“ Green was the silence, wet was the light, the month of June trembled like a butterfly.” – Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets
It feels like Mexico during this mini heatwave that has descended upon the city, after chasing the sun these past few months, shady spots have become prime real-estate and I’ve found some respite myself underneath a large maple tree on a well worn bench. English Bay and the quirky patch of sand lovingly named Bikini Beach by the locals are dotted with sunbathers. Two beautiful Vancouver Police horses have just cantered by, their dark chocolate coats well brushed and shiny, the riders upon their broad backs friendly ambassadors as Moms rush towards them with their small children.
As much as I love the park, walking by the ocean or exploring the cool depths of the forest, summer brings it’s own special cachet to our small corner of the world. As summer approaches, the weekends come alive with free festivals starting with the many car-free days throughout the city – our local main street (Denman) is closed from iconic Robson St. all the way down to Davie St. ending at English Bay. It was a treat to walk its length greeting old friends, collecting small tokens (magnets, buttons and pens) from vendors along the way as well as enjoying some delicious samples (hello white peach lemon soda!). I even jumped on a vintage transit bus and had a wander through time as the crowd ebbed and flowed beyond the dusty windows. Afterwards, I bought a yummy blackberry cheesecake popsicle from a tiny cart and happily lost myself while watching a talented breakdance demonstration – all in all, it was a perfect start to the festival season!
Around this time, I received a phone call from my local public library informing me that after an almost 3 year wait, I would finally be able to pick up an Inspiration Pass – a pass that allows library patrons free access to museums, art galleries, gardens, etc. What a lovely gift to behold, I could enjoy it over a two week period and right in the middle of festival season! It was hard to choose but we picked three favourites (there wasn’t enough time to see or do it all!), our first visit was to the Vancouver Art Gallery where we immersed ourselves in the exhibit, Pictures From Here ( comprised of a wide variety of photographs and video by Vancouver based artists). A lot of the work made me feel that I had seen these images before and with Vancouver being the backdrop, it made sense, certain streets or graffiti captured on film caught my eye over and over again. The hour we spent there went by much too fast…
Our second outing found us at the Museum of Anthropology located on a wild cliff nestled on the sprawling campus of the University of British Columbia. The glass, concrete and steel structure houses some incredible indigenous art, when one walks into the exhibit area, there is a hush in the air that reminds me of being in a sacred space, as if I’ve entered nature’s own heart. I have been here before to this exhibit but missed some small printed signs allowing us to touch some of the special pieces – I found myself drawn to a large cedar carving of a bear who is also a man, when I gently stroked his forehead and held my palm above his large head, I could still feel a subtle energy emanating from it even after many years of captivity inside these glass walls. I touched many other pieces and the energy present in those wood carvings seemed muted, the strongest by far, was the beautiful bear.
After an hour or two of exploring, we found ourselves at our third choice (steps away from the museum), in the lush green of the Nitobe Memorial Garden – what a wonderful respite from the glass and concrete, here was another sacred space, the silence here more profound as we walked and breathed in the visual beauty all around us. Even if summer in the city calls to me with its festivals and culture, it is nature that always brings me home to my sacred self. Here’s hoping you have a wonderful summer in your part of the world!