip is the sage advice I learned from the greatest of masters – the bumper sticker on the truck beside us in the ferry lineup back to Vancouver Island:
Relax, this ain’t the mainland.
My new personal motto, here where the mountain meets the prairie and I’m 900km+ from any ocean.
Is there somewhere for you like Saltspring is for me? Somewhere you’ve never lived, but aspire to because it embodies everything you want in life?