Snow‼️

26 December 2021 – Snow in Canada in late December? Hardly worth comment. Let alone even one exclamation mark, not to mention two of them, and in punch-your-eyeball-red at that…

True, but. This is Vancouver’s first snowy Christmas since 2008, and only the fourth in the last 25 years. I know the stats thanks to a news report, but I only have to look out my window for confirmation.

No need to climb 300 metres up the Coast Range mountains today, to catch some snow! It’s right here at sea level. So I go play snow-tourist around False Creek.

Icicles. A given, in my Toronto winter days, but a rarity here, so I pay attention.

The Chai Wagon is open for business as usual, just off Science World, but the chai-wallah is more bundled up than usual …

and the nearby palm trees have their own winter adornment.

The little footbridge at Olympic Village was upgraded this summer, with — they promised — an improved anti-slip texture underfoot. Hmmm. The sign doesn’t know about that promise. Or doesn’t trust it.

Or perhaps is just a neurotic worrywart by nature.

These women are not worrywarts. They stride onto the bridge full-tilt, and cross without incident.

The welcoming chairs at Spyglass Dock are embracing snow at the moment, not Creek-side flâneurs …

but someone has cleared one of the blossoms in the artwork by Emily Gray that makes this dock so appealing.

I double back under the Cambie bridge ramps, here on the south side. This location — like Toronto’s innovative Underpass Park — is an encouraging example of what we can do with places that are more typically written off as wastelands.

Butterflies on the ramp supports, picnic and table-tennis tables on the ground below — a bright, inviting space where you feel it’s safe to linger.

At my back, the False Creek Energy Centre , hub for the Neighbourhood Energy Utility.

It uses waste thermal energy captured from sewage to provide space heating and hot water to a surprisingly large local area: Southeast False Creek, plus parts of Mount Pleasant, False Creek Flats and Northeast False Creek. “This recycled energy eliminates more than 60% of the greenhouse gas pollution associated with heating buildings,” says a City website. It adds: “The utility is self-funded.”

To the east, on my left, the John McBride Community Garden.

It is low on garden activity at the moment but still a magnet for this mother and child, heads bent in mutual fascination with something they see either before them or in the mind’s eye.

Straight ahead, directly beneath the Cambie Bridge, the Voxel Bridge — a Vancouver Biennale installation this past summer. Not just physical reality, but blockchain-based augmented reality.

Still dazzling on the side pillars and overhead, but surprisingly scuffed and worn underfoot.

This new sign may explain why.

I have to read up about bicycle drifting later, to appreciate the power that goes into the technique, and the problem it could therefore create for artwork.

Fortunately, human feet can safely drift all they want! Mine lead me eastward along West 5th Avenue.

Where, approaching Alberta Street, I pause at this mini-installation along the side wall of Beaumont Studios (“a supportive environment for a wide variety of creative professionals”). She’s your basic Noble Lady in Flowing Robes, isn’t she? But enlivened with colour up & down her body, and very bright turquoise sneakers by her sandalled feet.

Catty-corner at Alberta, a gleaming new facility devoted to butchering beans.

Oh. Got it. Vegan “meat.” I’m amused by the cheeky reassurance of the wall slogan (“Don’t worry, Mount Pleasant…”) …

and, while not about to order any product myself, impressed by the reach of this BC success story.

In just a few years, The Very Good Butchers has gone from Denman Island farmers’ markets, to a Victoria plant-based butchery, to this gleaming new facility and major online activity. Plus a presence in co-ops and markets north/south/east/west Canada and the USA.

Meanwhile, back here in Vancouver, physical me walks on. On east to Manitoba (street, not province — though that would also work). South on Manitoba with a pause at the alley entrance that houses one of my favourite murals.

But it’s not just the mural. Not just William Lam’s skill. It’s the context. Street art, in street context.

After that, I drift on home.

(No artwork is damaged in the drift.)

Beauty & Baffled Brains

3 August 2021 – Important distinction about that post heading! I am merely observing the former, but I fully posses the latter.

I’m halfway-ish in a walk around my end of False Creek. Over on the north side of the Creek, I’ve seen all the usual shifting combinations of participants. On the water: ferries, boats, dragon boats, sculls, kayaks, paddleboards, ducks, geese & cormorants, plus one hugely fluffed heron on a pillar, his neck reeled in to negligible. On land: volleyball & basketball in the parkette and out in the pathways individual cyclists, joggers, runners, walkers, dawdlers, dogs, children & bum-on-benchers, plus one stringy old guy in a T-shirt proclaiming “Old Lives Matter.” (I laugh out loud, he thumbs-up’s me as he goes by.)

It’s truly a wonder nobody smacks into anybody else, on land or sea, but somehow good luck — and brains, and courtesy — prevail.

All that was over there. Now I’m over here, under the south end of the Cambie Bridge. Nothing particularly beautiful or remotely baffling about my immediate surroundings.

No, let’s be more generous than that. These please-chalk-on-the-walls pillars and sturdy, plain, entirely functional table-tennis and picnic tables are beautiful, in a civic beauty sort of way. They are kind. They provide space for public rest and enjoyment.

But the major beauty (and bafflement) lie just to the south. Straight on down this long underpass space beneath the bridge.

The Vancouver Biennale Voxel Bridge installation is coming to life. I love this art, and I think it beautiful. There is more signage, as well as more art, so I move in to learn what’s happening.

I am baffled. I get the concept of AR, I’ve even clicked on it a bit, but I have yet to make even the slightest sense of blockchain. A decades-younger woman is reading as well, Aussie by the sound of her as we exchange ???s, and despite youth she is also baffled. We circle the pillar, read more on the other side.

Still ???, in both Canadian & Aussie accents. This is neither complaint nor confession, just a statement of fact. I don’t get it.

So I give up on all that, and settle down to just enjoy what I see. Like this …

and this …

and this …

and finally, drop-to-my-knees ground-level this. (Which causes a passing young man, noting my white hair, to ask if I’m all right. I reassure him, and thank him for his concern. It’s another example of “civic beauty”!)

And that’s enough of all that, so I stand up, dust my smudged knees and carry on east along the south side of False Creek.

My route takes me along 1st Avenue. As I approach Hinge Park I again enjoy the juxtaposition of Sole Food‘s garden beds on the left (netted now against hungry birds) with that defiant old relic of the Creek’s industrial days, still proclaiming it’s the Ist Ave. Plant of something long departed.

And yes, in my eyes that heap of rusty metal is beauty.

On & on some more, into Olympic Village Plaza, and look at this!

I have to go literally look at this, because although I can read the name, I don’t know who she is. My guess is that it’s all to do with the Olympics.

And I’m right.

North Vancouver’s Alannah Yip, engineer & sport climber, is also Gold Medallist in the 2020 Pan Am Games, and about to compete (August 4) for Canada in two women’s sport climbing events: speed, and bouldering. I think all this is pretty darn beautiful.

And this sign’s level of technology does not baffle my brain!

“Strange Adventures”

13 May 2021 – I’m not looking for adventure, I’m just walking Point A to Point B — and I get highjacked by this little sign. Who could have predicted it? Who’d expect anything even mildly interesting, on the little grass island smack beneath the traffic ramps at the south end of the Cambie Street bridge?

But here it is: well beyond interesting, all the way to Strange Adventures.

I step past the sign, through the gap in the scruffy hedge … and there’s the first Adventure.

An unexplained, and definitely unofficial, wooden chair, with a tree stump foot-rest.

So I sit down, of course I do. The overhead ramps don’t offer anything adventurous … but, wait, there’s that shocking-pink poster on the pillar …

Surely the promise of Strange Adventures to come?

Yes, it is.

Voxel Bridge, explains this Vancouver Biennale signage, will bring us an “immersive installation” here beneath the bridge, courtesy of this Colombian artist and her planned combination of adhesive vinyl and Augmented Reality.

Hop a few days, and I’m about to enter an immersive installation (perhaps a Strange Adventure) already on offer: the Imagine Van Gogh exhibit in the Convention Centre down on Burrard Inlet. Waiting my turn, I look back through the lobby windows to Douglas Coupland’s wonderful Digital Orca, a pixellated happy-dance for the city, the harbour, and the Coast Range mountains beyond.

After the barrage of high-tech inside, it’s a pleasure to go back outside and see what adventures are on offer just from walking around.

A shot of horizontal yellow: from buttercups and dandelions, to those float-plane logos, to the sulphur piles of North Van over there on the north shore.

A shot of vertical light: storey on storey, the mirrored panels of one building reflect the balconies of the building next door, given extra sparkle by the fountains in Harbour Green Park.

Another day, more adventures.

A real, live crow guards a bus stop …

and a stone lion guards a parking lot.

It’s just one adventure after another, isn’t it? He is in a parking lot. He has blue eyes. And he is hanging out with a gnome. (Oh please! Gnomes.)

Later, I look up the Recovery Gnome Project, and change my attitude. It’s a grass-roots project, started here in Canada by people who have loved ones in recovery. The idea? Get people to celebrate the positive impact of addiction recovery, by creating and placing a gnome in their own community — anywhere in the world. (It’s already spread to the USA and England.)

Now, that‘s an adventure.

  • 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

    • 111,769 hits
  • Since 14 August 2014

    Flag Counter
  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,957 other followers

%d bloggers like this: