This weekend, the second in May, felt like the beginning of summer 2012 to us all here in Van.
We trekked to Wreck Beach for a friend's birthday, the first of many I hope, but I'm ashamed to admit that this marked only my third visit to the infamous 'clothing optional' beach in my three years here in Canada.
That's the odd contradiction about Wreck - it seems like anything goes and everyone's at one with nature, literally, but, in addition to beach police there's actually a dedicated group of WB diehards who enforce their self-imposed rules with an iron first and...er...bare bottom!
I wondered if I could bring my puppy there, so my token Canadian friend (I'm also ashamed to admit that only a handful of homegrown Canucks have assimilated quite naturally into our group, as only the hardiest survive in our midst. Charles Darwin obviously went boozing with a crowd of us when he came up with his 'survival of the fittest' theory...or should that be 'survival of the bravest'?!), who sent me a link about this Wreck Beach etiquette and, turns out, wibbly wobbly bits are allowed and even welcomed but canine companions are not. What the....?!
"I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term Natural Selection" - Charles Darwin
I also discussed the beach with my colleagues during the week, all of whom are Canadian but are not from BC as is the norm, who said they'd never been nor would probably ever go. Surrogate brethren, y'all are missing out!!!!
Its out of the way location near UBC makes it that more exclusive in a sense, and the fact that it's a gong show to get there on the bus, laden with bags and schweatin', means you'll inevitably stay 'till the sun goes down - equalling more good times, laughter and shoreline-frolicking with your beach buddies. Now, that's an equation I can relate to!!
I thought it was great that friends of ours brought their adorable seven year old daughter along for the ride too. There are no naked beaches in Ireland -- particularly as our summers are sporadic, changeable and usually fall in September when everyone's back at work or school as, presumably, the pilgrim Sun Gods like to have a laugh at our expense for buying into the whole Catholicism thing -- so I find it inspiring that we're introducing the next emigrant generation to their new culture, now matter how weird or wonderful, from an early age. It encourages a free spirit and an open mind, which is something I aim to instill in my own pack of brats once I reproduce these prized genes.
Sure every summer for years my 2.4 family piled into the back of our non-descript '90s car (sorry dad, I'm sure it wasn't non-descript in your eyes, especially in those glorious pre-Celtic Tiger years when an auld banger was all you needed to get you from A to B. None of this '4 wheel drive' malarkey!), and hotfooted it to France for two weeks where everyone lets it all hang out, at all times, no matter where you are!
And look at me, I'm totally fine!!!
However, despite all the gratuitous nudity and contradiction in terms that is Wreck Beach, what has inspired my newfound love for this magical place is the sense of community that defines its very being.
From the naked music circle (yes, you heard right!) to sellers bartering their fares inevitably made from hemp something-or-other, to the random and quite frankly strange conversations you strike up with naturists letting it all hang out in all their newborn glory, it's a wonderfully unique community that I could see myself embracing (clothes on, mind you!) And I for one am very thankful that this secret society allows us 'foreigners' into their otherwordly world, if only for a few eventful days a year.
Only in Vancouver - and that's why we love it.