July 17, 2008

Topsy-Turvy or, I’m Not Dead

Trees silhouetted

In case you’d been wondering, I didn’t die, fall ill or otherwise lose the ability to post to my blog. The desire, somewhat… but moreover I was too busy doing and thinking other things to even remember to post, and when I did I didn’t feel up to it or there was something of higher priority. (I had my New Entry page open, blank, for 12 days.) So why have I been so quiet? Long story short (long story is hopefully coming later but don’t hold your breath), I moved back to North Vancouver from my co-abode in Surrey. That was almost a month ago (my how time flies when one is busy!) and my new-old bedroom is still a mess so it’s been my priority over many things. Everybody here (my middle sister and her family moved back in two days before I did) has been in purge mode and digging through my old stuff I left behind has been eventful and interesting. The cause for the move back home I don’t wish to discuss in detail — so please don’t ask — but is simply that the two of us aren’t together anymore. Nothing simple about that but it’s a straightforward reason. More specifically I guess I could say I moved back home because living solo in Metro Vancouver is incredibly expensive if not unaffordable. So I’m here waiting out the housing heat wave and am trying to be optimistic about it.

On Monday I had a little adventure I’d like to share with you. It needed the above introduction to fully make sense of the context, but it’s kind of like the 8th story in a series because there is much to say for the previous weeks. We’ll start here for now.

An Adventure

I went to get some groceries on the way home and was too late exiting the store, so I missed the bus. It was another half hour or more til the next one (that would take me straight home instead of doubling-back via the exchange). The alternative would have been to walk a ways to catch up with one of the other two that take a different route but I doubted that I would make it. So I started walking. I passed a bus stop where a woman was waiting for a community shuttle I’d forgotten about, and when it pulled up I ran back to catch a ride to its last stop before it turns off the Parkway. For a moment after I exited the bus all was quiet… From there I walked til I’d met a couple more bus stops, at which point I saw an estimated time of arrival on the post and started feeling a little like Forrest Gump: I bet, I thought to myself, I can walk up this hill and down the hill and up the next hill before the bus shows up. And I did. Then I thought to myself, I wonder if I can walk all the way to my friend’s house before the bus gets there? I wasn’t confident of that, but in the 10 minutes I waited for it I could have made it. In all I walked for about 20 minutes and did not want my journey to end.

It was a pleasant walk, despite the sweat between my back and my backpack, the weight of groceries on my arms and the setting sun beating on my shoulders. I noticed things I had never noticed in the 20+ years I’ve lived here, simply because I slowed down to walk (that section of) Mt. Seymour Parkway for the first time instead of zooming by my surroundings in a vehicle. After living in Surrey for two years and comparing the low-rise, hot, desolate Fraser Highway to the green verticality and nostalgic fragrance of Mt. Seymour Parkway, to walk along it was staggering: look at all the trees! The differences became apparent: Fraser Hwy (from roughly 164th to 152nd Streets) is highly developed, much more commercial, and severely under-populated by trees. It’s literally worse than I thought, and Mayor Dianne Watts has received some flack lately for allowing developers to clear so many trees, contrary to her vote-winning political platform on tree preservation (so I read). In stark contrast, the Parkway is lined with massive trees — including patches of forest (some of which are designated as preserved), various parks, and boulevard trees that have had a lifetime to grow. It seemed to me that no matter where one lived here it is paradise. Eventually I came upon a ravine called Thomas Creek, at the edge of which I found salmonberries shimmering by the road. They were delightful! Why do road berries (thanks for the term, Jen!) always taste so good?

A woman carrying plastic shopping bags (ouch) came down the hill in my direction. I wanted to shout after her, “have some salmonberries!” and in my mind I apologised for having eaten all of them. The contents of a large bottle of Pepsi jostled as she walked, immediately fostering memories of summers past. Mid way up the hill she set down her bags, stopping to rest her bones. I could make out the silhouette of her right hand flexing, kneading out the tension of her burden. I tried to imagine where she lived.