False Creek, Real Action

30 January 2020 – The afternoon break in the rain arrives as promised, and I’m out the door and down to False Creek. Where I wander along, tune in to the action — and realize action can be latent, as well as right-now.

Start with right-now. Kayakers just off Olympic Village, a pair of enthusiasts I will meet again and again in this walk as they ply this end of the Creek, though I don’t know that yet.

Then another example of right-now action — but well camouflaged.

I’m looking out over the little man-made island just off Hinge Park, when a near-by pedestrian crooks a finger to beckon me closer. He invites me to sight along his furled umbrella, and murmurs, “Otter. His head. Looks like just another rock there at water’s edge, except it’s moving. See? Just down to the right from that gull?”

I look, watch, wait for bobbing motion. And I see.

You won’t see. You’ll just see the gull, that white flash at the upper edge of the island’s tip. After that … a pile of rocks. Perfect camouflage.

No camouflage here! Crows squawking their heads off, assembling in the tree for their afternoon commute back out to Burnaby.

No camouflage here either, and definitely an example of right-now action. That’s my black-clad toe at the top of the Cambie Bridge spiral staircase. I usually do this loop the other way around and therefore walk down, but this time, I have just climbed those 80 steps up. (You bet. I counted.)

Latent-action time: dedicated dog bowl waiting for customers, in Coopers Park across the bridge on the north side.

There are real dogs in abundance in the off-leash area, all of them too busy being active to bother with the drinking bowl.

And here’s the Blue Cabin, glowing in a burst of afternoon sunshine at its Plaza of Nations mooring. As with that dog bowl, it seems that here too, action is currently latent. The residency of Tsleil Waututh artist Angela George has just ended, and the Blue Cabin Floating Artist website is inviting new applications. (Interested? Click Programs on the menu, and scroll to Current Residency Call.)

Almost opposite, down on the rocky beach, a couple of inukshuks stand in relief against the water, where the World of Science complex anchors the eastern end of the Creek.

Out there on the deck, also picked out in the late-afternoon light, the huge orange sculpture of a reclining question-mark, inviting us to ponder our responsibilities in the world’s eco-system. A repository of latent action, arguably, calling us to real action.

I pass the question-mark sculpture as I head on home …

and think that’s the end of my story.

But it isn’t.

Because there at the railing I see a woman raise her camera so stealthily that I also pause, and search for whatever it is that has caught her eye.

This is it.

A heron. Watching the waters for dinner. More latent action, wrapped up in feathers.

The woman and I discover we like to walk the same loop at this end of the Creek. “I always mean to walk briskly,” she tells me. “But there are so many reasons to stop, and look, and wait, and watch…”

 

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"

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