The Sights at Silly O’Clock

25 May 2017 – I’m still waking up at “Silly O’Clock,” my body not entirely convinced it has left British Standard Time & must now respond to Pacific Daylight Time.

Daylight indeed! I bounce out of bed at 5:27 a.m., any time-zone frustrations immediately dissolved in the splendour of the dawning day.

From my balcony, I have an unimpeded view of the mountains that frame North Vancouver. Called the North Shore Mountains — and what could be more logical? — they are a subset of the Pacific Ranges, in turn the southern end of the Coast Mountains that run up the B.C. coast and right on through Alaska.

Both Grouse Mountain and Mount Seymour are in that line-up — Grouse, which I’ve visited by gondola ride, and Seymour, which I know only slightly better but at least with my feet on some of its trails. My friends Sally & Owen live on the last street of homes part-way up the mountain, their back yard right at the provincial park boundary.

Still mesmerized by the luminous early light, I drop my gaze to include Cambie Street below, here on my (south) side of the Burrard Inlet.

Vancouver City Hall clock glows in the dawn light, the most elegant use of neon I think I’ve ever seen.  But then, the whole building is elegant. Completed in late 1936, height of the Depression, it was both a make-work project and a hopeful symbol of an expanding city, with better times to come.

I think of it as Art Deco, yet architects Townley and Matheson made it more contemporary than that: the design blends the vertical, ornamental lines of Art Deco with the simpler, more horizontal lines of Art Moderne, just then beginning to emerge.

My thoughts shift from architecture to coffee.

I am just turning back into the house when I hear a great clatter, some thunks and grunts and … HONKKK.

Back outside! No far-flung gaze now, it’s close-up time as I peer north-westish onto a neighbour’s balcony.

Canada geese. Branta canadensis. Known, says Audubon, for their ability to adapt, “using different habitats in different regions…” Including, it would appear, Vancouver balconies.

I stare, stunned. They march around, with the bobbing heads and soft belly-grunts that mark curiosity and exploration. They check out the patio furniture, bump against the barbecue, peer through the glass into the kitchen.

Well, this is silly. Even for Silly O’Clock, it’s really silly. I rethink my plan to leave balcony doors wide open, to admit fresh morning air. Do I want a Canada goose in my kitchen, asking for toast?

I close the door. I, again, turn away. I, again, hear flutter-thunk-grunt. I, again, turn back & look.

Now one is exploring the ledge beyond my own railing. First southward, and then … back to the north.

He is quite splendid, silhouetted like that against the rising sun.

Even so, I am pleased when he abruptly loses interest, and flies away.



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  1. Brian

     /  25 May 2017

    The phot0 of City Hall & the mountains is splendid – perfect for coffee viewing. The new neighbour at 217 is a professional photographer – imagine that!!

    • Your 217 neighbours sound great — I hope 215A rises to that standard.

      Vancouver has many plusses, including some good friends — but oh, how I do miss you!

      love pw


  2. Hello, I’ve just checked in to your blog as I do from time to time to discover that you are transplanted to Vancouver! Your move is Toronto’s loss but it will be fun to see the results of your explorations from your new home.

    Good etiquette prevents me from adding a link here to a blog we’ve just launched about our work on the Leslie Street Spit. The tiny collective of artists I belong to was flattered to be included in a couple of your posts – about the poetic writing you found out there. On the other hand, we would like to invite you to visit our blog where we have begun to tell the story of our love letters to The Spit and to the many expressions of the creative instinct. Is there a way that we could get the address to you without being impertinent and posting it here?

    With warm regards, appreciation for the ‘mentions’ and best wishes in your new home.
    Chris, for The Stealth Art Collective

  3. Oops, I’m so sorry. I see that I have inadvertently posted this comment twice, to both of your most recent posts and a Google search tells me: can’t be removed. Newbie with WP. LOL Perhaps you might be able to remove one of them, or both if you prefer.
    Chris, for The Stealth Art Collective

  4. I guess you now have been truly welcomed to Vancouver by an iconic Canadian!

  5. We have been observing Canada geese on our stop here in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. My how those birds get around – but we’ve never seen them on an apartment balcony. Beware as they usually are in a flock. Imagine the whole group in your living room! Yes, keeping the doors closed is a good idea!

  6. Wow, talk about silly! What floor are you on? I really never would expect them to visit a deck or balcony. Wonderful last shot!
    And you have a great view, one that’s bound to give you lots to look at as the light and seasons change. It’s hard to be new in a strange place. Photography and blogging will hopefully ease the rough spots.

    • it’s a low-rise and I’m on the top floor. And yes, the view to the mountains is breath-taking — it’s one of the joys, and does help ease the rough spots.

  7. What a delicious beginning to your Vancouver life. Good luck in your acquaintance with Canada geese. Aren’t you glad you’re still on silly o,clock time?

  8. PS You’re making links already in your new real world, via the blogosphere. Warms my heart to think of it. And such courtesy from the Stealth Art Collective.

  9. Splendid views you got there!! Interesting to photograph ☺️☺️


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

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