Trees. And Gingersnap.

19 December 2017 – We’re walking along the north shore of False Creek, out around English Bay or so, heading for Stanley Park. Where there will be mega-gazillions of trees. (With 405 Ha of park space, there’s room for quite a few gazillion trees…)

But we are more immediately focused on the trees right here, standing out as they do against the beach and the waters beyond.

Palm trees! My eastern instincts are still totally amazed at the sight of palm trees, outside and unprotected — and perfectly happy, thank you.

That’s the Chusan (“Windmill”) palm, I later learn, one of a group planted around English Bay some 30 years ago.

And … Eucalyptus!

Just another of the (to me) exotic species that the Vancouver Parks people care for. (Along with the Tasmanian fern. And banana plants. And of course those palm trees.)

Finally we see something I can relate to, in a Canadian winter — bare branches.

But no, even here I am awe-struck. So many nests, and so large.

“The Stanley Park Great Blue Heron colony,” say my friends, tugging me to read the signage.

This is one of North America’s largest urban Great Blue Heron colonies, I later learn, and it has a suitably large following. Even its own web cam.

So I am still head-full of birds & trees after we reach Lost Lagoon and join our planned event: a Solstice-themed walk/talk through Stanley Park with a very informed, very cheerful, good-fun botanist.

But, nifty as she is,  we get distracted.

By elves. Hundreds of elves. With names like Gingersnap, and Twinkle-Legs.

While we stand around discussing the Solstice, they are pounding their hearts out in the annual Big Elf Run, to support the Canuck Place children’s hospice. It’s an all-inclusive event — running elves, walking elves, kiddy elves, even doggie-elves.

(Later we cross paths with a volunteer, of course with his elf-cap, picking up race bollards. We ask his race-name. He says he is Slave-Labour Elf. We tell him he is Unsung Hero Elf.)

Next day …

Next day, I meet yet another typical Vancouver tree.  One, I must add, I have met before and will meet again.

The Great Vancouver Rain Tree! Very pretty, with those sparkling, suspended rain drops.

And, over on Main Street, a sign to fit the day.

But the day after that …



Enough to make those palm trees & eucalyptus start booking trips back to where they came from.

No Fun, Snow Fun

5 April 2016 – Here in Toronto, opinion is not even slightly divided about snow & sub-zero temps on April 5. We are not happy. No Fun, is the verdict.

Rather, that is the human verdict.

Opinion is more mixed once you broaden your field of inquiry.

These baby daffodils? That thrust through the warmed ground & turned their little faces to the sun so trustingly, just a few days ago?

surprised baby daffs, on Gerrard St. E.

They agree with the humans. No Fun.

But then there’s the Snow Fun contingent.

This flower, for example …

Greenwood, edge of Greenwood Park

and this whole flock of flamingos.

on Kingston Rd.

For all they care, the snow cover could be froth on Lake Naivasha.

Balcony Boy seems perfectly contented as well …

Gerrard East

and the moose smiles happily — perhaps because he knows that he and his cute little shoes are safe on the Flying Pony washroom wall.

Flying Pony café, Gerrard E. at Rhodes

The school crossing guard isn’t currently sitting in his/her chair, so has no opinion …

on Kingston Rd.

except, maybe, to be grateful in absentia that — per the plea on the chair seat — nobody has stolen the chair.

And this guy?

studio window

The one whose crutch is propped in the window of this kickboxing studio?

Perhaps he has other things on his mind.

Snow, & the Promise of Lots More

1 March 2016 – The first flurries drift down, just before I leave home.

They shroud the windshield of a parked van …

van on Dundas E., near the Don River

tuck in behind the fox’s ear, in Joel Weeks Park …

one of 3 sculptures in Joel Weeks Park

and veil a would-be solar panel in the latest Regent Park construction zone.

Dundas E., Regent Park area

March, it seems, will come in like a lion.

We must wait to see if it departs like a lamb!

Freeze-Thaw by the Lake (2)

21 February 2016 – And now I snap my fingers — snap!! — we awaken from our state of suspended animation, and we continue to explore Toronto’s Winter Stations 2016. (See previous post, as a reminder.)

Phyllis & I leave Cardinal’s wonderful Fire Pit, & start walking eastward again, headed for another trio of lifeguard-installations farther down the beach.

First we veer to water’s edge, spend a moment with Nature’s own winter installation of snow/rock/ice/waves …

view eastward down the beach, Lake Ontario

and then take ourselves back up to the boardwalk, where the walking is easier.

We pass a succession of park benches, much-used in summer, somewhat used in winter, but on this snowy-blowy day, not used at all.

Except by this very small truck, neatly tucked away to shelter from the storm.

on the Beaches boardwalk

Tromp-tromp, and finally another trio of installations come into view. We cut back down onto the beach, and as we approach the first one, I look at all its dangling ribbons and cry, “It’s like a Maypole!”

I have sudden giddy images of dancers at some summer festival on an English village common, meticulously weaving the Maypole (or whatever it is they do …). Then I shake my head. In blustery winter Canada?

Maybe not.

Hah. Shows what I know — The installation is  called “Aurora,” but essentially it expresses the same twirly concept.

sign for "Aurora"

Alas, it is not doing all those wonderful things at the moment. Phyllis gives it an experimental twirl  …

"Aurora," Winter Stations 2016

and we’re prepared to love it just as it is.

From fluorescent pink to white-on-white, practically disappearing against the camouflage sky.

""Lithoform," Winter Stations 2016

Once I’m close enough to touch the installation walls, I’m intrigued by their sinuous white skin.

"Lithoform" sign

But, even more than the pliant skin, I’m intrigued by those colour cubes on top. Perhaps especially because of their sharp contrast against the bleached sky.

close-up, "Lithoform"

We decide we’re glad that we are visiting the installations on such a blustery day. The theme, after all, is about sanctuary in winter weather, and this bout of weather gives you the full experience. Not just as a clever-boots art concept, but in physical reality.

Final installation. Such a contrast with the smooth white skin draped around “Lithoform”! This time, it’s all ropes & rough textures.

"Floating Ropes," Winter Stations 2016

Heavy, solid, workmanlike — yet look how it floats mid-air.

And so well-named: “Floating Ropes.”

"Floating Ropes" sign

Just simple ropes, hanging down. But look at the complexity they create! I admire the door arch and roof edge as I enter …

entrance to "Floating Ropes"

and I strike a pose as I push through the wall on the other side, blinking in the light, my nostrils still full of the pungent rope-aroma inside.

Iceland Penny strikes a pose...

Iceland Penny, learning the ropes!



    "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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