Thursday, January 15, 2009

Why I love living downtown

A spontaneous journal entry I originally wrote on July 23, 2007:

Josh and I went for a long 5+ hour walk today in the rain. We had no umbrellas, no hoods, nothing. We just slowly walked in the rain and we left our place at 5:30pm.

We walked down Davie Street to Denman, had a shwarma and bought some peaches, then walked down Comox street eating peaches and lauging at the absurdity of it all. We walked to the very end until we entered a forest. The smell of the air was just magical. We were practically the only ones in the park.

We walked under the nesting herons by the Fish House restaurant. We walked down towards Lost Lagoon and saw 2 raccoons who walked right up to us, hoping for food. Then a swan came up and just sat at the edge of the murky green pond, hoping we too would give it food. Wow - those animals as so conditioned! The rain still fell and there was no one else around and it was just awesome - us, the rain, the swan, and the raccoons.

We walked across the bridge to the other side of the pond and I crouched down to the edge of the water, where the raindrops were piercing the lime green algae floating at the top. There were swirls in the algae making it look like the surface of Jupiter, or marble. And the swan popped around the corner and glided into the middle of the pond, posing for us. Unfortunately, I left my camera at home. The swan was motionless for one or two minutes until I said hello, and it swam right over. It looked at me and I said I had no food, but it still opened its beak, hoping for some. The swan realized we had nothing, so it swam away slowly.

Then, behind me, 4 Canada geese appear and surrounded Josh and I. The rain was still falling and the smell of the forest was intoxicating. And nobody else was around except the raccoons on the other size of the pond, the swan, and the 4 geese. They were just chilling out. One goose was moaning a little something and Josh mimicked it. They were communicating back and forth for 5 minutes. "Mmwm-mww-mmm" "Mmwm-mww-mmm" "Mmwm-mww-mmm"

The geese then disappeared behind a trail, so we followed it. It took us back to the main Lost Lagoon trail. Around the next corner we saw mommy and daddy goose, and 4 tiny goslings feeding at the pond's edge. This is where the pond opens up to Lost Lagoon. And in Lost Lagoon along the shores of the island there was mommy duck and 4 baby ducklings feeding. Very cute. Very cute until some dude and his dog came by and freaked all the wildlife - they came running with wings flapping in a panic and jumped into the pond and away they went.

Josh and I continued to walk along the shore of Lost Lagoon, and then walked into Stanley Park along the Lees Trail. The trails were deserted. The forest had been thinned but was still evidently an old temperate rainforest. Banana slugs feasted on marshmallow-like fungus. Skunk cabbage and nurse logs and sword ferns and salal. One single man with a full-body raincoat appeared out of nowhere, walking partially up the trail we were on, and then backed up and walked down another trail instead. More banana slugs, more fungus.

Knocked down old growth trees produced a wall of exposed roots 10 feet high. The roots were staggeringly shallow. Salal. Cedar. Douglas fir. The layers of the forest were more apparent from the winter storm thinning, the rain created a dream-like fog across the sky. One cedar looked like an Emily Carr painting, with vibrantly contrasting strips of bark, bold in the sky.

Another man walks by, slowly, with a black umbrella. He peers over at me from the corner of his eyes, and when I look back at him, he looks ahead. I know why he's there.

We walk in the rain down the deserted forest past more skunk cabbage, overturned trees, flowing streams, salal and sword ferns. Another person with a black umbrella appears at the end of the trail and he's walking our way. I think I know why he's there, and he steps closer and I see he's a she. We are within a few steps of eachother and the girl in black walks up to us and in her Aussie accent says, "Just up ahead, where the trail narrows on the left, by the large tree..."

... and I expect her to say, "there is an orgy of gay men".

But she says, "there's an owl!"

We excitedly thank her and venture forward. Two minutes later we get to the trail that forks to the left. We step a few feet into the trail and look for the big tree. I turn right around and look back at where we were standing, and there it was. A tawny spotted owl on a branch at eye-level, looking down at the ground. He moves his head one way, and then back at the ground, as if he's watching over something. I stare in awe. We are maybe 30 feet away from it, but I want to get a bit closer. We walk up a tiny bit closer and it looks like a postcard moment. The falling rain on the canopy of the forest creating a mist. Lush greenery and this tawny owl. He stares right at us and I look right back in his eyes. I take a few steps back and wish I had my camera.

We watch the owl for a good 10 minutes. The man in the black umbrella comes back, taking the fork in the road. He doesn't look to see what we're looking at. Perhaps he's looking for other men in black umbrellas. We leave the owl and continue down the trail until we get to a detour to Third Beach. The detour takes us through some devastated forest, and I feel like I'm in that old photo of "Granville Street" circa 1886, where they're at Granville and W 33rd and all you see is a thinned temperate rainforest and a team of oxen carrying logs down a muddy road.

We arrive at Third Beach and it is completely vacant. Not a soul. We take off our shoes and run into the ocean. It feels warm. The sand is soft and warm. The air is warm and the rain has stopped... temporarily. I wish I had my camera.

After 20 minutes the rain starts up and we put back on our shoes. We continue our walk back home. It'll take over one hour to get back, but we don't mind. We take the seawall back the entire way. We'll pass a few couples under umbrellas along the way who'll look at us, sopping wet. We're loving it. When we get to Sunset Beach, one man is out with a djembe playing solo to False Creek, singing.

At 10:30pm, we arrive home.


Matthew Watkins said...

Sounds great but have you got a cold now? : )

Robyn said...

Haha, errr, yes, I actually do! But not after that summer walk. The rain was so nice and warm!