“ In winter, the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity.” – John Burroughs
December has arrived in wreathes of fog and apricot coloured sunsets amid twinkling lights and the scent of cedar. On my walks I’m greeted with the sight of rolls of colourful wrapping paper tucked into backpacks and boxes of caramel chocolates sitting beside neighbourly benches waiting to be shared.
This normally festive month will look and feel a lot different to many but already the cancelled Christmas Market and light festivals have been replaced by a gorgeous downtown Floral Trail (Fleurs De Villes Noel). Earlier in the week as we walked home from running errands downtown, we came across several fragrant garlands tacked above several high-end retail stores reminding us immediately of London. On my wander downtown I made sure to pick up a paper map from The Sutton Place Hotel to note some of the offerings on my way to Indigo Books – I was delighted to come across queenly figures, fantastical stags and floral thrones as well as larger than life hearts and swags, one of my favourites was a black English telephone box filled with fragrant flowers. It was heavenly to stand nearby and breathe in the scent of rose, eucalyptus and pine!
Today the rain is falling, the radio is on playing familiar and beloved carols as I catch up on writing my holiday cards. There’s a cup of rooibos chai tea on the table and my glowing blue cork lights and this after a bowl of homemade vegetable soup with a delicious turkey sandwich studded with slices of good English Cheshire cheese from last night’s charcuterie/cheese board supper…
There are tighter restrictions in place currently, resulting in the cancellation of a family holiday tradition in Stanley Park, attending Bright Nights. It’s lovely to wander through the fragrant forest just after the early sunset to catch the sparkle and fantasy of thousands of rainbow hued lights winking through winters’ dark edges. Now the site sits behind fencing seemingly forgotten, its lights snuffed out to keep us safe with hopes of a phoenix-like rebirth next year.
On recent walks through our neighbourhood I’ve noticed small fledging apple trees and towering cedars tenderly dressed in donated decorations, strings of lights and shiny tinsel outside of apartment buildings. Random bare trees sprout collections of lustrous silver, sprightly red and burnished gold baubles to catch the eye and bring a touch of magic into everyday lives creating their own Bright Nights moments in miniature!
A late afternoon stroll beside dripping raindrop heavy trees and a very vibrant purple beautyberry bush rewarded me with the sight of a tall pine tree swathed in ropes of teal and berry coloured tinsel garlands with the odd decoration glinting in the gloom. A West End neighbour out walking with her exuberant Black Lab, Ruby, was gently hanging some of the decorations that had been knocked down by recent rains and wind. It was a tender moment that touched my heart.
Despite the ongoing pandemic laying siege to our world, I’m heartened by the beautiful light I come across most days – I often walk home after running an errand or two by the ocean where a very large tree sits above the bay entwined in lights, a beacon for all when dusk begins to fall. The salt air always clears my head of the to-do’s waiting there as I come upon four lovely light installations at the intersection of beach and city. There’s a graceful heron, a breaching orca and the tree of life – my favourite is the giant grizzly bear fishing for salmon. On one such afternoon I stood transfixed for several minutes while listening to a soundtrack at the grizzly bear installation, I had never heard it before. There were sounds of birds singing in the forest, the gentle lapping of ocean waves and the sound of salmon leaping from the water, an unexpected moment filled with light.
All these images and sounds are now woven into the myth that this season will become, forever tainted with the words, this will be a holiday season like no other. And now that December has quietly become January, I hope the light at the end of the tunnel shines brightly for us all.
A winter’s walk through Stanley Park revealed a summer scene, the many fungi attached to this stump resemble butterflies clinging in perfect harmony!
The weathered metal fencing resembles a medieval keep as Beaver Lake gets some much needed tending and dredging.
This stunning cedar carving just off a trail in Stanley Park was bare for many years until it was recently painted or vandalized in a coat of many colours. The artist is unknown and was not commissioned…