In Plane Sight

5 August 2020 – We see the planes, all right, not that they’re paying any attention to us. One after another, they are too busy making their final approach to YVR (Vancouver International Airport) across the shining mudflats exposed by low tide in the Strait of Georgia.

Well… let me modify that. The occasional passenger face might be pressed to a window, wondering about that pair of long, skinny jetties visible just to the north, like a pair of jaws stretched wide.

We stand at the hinge end of the jaws, in Iona Beach Regional Park. The park is truncated on the north where it smacks against the private/industrial North Arm Jetty,  but it stretches the full length of Iona Jetty on the south …

… where it offers us 4 km of trail with rocks & sea-debris & dune-happy plant life to either side.

My first visit here, so I’m not sure how high the tide ever rises, but at the moment it is low indeed. We admire the grasses and the tangled piles of flotsam …

… and also the energy of the tide, even at low water, carving its pathways through the flats beneath.

The film of water, and the flats beneath, glisten in the sun. They catch and reflect a billow of white cloud, dead centre above mountains far off to the north.

Vegetation thrives, often a burst of yellow …

sometimes the magenta of dune-stabilizing beach pea, a sight that brings back my time on Sable Island, so very long ago.

Where “found materials” may be found, someone will play with them. (And this evokes many memories of Leslie Spit, not so long ago.) Here, it’s storm-tossed lumber, propped at jaunty angles in the convenient riprap below.

Out we walk, & back we walk. We’re almost off the jetty when my friend points out the plaque. She has sharp eyes; the plaque is low, to one side, and almost hidden by vegetation.

RIP. A name, dates, a life cut short by a “plane crash at sea.” The tribute is offered by his fiançée and joined by his parents. We pause a moment, are silent, draw breath.

Back to the life & potential death of right now.

Park Dept. signage at the start of the trail reminds us to “help keep parks open” by observing the 2-m. rule for social distancing.

They do it in a site-specific way. We’re not in Pacific Spirit Regional Park any more, are we? So we won’t be able to measure it out against a handy passing cougar, will we? Of course not.

We are instead invited to imagine a handy passing Bald Eagle.

Wing-tip to wing-tip.


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  1. You have some wonderful captures here Penny I’ve never been there either but my daughter has…I’ll check it out next time we visit…delta also has amazing park…enjoy your beauty and sea air ~ smiles Hedy ☺️☀️💫

  2. Beautiful. I hope I get to visit next time I’m in Vancouver.

  3. I love the bursts of yellow, and the imaginative measuring of safe distance!

  4. Another memorial, modest but very moving. I like this walk! That’s a wonderful view in the 4th photo. We have pretty beach pea plants around the shorelines and on roadsides here, too, and loads of tansy, which I’ve always liked. I’m not fond of Scots Broom though, which is in the 6th photo. It’s terribly invasive down here. In one park, a man spent years removing it from one trail where it had gotten out of hand. The trail is now called the Broom Tomb Trail. 😉

    • if only so many of the invasives were not so pretty! I looked out along that jetty, saw the brilliant purple of purple loosestrife, and my heart sank…

      • I was just looking today at the blog of a Massachusetts photographer who posted a photo of a very cute frog with one perfect Purple loosestrife petal stuck on its head! It WAS cute. I never see the vast fields of it that I used to see in NY/NJ/CT but I know it can be a problem out here, too. (And I just finished a book about a man who restored one of the small islands in Bermuda to pre-European contact, hand-pulling and planting hundreds of native plants, eradicating invasive animals and birds, etc. It took decades and I’m sure it will never be “done” but what a great endeavor!).

  5. Wonderful pictures, and such a nice touch with the plaque honoring someone lost in a plane crash at sea. Thanks for posting this.


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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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