Moss & 13th (East & West)

14 March 2017 – The sky is exceedingly grey, & the air oozes moisture. The trees are grey-brown-black, sombre camouflage for a sombre day.

Only the moss stands out.

How happy it is! I stop thinking about the air, the mist, & focus on the moss.

I am besotted. I lurch along 13th Avenue, East 13th morphing to West as I go, following the moss, tree to tree. Admiring the branches’ furry sleeves, stretching out from the trunk …

Admiring swirls of colour, texture, pattern …

moving in close …

then refreshing my eye with the restraint of this narrow trunk, just one tree farther down the line.

Then a big guy, big fat trunk.

I step in to enjoy the sheen of the day’s moisture upon the bark …

which brings me close enough to see how the buds are just starting to swell.

Another block, and I start to laugh. No need to get close.

Nature’s very own Wretched Excess, flaunting herself out there in front of God & everybody, totally shameless.

I’m attracting attention; people turn, try to see what fascinates me so. They can’t find anything. Small dismissive shakes of the head, & they walk on.

Oh, but look …

is this not totally loopy-delightful?

I move even closer to the trunk, crane my neck backwards …

study the black & white of fern silhouette against bare branches & sky.

On westward, another tree, and I’m laughing again.


Visions of a mad orchestra conductor, resplendent in green velvet, raising his arms for the downbeat. “Our tempo,” he intones, “is 30.”

Out to Cambie Street & north to 12th. Time for some visual contrast.

No furry-fuzzy textures here.

Just the strong, clean lines of Vancouver City Hall — built & opened in 1936, a make-work & civic-pride project that tempered the architectural exuberance of 1920s Art Deco with the sobriety of 1930s Moderne. The only colour all those flags, and the neon-circled clock.

I giggle again, thinking of the old joke: “What’s black & white & read [red] all over?” A joke that only works when spoken. Because then you can triumphantly reference the other spelling, and contradict either correct answer.

(I debate not giving you the answers. I relent. Answer # 1: “A newspaper.” Answer #2: “A blushing zebra.”)

Symbol City

3 March 2017 — Just a selection of symbols from my own list-to-date, you understand. Images that snag my Toronto eyes; make me exclaim, with delight, “Ohhh, that is so Vancouver!”

Vancouver is trees.

Moss on tree trunks, in the rain …

typical tree trunk, on a residential Mount Pleasant street

palm trees, out there alive-alive-0 in mid-winter …

W. Broadway near Granville

fir trees on industrial wall murals …

detail, an Industrial Flats mural

and tree stump art.

one of two, in front of Telus World of Science, Main St.

Vancouver is people.

First Nations …

Main St., just north of Terminal Av.

Asian …

a shop nr E 15th & Fraser

and everyone.

"Human Structure," by Jonathan Borofsky, Southeast False Creek

Vancouver is pop-up community gardens, in boxes that can move on to the next site …

close to the Cambie Bridge

and clouds on mountains …

North Van, from the Industrial Flats nr Main St.

and clouds all over the sky.

top, with solar panels, of the Solar Bike Tree outside Telus World of Science

Vancouver is Cloud City …

a mural in Industrial Flats

and Rain City …

W. Broadway between Granville & Cambie

and Every Weather City.

truck in Main St. parking lot

With a scoop of ice cream!


Lights! Action! & Camera!

24 February 2016 – The lights are supplied by Nature, bright sunshine bouncing off the lake and ice-skimmed rocks & bushes. The action is courtesy of the Tuesday Walking Society, west-end this time along Humber Bay Shores & through Humber Bay Park (West). The camera? Well, you know about that.

We are revelling in all the brilliant colour, whole colour-fields of colour — what  a contrast to our snow-blurred trip to the Beaches Winter Stations.

The restored butterfly arch welcomes us to the Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat, leads us on down to lake-edge and pathways toward the twin lobes of Humber Bay Park (West & East), spreading comfortably into the lake.

arch into Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat

Lake Ontario, flat grey last week, is today blue to beat the Caribbean — bands of dark blue & light, streaks of turquoise, all dancing in the sun. There’s no snow and little ice, nothing permanently on the ground this mild winter, just some evidence of frozen spray.

Sometimes it wraps a second skin around rocks at water’s edge …

sheen of ice on rocks by Lake Ontario

and, sometimes, it drapes delicate lacework on a shrub.

ice-draped shrub; city & CN Tower in the background

Away from the water, tucked back by tall winter grasses, a lone birdhouse. Charming at mid-distance, but its defect show once you are up close! Any resident bird would need to keep his umbrella up, even indoors.

a "handyman's special" bird house

We point to reviving colour in trees and shrubs — spring is coming! we cry. The deep red bark of the Siberian Dogwood (aka Redtwig Dogwood, for good reason) …

Siberian (Redtwig) Dogwood

and the golden yellow, soon to become acid-green/yellow, on neighbouring tree tops.

yellow-tipped trees

But the brightest colour, the very brightest, comes as we work our way back through a condo-side park toward our streetcar stop.

For one hallucinatory moment I think the birch tree is blowing a big wad of brilliant blue bubble gum. Then I shake my head, and realize it is a very small child’s sock, put on display by some considerate passer-by so the parent has a chance of retrieving it.

Phyllis laughs at me.

lost dog-boot on display

“It’s a dog boot!” she explains. Which it is.


    "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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