by Nate Jensen, Tofino
There is a picture that belongs to the first time I even visited the
Eden that is Tofino and Long Beach. It was shot in late December at
Florencia Bay. It is a photo of me sprawled out on the beach, clad
in green hoodie, blue jeans and shoes that seem more decayed than the
barncacle ridden boulders that marked the strand. On my barrel chest
is the camera case, resting like a funerary strong box. I’m smiling.
What is it about this habitat that could make a vicious prude like
myself loosen up enough to crack a grin? Is it the zen-like solitude
of a morning in the overcast of Wickaninnish Beach? Or perhaps it
is the friendly attitude of a complete stranger. Whatever the reason
I have to complement a community that can bring the finest things
in life, yet maintain the simplicity of the natural surroundings it
The day that the picture was taken, there were three or four surfers
in the waters off Long Beach. I couldn’t believe that the waters
that washed up on a shore of ice and frost covered trees and plants
could actually be surfed. Yet here were the wetsuit clad warriors of
the eternal give and take. The waves that carried them in were frothless,
even in the crash of the curl. They rode the crests into the breadth
of the wave like giant birds swooping suddenly to get their meal. Knowing
how cold it was on land, I marveled that they could do something so
daring. Then I remembered that Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys once
said in an interview. He stated that one of the great things about
surfing was “not one of those guys (or girls) out there is thinking
about money.” I have to agree that the rat race is not out there
in the water. It is a stress free zone.
For me, the beach was always meant to be a spiritual place, the communion
of two mighty forces crashing together. The relaxed vibe of the place
is conducive to meditation on the deeper things in life, acknowledging
that in the wave, we are powerless to nature. We cooperate with it.
How stunning and awesome it is to know that a few feet in front of
you is the power to take you to India, or slam you headfirst into the
sand. In my time in the water, I’ve been swept out a couple times,
but experienced the latter more often. I think it takes us those times
to be dragged under for us to really realize that we can get back up
on the board, wipe our faces, and stare out onto the situation that
God affords us.
That’s part of the magic of the area. Here man has proven he
can coexist with his environment without taking the upper hand, or
getting completely squashed. The naturalists can flock to Pacific Rim National Park,
let the sociologists come to Tofino! It redefines the meaning of living.
It would take a tide pool surrounding a huge boulder at Florencia
Bay for me to understand better how fragile and important our life
The tide pool supported dozens of different life forms, all struggling
to survive in an environment that while stable now, may shift later.
I noticed the plight of a miniature crab, making its way from crevice
to crevice in the water, gathering, postulating on a cluster of tiny
sea plants, going about its everyday duties. When the finger of a
more adventurous traveling companion entered the cold water habitat,
crab scurried to hide. Thinking about the delicate balance that the
crab had gotten used to, how often do we have an interrupting finger
come in and frighten us?
I will always look to Tofino as that special place where I finally
smiled, where stress was eradicated, and the interventions of another
force in my life were finally understood. Cheers and hats off to
a place at the end of the road, that somehow teaches us where to start
Tofino perspectives by Nate Jensen, written for Tofino Time Magazine, published in November 2004.