Coffee Brake

18 October 2017 – Well, if they can talk about their Brake-fast menu, I can talk about my coffee brake…

I am in the Tandem Bike Café, having splish-sploshed my way around town for assorted reasons, and in the mood to reward myself for not whining — even to myself — about the rain.

See? Very wet.

Not the driving but relatively brief downpour I wrote about earlier, but the steady, determined kind of rain that you know can keep going for … oh … a week or so. As indeed is predicted.

But I am learning to be a Vancouverite. I am wearing my new Sorel rainboots, picked up at the local MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op), and a rainproof jacket, and wielding a spacious umbrella.

At the moment I am wielding a steaming latte instead, peering over its froth to both sides of this shop’s dual identity.

Left rear = bike repair & sales. Right rear = rest of the café seating.

Click-thunk, go the sound effects, as a steady stream of customers come through the door.

“Hi Nicole, my usual…” says one young man, adding he has plenty of time because he has just missed his bus.

Next a woman who keeps her eyes focused on the front window as she orders a lemon loaf. Then, obviously thinking, Well, that’s a bit rude, explains: “Sorry, I’m watching for the bus…”

I’m seated by that front window, next to the goodies display case, so I hear all the chat.

So does the gnome.

Summer he props open the front door; rainy season, he stands guard with the space heater.

The legs behind him belong to the customer picking up his coffee & cinnamon bun order. And lingering, because Nicole & Sonia behind the counter are reading him excerpts from a book of short stories. “This guy just dropped it off, free,” says one of them. “His mother wrote it and he’s handing out copies. And look — this story, we’re supposed to fill in the blanks.”

So the three of them bend their heads to the challenge.

The next click-thunk announces a bike-repair customer, plus malfunctioning bike. He veers left, not right. The consultation begins.

I’m just gathering my belongings — stash my phone where rain can’t reach it, zip my jacket to the top, retrieve the umbrella — when yet another customer starts debating the characteristics of this particular rainfall. I listen. Of course I do! Vancouverites discuss rain like the connoisseurs they are, and I need to learn this stuff.

“I know it’s going on all week,” he says. “That’s normal! It’s just normal Vancouver rain.”

I look out the window before I head off. This is what normal rain looks like, I tell myself.

Where’s Lemon-Loaf Lady? The next bus has just arrived.

 

 

 

The Story of 38.2

14 October 2017 – That’s millimetres. Of rainfall. Setting a new day-record for Vancouver, drowning the old one by an additional 7.2 mm.

My phone’s weather app promises mere “Showers,” as I set out to join friends for a noon-time tap dance extravaganza. “Pfui,” says I (acclimatizing fast to my new environment), “what’s a few showers?”

And it is still only showers, as I pass the Tandem Bike Café, admiring this bike’s weather-wise accessory.

An hour later, we are in monsoon-land.

Leaves block sewer gratings, rivers course down the streets, cars shoot rooster plumes into the air as they aqua-plane through intersections.

In the theatre lobby, umbrella stands bloom with offerings.

I stuff mine in with the rest, tell myself there is a whole umbrella culture here that I have yet to learn.

An hour of tippety-tap magic, a half-hour’s homeward navigation on a meandering but very peaceful bus, and then …

It stops raining.

My window sparkles …

my balcony fern shimmers …

And I open an email from a long-time friend. Not just long-time — prescient as well.

She’s sent me a link to an article about umbrella culture in Japan.

Thank you, Linda.

Bike & Hike

7 February 2016 – The bike comes early in my hike, neatly hooked high against the staircase in an alley near Sherbourne & Bloor St. East. Does it await spring? Or just the owner’s next outing, perhaps later today?

bike up staircase nr Bloor E & Sherbourne

Either way, a vivid punch of red against all that black.

I cross busy Bloor East & drop down a staircase to the pedestrian bridge over Rosedale Valley Rd. Why did I cross at street level? I could have cut behind the Sherbourne subway station on the south side & used the little tunnel instead.

But I didn’t, so all the tunnel offers me this time around is a view of its non-stop street art — some planned, some definitely unofficial.

I particularly like the Blue Jay atop the entrance.

murals in tunnel under Bloor E at Sherbourne

Then I walk across the bridge, and take in a very different setting from its north, up-market Rosedale side. North & south sides of Rosedale Valley may belong to the same election ridings but, I promise you, they live in different demographic worlds entirely.

No graffiti this end, but something very human nonetheless. The plaque tells us that author Morley Callaghan lived nearby from 1951 until his death in 1990, and was a frequent user of the bridge — at first with wife and dog, then with dog Nikki as his faithful companion to the end.

Rosedale Valley pedestrian bridge from n. side

I square my shoulders, brace myself to find my way through Deepest, Darkest Rosedale. My target is Milkman’s Lane, which will lead me down into the ravine and to Evergreen Brick Works. Feeling slightly sheepish, I sneak a look at my map.

Yes! Up here, dog-leg to there, follow that curve, and sharp right into Milkman’s Lane.

It’s a steep drop down the gravel lane into the ravine. I cantilever my weight slightly backwards, and admire the father who is coaching his little boy in the mysteries of riding his bike down the lane without losing control. The child (securely helmeted) is triumphant: he’s controlling speed beautifully and deliberately wobbles his voice in sympathy with the gravel beneath his wheels as he calls out to his father — “I’m doing it!”

Into the Evergreen Brick Works complex, once literally a brick works, now repurposed for community & the environment. I thread my way past the open-air skating rink in Koerner Gardens, with a pause to admire the jaunty sunflower-cum-windmill on the edge of the adjacent Kilns.

EBW art, this on edge of The Kilns

Into The Kilns — once really kilns, now left with enough old machinery for atmosphere, but sufficiently cleared to provide room for exhibits and assorted festivals. It’s Winter Village at the moment, with fire pits and food and other stalls, the structure open to its Koerner Gardens side.

fire pits, stalls, people in The Kilns enjoying Winter Village

Skaters come & go, especially helmeted small children, shepherded by parents.

Fun for big kids too, such as this great big bunch of wooden rectangles.

I arrive too late for the stacking thereof, but just in time to see Boyfriend photograph triumphant Girlfriend with the resulting tower. She heads off to find  them some coffee; he pushes his bike helmet to one side & steps in to fiddle with the tower.

big-boy playtime in Winter Village

Then he gives the tower a mighty BOOT!!! All those rectangles come clattering to the ground. Girlfriend, by now back with coffee, gives a yip & dances around on one leg. Seems her other ankle got in the way of flying pieces of wood.

I grab a savoury scone (“Warm it for you?” “Yes, please!”) and make my way to the pedestrian path along the  edge of Bayview Ave. My goal is the Lower Don Trail along the Don River, which I can join at the Pottery Rd. access point.

And I do. I am immediately rewarded, as I head north on the Trail, by salmon leaping in the waves. Great dancing salmon, leaping in curling waves and bubbling froth.

All this on the Trail itself, you understand.

trail art just n. of Pottery Rd access

Every now & then, there’s a word to trigger your own exuberance in life. Squint at the above photo, you’ll see “Cycle.”

The art does just fine on its own, mind you …

detail, Trail art

but I start word-hunting as well. “Power” for example …

detail, Trail art

and “Joy” …

detail, Trail art

and “Life.”

detail, Trail art

I wonder a moment about”Power.” It seems a bit aggressive, don’t you think, for this sort of list? Then I decide it means positive power, the power of energy and commitment and contribution, and I’m happy again.

Finally I turn south again, south across Pottery Rd., on south & south, with eventually a glance back at the Bloor St. Viaduct, its freshly painted arches gleaming in the late-afternoon sun.

Bloor St. Viaduct

And still south & south, to the not-gleaming — in fact, very scruffy — staircase from this Trail up to the pedestrian bridge across the Don Valley Parkway that links the East & West sections of  Riverdale Park.

stairs from Lower Don Trail to Riverdale Park pedestrian bridge

Ooof. It’s a lot of steps. And ooof some more steps, up the ravine edge of Riverdale Park West.

I check my pedometer when I reach home, prepared to be Very Annoyed. On Tuesday, Phyllis & I walked for 3 hours, only to have my eccentric pedometer tell us we had covered 0.39 km.

Today, I am offered a reading of 11.67 km.

 

  • 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"

  • Recent Posts

  • Walk, Talk, Rock… B.C.-style

  • Post Categories

  • Archives

  • Blog Stats

    • 95,153 hits
  • Since 14 August 2014

    Flag Counter
  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,740 other followers

%d bloggers like this: