In the fall, I planted four garlic cloves and crossed my fingers. The soil had been used already for tomato plants and I didn’t have much compost left, so I added coffee grounds and watered them occasionally when I remembered. Talk about neglect. To my utter delight, I recently noticed two of them growing and wondered if the other two — which are closer to the wall where they’d receive less of any rainfall that made it that far — would appear. Sure enough, there they are!
I’ll never forget the first time I visited this park in my new neighbourhood, three years before I moved here. It was March and it started snowing! Between the wild, jagged terrain and the owl appearing in the tall conifers, it left an impression almost more idyllic than my experience of it now.
In the warmer months, one particular path that begins at the street is muddy, almost creek-like. Riddled with stones and pebbles, it’s hard to traverse when it’s so wet and is slightly uphill. Yesterday it was hovering around zero degrees and the pseudo-creek bed was blanketed in ice! It looked like a tiny, frozen river.
Swishing through a bed of leaves in Kitsilano reminds me there’s nature in the city, but it’s still difficult letting go of the dense, unique nature around the home in which I grew up.
It’s dark when I get home from work now. I get to my street, and it’s like I’m at the edge of the wilderness. There’s only one street below mine on the hill as it slopes down into the water. From street level you can’t see the lights across the inlet. Those lights are what make the darkness borderline between oppressive and refreshing. There’s just enough of them, and at Christmas everyone lights up their docks and boats.
Moving was easy the first time. I don’t know why — I should have been more emotional about it since I didn’t intend to move home again. I did two years later; I’ve been here again for over three. I’m glad of it though: being in my mid-twenties — a mature adult, one might say — I’m aware of my surroundings in a more intimate, celebratory, pensive way, where I revere and require the nature around me. I would have missed out on this if I hadn’t moved back.
I know it will be harder the second time. I remind myself that I will be excited about the prospect of having my own place. It’s more complicated now, and yet easier: I plan to buy an apartment not solo but with my sweetheart, once his current place is ready for the market and we’ve had more time to know each other. The only disadvantage of this co-purchase is timing, since we’re in agreement about having a bright place near a farmer’s market and a bike route, close to nature. (Too bad Trout Lake is a lofty dream.)
But as we’ve been talking about it more, I’ve been thinking more seriously about the prospects. Oh, not regretfully. I want to. But I’m nostalgic and I’ve spent all but two years of my life living in this house, surrounded by trees and looking out onto a scene so beautiful that people always remark about that aspect when I tell them where I live.
The flicker’s call can last even longer than in this video, taken yesterday in the back yard.
The past two days, the flickers have been singing and drilling on metal street objects — their loudest instrument. Today, I can hear four or five different species of birds. In a nearby wood, a proper sort of woodpecker made quick work of an old stump. The trees here provide many resting places for migratory and resident birds.
It’s warm enough in the sun for a t-shirt. My neighbour two doors down, Pat, is gardening in short sleeves. He rakes the life into his garden, stands tall to examine his work, and leans to tend by hand. People pass quietly by on the street, on foot and bicycle. It’s a pleasant contrast against the cars that roar by and mask the bird calls.
I took advantage of today’s glorious sunshine and brought my camera with me to Stanley Park’s Lost Lagoon and seawall. In case it’s not obvious, I have a thing for willows and birds. Don’t you just love the word ducks?
In this fascinating TED Talk, Pollan talks about humans’ relationship with, or rather perceived dominance over, nature, corn’s dominance over us, and nature’s incredible systems at work on a farm.
“…If you think about it, this completely contradicts the tragic idea of nature we hold in our heads which is that, for us to get what we want, nature is diminished. More for us, less for nature. Here, all this food comes off this farm and at the end of the season, there is actually more soil, more fertility and more biodiversity. It’s a remarkably hopeful thing to do. … We can take the food we need from the earth and actually heal the earth in the process.”