Another eccentricity of my privileged Tofino house-sit is that i must vacate it periodically, when the owners to return or, sometimes, their house-swap partners. As of today i am on one such hiatus. Sometimes i luck into a temporarily empty apartment, sometimes i leave town to visit friends. This time, though, i decided to scratch a longtime curiosity: I’m living for three weeks on Poole’s Land.
Poole’s Land has quite a reputation around Tofino, a rep centring mainly around drugs, anarchy, complex deals gone awry, lunatic characters, rusting, mold-ridden trailers, and the random comings and goings of a whole horde of people generally (though not exclusively) from the young underclass demographic. Everybody in Tofino has a Poole’s Land tale, invariably cautionary or outrageous or even alarming. The Tofinoites i hang around with don’t generally find themselves on Poole’s Land, even for a visit, never mind to live there. If there’s a “wrong side of the tracks” in Tofino, Poole’s Land is definitely on it.
When i tell friends i’m lodging temporarily on Poole’s Land, to a man and woman they suck in a breath and give that pregnant, two-second pause that says I’m choosing my words carefully — a kind of cross between “He’s lost his mind” and “I must warn him.”
So it was with some trepidation that i’d approached my friend Michael Poole, to see whether he might have a space for me to crash for the next three weeks. He was tickled, even thrilled, and suggested that the Pyramid might be available. It’s what i was hoping for. If you read Andrew Struthers’ The Green Shadow — an eccentric and highly recommended overview of Tofino’s protest years — he talks about building the Pyramid on Poole’s Land and living in it for upwards of ten years. I’d never seen it, but i’d been curious for years. I’ll take it!
Still, my final night in the house-sit was filled with sleepless second thoughts, and it was with definitely mixed feelings that i rode onto Poole’s Land today, laden with a big backpack of warm clothes and sleeping gear. Indeed, i wasn’t on the property more than ten minutes before what appeared to be a drug deal was going down, right in front of me, with much mirth. Ten minutes later, somebody complained that their wetsuit had gone missing that morning. Geez, what have i gotten myself into?
Turned out it wasn’t a drug deal after all, and the wetsuit was soon located, and Poole took me up to the Pyramid — way in the back corner of his domain, perched up a hill among the trees, with a view through the canopy out to the west over the ocean, Wickaninnish Island and a limpid sunset. No electricity, no running water, only a rusted-out suicide stove for heat — kind of the crowsnest of Poole’s Land. My home for the next three weeks.