Monday, June 02, 2008

A Big City

We spent a few days in the City of Vancouver last week. After visiting family...a truly wondrous time,where we all reconnected our souls...business called for Graham.

We stayed at the Bayshore Inn, on the twentieth floor. The panoramic view of Stanley Park, the Yacht Club and marina, the Mountains and the Ocean were what my heart needed, after leaving the family. Parting from them is not easy for me...and I was in search of solace.

I had been away too long from Vancouver and its Spirit. I lived here in the sixties, and a very different City it was. My landmarks are no longer there, having met the wrecking ball long ago. The buildings that survive are swallowed up in the long, tunnel like streets of a very large and vibrant City.

But the energy I met, as I walked along Robson Street, is a hard, driving energy...a very materialistic one...and I noticed many, many tired people on the streets I visited. It is a jungle of people intent upon their next appointment, their next payment, their jobs...the practical and logical sides of their lives. I found the energy draining me as well, shielded though I was.

Whereas, years ago, when I was young, I found it enervating, bright and bubbly. On my own for the first time, I found the City liberating, exciting, with opportunities around every corner. And there were many like me, young adults recently emerging from the family cocoon. There was a sense of community, a sprightliness in our sure knowledge...the knowledge of the young...that we could change the World.

But time passes; change has inevitably and inexorably marched on, putting its mark on everything. Me, included.

So many glitzy things! Tourists, piling bags upon bags, buying yet more souvenirs or shirts, loved the Spirit of the place, which urged them on to buy more and more. Bored salespeople, who greeted with forced enthusiasm for every visit, watched with glazed eyes, their minds on the hour.

I wandered along, trying to find the sense of community I had once felt, in this area. I found some hideaways, tucked into the corners of lots or buildings, where I remembered gathering, so long ago. But the community I was once a part of seems distant, the doors closed to me now.

I found a bit of it in a Whole Foods Market. The people who shop and work there are genuinely passionate about the products offered. And I love that. At the end of a long day of walking amidst goods I had no need for, wandering in this store restored my spirits.

I bought tea and bread and licorice. The smell of the bakery/cafe was heavenly... the whole foods goodness baking in those ovens wafted everywhere. And the people, as young and cool as they were, were friendlier than their compatriots who struggled so hard to be just so...these young adults were already following a different path.

On the way home, I mused about the way I felt about Vancouver, today, at my age. I realize the Forest is my home...and always has been, even in the years I spent away from it. I find the same sense of community here in the Cariboo I once felt for a section of Vancouver.

People lived sustainable lives here, long before it became popular. Vegetables are grown, hunters hunt and fisherman fish, throughout the different seasons. Wildlife is abundant, berries of all kinds are found growing wild everywhere.

Life moves at a slower pace here in the Interior. The strong, competitive, driving force of energy I met on a Vancouver street is not usual here. People are extremely hospitable, going many miles further in their aid to each other than warranted. Even clerks in big chain stores have a smile and a story.

I believe I like that. I don't find the door closed here in the Cariboo.

When we arrived home, to relaxed, exercised dogs and a yard which had grown at least a foot of grass and weeds, to a Forest in which all the deciduous Leaves had opened fully, enclosing us in a curtain of green, I gave thanks to Spirit, who knew exactly what I needed, at this time in my life.

Can there be anything more awesome than Sun filtering through young, tender leaves, than hearing the rush of Wind moving through the soft greenery, making a sound like waves upon a shore? It is mesmerizing watching the Leaves dancing with Wind.

Mesmerizing and meditative. Perhaps this is why I have always found a Forest when I am in crisis. After the crisis has passed, I will seek Ocean to wash the garbage left behind away. But in the Forest, Trees listen, Shrubs shiver in sympathy, Wildflowers lift their heads intently, upon hearing my woes.

Nature, in a Forest, offers comfort...and solid grounding.

A City's competitive energy and drive can't match that.

10 comments:

  1. Chicago was once my magic city. The last time I was there is the last time I will be there. Maybe we both have changed.

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  2. Vancouver is the city of choice for people here to emigrate to when they go to Canada. I personally would try to be in BC on the coast if I ever did the move.

    Nice to see how well you have settled in Cariboo :)

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  3. LOL I see we were commenting on each others blogs at the same time.

    By the way forgot to mention I came across a blogger you will like, one of her blogs is http://magicandmomentsfromdragonflycottage.blogspot.com/

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  4. love the photos from above! really nice. Vancouver and Montreal are my fave Canadian cities.

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  5. Your stories of the hyperactive, hyper-competitive city seem a bit at odds with the beautiful landscape shown in your photos! I've have only visited North America once, when I stayed in Seattle and thereabouts - and the beauty of the pacific coast made a great impression on me, which your photos have rekindled. Once, as a child, I had wonderful dream in which I was flying over a wonderful coastline and sea speckled with islands. The landscape around there reminded me of that. Plus: I'm a city person, so I guess I'd be very happy with Vancouver. But the Cariboo looks beautiful too...

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  6. Jan,

    Without a doubt. Vancouver was perfect for me in my younger years. It taught me many things, not the least of them was independence and consequences.

    However, at my age, its Spirit bombards me, and makes me feel anxious and ungrounded. I picked up feelings of anger, as well...it was just not my place anymore.

    It was when I came back to the hotel room, and took photos of the Ocean and Stanley Park that I relaxed. The view was unparallelled. Vancouver, for all the competitiveness I found, is an extremely beautiful City.

    Jackie,

    For the past few years, my doctor has been South African; my doctor here in the Cariboo just recently emigrated here from SA, at the same time we did. There are many SA doctors practising here and all over BC.

    The Coast is intensely beautiful...and fully forested. It is ideal in many ways to me, and one day I will go back. But I have discovered my need is to live amongst Trees. Now a piece of property on the Ocean that was forested...that would be great, lol! In my dreams...it would be very expensive.

    I noticed we were commenting at the same time...how neat! I did enjoy the dragonfly cottage blog; I look forward to going back. Thank you for thinking of me!

    D,

    I took so many photos! What a terrific opportunity...the view was amazing. Vancouver and its harbour was stunning on that sunny day!

    Simon,

    I believe you would love Vancouver. Its beauty and its Spirit, which is only different from mine, after all, is intensely energetic. At my age, perhaps that energy is too intense.

    I have learned to love the peace and serenity and excitement, at times, of the Forest.

    That dream you had has stuck with you. It sounds like Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands that surround it. Lasqueti, Gabriola, Salt Spring, Quadra...all lovely places. I'd better stop, I'm getting homesick, lol!

    The Cariboo is very vast. There are many different areas within...ranchlands and forests and mountains and water. The weather, which is dry, suits my body better than the Coast weather, where there is a lot of rain.

    I am still in the throes of home renos and still unorganized. When I am, I intend on exploring the vastness that surrounds me. The only problem I am trying to surmount is that I cannot seem to be able to capture how very BIG this place is with my photos. It seems impossible.

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  7. YouUr description of Vancouver sounds a like what has happened to Austin. Sad for some of us, estatic for others. I'm glad you had a good time.

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  8. mmm... beautiful. how blessed you are to be living where you love. i wish we were living in a greener place too, but i have to be thankful for where i am, safe and comfy home in the city.

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  9. I too miss the zeitgeist of the 60's. It is hard to explain to someone who didn't experience it how everything seemed to have a purpose, a communality, and a possibility. There seemed to be an expectation and common belief that all was maybe not well but would get better. The old places are mostly gone as is the feeling of oneness of us all, for the most part; although little pockets of hope do occur and when they do it is a real treat.
    They have changed the name of the college where I studied two times now and I don't recognize the place now.
    There is no permanence 'cept for the constance of change.

    I've always wanted to visit Vancouver but fear it would disappoint.

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  10. Seventh,

    I had the best time...we were treated like Royalty both at my daughter's home and at the hotel.

    I'm just not a City person anymore, if I ever was. But a City also provides concerts, readings, theatre, which does not always occur in a small centre.

    Alison,

    You make me smile...you live in such a beautiful place yourself!

    Goatman,

    I remember hearing my father-in-law expound on the twenties. According to him, those were the days...

    I wonder if I'm beginning to be an old fogey, expounding on the Spirit of the Sixties.

    But they WERE really great days...

    Vancouver has just about everything one could desire in the way of activities, outdoor or indoor. Its energy is very strong and competitive, I find. I don't believe you would be disappointed in it, especially with the Spirit of 2010 Olympics added to the mix.

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