Dearest Islands, my heart beat sounds like you. The blood in my veins is intertwined with west coast raindrops, salty air and cedar bark. I have dug my roots deep into the earth and stretched my arms like pillars to the sky.
When I was falling, dearest Islands, you caught me. When I needed to run, you gave me a path. When I needed to rest, you gave me a seat, rough stone with the lushest of moss.
When I was broken, dearest Islands, you cradled me, a hundred feet up in the embrace of branches, feeling safer than ever. I pressed my lips to the rough tree bark and whispered my secrets. Somehow it felt like you were listening.
When I wanted to be a child, you have me a playground, giant boulders strewn through the forest like the overturned furniture of the gods. When I wanted to be an adult, you gave me silence, and a deep calm that sparks deep thoughts. When I wanted to lose myself, you took me by the hand and led me away.
Dearest Islands, you taste like blackberries. And apples that aren’t quite ripe yet, picked early by hopeful hands. You taste like fresh air and raindrops, chocolate chip cookies and tea. You taste like stinging nettle and hemlock needles, and plenty of farmstand produce. You taste like goat cheese, penny candy, and really good fruitsicles.
Dearest Islands, you smell like raindrops, salt, and wood smoke. Damp earth and ocean mud. You smell like tree sap and night air, summer sun and dying grass.
Dearest Islands, you sound like rain on a metal roof, like ocean waves pounding the shore and tree branches being tossed in a storm. You sound like bird call and raven’s wings, buskers at the farmers’ markets and flute song drifting on forest air.
Dearest Islands, you look like ocean views and soaring vistas, like farmstands and winding roads, tall trees and rocky beaches. You look like a billion stars and like velvet night time shadows, like rainbow prayer flags and overgrown gardens, open arms and open hearts. You look like home.
Dearest Islands, you feel like the Pacific, bitingly cold yet perfect. You feel like tree bark, rough as fir or else paper smooth and peeling like Arbutus. You feel like damp clothes. You feel like barefeet, mud sunk between toes. You feel like the breathless exhaustion that comes from laughing too hard or walking too far. You feel like sandstone beneath tired feet, maple leaves between fingers, silence in thoughtful ears. You feel like belonging.
Dearest Islands, you are a part of me. Through storm strewn nights, you held me. Across wave tossed waters, you bore me. In the deepest silent forests, you taught me to love. Around the most blazing fires, you taught me to laugh. Through all the seasons, you have guided me – the never-ending rains of winter, the soft blush of spring, the open arms of summer, the early evenings and drifting leaves of fall. To me, you are eternal.
I beg of you, forgive me for leaving. I would not go if I didn’t have to. But the silence has grown too heavy for my ears. I promise you, I am a boomerang. Many times I will depart upon adventures, and many times I will come home. And if at last I return no more in body, do not fear. For my soul will find its way, drifting through tree tops and setting the alder leaves to rustling. I will plunge into the salty ocean and set the bioluminescence alight. I will soar from goat-trodden ridges and circle with the eagles. I will dance to the tune of the buskers’ music.
I am leaving now, but I am taking the imprint of you with me, dearest Islands, safe within my soul.