Pilgrimage

31 March 2021 – A pilgrimage starts with travel, does it not, and so here I am, on the Science World dock at the east end of False Creek, ready to board a ferry.

But not that one, which I have just missed.

Never mind, another will putter along any moment and meanwhile I can contemplate this mollusc-laden pole. It would tell me a lot more if I knew anything about molluscs, but I don’t, so I simply enjoy the texture, colour and inadvertent design.

Another ferry arrives; three Calgary tourists step off, and, after some suitably masked & distanced conversation with the driver and me about how-to-get-to-Chinatown, go on their way. I step aboard, and have the boat all to myself, all the way down-Creek to Granville Island, where I must transfer for the last leg of my journey.

My destination is the Maritime Museum dock, tucked between Vanier Park and Kits Beach Park, where False Creek empties into Burrard Inlet, there on the edge of Strait of Georgia. (And the Pacific Ocean, and the rest of the world.)

There is indeed a floating Maritime Museum all around this dock — the full-rigged North Star of Herschel Island being the example immediately to hand. The last of the sailing Arctic fur-trading ships, she was built in San Francisco in 1936 for two Inuit fox trappers and served until 1961.

But I’m not down here for her, even if I linger a moment in appreciation.

I’m also not here to join this family playing silly-buggers with their dog on the beach …

or to itemize the current collection of vessels in the Port of Vancouver “parking lot” out there in the belly of Burrard Inlet.

Or to improve my nautical show-off skills by learning to recognize the types of vessel …

or by cramming Port factoids into my brain. (Though, since you so politely ask, I will tell you that this is one of North America’s busiest ports, hosting some 300 vessels a year from more than 90 nations, creating over $40-billion in trade and some 10,000 local jobs.)

I am here, the friend I am meeting is here, so that we may walk through Kitsilano Beach Park and find Egan’s favourite cherry tree.

“Egan” is Egan Davis, an extraordinarily informed & personable gardener/horticulturalist/landscape designer/educator (e.g. lecturer in both the Horticulture and Urban Forestry programs at UBC). During his presentation this past weekend at an online master-gardener conference, he paid tribute to this particular cherry tree.

Not for its size and majesty, explains my friend (who helped organize the conference), but for its resilience. It is aged now, and shrunken with age — and yet, and still, it blooms.

We prowl the park, seeing magnificent trees on all sides and dismissing them.

There!” she cries, pointing. “That’s it. That must be it.”

We approach.

Such a thick trunk, but doubled over with the weight of its decades, and now supported by a well-placed rock.

Clusters of fungi mark the trunk, as surely as rings must mark it internally.

Only a couple of remaining branches, their fragility protected (we hope) by a warning sign.

Even so, look at all the blossoms.

So many years behind it, not so many in front.

But here it still is.

PR, Right & Wrong

4 September 2019 – I’ll start with Wrong, and work up.

Wrong PR

Prince Rupert is the wrong PR. When I described and showed you my 2 km walk along the Salish Sea (previous post), I took great pains to sort out Malaspina Strait / Georgia Strait / Salish Sea … and then calmly located it all in Prince Rupert.

When, of course, I meant Powell River. That PR. I really did know where I was, I promise you, and I was not floating on any interesting substances at the time.

I put it down to “a fit of absence of mind.” If this explanation is good enough for John Robert Seeley, when describing how England came to conquer half the world (The Expansion of England, 1883), it is surely good enough for me.

Right PR

PR now in the sense of follow-up publicity for Silver Donald Cameron’s book, The Living Beach.  He wrote it after a conversation with a Canadian coastal geologist about beach behaviour caused him first to exclaim, “You talk as though the damn thing were alive!” — and then go learn a whole lot more about beaches, and share it all with us.

Never mind those other online sources: go to Silver Donald Cameron‘s own website, check out the book, buy it if you wish, and start exploring what else is on offer.

A long-time author and activist, Cameron is currently the first Farley Mowat Chair in the Environment at Cape Breton University, and host and executive producer of The Green Interview — the online home for conversations with “thinkers, writers and activists whose ideas and work are leading the way to a new era of sustainability.”

David Suzuki on the west coast, Silver Donald Cameron on the east: lucky Canada, to have the country bracketed by such a lively, thoughtful and enjoyable pair of environmental thinkers and communicators.

How about one last Powell River beach photograph? Seems only appropriate. Here we are,  overlooking Willingdon Beach, a-glow with the setting sun.

 

I am now back in Vancouver. (And, I think, my mind is back as well.)

 

 

  • WALKING… & SEEING

    "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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