Dog Days of August

The hot dry days of August have thrown a veil over me and lulled me into a trance. I spend hours listening to the wind in the birches outside my door and have read down the tall stack of books on my desk. Several stories have been started but just as I get going, I lose the intended thread and off they go to someplace I cannot follow. Not yet, anyway. 

 

 

Earlier in the month we traveled to Vancouver Canada for a weekend with the plan to fly out of the harbor on a sea plane to see the glaciers up in the mountains. The anticipation of my first water take off and landing made my heart beat just a little faster. But it was not to be. The day of the excursion began with gray clouds pushing in from the Pacific where they hugged the rugged cliffs and mountains tight and occasionally gave up a light rain. Our flight was canceled and could not be rescheduled. I had definitely put too much store in the sea plane trip. Land bound and car-less we opted for a ride on the sea bus over to North Vancouver on the other side of the bay. 

 

I fully expected the Staten Island ferry. Perhaps because our sea plane adventure had been thwarted I needed something big to take its place. My expectations were, at best, misplaced. There was no gleaming lady beckoning us onward or long sighted vision of massive towering skyscrapers. We shared the water with no one. Of course, there were no sea planes coming and going. No giant container ships nudged their way in and only a single white tiered cruise ship looked lonely at her dock at Canada Place.  The quick ten minute trip gave us a slightly better view of an enormous sulphur pyramid waiting perhaps to be scooped up and shipped overseas and the inside curve of the Stanley Park perimeter seawall. Vancouver herself seemed diminutive even as her new high rise apartments framed the view behind us. They seemed wistful against the cityscape as though yearning more commotion. More life. Where was the hurly burly of this great seaport?

 

But all was not lost as we wandered through the city and its streets busy with the comings and goings of its young crowd. Vancouver seems bursting with young adventure seekers from every continent mingling in bars and cafes. Besides the street life, our very best excursion was just a fifteen minute walk from downtown to Stanley Park. There in front of the rowing club we caught the free parks and recreation bus that included a chatty driver who told us about skiing on Grouse Mountain in the winter, the history of Vancouver’s first families and her amazing connection with the Guinness family of the famous Irish beer. As a suspension bridge poked its way out of the forest, he told how the Guinness family had purchased a large tract of land across the bay and built the Lions Gate bridge in 1938 to connect the City to their land holdings.

 

As we approached the mid-way point around the island the bus came to a halt. This was the driver’s signal to launch into his tale of the winter typhoon that whipped in off the Pacific two Decembers ago and toppled nearly a third of the majestic rain forest all around us. The traffic backup was due to the continuing work to restore the island’s infrastructure after the storm. He told how two women joggers on the perimeter seawall were caught unaware and were trapped under gigantic red cedar trees as they came crashing down and how another man was trapped for more than two days under another somewhere in the park. Luckily, all three survived but the story sent a shiver up my spine as we looked at the remains of the devastation. Giant trunks were broken off like match sticks. In some places you could still see how the massive beauties had fallen like pick-up sticks making the clean-up as treacherous to man as the storm itself. To escape the now stuffy bus and traffic we decided to walk the seawall the rest of the way, a distance of about 2.5 miles.

 

On this day, the weather was benevolent sending us clear sunny skies, punctuated with big cumulus clouds and stirred with warm breezes. As we took off over the stone path, three massive container ships rested at anchor out beyond us in the strait.  Bikers, skate boarders, and joggers streamed across the path. Every once in a while we would come across a sandy beach shared by sun bathers at the water’s edge and nap takers spread out under the shade thrown by the big trees. We passed a large community swimming pool crowded with kids playing and adults watching. And, although the water enticed us we kept going preferring our own quiet company. Coming full circle off the peninsula we walked though a waterside garden spiked with red and yellow flowers and then turning left retraced our way back to downtown and our hotel.

 

 

Late afternoon found us stretched out on the bed to rest before our evening walk. Laid out on the white goose down comforter, we closed our eyes and let the breeze play across us. This rhythm of activity rest, and more activity suited our tired brains and helped drain the stress from body and spirit.  Dinner at eight found us in a variety of really bad or excellent restaurants. We couldn’t find the Asian fusion cuisine we had dreamed about, but great food we did find. At Cin Cin built around an Italian theme and big brick oven we ate the freshest salmon and japanese pork, drank prosecco, and coveted the fresh vegetables from nearby farms. At Fuel, sparer in design and feel but with the same fresh food procured from local and regional purveyors including foie gras hailing from Quebec, we enjoyed more fresh fish, and, of course, indulged in the foie gras so delicate and rich that we couldn’t hold back our moans of delight. Later fully sated we slept long and full in our white downy bed as the drizzle fell outside.

 

On Sunday, we made our way back to the airport under sunny skies and wished that we were heading for the sea planes and glaciers instead of the two hour flight home. But that adventure will have to wait for the next time.

 

All original content copyright 2008 Mary E. Slocum

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