Thursday, January 23, 2014

CH 2 – Story forms Exercise: A walk to the Seawall

It’s 9:15am, I step outside of the Pacific Beach building on Jervis St. in the West End of Vancouver, Canada. A faint whiff of the sea drifts my way, and a siren is blaring in the distance. The creamy white Calla Lilly and princess pink Foxgloves are so big they are starting to droop over into the sidewalk. I could head right and proceed to climb the 75 degree hill that has given me buns of steel over the winter, but the sun is shinning and the water off English Bay is sparkling so I proceed to the left instead and head downhill. There is a scent of asphalt heating up in the morning sun as I patiently await for the beep boop sound that signals it’s safe to cross. I am on Beach Ave. or is it Pacific? It is just where the fork begins and one road becomes two. It is like a street purgatory not quite Beach and yet not quite Pacific either. It always leaves me baffled as to which street I should tell the taxi cab to drop me off home at. But today I am on foot, and the salty sea smell is getting stronger. The siren is fading and is replaced by the  delicate sound of a trickle of water as I pass by a 10 ft. Pyramid shaped fountain that slowly flows water down each one of the steps. It is surrounded by Palm trees, that are not only surviving but thriving, a mystery to me as this is Canada after all.  The fountain was donated by Doris and Charles Davis to Vancouver on it’s centennial. The fountain is so protected by the Palm trees I didn’t even notice it until after a few months of living in the neighbourhood. The hill on the fork of Beach/Pacific has a nice easy slope that draws you down towards the water. As I pass over the crosswalk I hear the woosh of a group of bikers as they whiz by in their second skin neon clothing. I pass under the shade of a Cherry Blossom tree that was in full bloom throughout the month of March but now looks slightly like a large bonsai tree. That incredible fresh aroma of fresh cut grass wafts up as I pass by, I try to fill my lungs with it, but the hill is pulling me down. The concrete path takes you to a set of stairs that are about 3 feet wide and are too big to walk down normally. I must resort to descending like a child does placing both feet upon each step before I continue on to the next. I hate this forced return to infancy so I usually take my chances on running down the last part of the hill praying that I don’t slip and fall on the freshly cut grass and make a fool of myself. I prefer the feel of the grass under my feet anyway although the grass is never truly dry in the Vancouver climate of near constant rain. The other risk I take by going the grass route is accidentally walking in the local residents poo. Today I can see the group of 25 Canadian Geese soaking in some early sun on Sunset Beach. There are only 3 groups of people on the beach at this hour. A lone girl with a big coral hat lies out in her matching pink bikini reading a Vogue with Katy Perry on the front. A family of three follows their toddler as he wanders by the water’s edge picking up anything that catches his attention. His small blue shirt seems to keep rising above his little pot belly. And a young gentlemen has a tripod set up and what looks to be a Canon camera, he is getting set up to catch some morning shots of the North Shore Mountains. His khaki shorts are bulging at the pockets with what I would assume are batteries and flashes and other camera paraphernalia. The salty smell of the ocean is so strong now I can almost taste it, and inevitably a craving for oysters grabs hold of me. I have one more obstacle to pass before I reach my destination and can relax into a morning stroll; the seawall bike path. Everything from unicycles to skateboards whiz by without any real ability to stop should some careless pedestrian cross without looking both ways. But after a break in traffic I scramble to the far side and join the hundreds of people out for a walk on the Vancouver seawall. By evening thousands will have walked over some part of it’s 22km asphalt pathway that includes Stanley Park, Coal Harbour, English Bay and Kitslano.

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