“ Maybe you had to leave in order to miss a place; maybe you had to travel to figure out how beloved your starting point was.” – Jodi Picoult, Handle with Care
The white gold glow of the setting sun is shining through the living room window bathing the plant corner in warm light – the now tall blue/green cactus and soft green spider plants have not felt this angle of the sun in a long while; I imagine, looking at them that they are as happy as I am taking in this peaceful moment. As the sky erupts in a pink swathe, this time and place, a few stolen minutes, remind me to slow down from the busy day, taking the time to drink in the promise of spring.
With only 8 dry days out of the past 62, spring seems to have cloaked herself in gloom and endless tears refusing to let go of winter’s cold hand. The bare trees can no longer wait for this romance to end and have begun to unfurl their new leaves despite the rain, knowing that summer is impatiently waiting in the wings painting her lips in all manner of vibrant colours!
Our favourite forest trail was opened briefly for the recent holiday festivities and I managed to walk its cool depths twice, inhaling the sweet scent of cedar and wet earth with the sound of the ravens echoing above, this time and place a balm for a restless soul. To walk beneath the heavenly warmth of filtered sunlight was an added joy and the wait for this special trail to be opened again for the summer will seem long to one who drinks in the peace of this place as a thirsty man might do when coming upon water.
Thoughts of time and place were on my mind on a recent skytrain trip outside the city to visit with my second cousin, a trip that was a shock to the system as almost two years have passed since my last solo visit – we normally meet 3 or 4 times per year to celebrate birthdays at a local restaurant out her way with my father and her husband – this trip sharpened my senses to the bucolic slice of life we enjoy here in the West End with the ocean and forest minutes away from towering downtown apartment buildings. The shock came on quick as the train headed east, my eyes taking in the pending destruction of a row of characterful wooden houses surrounded by fencing under the watchful eye of security. I’m not sure if there are squatters living in these abandoned once proud homes but the amount of garbage and hoarded debris scattered all around made me think there might be. A chill came over me as words recently read in the newspaper came to life – renovictions, low vacancy rates, the housing crisis and land values. And it got worse, everywhere I looked there was new construction going on, so many 3 story apartment buildings razed to the ground, thousands displaced from peaceful, quiet communities to make way for tower developments and lucrative rents. Even my cousin’s neighbourhood has been touched by this development tsunami and they are worried…
In my neighbourhood the construction zones are creeping ever closer, leaving empty lots and storefronts in their wake – as I sit at my desk in my aerie overlooking stunning natural beauty, I’m reminded that this particular time and place is about the wild places close to my heart, the lone African drummer on top of the hill overlooking the seawall, the scent of wet green grass, not about any sum of money to be had or made.