Most people consider Royal Roads to be the other university – the one in the woods, in the middle of nowhere – in Victoria on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
It’s also where I spent most of last week, enrolled in a four-day Continuing Education course as professional development for my job.
I have to admit, I’ve never cared for islands, for I’ve had a negative experience on every island I’ve ever visited; everything from,
- Intentional exclusion by a friend
- A migraine headache
- Getting stung by jellyfish
- My accommodation turning out to be 1000 times sketchier than portrayed,
and most recently, four days of subtle mocking of the efforts of non-profit organizations by smug government works despite a non-profit worker – i.e. ME – being right there in the room.
I also disfavour islands because the people who live on them tend to be a little odd; the smaller the island, the stranger folk seem.
This means that the inhabitants of Australia and Greenland might be no more eccentric than their mainland counterparts.
Yet, when it comes to the people of, say, Prince Edward Island (which is smaller even than Vancouver Island) … well, just look at Anne of Green Gables.
(A/N: I love Anne of Green Gables.)
(A/N#2: I’m some 30km of mainland attachment from having grown up on an island myself.)
Islands also require travel by boat, and I don’t like boats of any sort, not even 11,000-tonne, vehicle-capable ferries with electronic fin stabilizers, for I can feel the rolling motion of any vessel. My seasickness is renowned in four provinces!
The good with the bad
In any case, with any bad situation – especially while travelling – it’s best to find something positive to focus on amidst all the negativity. Like how, in being in the woods in the middle of nowhere, Royal Roads has botanical gardens:
And is situated overlooking a lagoon:
And has a 19th century castle:
That the building my class took place in had a courtyard like a medieval tavern:
And that peacocks freely roam the campus. This last point is especially positive.
I’ve always been fascinated by peacocks – by the iridescent highlights of the females and the vibrant beauty the males. I’d previously seen a live peacock during my trip to England in 2011…
But never had I seen one during mating season:
The males can even still fly despite that train of tail feathers, as evidenced by my observing a male pursue two females roosting in a tree. For every branch the females ascended to evade him, he casually followed suit.
I’d been warned in the confirmation email for my stay in the campus dorm that, during mating season, the peacocks can be noisy at “inconvenient” hours, and that some earplugs might be in order.
I didn’t even know peacocks made noise, but hadn’t been on campus five minutes before I learned otherwise and was subject to a litany of lusty male peacocks’ strident, nasal calling (video by eccofan180):
Honestly, my upstairs apartment neighbours have inconvenienced me more.
Over the four days, I became obsessed with the peacocks, following them around like paparazzi and trying to discover something of their habits. They seemed to have specific parts of campus they favoured most, although excretory evidence – if not the birds themselves – could be found anywhere.
Playing the role of zoologist, I also came to note differences in the calls of different birds – differences in tone, pitch, the number of consecutive calls, and whether or not calls were preceded by a resonant, goose-like honk.
I tried to discern the peacocks’ moods from their calls – whether they did so out of aggression, boredom, to make their presence known, or in praise of equally loud noises, like revved car engines, people laughing, or once, me blowing my nose.
But I couldn’t tell, largely because I could hear no real difference among any one bird’s set of calls: those I heard at 5:00 in the afternoon sounded identical to those at 9:00pm, and those at 3:00 in the morning.
Yes, 3:00am. And one bird – dubbed Alan – liked to hang out below my dorm room window, six storeys down.
Still – my upstairs neighbours….
But this is a post about positive things.
The most positive occurrence of all being that I was able to find, among other types, a discarded male tail feather.
Not one of the “eyes”, unfortunately, but still an impressive one with its metallic green sheen, and fact that it measures some 4 feet in length!
I’ve been a feather collector since I worked in Canada’s national parks, and this most recent find is definitely the pride (ha ha!) of my collection, and the highlight of a challenging week.
Do you like islands? If yes, which is your favourite? What’s the best or worst thing that’s ever happened to you on an island? Tell me about it in the comments.
(All images by J.G. Noelle)