Our air tasting in the Burgoyne Valley of Salt Spring Island, Pacific Canada took place on an early autumn weekend as the dryness of the summer drought shifted to dampness.
This air tasting is particularly historic because less than six months later, these two massive, valley-bottom Garry oak, Quercus garryana, trees blew down in an early spring storm. Stems from one of the two oaks, now on the ground and horizontal, have been struggling to leaf.
This is a historic beach with perhaps 10,000 years of human occupation. We sat at the petroglyph that probably marked the edge between the village of Xwwaaqw’um, where canoes were beached, and the exceptionally shallow bay where clams and oysters were farmed. While all of the shore is protected as Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park (and Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve to the north along the bay), the marine ecosystem and smellscape is currently dominated by the odour of untreated sewage from some of the houseboats and dogs that are brought ashore to defecate on the beach.