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.
It’s the day after Earth Day and I’m on my favourite North Shore bus route. Lined by trees most of the way, including a park ravaged in the windstorm of a few years ago and a protected habitat area with beautiful deciduous trees, the two-lane Dollarton Highway can feel like a backcountry road. Certainly in the rear view mirror of my bicycle it can make me pretend I’m somewhere else.
The road was realigned and widened years ago, and I still remember the disappointment and shock I felt in staring at this huge, ugly, wrecked swath where they had pummeled through what I can only assume was old-growth forest. I had forgotten the image until a reminder came today.
Developers have been clear-cutting small chunks at a time to build two-story business operations. They’re not the ugliest buildings in the world and they did a fine job of either keeping perimeter trees or replanting, which is more than I can say for most areas. It’s a beautiful road, even, as roads go with its remaining forests. I know one treed part is doomed as it has a Colliers sign on it while the trees are still standing. Today I’m distracted by writing a different blog post on my iPod. In my peripheral vision, something has changed. Massive trees and mangled branches are heaped on bare ground where a magnificent, dense group of conifers had stood untouched for decades. My heart cracks open and a knot grips my throat. I’m paralysed for a moment by an aching sadness that becomes a desire to vomit as I pass existing cleared blocks and those currently spared, beautifully lush but damaged. I am overcome; my lower lip quivers and I wonder if anyone else has noticed the abrupt change and felt similarly.
Where we have something so irreplaceable, and that defines space so dominantly, I can’t grasp why we destroy it for a mere two-story building, parking lots, a gas station, a puny Tim Hortons drive-thru. We ignore opportunities to decrease our buildings’ footprints by building them compact to begin with or replacing old single-story ones with multi-story. There’s no shortage of this activity with houses in older neighbourhoods, so why do we treat our commercial spaces differently? Why are these formerly forested areas being developed now? Does anybody give a damn?
I could write about how fantastic last year was for me… or I could just show you. Through my lens, last year looked, and felt, like this.
In January, I wrote about what I missed when I did not bring my camera, accompanied by photos taken the next day when I did. Of course, the scenery was altogether different, but no less remarkable. There was still evidence of the bewildering snowfall that lingered an unusually long time.
February must have been particularly grim as I only have blurry shots of a crescent moon riding beneath a star or planet.
If you haven’t got a camera, paint; if you cannot paint, write.
The weekend before last, I went to the park two days in a row. On the Saturday it was achingly cold, but I didn’t notice til I’d been outside at length. Regretting not bringing a camera, I put the view to memory and wished I could paint.
The fog was still on its extended visit; however, it had broken away from the shore and hovered, almost still, above the water, who knows how close to the other shore. As the sun crawled away behind trees and the horizon, it glowed against a ship’s bow; reflected off Belcarra’s houses and the power station up the Arm; coloured the fog. The water deemed itself a deep blue with hints of grey and purple, and as it met the fog a strong but organic line formed between the two, harmoniously, one disappearing into the other. And as the colour noticeably became fog, it moved from blue into a thick and solid but desaturated purple, then upward increasingly more pastel until it touched the sky in wisps and rolls. Behind it the sky was a pale yellow, white, eventually blue somewhere above. The fog stood out from it, blended into it, touched it and made the dark, jagged slopes in the distance disappear.