“But in the midst of all that is, was or ever will be, there is a light that keeps shining, reaching us from far away.” – Sasha Sagan
After an unexpected and very deadly heatwave that enveloped the West Coast in late June and early July, it feels wonderfully cool to sit at a table in what was the former glory of our local public market amid generous air conditioning and write a few lines. During a season not touched or shaped by climate change, the cooling breezes coming off the deep blue Pacific Ocean provide respite from any errant rise in temperature. The heat dome that arose smothered all the breezes and because of low tide, killed one billion sea creatures and left those of us without air conditioning struggling to keep cool and hydrated.
Over the five worst days, sleep eluded us while our days were spent chasing the sun as we opened and closed blinds not meant to keep out the oppressive heat while leaving our apartment door open Mexican-style to usher in fresher air from the hallway. One or two suppers consisted of take-out carried down to a shady bench (prime real estate!) in the park hoping for a wayward breeze off the lagoon or a sense of coolness from hidden places amid foliage not touched by the sun.
As we revel now in a summer just a touch warmer than normal, fire season has started early (there are over 300 fires burning in our province at the time of this writing) with another heatwave warning announced for the Interior. One town (Lytton) up country has already been destroyed by a raging fire that may have been human caused, two people died and many others have been left to grapple with losing their homes and businesses as well as their jobs. Adding these worrisome notes to the layers left behind by the ongoing pandemic, I’m left wondering, are there any golden hours left to savour?
One golden hour led me downtown to my favourite gallery space again to lose myself in two photography exhibits, one showcasing vintage storefront signage of corner stores (often run by families) disappearing fast from our local communities to make way for new development and the other, a series of colourful photographs capturing unguarded moments of inhabitants and visitors in a Chinatown struggling to survive. I was on my way to visit the main library after not perusing the inviting stacks in almost two years, to my delight, the photography exhibit was an unexpected detour before finding my way there…
Another hour resulted in a much anticipated visit to the Imagine Van Gogh exhibit at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Nothing prepared me for the subtly moving panels graced with Vincent’s iconic works and the unexpected thrill in seeing a few lush flower and creamy blossom paintings slipped in among simple black and white line drawings and his intriguing portrait series. Camera phones constantly captured the beautiful fluid images which even appeared on the floor. The pre-booked hour flew by and I reluctantly left the exquisite soundtrack and art behind, an after image of autumn yellow, glowing reds and the midnight blue of a starry night carried with me to linger over as summer wanes.
Today I find myself stitching those golden hours together underneath a bright blue outdoor umbrella at the Sunset Beach Pop-Up Patio, sitting at one of the nostalgic pale blue picnic tables facing the creek before it becomes ocean. There are about thirteen brightly coloured kites on the other side fluttering underneath a pale blue sky heralding other people’s golden hours, an echo of summers past awakening again. I’ve just finished a lovely amble through Granville Island noting the loss of favourite shops and anticipating the new. It was a joy to revisit the sweet coffee bar tucked underneath the Granville St. bridge and enjoy a delicious gelato while watching the world go by via boat and ferry. Hopping on the False Creek ferry boat myself was something I had hoped to do this summer, a small city getaway to somewhere local to support a small business.
There are always golden hours to be had if one is willing, hours to be carved out or embraced in between our day to day – hours to be savoured despite the vagaries of a worldwide pandemic and climate change.