16 October 2016 – Truth-in-advertising moment, I’m back in Toronto, but with one last Vancouver post to publish — one last tribute.
Sally & I hit a couple of her favourite north-shore parks. First up, the Maplewood Conservation Area, a bird sanctuary owned by the District of North Vancouver & managed by its Parks Department, but operated by the Wild Bird Trust of British Columbia.
Before any trails, before even the welcoming notice board, there is a large pond. It’s open on one side to the parking lot, overhung by forest on the other. “Come,” says Sally, tugging my arm. “Look!”
I expect bird life, something exotic, I hope.
Not bird life, but still pretty exotic.
Three shanties, a 2010 sculptural installation by artist Ken Lum, models of three of the many squatters’ shanties that lined the mudflats here during the first half of the 20th century. Left to right, today’s echo of the one-time homes of Malcolm Lowry (who completed Under the Volcano while living here 1940-1954), artist Tom Burrows, & Dr. Paul Spong (who later led Greenpeace’s Save the Whales campaign).
On down to Maplewood Flats. The shanties long gone, no echo (for outsiders) of the political & physical turmoil that brought that era to a close. Just the north-shore waters of the Burrard Inlet, now a protected ecosystem.
We have already read the notice-board October Survey of the birds spotted to date.
Impressive! And frustrating, since we see none of them (beyond the usual gulls).
Something else we don’t see as we move about, an omission for which we are grateful:
From Maplewood to Cates Park.
A gate suggests it is now more than an ever-so-Anglo “Cates Park.”
And it is.
This is Cates Park / Whey-ah-Wichen, its management being guided by the 2001 protocol & cultural agreement between the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation & the District of North Vancouver.
We see all around us an even broader “cultural agreement” — the great diversity of ages & ethnic origins happily sharing the space. A group picnic behind us, with grandpa (I assume) playing the accordion; dog-walkers & frisbee-players to one side of us; and on the beach below, a lively toddler with her supportive parents, tackling & conquering a physical challenge.
The unoccupied lifeguard stand is irresistible. Daddy stands protectively close, but lets her clamber up on her own.
Success. “I’m queen of the castle!” she crows. Mummy & daddy applaud & record the moment.
Daddy asks permission to join her. She deliberates. Then grants permission.
“Daddy’s the king!” One little foot shoots straight forward, in utter delight at how wonderful this all is.
Sal & I are still smiling as we finally head off, wandering a path that will wind us down to beach level. But first, the peace, the calm beauty, of the trees. And the resonance, the echo, of the trail name: Malcolm Lowry Trail.
Then the beach. We’ve pulled on our jackets, but the late-afternoon sun still warms our faces & the rocks beneath us.
We prowl a little farther, catch a glimpse of the docks of wealthy private homes just beyond the park boundary.
Back to the car on a different trail through the same woods, granting us another glimpse of another world, this one very tiny & tucked in among tree roots.
Seen, the miniature, physical world; unseen, the geo-cache app that leads players to this spot.
And now I sit in a sunny/cloudy Toronto morning, and Vancouver itself is the echo. A delightful echo.