The Long Slide to Dusk

18 July 2021 – The few brief times I lived near the equator, I never quite got used to the abrupt transition from day to night. As if it were on a toggle switch: day ON!! day OFF!!

Here in Vancouver, we’re on a dimmer switch, with a long, long slide.

So I set out in the relative cool of late afternoon, knowing I have a comfy few hours before night fall. A loop, I think, north downhill & east & see what happens.

I’m touched as always by the many small ways people add beauty outside their own front door, a gift to the rest of us. This little street corner arrangement, for example, the grass scorched but the flower-petal birdbath glossy-bright (though empty).

This isn’t one of the Park Dept’s sponsorship arrangements; it’s something set up by somebody in the condo building right behind me. Just… because.

Or here, a few blocks farther north-east: a dip in the ground, with greenery that does not appear to be currently tended, but look, someone has placed a gleaming red chair next to that weathered bench.

Neither of these spots is, from a landscape-architect perspective, particularly impressive. They’re modest, straggly even — but full of good omens: generosity of spirit, playfulness of spirit, comfort with being who they are doing what they want to do. And with reasonable expectation that the objects they place for public enjoyment will not be vandalized or stolen. It’s an encouraging reality, when so many other current realities are painful.

Another discovery, look:

I do not click, I want my own unguided walk thank you, but later I look up the St. George Rainway project. It falls within Vancouver’s much larger Rain City Strategy and while I uneasily suspect both lag in implementation I wish them success. “Heat Dome” ought to provide new impetus.

I take myself down to Great Northern Way (now roadway, originally tracks for the railway line, up from the USA), walk along and decide it’s finally time to try to solve the mystery.

The mystery being: what is the story of these grand steps back uphill, their style worthy of an Aztec temple? And what are those statues all about?

So, finally, instead of wondering about them from the far side of the road, I climb the steps.

The statues are not only incoherent in style & apparent inspiration, they are all badly damaged & vandalized.

No street art here worthy of admiration – but at least, in this one message, a mini-story that I’m glad worked out well for the grateful “D.”

As I climb, and later up at the East 6th & Prince Albert top end of the steps, I ask passers-by if they know the story. They don’t.

But at least I’ve finally climbed those steps!

Back down to Great Northern Way, on east, across Clark St. and on some more, and I dipsy-doodle toward McLean Drive. It lands me on this extraordinarily rustic few blocks, hard to believe there is city all around and a Sky Train line just down the hill. (Wheels screech at me as a train goes by — again I honour Montreal’s Métro system for the courtesy of its silent rubber wheels.)

And around, and I start upward/southward again.

I see a cat poster on a utility pole, and my heart sinks, because we all know what they always say, and it is always so desperately sad.

But not this time!

We do not need to worry about poster-girl Zazu or her floofy brother Geronimo.

This really has it all: good-news reassurance for neighbours, plus a way to contact the owner if any given neighbour thinks the cats’ presence is more nuisance than joy.

And right here on the ground, next to the cat poster, a fish.

Damn, I wish I could identify the artist for you. There are a lot of sidewalk mosaic projects in the City, many of them identified, but not this one. Still, along with the frustration of not being able to ID this one, I gain the knowledge of a place called Mosaic Creek Park, and you know it is now on my list.

Zazu & fish are right on the corner of W.C. Shelly Park. The sign tells me so.

It also reminds me we have a lot of serious work to do, here in Canada (ditto USA/Australia/NZ).

By the time I’m up on East 11th, again crossing Clark but this time westward, the long slide on the dimmer switch has finally reached dusk.

Time to go home, and I do.

After a moment’s companionable pause with the Dude in his park.

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  1. It seems like you had a chillin’ walk. I enjoyed it too, especially reading about floofy Zazu and her brother. What a great neighbourhood.

  2. Mary C

     /  18 July 2021

    Although a new path explored is never a mistake, it’s too bad that the statues on the stairs are in bad shape and still a mystery! Aren’t the longer day light hours wonderful!

  3. I like the way you see these little places as gifts to us all. You have a generous thought pattern.

  4. “My own unguided walk” – I’m with you there. 🙂 On the other hand, I’m always happy to come along on your walks. I like your steps and sidewalk views, and all the poignant signs of life that you find.

  5. …or signs of life’s poignance? 😉

    • Oh I do like this – are you, were you, an editor or author? To sink with pleasure into small tweaks of language suggests a very particular turn of mind or profession (déformation professionnelle, as the sly French quip puts it). So let’s sink with pleasure… I’ll suggest that, taking the thought-cluster as a whole, there’s no significant difference in meaning between “poignant signs of life” & “signs of life’s poignance,” but that each offers slightly different emphasis. Signs vs life. Are we focused on our emotional interaction with those physical signs, or (triggered by those signs) on our emotional awareness of the vulnerabilities of life itself?

      And, please let me add, THANK YOU. I value your interest in what I happen to notice and want to talk about.

      • Oh, nice. 🙂 No, the only thing I edited was the Washington State Society for Clinical Social Work’s newsletter (which I loved doing). I have a thing for editing though. I would have loved to have taken classes in writing, editing, etc., but my education is almost all fine arts-related. I like the way the second phrase emphasizes “life” and that’s what I was getting at, as you know, of course. As a lapsed but respectful zen practitioner, I’m always interested in the essence. Not to say that signs aren’t important – what would we do without them? Our walks with you would be lacking a crucial element. 🙂
        I keep thinking, one of these days…let’s see how many roadblocks are going to be thrown up at this “opening” given the pending strike and who knows what’s next. I’m curious to see how difficult it’s actually going to be for the average US citizen to visit for pleasure. And what the Delta variant is going to do. Thank YOU, Penny. 🙂

      • it all connects, those signs are in a larger context both physical & metaphysical with all life, and then there’s the context of the mind of each person who sees them and responds from that individual universe… and then we could get dizzy indeed – do you follow Sloppy Buddhist blog, here on WordPress? if not, you might give her a try… re border-crossing, our border guards have announced work-to-rule action will start the nanosecond the border reopens, won’t that be a ton (or even metric tonne) of fun? I haven’t yet read their grievances & am willing to believe they’ve lived lives of overworked unrelenting stress & misery all along, but, sigh, but still…

      • I do follow Hedy, thanks for recommending her anyway. Overworked unrelenting stress and misery might just describe their jobs, at least in the past year-plus, but yes, still…
        Re the larger context – context is so important, right? 🙂
        Good talking with you!

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

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