The Sights at Silly O’Clock

25 May 2017 – I’m still waking up at “Silly O’Clock,” my body not entirely convinced it has left British Standard Time & must now respond to Pacific Daylight Time.

Daylight indeed! I bounce out of bed at 5:27 a.m., any time-zone frustrations immediately dissolved in the splendour of the dawning day.

From my balcony, I have an unimpeded view of the mountains that frame North Vancouver. Called the North Shore Mountains — and what could be more logical? — they are a subset of the Pacific Ranges, in turn the southern end of the Coast Mountains that run up the B.C. coast and right on through Alaska.

Both Grouse Mountain and Mount Seymour are in that line-up — Grouse, which I’ve visited by gondola ride, and Seymour, which I know only slightly better but at least with my feet on some of its trails. My friends Sally & Owen live on the last street of homes part-way up the mountain, their back yard right at the provincial park boundary.

Still mesmerized by the luminous early light, I drop my gaze to include Cambie Street below, here on my (south) side of the Burrard Inlet.

Vancouver City Hall clock glows in the dawn light, the most elegant use of neon I think I’ve ever seen.  But then, the whole building is elegant. Completed in late 1936, height of the Depression, it was both a make-work project and a hopeful symbol of an expanding city, with better times to come.

I think of it as Art Deco, yet architects Townley and Matheson made it more contemporary than that: the design blends the vertical, ornamental lines of Art Deco with the simpler, more horizontal lines of Art Moderne, just then beginning to emerge.

My thoughts shift from architecture to coffee.

I am just turning back into the house when I hear a great clatter, some thunks and grunts and … HONKKK.

Back outside! No far-flung gaze now, it’s close-up time as I peer north-westish onto a neighbour’s balcony.

Canada geese. Branta canadensis. Known, says Audubon, for their ability to adapt, “using different habitats in different regions…” Including, it would appear, Vancouver balconies.

I stare, stunned. They march around, with the bobbing heads and soft belly-grunts that mark curiosity and exploration. They check out the patio furniture, bump against the barbecue, peer through the glass into the kitchen.

Well, this is silly. Even for Silly O’Clock, it’s really silly. I rethink my plan to leave balcony doors wide open, to admit fresh morning air. Do I want a Canada goose in my kitchen, asking for toast?

I close the door. I, again, turn away. I, again, hear flutter-thunk-grunt. I, again, turn back & look.

Now one is exploring the ledge beyond my own railing. First southward, and then … back to the north.

He is quite splendid, silhouetted like that against the rising sun.

Even so, I am pleased when he abruptly loses interest, and flies away.

 

 

“Happy Tuesday”

9 November 2016 – The sign has no political import, you understand. It’s just doing its sidewalk job, drumming up business for the café inside — and very time-efficiently at that. Why write a whole new sign, when you can just edit one word?

repurposed café sidewalk sign

But the Tuesday Walking Society is out there on November 8. This is Election-Tuesday in the USA, a day that will make a lot of Americans very happy indeed.

Others, not so much.

In fact, enough others are unhappy enough to cause the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration website to crash the following day. More immigration inquiries than it could handle.

But on Tuesday itself, nobody knows any of this. It’s a warm, sunny morning in Toronto, and Phyllis & I are working our way west on Bloor Street to Christie Pits Park, located at — you guessed it — Christie Street.

A few blocks short of the park, we dive into an alley just north of Bloor. Look! Raccoons!

alley to the east of Christie St., n. of Bloor

Two surprises. First, they are painted on a garage door, not live on the ground. And, second, I find them delightful. (Not necessarily my attitude to their marauding live cousins.)

We have no particular reason to visit the park, except we haven’t done so in a while, and it’s as good a starting point as any for further exploration.

Fall colours have been muted this year, we agree, but the golds are still blazing throughout the park.

still brilliat trees, Christie Pits Park

We kick through the leaves underfoot, wrinkle happy noses at the distinctive aroma, cock our ears to the distinctive sound.

We see a big, blue canoe. Phyllis stops, so do I, but I also murmur, “It’s awfully scruffy…”

Community Canoe, in Christie Pits Park

“It’s meant to be,” she replies. (The world’s gentlest reprimand.)

“That’s what native species do, this time of year…” And she then explains Community Canoe, the network of pollinator-friendly canoe gardens, part of the Homegrown National Park Project.

Leaving the park, I turn back for a moment to watch four ladies practise their morning tai chi. Sure, peaceful movements, in a warm, peaceful dip in the ground.

tai chi i Christie Pits Park

Distinct change of mood as we begin exploring neighbouring streets & alleys!

More urban wildlife in an alley off Ossington, once again painted not live.

alley nr Ossington n. of Bloor

Pigeons.

As with the raccoons, I find the painted variety delightful, the live variety somewhat less so. (In fact, when it comes to pigeons, I tend to agree with Tom Lehrer.)

More alleys in the general area, some with very fine murals, others that owe their impact more to Mother Nature than to any local artist.

another Ossington area alley

A bit farther north in the alley, though, some happy murals.

A giddy flower …

Ossington-area alley

and smiling faces in an Elicser mural. (The very first smiles I have seen on any work by this artist.)

same alley, farther north

We walk a lot more — up to Dupont, as far west as Lansdowne, south to Dundas and then head east again.

The loop eventually brings us to Trinity Bellwoods Park. I drag Phyllis to a vaguely remembered stretch of pavement, a place where various pathways intersect near the north-east corner of the park.

I want to know if “Sun slant low…” is still visible on the pavement, or if time has scuffed it away.

It is faint, but still there. I am so pleased.

in the N/E corner of Trinity Bellwoods Park

I had to come home & look up old records to see when I first noticed, first photographed, this extraordinary love poem to the sun’s yearly trajectory.

There! 20 December, 2014. (Click: you’ll be rewarded with the full text.)

And when better to honour the poem, than as we approach the winter solstice?

 

  • 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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