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sleeping

I am lying on my back looking up at the stars and watching shredded muslin clouds unfurl across the sky. I wonder, a little, at the wisdom of my plan to sleep on a beach without a tent on Vancouver Island – sleeping on the beach in Croatia is one thing and in British Columbia quite another.

I am barely outside Campbell River, a sizeable town, and the possibility of having my little nest discovered are quite high. Not putting up my tent will reduce them. I wanted to get further down the coast today but what with one thing and another I didn’t get out of Cambell River until 6pm.

Sun setting.

Sun setting.

Still, the sandy point, covered in wild grasses, where I am lying exposed to the elements is a beautiful place. Lying on my back I can see tussocks of grass curving above my head and a lone tree silhouetted against the night sky. I can hear the crickets chirruping, the waves lapping at the shore and the wind in the grass and the trees. The constant background swoosh of cars on the road, a hundred metres away, reminds me of my proximity to human settlement.

Dawn.

Dawn.

As I lie listening to the wind, waves, crickets, cars I am quite calm, the gathering clouds and the possibility of being woken by an early morning dog-walker not unduly disturbing. I wonder if I might be crazy – should I feel so safe and at home lying alone in an unknown beach park in an unknown town on the other side of the world from what is, nominally, my country? It seems I simply don’t care where I sleep; or maybe, more accurately, that my criteria for a good place to sleep is radically different to that of most people’s. The fact that this place is beautiful comforts me and outweighs all its other shortcomings.

I wake at dawn, undiscovered and un-rained on, although my sleeping bag is wet with dew, and watch the sky fill with light. The mountains across the water are cardboard cut-outs, perfectly flat in various shades of pale grey – a subtle arrangement against a backdrop of clouds in even paler shades of grey. Light – apricot, peach and amber – glows through rents in the cloud banks. Gulls fly overhead with their wild ocean cries and the water laps endlessly on the shore. A string of geese fly low above the water, honking, their heads bobbing up and down gently to the rhythm of their wing-beats looking exactly like those wooden toy birds with a string that sets them flapping.

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