Diez Vistas

My first hike of the summer was a good one but a long one. The Artist and I tackled #7 on this list: Diez Vistas. 10 views in 1 hike, sign me up!

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The trail loops around Buntzen Lake in Port Moody. I was looking forward to a trail where you didn’t repeat your steps on the way down. However, I think this also contributed to making us feel like it went on forever as we had no reference point to how close the finish was. After 6 hours (including a 30 minute break at the 1st view for lunch) and many aching calves and wobbly knees later, we made it back to the south beach of Buntzen Lake.

The trail first takes you over this marshy area of the man-made lake via a floating bridge.

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Once on the other side, you take the Diez Vista trail that quickly ascends with a series of switchbacks. This is the hardest part of the trail.

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However, it isn’t too long before you are rewarded with this incredible view of Indian Arm and Deep Cove, with the distant cities of Burnaby to the left and Vancouver to the right.

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We stopped here for lunch before making our way to the 2nd and 3rd views, which are even better! #3 especially. A bonus was that this trail was virtually empty on a sunny Friday afternoon, so we had the views to ourselves!

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Here’s a close up of Deep Cove in North Van.

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And one of Belcarra Regional Park (that’s Hamber Island above the mass dense of trees, middle right of pic).

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Unfortunately, the best 3 views are within the first quarter of the hike. It would be nice if they were a little more spread out. The majority of the hike was walking through forest, which was great because it was so hot out but we were in shade most of the day.

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There were some partial views along the way, but a lot of it has become overgrown.

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As some reviewers mention in the comments section of Vancouver Trails, you do have to watch for the orange tree markers to make sure you stay on trail. There were a few points where we wish the markers were a little more frequent, especially near the end.

Here you can see three peaks of Mount Seymour.

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The downhill seemed to take forever. And then when we came back out near Buntzen Lake, we took the long (albeit scenic) route back to South Beach around the quieter North Beach, which added 30 minutes or so on to the hike.

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The sound of barking dogs and squealing children at South Beach never sounded so good to our ears!

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Jumping in the lake to cool down afterwards was a great way to finish the day.

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If you’re planning on doing this hike, I’d say bring lots of water, especially if it’s hot! We had 2 bottles each and ran out with 1 hour left to go. And make sure to bring your bathing suit so you can reward yourself with a dip after a hard day’s work! The water’s cool but it feels great.

Andrews on Eighth

If I lived in North Van, I would probably come to Andrews on Eighth a lot more.

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This neighbourhood coffee shop filled with old-world charm is the perfect place to grab a coffee, a sandwich, and sit outside and read a good book, chat with friends, or watch cyclists ride along East Eighth St.

The owners also run a catering company in the back of the building, The Banqueting Table, and that’s how the Artist and I discovered this gem. We both loved their food whenever we attended conferences at Regent College, so when we asked the question, “Who should we get to cater our wedding?” the Banqueting Table was the obvious choice. We also loved the fact that they’re a non-profit organization that hires single mothers and women wanting to re-enter the workforce. Their website states, “Women learn job skills and regain self-confidence while preparing food and catering to a variety of events.”

Apart from their social justice bent, they have amazing food at really reasonable prices. The service is excellent too. They did a fabulous job with at our wedding and we still hear from people how much they loved our buffet.

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The coffee shop opened in 2012 but the building it is tucked away in was built in 1912. The heritage feel of the building adds so much to its charm. Isn’t it lovely?

I can’t speak to how good their coffee is (since I don’t drink it), but they source their beans from North Vancouver Moja Coffee which specializes in fair-trade, organic coffee beans. (The Artist likes it, says it’s “clean.” I didn’t know clean was a word to describe coffee. Anyway).

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The Banqueting Table makes sandwiches & pastries for the coffee shop, and while there’s not a huge selection, what they have is tasty. The turkey-cranberry sandwich with stuffing & spinach tastes like Christmas and is one of our favourites (pictured in the first image, at the top). Also on their menu are croissants (including breakfast ones), muffins, and paninis.

If you’re ever in the area or need caterers for a big event, I’d highly recommend them. Andrews on Eighth is located at 279 East Eighth St and open 7am-5pm Tuesday-Sunday.

Honeymoon

Hello world! A big and wonderful life event that the Artist and I had been planning for five months happened on May 16 (pictures to come later) and now that it is over and life returns to “normal,” you shall see me back here a little more often again.

After the “I do’s,” we hopped on a plane to Mexico. I had no idea where in Mexico we were going for our honeymoon, but I knew it was a) going to be warm, 2) not a resort, and 3) something I didn’t have to plan, so I was perfectly content to be surprised. We arrived in Los Cabos on the Baja California Sur five hours after we departed in Vancouver. I had never heard of the place before anyway (I’m very unfamiliar with Mexican geography), so it would have been a surprise regardless!

IMG_1376IMG_1380We stayed about 1 hour from the nearest town, San José del Cabo, in a small boutique hotel on the east cape called VidaSoul. It was wonderfully private with excellent views and cuisine. The Artist thought I would enjoy the modern architecture. I did.IMG_1228IMG_1254Being so remote and without a car, there was only one place to eat nearby, and that was at the restaurant attached to it called Crossroads. Everything we ate there, we liked.

breakfastThese people sure know how to do guacamole well. Since being married to a Texan, I’m starting to recognize good guacamole when I meet it.lunchIMG_1250Waking up to this view was a beautiful way to greet the morning. And falling asleep to the thunderous waves was a perfect way to close the day.IMG_1265IMG_1257As peaceful as the place was, we ended up renting a car halfway through the week to explore more of the area. The city girl that I am had to get some time in exploring a town, so we walked around San José del Cabo for a day, stopping in at shops, restaurants, churches, and art galleries.IMG_1311IMG_1296IMG_1292IMG_1323IMG_1286IMG_1277We felt every bump along the dirt roads in our little Nissan Sentra. It was quite the ride.IMG_1370Instead of car traffic, you’re more likely to wait for cows, horses, and mules here.IMG_1354IMG_1344We went snorkelling a couple times, one time in nearby Cabo Pulmo. I worked on conquering my fear of deep water/drowning by going on a 2 hour boat trip, getting dropped off at various points in the ocean (sometimes in the middle of nowhere!) and being told to “just snorkel around here for 15 minutes.” Thank goodness for the life jacket. The only other time I’ve snorkelled was in Hawaii, and just from shore. But it was a lot of fun! Having an underwater camera made for some great shots of all the creatures that live under the sea. And yes, I had that Little Mermaid song running through my head a lot.

I read Beauty Plus Pity by Vancouver author Kevin Chong while down there and quite enjoyed it, so much more than his first novel, Baroque-A-Nova.

IMG_1445We did a lot of lying around on the beach, which was exactly what we needed. One of the best and rare things about the beach below (apart from the great snorkelling) was that there were trees! Without their shade, you’ll quickly burn lying out in it all day (even with sunscreen on, as we soon found out!)

IMG_1440Thanks for the r&r, Mexico! Until next time, adiós!IMG_1505IMG_1253IMG_1432IMG_1405

A Lament for Lily Bart

A month later, here I am. I haven’t been doing too much reading lately, but this last one was a winner.

I picked up a used copy of The House of Mirth at the recently-opened Y’s Books on Main Street, and started reading it at Queen Elizabeth Park (the day my bike got a flat tire). I love Edith Wharton novels so it wasn’t a surprise that this one also captured me.

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The main character, Lily Bart, is beautiful, well-bred woman in the upper echelon of New York society in the early twentieth century. The problem is, she is unmarried at 29 and has no money to her name. She must secure a man with a fortune so she can survive in the society she wants to continue to enjoy. However, her proclivity for gambling & expensive tastes lead her into more debt & bad decisions. She becomes a tragic heroine.

What makes Lily Bart such an interesting “heroine” is that she’s not particularly likeable or easy to sympathize with. As a money-conscious reader in the 21st century trying to make it in one of the world’s most expensive cities, Lily’s thoughts about how awful her aunt’s draperies are didn’t really resonate with me. But, where I think the genius of Edith Wharton comes into play is that even though I couldn’t empathize with Lily’s lavish tastes & subsequent woes, I felt Wharton fleshed out her character so well that I could understand why these upsets would be so distressing to her, even though they weren’t to me. And I think great writing can make a reader feel for the character, even one they don’t really love.

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While reading it, I was really fascinated by Lily’s name because I know authors never choose these things lightly, especially in the era Wharton was writing (House of Mirth was published in 1905). “Lily” is such a beautiful but fragile name, like the flowers. And like Wharton’s main character. A beautiful woman with perfect poise and grace, yet swayed with every passing wind.

I was dissecting my thoughts on her name to the Artist, and he brought up an interesting connection. “Where else do lilies get mentioned—in the Bible?” The wheels were turning. Ah ha!

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

34 ‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

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As an aside, who knows if this allusion was in Wharton’s mind or not, but if I was in grad school again, I’d write a paper making this connection and linking it to how many times her appearance is mentioned as “veiled”. Lily’s name was a reminder of what she already had and didn’t need to strive for. But she kept striving anyway. Striving after men, money, and a good position, betraying her own heart along the way. But even when she almost seals the deal on a man, she calls it off or discreetly runs away.

“That’s Lily all over, you know: she works like a slave preparing the ground and sowing her seed; but the day she ought to be reaping the harvest she oversleeps herself or goes off on a picnic.”

Mrs. Fisher paused and looked reflectively at the deep shimmer of sea between the cactus-flowers. “Sometimes,” she added, “I think it’s just flightiness—and sometimes I think it’s because, at heart, she despises the things she’s trying for. And it’s the difficulty of deciding that makes her such an interesting study.”

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I think that’s one of the best lines in the book: “She despises the things she’s trying for.” And what a commentary this is on the society that bred her. It’s a bitter twist of fate when the woman who is raised to wear the best dresses & vacation in luxurious places is refused by the society that created her.

By the end, yes, there is sympathy for Lily Bart. At the end of the novel when she goes over to the home of a working-class girl in a tenement area of New York and makes the following remarks, the reader knows, “Okay, this is a different Lily. A wiser Lily whose veil has been lifted and who relearns her understanding of frailty, permanence, and of what it means to have a home and be at home in the world.

The poor little working-girl who had found strength to gather up the fragments of her life, and build a shelter with them, seemed to Lily to have reached the central truth of existence. It was a meager enough life, on the grim edge of poverty, with scant margin for possibilities of sickness or mischance, but it had the frail audacious permanence of a bird’s nest built on the edge of a cliff—a mere wisp of leaves and straw, yet so put together that the lives entrusted to it may hang safely over the abyss.

On a side note, the theme in this novel loosely reminded me of this song I am kind of in love with:

The Whole Enchilada: A Conversation with Adam Back

Adam Back is a student in his last semester at Regent College, going out with a bang with a solo exhibition at the Lookout Gallery March 26-April 30. I sat down and chatted with him about enchiladas, flowers, and the art of slowing down.

Generation of Ash by Adam Back.

Generation of Ash | 15 x 20 inches, 2014, Acrylic.

CK: What’s the significance of The Whole Enchilada? It seems a bit of an odd name for an art exhibit.

AB: It is a bit of an odd name, and that’s pretty intentional. It’s a phrase I grew up hearing a lot in Texas. “Give me the whole enchilada,” which means you want it all—you want as much stuff crammed into that tortilla as possible. My show is also the culmination of my time at Regent College, where I am doing a dual concentration in Biblical Studies and Christianity & the Arts, which includes an IPIAT (Integrative Project in Art & Theology). For my IPIAT, I have to write a theological reflection on art alongside a series of paintings I’m making. So calling the show and presentation “the whole enchilada” is my tongue-and-cheek way of summarizing everything that’s gone on for me at Regent in the last five years.

CK: Can we expect to see enchiladas at the show?

AB: It would be a great sell if I could have enchiladas as appies at the opening reception, eh? But that’s the one sad thing about moving to Vancouver—there’s not a whole lot of great Mexican food.

CK: How about any paintings of enchiladas?

AB: Not yet, but I may add one in. After all, I do need to pay homage to my roots.

CK: You mentioned growing up in Texas. Tell me a bit more of your background.

AB: Well, I grew up in Houston and moved to East Texas to do a BFA in Painting. After that, I did an MA in Painting at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches. Once I graduated, I moved to Colorado to work with kids coming out of youth corrections and got to live the dream every other weekend going fly fishing, backpacking, or skiing. Then I ended up back in Texas a few years later and worked in construction management.

CK: So you weren’t doing art after graduating. Why now?

AB: I think a big part of it is my church & my pastor. I go to Immanuel Vancouver, a church that meets in the Rio Theatre on Commercial and Broadway. I was doing a pastoral internship at the time and one day, while hanging out with the pastor (Simon) at Starbucks, he asked me, “So tell me about your art—why did you stop making it?” I think it had been about six years since I put brush to canvas. I was so burned out after my MA and disillusioned with the rat race of the art world. And a lot of it too was space and time. Without space, it’s really hard to make art. Simon said, “What if we make some of your internship hours studio hours?” He then said he could probably get me space at the church office where I could work. And I said, “That’s a great idea!” We also wanted to try running an arts community group at the church, so those two things coalesced and took off really well.

CK: So if it weren’t for Simon, would you be making art in Vancouver?

AB: Probably not. I think it was a wise and gracious push from Simon that opened up so much life for me. There were a lot of things going on for me at that time, and his nudging me back to the arts gave me a shock to the system that I needed to start integrating all the theology I was learning with my paintings, the arts group, and my other relationships. It was really life giving and still is.

CK: Why is it important that theology and art integrate?

AB: There’s a really long philosophical tradition as to why those things have been separated. Historically, in the West, a human being has been understood simply as a thinking thing—a receptacle for information. Scripturally, that’s not true. There’s that great quote by Saint Irenaeus that says, “The glory of god is a human being fully alive.” What does it look like to be fully alive? That means our emotions, our physicality, and yes, our intellect, but I don’t think that means our intellect at the expense of loving to play Frisbee in the park with your girlfriend, or cooking enchiladas, or making a painting.

CK: Tell me more about how your faith informs your practice as an artist.

AB: Well the other big part of why I’m making art is because of my experience at Regent College. Regent has helped me see and understand where I fit into the story of what God is doing in the world. I am challenged to ask, “What does a human life look like lived in the world before a God who’s creative, who spoke in parables, who came to us as the word made flesh? The story we get in the Bible is of a good God making a good universe—a good creation. Within that universe, he places his images to steward and care for creation. We’ve done some really dark and evil things with that, but we’ve also done some really great things. I think God likes to be surprised in the sense of, “What are my images going to come up with?”

So when it comes to my own personal studio practices, this scriptural story opens up all kinds of possibilities because the stuff I make with is stuff that’s already been made. Most of my work is in mixed media/collage. For example, I’ll take trash found in the streets, old books, record albums, matchboxes, sheet music, and then I glue it all down, paint over top of it, scrape it all off, and glue it all back down again and draw on top of it.

CK: Sounds like an arduous process!

AB: It is, but I love it—I love the material stuff. I think we often get this idea that God doesn’t care about the physical world or our bodies, which plays out in this escapism that is so much a part of Western culture. Christianity feeds off that, and I think it’s a dangerous symbiosis. Look at Rembrandt’s work or the Sistine Chapel or Japanese watercolours—there are so many beautiful things people make. It seems strange that God could call the world he made very good in Genesis 1 and then destroy it. But if the story in Scripture is that he’s redeeming the world and I’m a part of this story, then that starts playing art through how I handle the materials.

CK: How does that scriptural story come across not just in how you paint, but what you paint?

AB: Well, if this is a story about the whole world, then I think ordinary things matter.

CK: So you paint ordinary things?

AB: Yes and no. At least in Western culture, we tend to go from excitement to excitement. I like exciting stuff, but I also like shucking peas or going for walks—the small, ordinary things of life that seemingly don’t matter. One of the paintings in the show is a stack of books. A lot of the other ones are flowers and I’ll leave some surprises for what else is in there. But these “ordinary,” small things that are easy to miss are important things too. Our culture is so fast-paced that we often can’t slow down to look at things and see things well. What I really love about making art is that I get to do it in the first place, and that my artistic practices in the studio force me to slow down and pay attention to what I’m doing. I know when I start rushing and not applying paint well that I’m going to foul everything up and have to start over. If I’m just trying to rush through and crank something out, then I have to question, “Do I really love this?” That question has been important to me because I want to love the things I make and share that with others.

Knowing, You Shall Not Know by Adam Back | 11 x 14 inches, 2014, mixed media on panel.

Knowing, You Shall Not Know | 11 x 14 inches, 2014, mixed media on panel.

CK: So when people come to your exhibit, what do you want them to pay attention to or take away from it?

AB: I throw all this stuff out there about form and attention to detail, but the irony is that it can come back to bite me if I’ve sloughed off. But it’s also a check and accountability for the level that I want to work at. Hopefully when people come to the show, they see that care and attention to detail. The little collage surprises I put in my paintings—like matchbooks or traces of text—what does that communicate? With our iPads, phones, and earbuds, we’re always connected. We can’t slow down and pay attention to one thing, and I think good art slows people down. The main thing I’d want to inspire in people would be for them to have at least one thing that they take time out for in their own lives. And of course if they wanted to take away a painting with them, they’re welcome to do that too.

CK: At a cost, right?

AB: Haha, yes! Please!

CK: Looking at your website, I notice there are a lot of images with flowers. Is there a particular reason you’re drawn to flowers—pardon the pun?

AB: I’m sure there are lots of reasons. I’m always astounded with Vancouver in the spring when the tulips and peonies begin to bloom. People cultivate their gardens really well, and you have these firecrackers of colour all over the city. As I’m walking to the bus stop in the morning, I’ll miss the bus because I’m stopping to look at somebody’s flowers in their front yard, and I think, how boring life would be without flowers! And by extension, how boring life would be without colour! Just think of all the various hues and tints of colours in just one petal of a rose. So yeah, I stop and smell the roses. At the same time, flowers are fragile things and only here for a while before they’re gone. There’s this ephemeral quality to their beauty, just as there is to life.

CK: So you’re essentially capturing something that’s impossible to capture.

AB: Exactly. There’s a beautiful tension between the material and the content.

CK: You mentioned earlier about leading an arts group at your church. What does that look like?

AB: At Immanuel, the demographic is extremely varied. We have folks from the downtown eastside and those that live in West Point Grey; people who work downtown in high-rises and homeless people who wander the streets; people in recovery from addictions and stay-at-home moms. And so I look at pulling together this group of people around art as a way of mentoring and engaging our imaginations. It opens up new avenues to explore where God is in the midst of our lives and our blended community. How do we learn to see God and each other? It’s such a fascinating group because some people have art degrees and then others have never picked up a paintbrush before.

CK: What is the attraction for the person who’s never picked up a paintbrush before?

AB: We advertise the group—if that’s the word—as a group for artists, those interested in the arts, and just the generally curious. Creativity and imagination are so important for what it means to be human, and I think there’s a really strong dignity that plays out in the act of making things, particularly the act of making things together. And so I think folks are interested in exploring their faith from a different angle. It ties in with what I said earlier about the Western conception of humans as just rational beings. We are far more than that, and art is a way of helping our faith take form and not just exist as propositions we agree with.

We meet twice a month to talk about art and then we do a project together that gets displayed at the front of the church for our whole community. I have some people who come just to be part of our discussions, and others who come just to do the art, and either or both is great.

CK: What is a past project you did together?

AB: We’ve done about four or five now, but the one that sticks out most for me is the one for last advent season. I titled it, “Framing Hope.” The previous two projects were on 12”x12” canvases, but I wanted to try something new this time. So I asked everybody to get a frame instead of a canvas. They couldn’t put anything within the frame, but the frame itself would be the piece of art and they could do anything to it. One woman glued hundreds of little flowers to it. Another person put a black light in his piece. Someone else wrote a bunch of prayers and glued them to the edges. And so the frame became a metaphor of waiting to be filled—of framing hope, or hoping for the frames to be filled, which is the expectation of advent. We’re waiting for the Christ child, for Immanuel (God with us) to come.

When I decide on a new project, I try and hit as many different facets as I can. We haven’t done any dancing or music yet, but I hope that’s on the horizon. I’d also love to run a cooking class at the church, because more than anything, I think cooking unites people, especially if it’s barbecue or enchiladas.

CK: And then you could serve good Mexican food in Vancouver.

AB: Exactly.

CK: So what’s next for you after your exhibit?

AB: I’ll be graduating from Regent, sticking around Vancouver, and getting married in May—very excited about that. And I’m starting to look for jobs here in the city.

CK: So last question. You’re a Texan living in Vancouver who loves fly-fishing, camping, and hiking, and you dress rather outdoorsy. Are people ever surprised when they find out you’re an artist?

AB: My fiancé was. She was also surprised I was from Texas when we first met. But I don’t feel the need to dress like an artist or make people know I’m an artist—it just seems like shameless self-promotion to do that. I’ve got my own story and I’d rather wear my cowboy boots.

Join Adam in all his cowboy boot glory at the opening reception March 26, 4:30-7:30pm at the Lookout Gallery in Regent College. Presentation to follow in the chapel. You can also see his work at adamback.com

On Broken Bulbs & Flat Tires

This story starts with a discovery.

Last Friday, I am in my washroom. One of the light bulbs is burned out above the mirror. I go to replace it and notice there’s an outlet attached to the light fixture. I am curious, grab my hair dryer from my bedroom and plug it in above the mirror. Turn it on, and away it blasts. After almost 2 years of living in my apartment and blow drying my hair in my bedroom, I discover there is—always was—an outlet in the washroom. No one—myself, the Artist, my dad, or my landlord—noticed it.

And then the other day when the Artist was over, he discovered the inside of the pantry door had a lock on it. Why on earth is there a lock on the inside? This is what I love about old character apartments—sometimes they don’t make sense. And they surprise you. After I thought I knew everything there is to know about my apartment, I am still discovering it.

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The next day was a Saturday much like this one. Sun shining, cherry blossoms out, my amaryllis in full bloom. I needed to run an errand on Main Street and was tempted to drive for convenience sake, and then thought: Why drive when I could bike? Not only could I bike, but I could bike in a T-shirt! In February!

I had never biked east of Cambie Street before, so it was a new route for me. I took Ontario Street all the way north to 27th Avenue. And because I had never ridden that street before, I was greeted with more discoveries. Ontario Street is the street of schools. First Langara College, which I had always known about because the Canada Line SkyTrain station nearby is called Langara, but had never seen the actual building. And then I pedalled by some old brick beauties: Sir William Van Horne Elementary and General Wolfe Elementary School.

Sir William Van Horne

Sir William Van Horne

General Wolfe

General Wolfe

Since Ontario Street is a bike street, there are fun bike sculptures along the way, such as these bike seat benches in Queen Elizabeth Park.IMG_1012

On my way home, I sat and started reading a used book I picked up while I was running my errand. I got it a Y’s Books, a store I had never seen before, and you know I am a sucker for my classics, especially when they’re at a great price!

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Everything was perfect the way there & the way back from Main Street. That is, until it started feeling like I was pulling a 100-tonne truck behind me when I wasn’t even going up a hill. I get off my bike. The back tire is as flat as a pancake. I am still a 15-20 minute ride from home. But I am on Ontario Street and there are people standing on patios enjoying the sunshine, so I walk over and ask, “Would you happen to have a bike pump?”

Sure enough, the man does. He fetches it and helps me pump it up. But then we discover the outer tube/valve where the air goes in is broken and only keeps air in if held a certain way. By this time, another neighbour comes out to offer his assistance, running to get electrical tape and secure the precarious tube. He also sends me home with one of his pumps in case I need to use it along the way. I am speechless. “Really? You want to lend this to me?”

He says, “It’s no big deal. You know where I live now and so just swing by and return it when you get the chance.”

I am stunned, and grateful. I ride home and the air comes out of my tire within another five minutes. And I am hauling a truck again. I pump it up and get back on it, and it lasts another minute. I do this maybe one more time before I realize I’m better off walking it home.

And so I do. At first I’m upset that the otherwise perfect day ended with a flat tire, but then this thought came into view: This is how I slow you down, Charlene.

I don’t slow down very easily. Unless I’m forced to. And I’ve been more aware of it during this Lenten season where I’m trying to pay attention to what God is doing. Maybe there are some discoveries that await in walking my bike instead of riding it. In making some new “neighbours” who don’t live near me at all but who set aside half an hour of their afternoon to show love to a stranger and quiet those naysayers who purport that Vancouver isn’t a friendly place.

I need to slow down, to see the beauty and discovery that comes from broken things and a bunch of people trying to fix it together.

I now have the most wonderful reason to bake a batch of cookies.