Midnight at Catface, creative non-fiction

Midnight at Catface
by Joanna  Streetly
Writing the West Coast
Ronsdale, 2008

I could have stayed there all night, I think. Breathing deeply, I would have continued to stare around me, knowing that however long I lingered, my eyes would never be able to take it all in; my pores would never be saturated; my ears would still—even now—crave the windy quiet.
Does perfection have a time limit? When does one stop the clock on a sunset? Could a moonlit mountainside ever disappoint?
There’s a shushing across my face and the air is sharp with altitude. Falling away from my feet is everything that I love—the lands and waters of Clayoquot Sound, coloured in darkness and lit with silver. The moon is lumpy, fattening for the wane, and the sea is a viscous skin, deceitful in its limpid swirling. I’m tingling as I stand there. From this eyrie, I want to reach out my arms and read the landforms like braille.
I slide down the skirt of Lone Cone mountain with my eyes, pausing at the glimmer of God’s Pocket. On to Matleset Narrows and dreams of its waterfall—frigid green pools braved only in summer; small, snuffling black bears, casual on the beaches and distant wolves brightening an inky fall night. Closer now, past Bedwell, there’d been a morning of such softness that the sky in the water had been indistinguishable from the water in the sky, until the myriad porpoises had slicked up for air all around us. Down there, past the landslide was the pygmy owl in broad daylight, and over there, on Morfee, the cliff must nearly be yellow again with monkey flowers.
These shapes hum to me through the bright night. It is an indescribable language of personal connection and memory—the language of home.
I could have stayed there longer, I know. I could have watched the moon until it set. I could have stayed beyond the moment of perfection, whenever that would be. But it is better like this, I think, because now, as I gaze up at the mountain, I can feel the allure drawing me—enticing me. And I want to go there again.

Reprinted with permission of The Sound Magazine Vol. VI, No. 2

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