15 October 2020 – So satisfying: happy surprises, even when I’m walking a not-wildly different variation on a pretty familiar route.

I’m not surprised by moss on this tree trunk, as I head south on St. Catherine around East 10th, but I stop to admire it, you know I will. And while I’m at it, I salute the bike-share racks across the street. At a time when so many bad possibilities threaten, let’s treasure everything that looks unreservedly good.

Then… surprise! I notice that somebody has tucked a little painted stone into a crevice of the tree bark.

A micro-surprise, if you like, but lovable all the same.

Macro-surprise comes later, as I pass an alley between East 18th & 19th, by Carolina. First surprise is that, by total chance, I’ve just rediscovered Bee Alley. I first shared it with you last 24 May, under the pretty obvious title, B Is For Bee.

It’s a whole alley-block of pavement art, celebrating bees.

It still has those wagglers to lead me in …

and there is still bee motif all along the way, but there are some additions, some new images.


A butterfly …

a salmon (I think) …

and a whale.

Still no artist signature I can find & no explanations, so I can only wonder, and guess. The butterfly looks generic to my uneducated eye, but both the salmon and whale surely come to us from the rich Coast Salish imagery of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-waututh people.

On I go, already very pleased with the day, as you imagine — but it just keeps handing me more discoveries.

I’m on East 18th, near St. George, okay-residential-not-amazing, and then I see this plaque set in the walkway to an infill house. The house is fine — modern in a clean-lined, minimal way, and in scale with & respectful of its setting.

But the plaque interests me more.

“Certified passive”? I build up a whole scenario of a bone-lazy house that won’t even pick up its underwear from the floor. Alas, I do realize (though regretfully) that is probably not the explanation.

And it’s not.

Still … surprise!

Well, for me. I didn’t know there was a world-wide Certified Passive movement, let alone metrics and civic support right here, for homes that meet specific standards for occupant comfort & energy performance.

On down the block, and stop to admire a slightly but lovably dishevelled older house, with a slightly but lovably overgrown garden inside its picket fence, and a Little Free Library box out front.

I check out the books, and only then notice — surprise! — this welcome to passers-by, hung in the protected archway of the gate.

I like that very last bit especially: “Be completely silent, and that will take you to the depths of your spirit.”

Leave a comment


  1. Mary C

     /  15 October 2020

    The little surprises make everything worthwhile!

  2. A few years back, I followed a Melbourne artist who made tiny pottery bricks which she glued into cracks in buildings and pavement in the northern suburbs. The tiny bricks had sayings fired into them. Your ‘rock imbedded into tree’ reminded me of her.
    As often happens, the artist stopped posting and I have no idea what she does now. Sadly, I don’t remember her name or the name of her blog.

    • Frustrating to lose track… But you remember her, and her work, and the pleasure it gave you, so that’s a good tribute right there.

  3. Beautiful surprises, especially the street art of Bee Alley.

  4. Lovely Walk. I think that generally people are now looking closer at their own environment?

  5. So many delights…the sidewalk art is very attractive, so carefully painted and happy-making. I hadn’t heard of the passive architecture movement either – but if it’s thriving anywhere, Vancouver would be the place. The plaque’s message would be a nice one to read while walking around, helping to re-center one. Lovely.
    Well, I think I heard the border’s closure has been extended til at least 21 November or something like that. Given the seasonal expectations with COVID, I doubt there’s much chance it’s going to open before the end of the year. Unless maybe businesses in Victoria make noise over losing American holiday tourism? 😉

    • The loss of US tourism hurts (tho’ at least partially offset by a boom in BC “staycation” tourism), but sentiment cross-country is still heavily in favour of a closed border. Health concerns outweigh everything else. Ahhhh, some day!

      • Yes, I wasn’t seriously expecting that to happen. Meanwhile, we have plenty to explore in our own “backyards.” Our appreciation for the home ground keeps growing.

      • true, isn’t it? we learn to value what we already have…

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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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