A melody of flute-like tones reverberates through the trees. Celso Machado is playing a rock he found on a nearby Howe Sound beach. “It sounds better outside,” he says. Celso is a master of finding natural treasures to convert into musical instruments. It’s not hard in Gibsons, the land of the popular television series The Beachcombers.
“Everything’s calm and relaxed. There’s not much worry.”
This multi-instrumentalist has lived all over the world — from Brazil to Europe to Vancouver — but since 2003 he has made Gibsons his home. He and his wife decided to forgo busy city life so they could raise their children in a safe, quiet town. Although some goods cost more here than in the city, Celso says as a result he consumes less, recycles more and gains pride by repairing things himself. If needed, Vancouver is only a short ferry ride away. Lucky passengers may even hear him playing his guitar on that ferry.
“Everything’s calm and relaxed. There’s not much worry,” he says. Initially he thought it would be too quiet, but now he can’t stand city noise and traffic.
Gibsons’ calmness invokes a state of mind that helps Celso create. “If you’re living in a situation where there’s a lot of noise going on, a lot of activity, you’re not really aware all the time… You don’t think, now is the time for me to really let go and enjoy this moment.”
He finds that with a slower pace of life — and music — comes greater appreciation. “If you play too fast, you have a hard time to hear all the notes and everything you’re going to create. It’s like going for a walk, if I take the time, if I’m looking around I’m going to find … an animal here, another one there, this flower here. You pay attention.” The sounds of nature, like the local wildlife that inspired his contribution to the SongBird Project, are what make a place unique, according to Celso.
“Maybe people think they need more action, more activity, bigger things. I don’t think we need this.”
Celso most appreciates the natural surroundings and ability to co-exist with wild animals at his Howe Sound home. He points out the tree in his yard that shows evidence of a bear’s visit. As a volunteer with WildSafe he helps minimize conflict between humans and bears through education. Maintaining the area’s natural beauty is important to him, for once it’s touched, it’s changed forever.
“I don’t know why they have to think we need all this change,” he says, referring to proposals for development in ecologically sensitive areas of town. “Maybe people think they need more action, more activity, bigger things. I don’t think we need this.”
His children are energized by the city, and he knows they will make their own decisions about where to settle, but after his many travels Celso always feels happy to come home to Gibsons. “It feels more special to be here.”