Through The Looking Glass

in the gardens of memory, in the palace of dreams, that is where you and I shall meet” – The Mad Hatter

Smoke from the fires raging in California (USA) arrived yesterday, smothering the late August light and colouring the golden sun red. This on top of another week of warm weather for those of us who love September but aren’t quite ready for summer to end.

I’ve had a strangely beautiful summer filled with many walks on familiar forest trails and new pathways by the lagoon. A summer filled with unexpected music and art if one is willing to seek it out…

One late August night I found myself out on the balcony, barefoot underneath a starry sky swaying to the live music of a Mariachi band rising up from our street – the heartbreakingly familiar songs left me humming and singing a word or two deep in memories of living in Mexico. There was also a summer afternoon concert one street over, a gift to the two musicians’ neighbours who supported them through many a cancelled gig this year and a wonderful gift to their beloved West End neighbourhood. After a cool drink and shared desserts at the Stanley Park Pavilion, my friend and I found a shady spot on the prickly grass and were entranced for half an hour listening to Elvis songs (their muse) and sad love songs from eras laid to rest. Bathed in a cool breeze, that summer afternoon is not easily forgotten.

The dissonance reverberating through our world gives us pause but in between the hard fought stillness, there are miracles to be had and embraced. On many of my lagoon walks towards the Coal Harbour seawall I’ve noticed a pristine waterway and often look down into its clear depths in hopes of spying a starfish. On today’s late summer wander, I watched a young gull lazily swimming by and as I took a closer look, I saw a pretty purple starfish clinging to a submerged rock – I haven’t seen one of its kind in our local waters in years! And guess what? Suddenly, I began noticing them at almost every step…

On the eve of back to school and some work places, I’ve come upon a spot to sit amid variegated green with touches of burnished red with a view of English Bay to rival the south of France. There’s a scent of salt and briny seaweed in the air, the wind warning from the morning just beginning to move through the trees and after a sip of cool water, I find myself feeling content. There is no more summer fruit to buy down by the sandy beach but a gelato to enjoy as I make my way will be the icing on the cake after an otherworldly walk through the forest. A forest now filled with fluttering menace as the Western Hemlock Looper moth takes wing in the thousands, a sight only seen during 10-30 year cycles. Harmful only to the trees around me, their delicate bodies gently touch my clothing and hair as I move among them, a looking glass image underneath smoky skies.

Safe passage back through the looking glass can be found in the pages of a book, a fragrant cup of tea or in a hidden forest garden peppered with smooth stones and sacred altars. I’ve found passage sitting outside at a sweet Parisian-style cafe offering respite from busy city streets – located in a developing community of funky bistros and greenspace on my way to revisit a favourite haunt, Granville Island. On that beautiful day there were long line-ups at the market so I inhaled its comforting scents of creosote, salt, and fish and chips before jumping on the small ferry boat to take me back home. My sunny amble beside the many beaches was heavenly, dissolving the looking glass for a few stolen moments once again…

This stunning holiday-like view of the lighthouse in Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.) was captured just off a favourite trail that takes us to Brockton Oval!

The spacious deck of the Stanley Park Pavilion has offered us sanctuary during the pandemic, drinking a pint above lush gardens on a summer afternoon has been simply divine!

A hidden forest garden just off a main path reveals one of the many altars scattered throughout this lush cedar-scented oasis in Stanley Park – after mask-wearing and worrying, it was lovely to stay awhile and simply breathe.

Have I passed through the looking glass again? This has been our view during daylight hours for the past few days, we’ve been inside our apartment for four days (we stepped out this morning wearing masks against the widespread smoke from the relentless fires burning in California, Oregon and Washington…some sunshine drew us out for a short walk this afternoon). We’ve heard that smoke like this might come and go throughout the fall…

About anotetohuguette

I'm currently blogging from the beautiful West Coast city of Vancouver, British Columbia - a vibrant city by the sea, surrounded by mountains and a very unique urban forest.
This entry was posted in blog, journaling, life, memoir, photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to Through The Looking Glass

  1. Eliza Waters says:

    This has been a challenging year to say the least. You think Mother Nature is trying to tell us something?
    Sounds like despite the challenges, you’ve managed to enjoy your summer. May your fall be a good one as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Stanley Park looks like a beautiful place to reflect and refresh. Take care and be safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. murisopsis says:

    The photo suggests that there is beauty to be found even in a disaster (pandemic, smoke filled sky, wildfires, 2020 in general) if we take the time to look for it! Perhaps autumn and winter will make for a beautiful change. At least that is my hope! Thank-you for an uplifting post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It does look like a sunset. I was looking at a similar sunRISE over here on the island this morning. Weird, isn’t it?! Great photo!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ugetse says:

    Hi Kim, I love your opening quote. I love your enthousiasme. I would love to see life your way. Unfortunately I am more pessimistic. However, I still find beauty in nature, in words, in music, in art. I love the way you see life through Γ  looking glass. Have a good day. Thank you for another uplifting note. 😘β™₯οΈπŸ’

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hola, dear neighbour! We just opened our windows briefly to chase out some of the stale/smoky air…the winds just changed and now they’re closed again, sigh!
      Sometimes I falter and fall through the looking glass instead of gazing into it…I hope this note finds you well despite the “big smoke”!


  6. calmkate says:

    stunning shots, please thanks Terry, to go with your soothing uplifting words Kim!

    A lovely post to remind us of the moment by moment beauty available near us πŸ™‚
    Know that smoke all too well, hope it clears soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jade M. Wong says:

    I hope you are alright, despite the smoke from California. Here in NYC, we’re actually seeing effects from the fires too, although not as drastic as red skies. This year certainly has tested all of humanity.

    Your photos are, as always, beautiful! My two favorites are the lighthouse (because I’ve always loved lighthouses in general and I like how your shot made the lighthouse look like a safe haven after a trek through the woods lol) and the hidden forest garden (because the altar looks so serene).

    Liked by 1 person

    • We’re hanging in there and hoping to see blue sky again…our hearts go out to those who’ve lost their homes, livelihoods and even their towns. You are so right, Jade – this year has been a year bathed in dystopian light and sorrow!
      I hope this note finds you well and living in golden light…


  8. I love the idea of you standing on your balcony listening to the gift of music. Sorry about the smoke though. We’ve been home-bound for over a week with hazardous air and sadly are missing out on the lovely end of summer weather. But this too shall pass. Everything has a beginning, middle, and end. I hope your skies clear and your beautiful walks resume. I look forward to them. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  9. markmkane says:

    Such beautiful pictures to go along with a descriptive walk in nature. I personally would have like to be there on your jaunt to Coal Harbor. There’s something about the water in nature that puts me in a zen like state. Thanks for sharing Kimberlee!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Coal Harbour is a beautiful place for walking…I often walk the seawall after being downtown and add its beauty if I’m running errands nearby…I just came in from a walk touched by autumn after the morning rain chased some of that smoke away.
      I’m so glad to have readers like you, Mark, walking along with me!


  10. michnavs says:

    the pandemic alone is already too much to bear, then add to the injury all of the current natural (such as the wildfire) and political concerns… but your words and those lovely photographs are a testament of the beautiful and undeniable truth that there is still beauty within, and despite of everything.

    please send my love to your mom.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I keep hoping my words and Terry’s photos will find a way to comfort others…there is so much sorrow and negativity out there that sometimes we have to shut off the news and put on some Vivaldi…I hope you’re able to find those moments, the beauty and awe of nature in between the worry.
      Thank you (always!) for thinking of us, Mich! X

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Harlon says:

    What beautiful and evocative writing. I do love how you connect with nature – it’s soothing to witness. Here’s hoping for clean skies again soon. Socially distant hugs, Harlon

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Harlon! It rained this morning and cleared some of that smoke away…I just came in from a wonderful early autumn walk…our windows are open again and all is well!
      I appreciate the socially distant hugs and here’s some for you…

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I hope the smoke soon clears (and that the wildfires in the US die down). I loved reading this, gorgeous images, a dream-like journey through your memories of summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Kathy says:

    This is such beautiful writing, it soothes my heart this morning.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Your exquisite prose makes me read your post with care and quiet, so that I can truly appreciate the beauty of your descriptions. And they are so vivid.

    I paused a while at the part where you mention the unfamiliar presence of a starfish and imagine the spark of pleasure with which you must follow their trail and wonder, how did I not spot them before? It feels like the way I notice the nuances in nature’s hues after taking up watercolour. Like the way the moss on rocks appear bright green under the gaze of the sun, but really if you look at it carefully, you notice flecks of dark all through. Do you know what I mean? I suspect you do. It feels heavenly to notice the minutest details out there. Hope the smoke leaves you alone. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Robin says:

    I’m so glad you found a way to enjoy the summer. It hasn’t been easy but I, too, have found some hidden pleasures and treasures within this strange time. I am always delighted when I begin to see what I’ve been looking for (as you did with the starfish). It amazes me how finding one can lead to finding more. Thank you for your beautiful words and images and reminders that there is good in this. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is good in this…this is something to hold on to as our country/provinces begin to sound the alarm re: a second wave…thank you so much for leaving your lovely words here, Robin, they brightened my day!


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