And Then the Sun Came Out

20 March 2017 – “You’ll have to climb a big hill,” warns the little girl, her eyes very wide. “Then that’s what I shall do,” I promise her. And I do.


The sun is out, and so am I.

I decide to visit Bloedel Conservatory for a hit of instant summer, and seek further directions from passers-by when I alight from the bus. Turn right at that corner, they tell me, and then right again. And up the big hill, chirps their daughter.

Puffpuff-pantpant indeed. Made all the puffpuff-ier by my decision to portage more or less straight up, cutting across the roadway’s gentle (but lengthy) topographical S-bends.

All worth it. Like every other visitor, I pause for a photo before I enter — rounded honeycomb dome of the Conservatory up close, jagged mountain peaks ‘way out there, and a bright flag in-between, snapping in the breeze.

In I go. Instant steam all over my glasses. It clears. I peel off my jacket & relax into the warmth.

Tropical vegetation & waterfalls …

and tropical birds, flying free — though some of the more spectacular ones are sufficiently habituated to their own perches that the Conservatory can post signs telling you who each one is.

Which is why I can so confidently introduce you to Mali — their Greater Sulphur Crested Cockatoo.

Doesn’t he look pleased with himself? He has just watched a Conservatory employee tidy up beneath him, and he is as cavalier about it as any aristocrat being pampered by the help.

By the time I leave, I’m eager for cool bracing air. I find myself breathing it in deeply & gratefully as I wander downwards through one of the quarry gardens.

White-tipped snowdrops along the path play visual call-&-response with white-tipped mountains to the north …

local birch play against all the tropical plants inside …

and our own sturdy mallards & Canada geese swim peacefully about. A crow plays Tease-the-Tourist with me for a while, always flying off before I can take his picture.

I’m down at the bus stop now, but with all this sunshine on offer, why would I hop back on a bus? Especially when the route home is downhill all the way?

So I hoof down & down, and down some more, piling up block after block on Main Street.

And I am rewarded by one of those sidewalk signs I so dearly love, the ones that toss a hit of Philosophy With Attitude in your direction, all in a few lines.

The only thing wrong with it is … I can’t go in and order a latte.



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  1. Your style always amuses me, and creates a benign smile. I should store you for gloomy days. Great photos, specially the one of the sulphur crested cockatoo, a familiar of mine. I remember watching a whole flock of them at sunset in the Mt Tambourine botanical gardens, squawking their heads off and swinging around the electricity wires like acrobats. And the advice about handling stress is priceless, as is your regret at not being able to buy a latte.

    This might amuse you: not my usual fare, but this bird has rhythm!

    • Yes, I was amused! And I do believe that animals dance, intentionally dance for the joy of it not just as part of catching food, whatever. There’s a strong Inuit art tradition of depicting animals, especially bears, dancing.

      • One of my greatest travelling delights was watching a young male lyrebird practising display dancing right at our campsite. I’ve also seen the same thing out the kitchen window at a house in the bush where I spend weekends.

      • And I remember coming by boat down the Inner Passage and watching, with other enthralled passengers, 3-4 dolphins play in our wake. There is no other word: they were arc-ing, and soaring, leaping through, again & again. The pilot told us they come out to play each time he goes through.

      • Dolphins are amazing. My son occasionally surfs with them, and I always feel blessed when I see them “stitching the waves” (a line from a poet, but I can’t attribute!)

      • ‘stitching the waves’ is a great line!

  2. I love this post especially the sign at the end! What a gorgeous place for an adventure on a sunny day. The photos were great.

  3. nice post 🙂

  4. I spent yesterday in a tiny old Victorian conservatory down this way (in Tacoma) – no birds, but some pretty damn cool koi, one on particular, and this fish was surely dancing, the watery medium lending extra grace to the swooshes. I will post photos of that in a bit. Love the sign!!

    • There is a lot of dancing in nature, isn’t there? No wonder we feel so good when we manage to fall in sync with that energy.

      • I like that way of thinking about it – we’re falling in sync with an existing energy…puts things in perspective.

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    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

    "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" -- Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

    "A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities" -- Rebecca Solnit, "Wanderlust: A History of Walking"

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