A Place of Refuge

25 February 2020 – I am semi-lost, my usual condition when a-foot on the UBC campus, but not bothered by it. First, I’m only semi-lost; I always find my destination eventually. And, second, there are always discoveries along the way.

So here I am on Memorial Road, just off Main Mall and heading for East Mall. I snag on the bird houses — obviously ornamental, but nothing wrong with that.

It takes me a moment to notice the bench, and realize these are two elements of one installation.

Then I read the bench.

  • At the top, a title: A Place of Refuge.
  • At the bottom, five bird species, to tie the elements together: Wren, Woodpecker, Chickadee, Finch, Sparrow.
  • In between: four texts.

Each author, three of them immigrants, reflecting on what it means to be here, in this country.

Talking about the meaning of an opened door …

about the identity of “home” …

about taking things for granted …

and about learning not to things for granted.

I glance again at the bird houses, this time with a different eye …

and go on my way.


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  1. Blane Hogue

     /  25 February 2020

    Lovely to read your walk report when we are actually in Vancouver.
    Sorry you couldn’t join us on Saturday and hope you’re feeling better.

  2. Susan

     /  25 February 2020

    That was lovely. Thank you Penny, for noticing and showing. Susan xo

  3. What a beautiful post. Thank you Penny.

  4. I love this! Can I share it?
    p.s. I realized the other day that I love getting lost. I think it is the best thing about my life now. I can get lost and not worry about it. My destinations are all the same but my getting lost is a different story every time.
    The other day I saw there was an alert about a service change on the subway. I couldn’t understand the loud speaker either so I asked a man and his partner standing near me. He explained that it wouldn’t affect my subway trip. Then a young woman told me the where I should change to catch the train I wanted.
    “People in Toronto are so friendly!” All three of the people I spoke to had accents that were not indigenous to Canada. They all laughed.

  5. Sweeet! Good stuff. 🙂

  6. As usual, very interesting

  1. A Place of Refuge — WALKING WOMAN | Seriously Clowning Around

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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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