Wandering

28 July 2019 – My feet are wandering, as they tend to do, but more obediently than usual. This time they are trotting along with others, all of us on a neighbourhood tour of “lower Mount Pleasant” (close-ish to the south-east end of False Creek).

The guide is pointing out evidence of the social, industrial and built heritage of the area: remnants of the vernacular residential architecture of the 1910s, for example (gables, wood cladding and off-set front doors) …

or …

remnants of mid-century shop signage. (Bike Woman is listening to our guide, who is out of frame to the left.)

I am also listening, I am, but while my feet are obedient wanderers, my eyes are rebellious wanderers, and they keep leading my mind a-stray.

Here we are being shown one of those early homes, still surviving and freshly painted.

Only my eyes bounce off the bright paint, weave through the tree branches, and fasten on that bit of street mural beyond.

Now we’re being told more about the history of this house, and the (woeful) state of heritage designation in the area. My eyes instead slide along the building’s side wall and hop over alley space to contemplate the shipwreck in turquoise waters, ‘way down there.

And so it goes.

Another intersection, more information, and, though my feet are behaving themselves, my eyes are still on the prowl.

Look! A whole exuberant dance across that white wall over there, nicely framed by modes of transport: a sturdy truck up close, a sleek auto-share vehicle across the street, and guy wheeling his bike through the doorway.

Next, a neat little square of mural, far end of that parking-lot grid, tucked behind the hydro pole …

and, later, a huge full-wall’s worth of faces, with the vacant lot offering an unobstructed view of every detail.

Nothing distant about this one! We’re on the pavement right in front.

Smack-dab under the dog’s whiskers, and still, the guide manages to ignore him.

She is just not a street-art kind of gal. (I shouldn’t beat up on her — we all edit what we’re going to notice and not notice, otherwise we couldn’t get through the day.)

She does mention the company, though: apparently Mount Pleasant Furniture does a roaring business renting props to movie shoots in town.

Their doorway window gives just the tiniest indication of how many props must be on offer.

Tour over, and my feet, eyes and mind are now free to wander in unison.

Feet stop while eyes and mind enjoy this real, live dog on Main Street, patiently waiting for his human to abandon the delights of the Cartems “donuterie” and take him home.

Feet stop again just across the intersection.

Eyes read, mind again enjoys this street ode that I have read before …

with summer tree-shade bringing the text to life.

I do pause, one further moment.

And then — feet, eyes, mind, and everything in between — I wander on home.

 

A Moment at E 5th & The Drive

5 January 2019 – My mind is several blocks ahead of my feet, barely registering the intersection, but then I stop.

I do register the dapper young man, down on his knees.

In photographic ecstasy, not religious. He has a real camera, interchangeable lenses & everything, and he is carefully fitting one of those lens as I watch.

Where am I? What is he looking at?

Where = E. 5th & “The Drive” (Commercial Drive to map-makers).

What = the brand new, sparkling-bright mural all along the side wall of the D-YES office across 5th.

I’m glad Drive Youth Employment Services exists; I support the key words integrated into the mural (e.g. Compassion, Respect); and I think the mural adds energy and cheer.

Even so, I’m more attracted to the battered old mural wrapped all around VAP Auto Parts & Services, on our side of the intersection.

It offers only partial views, of course, interrupted by windows, ads, doors and parked cars.

Later I learn online what I should have known anyway: November IV (or, even, 4) is National Unity and Armed Forces Day in Italy. So of course it will  be on display here, heart of Vancouver’s Little Italy. (Look again at that intersection sign above: it includes a tiny Italian flag.)

I love this. I love how an inherently grimy business, auto repair, has wrapped itself in a mural of the homeland, now worn & comfy & companionably grimy as well.

Flowing around windows and door …

and around the garage entrance as well.

Bang-clang-smack-clatter!! bounces out at us from inside that entrance. They’re busy in there. Dog in truck out here doesn’t care. Yawn.

I un-mesmerize myself, and remember that I did have a reason, when crossing this intersection. And it involved coffee, not axel grease.

One last fond glance …

and I’m on down The Drive, ready for JJ Bean and a latte.

 

Murals! and a Festival To Go With ‘Em

14 August 2018 – It’s been wicked hot around here, but politely cooled of to low 20s for the big Mural Festival weekend. It also politely didn’t rain, so we are all happy.

Murals are everywhere, well everywhere in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, the Festival’s traditional home, radiating all around its Main Street spine.

Big new richly complex murals, covering three walls …

sassy cartoon-image monkeys, bright-eyeing you over some alley wheelies …

even the whole side wall of a house on a residential street.

But a mural festival is more than murals, it is also a festival. With people! and dogs! and food! and games!

Start with a dog. Waiting so patiently while his owners linger over coffee in the pop-up café painted into place on E 14th at Main. Once you’ve sufficiently adored the dog, run your eye up the left side of the photo, and locate the tiny little head immediately below the grey car, last in line parked there on the right hand side of the street.

Got it? Good.

 

That’s the head of this pianist at the far end of the pop-up café. Undoubtedly another reason Fido will have to wait a while for his owners to tear themselves away and start exploring again.

 

Never mind, I’m exploring. Including food options, for later.

There is some good food on offer, including Venezuelan arepas that tempt me mightily. Then there’s  day-glo cotton candy. I gag slightly, at the sight — but I remember lapping it up as a kid.

Which is what this toddler is about to do. She has turquoise smeared across her face in no time flat.

Farther down Main, a young girl is totally absorbed in an artist at work …

while, elsewhere, a besotted couple are totally absorbed in each other and ignoring an artist at work.

One girl stops in an alley to take a photo of the bright hanging streamers …

another stops on Main Street to make some art of her own …

and everybody stops to chalk up some creative time on this E 8th wall & sidewalk at Main.

Trim white tents line 3-4 blocks of Main (car-free for the event), with some very fine displays of artists’ crafts.

There’s the other kind of retail stuff, too. What would a festival be, without it?

Nifty cats or not, there are better things to do with your legs.

Bald-guy-with-beard, for example, has just leapt high to drive a power shot that sent his opponent  scrambling to retrieve the ping-pong ball. With everyone watching & smirking like hell as he scrambles.

Even better use for your legs: hop onto the Sínulhkay & Ladders board, and sharpen your ability to decolonize your actions. The work of Squamish artist Michelle Nahanee, it invites players to notice the post-colonial thinking rewarded by a ladder boost, and old-era colonial thinking that slides you down a sínulhkay.

I’m heading for home, walking west along yet another alley, over by Quebec St. near E 7th.

Liz & Phil! How nice of them to turn up.

I spend a moment wondering how many people who understand hash tags & selfie references will also recognize the very young Liz & Phil. A quite splendidly cross-generational challenge, I decide.

A few more steps down the alley, and … no challenge here. Everyone will get this. (And jump in for a selfie.)

This is Rain City, after all.

 

 

 

Into the Woods

2 May 2016 – I’m off into the woods with my friend Mary — and when you have 100 acres, as she & Mike do north of Gananoque, you have lots to explore, right there on your own property.

This is Canadian Shield country, with its ancient, massive granite outcroppings, the land scraped to its elemental bones by glaciers.

outcropping of Canadian Shield, near Gananoque

We’re on a big looping walk that will take us eventually up to a road, to a farmhouse for a new supply of eggs, and via road on back home.

That’s eventually. Meanwhile, we enjoy the woods, scramble our way to a high point with sweeping views across the wetlands and the creek meandering its way from South Lake to Gananoque Lake, ultimately to dump its waters into the St. Lawrence River.

Sassy admires the view!

That’s Sassy — officially lives on the farm next door, but always up for a walk.

The glory of early spring in Canadian woods is the wildflowers. Glorious for their beauty, also for their ephemerality — here today, gone tomorrow, one display after another, all pell-mell for their brief moment in the sun before the tree canopy leafs out.

The cool spring has put everything a bit behind schedule. Trilliums are just beginning to unfurl.

White trillium buds

Some, though, are fully out.

Trillium grandflora

That’s the white trillium, Trillium grandiflorum, the provincial flower here in Ontario.

Soon, to my delight, we begin to see red trilliums as well, the Trillium erectum. They are typically less plentiful than the white, which — especially when happy on south-facing slopes — carpet the woodland floor.

red & white trilliums

Other treats as well.

Look! Dutchman’s Breeches! (Dicentra cucullaria)

Dutchman's Breeches

A member of the bleeding heart family, just look at those leaves, and nicknamed for its twin-tipped flowers, quite like upside-down trousers, pegged out on a laundry line to dry.

And look again!

Dogtooth violet, I say promptly. Then I begin to doubt myself. Ummm. Trout lily, perhaps?

Trout lily, aka Dogtooth violet

Later, thumbing a guidebook, I learn I am right. Both times. Two common names for Erythronium americanum. Hurray for me. (Not being at all sure of these things, I enjoy any moments of accuracy that happen to come my way.)

We reach a bit of fencing, the dividing line between this property and that of a neighbour.

Sassy tummy-wiggles through a convenient gap in the fence. We use legs, not tummies, and instead climb over the stile.

Mary climbs the stile

A distinctly boggy bit next, rare & welcome (even if personally inconvenient) in this unusually dry, as well as cool, spring. Sassy splashes through; we explore this way, then double back that way, and find a sufficiently narrow stretch to hop across.

Someone has carefully laid branches across the rivulet next to where we hop, creating a mini-version of the pioneer-era “corduroy road” — logs laid perpendicular to the road’s direction in swampy areas, and named for the fabric, with its distinctive ridges.

a corduroy road (mini-mini)

I am grateful not to be in a buggy, jolting over long stretches of corduroy road.

Instead, we climb on up a path; Sassy and a neighbouring dog shout a few half-hearted (and safely long-distance) insults at each other; we wave at a couple of young men splitting wood in a clearing — and we end up on the road.

Where we buy the eggs, and finally walk on home.

 

 

  • 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: