A Closer Look at a Favourite
It is remarkable how certain words resonate with us throughout
our lives; words that, through some landmark incident, shed conventional definition
and re-dress in special meaning. It is the sum of such uniquely personal word-cues
and memory-triggers that define us; they illustrate our biographies and weave
the very fabric of our lives.
For Clayoquot Wilderness Resorts guests,
one such redefinition is the word "Cozy". For the masses, cozy is something warm
and fuzzy, but to us, and most likely to you - Cozy is the assumed nickname for
Quoashinis (Cosy) Lawson, the resorts legendary lead whalewatching guide.
Cosy, a striking 24 year-old outsdoorswoman of mixed heritage, is often seen,
on land and at sea, in the company of her precocious (a trait she comes by naturally)
six year-old daughter Laterra (def: earth). Cosy's parents are the stuff of legend
in Clayoquot Sound. Mother Suzanne is a celebrated artist-entrepreneur and passive-activist
from whom Cosy inherited her finely-tuned intuition and firecracker spirit. Father
Steve is an Ojibwan indian with dual vocations - boatbuilding and tour operating.
From him, Cosy inherited a love of the sea, an easy way with people, and enduring
patience. For their middle daughter, the Lawson's wisely chose the name Quoshanis,
which means "raven", a powerful, mysterious creature.
Most days, barring
unforgiving seas, Cosy skippers a handful of resort guests out to Cow Bay aboard
the resorts' Whale's Tail, dual-Merc-powered pontoon boat. En-route, the super-oxygenated
breath of 1000 year old cedars sweeps across the sound, sharpening senses and
clearing minds to the point that, by the time guests arrive and the engines are
cut, every detail is committed to memory.
Meanwhile, below sea-level,
three species of whale become aware of Cosy's presence. The lot have been friends
since the time of Cosy's birth on Wickanninish Island. They know Cosy by the distinct
vibration of her boat's hull and they love her for the respectful way she interacts
with them and the seals and sea lions. They skim the surface alongside the boat,
looking right into her eyes, and down they go again in a game of hide and seek
that lasts until each has had their fill. God alone knows what the whales call
Cosy, but resort guests quickly learn what Cosy calls them. "Here comes Three
Dot Star", or "This lady here is Lucky (to be alive)". Among the coast's First
Nations peoples, and often in marine science circles, whales are named for their
distinct markings and/or the character of their fins.
In May of this
past 2004 season, Cosy worked together with Dr. Lance Barrett-Leonard, research
scientist at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, and Dr. Volker Deecke,
post-doctoral Fellow at the University of British Columbia - to anchor and install
underwater hydrophones as part of a research project monitoring potential impacts
of marine traffic on whale migration and feeding patterns. The project involved
resort guests visiting from Europe, and represented the first of five environmental
stewardships the resorts undertook this year as part of a five-year, $3 million
dollar Environmental Legacy Program.
Soon after, the resorts purchased
a portable hydrophone so that Cosy's charges can listen more closely to the whales,
and perhaps, over time, come to recognize and respond to the calls of the wild.
One thing we know for certain - our Cosy will listen closely and patiently to
the ancient language of the sea, until one day, she hears it call her by name.