Do you know the sensation portrayed by the 1998 Werner Bros. movie, City of Angels, I mean specifically the ending moment where the angels commune with the sunrise in a melodic silence when they replay that scene at the end? I lived that experience one evening on the rocky coast in narrows of the Haro Strait of the San Juan Islands. It was near sunset, it was quiet with a few hushed people gathered hoping to see the Orcas pass by. The cold air was pushing against my skin the way it did there each night as the warmth of the sun retreated with the waning daylight.
My son and I found a place to sit and watched for signs of the whales returning. Our spirits were high as we anticipated encountering members of the J Pod again. Soon, however, we began to doubt that we would see them this night, and tomorrow at first light we were due to depart for the huge wilderness of mountains, glaciers & ancient forests of the northern Cascades, reluctant to keep our agenda, as our hearts longed to see the orca’s again.
A small number of people came and went, quietly from the narrow strip of land between the scenic road and the pacific coast. A few of us remained, watchful, alert, riding the inner waves of hope and doubt. Finally those gathered were rewarded with a multi whale show of breeching, signing, talking, and moms with calves. One of the Orcas would tip its head up out of the water and “talk” to those of us gathered as if giving a report. And as quick as the whales arrived, they departed. The entire encounter may have been 10-15 minutes in time, but felt timeless. As my eyes retreated from their fixed position on the horizon I noticed the five or six people gathered previously had silently become 30 or more people, many hugging, or laughing softly, most were standing in what looked like reverent awe and silence. Slowly in groups of twos, threes, and fours, the shoreline emptied, the sun disappeared behind the horizon, and my son and I felt something, experience something together, that we will never ever forgot. The photograph of Aidan expressing his joy sums up what my words can not.