19 April, 2014 — I firmly believe that every place has its own beauty. If you sulk at the Prairies for not having mountain grandeur, for example, you’ll miss their own grandeur — that great rolling sweep to the horizon, under an infinite sky.
Even so, even so, there is something really special about the beauty of the B.C. coast.
I’m thinking about this as I set out for a Saturday morning two-phase walk in North Vancouver. Late afternoon I’ll be at the joyous family wedding that brought me west in the first place, but there’s time this morning for a quick loop on Mount Seymour, just behind Sally & Owen’s place, and a visit to the neighbouring community of Deep Cove.
First stop, the nearest street corner, for a sign that seems so out of place among these placid, homey bungalows.
But then look around, recognize you are on the street immediately bordering a trail into Mount Seymour Provincial Park, which sweeps thick and deep on up the mountain behind you — and, yes, the sign makes perfect sense.
(I once emailed Sally a photo of a raccoon sleeping in my birdbath. She replied with a photo of a black bear pillaging their bird feeder.)
I step between two homes onto the trail, into the woods, and suburbia falls away.
Sunlight angles through the trees, creates momentary drama, and moves on. It’s a whole son et lumière performance, I realize: the shifting light dances to a backbeat of thudding woodpeckers and scolding red squirrels.
You have to look down, as well as all around.
I step into the shadowed forest cover for closer look. Daisies? No, says Man-with-Dog, who stops to see what has caught my attention. Not daisies: tiny white mushrooms. And so they are.
Fleecy moss trails from tree branches just ahead, shimmering in the sunlight.
It’s only 8:30 or so in the morning, but by the time I reach Old Buck Trail Head, the parking lot is rapidly filling with eager hikers. I turn back, collect my own car, and head for Deep Cove.
It’s the easternmost community at the eastern edge of North Vancouver, bounded to the south by Burrard Inlet and to the east by Indian Arm, components of the complex waterways twisting in from the Pacific Ocean that make this coastline such a jigsaw puzzle… and so achingly beautiful.
I know I’ll eventually walk along Deep Cove itself — nature’s Deep Cove, that is, the town’s defining waterfront — but first I follow a tangle of residential side-streets out of sheer curiosity. I find myself at a wooden stairway down to Indian Arm, and drop into a mini-parkette, slivered between two rather grand homes.
Here’s what I mean by “grand”: this pier is not part of the park, it belongs to the adjacent private property. But a cat can look at a king, and I can look at a private pier. I can also rock-walk my way closer, and peer between its struts.
And I can turn around, look northward down Indian Arm…
… and, picking my way back to the wooden steps, I can admire shells and seaweed caught in nature’s own still life.
The town’s main commercial street leads you to Deep Cove and to Deep Cove Park, tucked neatly all around the the cove’s crescent shoreline. The whole area is alive with boats, kayaks, hikers, dog-walkers, giggling teens and peaceful onlookers, heavy-lidded in the morning warmth and sunlight.
I’m by the water, hear some whooping, look around… and there they are. Not Maori, not a haka, but doing their white, middle-aged-lady best to stir our blood along with their own.
Warm-ups before a kayaking expedition!
A trim, glossy-haired 20-Something is watching them too. She is transfixed, dog leash to her impatient pooch slack in her hand. We catch each other’s eye, she crinkles up her face at me in delight. We agree. We are sort of amused, but also really, really impressed.
Several kayak rental shops here, kayaks laid out in clusters along the shore.
I buy a latte, return to the shoreline, see a lifeguard perch flaming red in the sunlight, want a photo. And that would have been fine: a strong, angular focal point for a shot of boats, drooping tree branches and glinting water.
All good. But… generic, yes?
Then it becomes specific, and delightful.
That’s what it needed! Some real-life, boyish delight, hurling itself at the challenge. I watch a moment as he wriggles successfully to the lower platform, squirms across it on his belly, twists to U-turn his way upward to the higher platform. By now his father is hovering, but not — and I admire this — interfering. He lets the kid test his skills, and have a triumph.
It’s time to go, I have things to do. One last look back at the cove.
Enchanting, but I leave, and I’m fine with that.
Because soon I’ll be at the wedding, where the sun shines and the bride glows and her dad almost loses it in his toast to his beloved daughter and we are all happy together. It’s why I’m here.