Monday, March 14, 2016

Just an average day in Victoria

Sunday March 13th

Maya snores gently, nestled into her blankie on the chair at my side, as I write from the warmth of our apartment. Yet another dull, dreary, drippy, winter day in Victoria is dramatically transformed as howling, blustery winds rage outside, pelting rain almost horizontally across the yard. Our winter weather has returned to its more natural pattern, a huge contrast to the warm and obscenely sunny ones of the previous 2 years. The ones that left us all paranoid. Oh, this can't be good (though it really feels good). We're gonna pay for this one. - we said to each other in grocery store line ups and cafés across town.

Last Thursday the sun woke me up and charged me with energy. I downed a quick brekkie, stuffed some bags and gloves into my backpack, and took off for a day of Forest Gumping.

Daffodils spring up everywhere, on rugged hillsides as well as open stretches of lawn in Beacon Hill Park. Groundskeepers carefully mow around the stands and signs are posted reminding us not to pick the daffodils so that others may enjoy them too.

Severe winter storms have prevented clean up efforts of the barge that broke away from the tug boat and came aground at the beach at the base of Cook Street and Dallas Road over a week ago. Fortunately the cargo is large pieces of debris from a ferry's construction site at the inner harbour. Though there is no toxic waste, some of the material, smashed by the pounding surf, has broken off and is being carried to shore by the waves.

Just a few yards away kite surfers take advantage of the turbulent conditions.

An anonymous writer, obviously a nature lover, leaves a message for all who come this way. Gratitude fills my heart. I smile with a deep sense of connection to someone I don't even know. Perhaps they view this place as I do; a delicate treasure.

I packed my gloves and bags to clear away the bits of litter, I'd noticed the other day, marring the underbrush of this freshly groomed area by these steps leading up from the beach. Looked like a small task initially but as I pulled at pieces poking out from vines and roots…

I unearth bags and bags of debris: a few beer bottles and cans, a jacket and sweatshirt totally saturated from the persistent rains, styrofoam sheets as well as the usual bits of plastic, bags, wrappers and convenience food packaging. The items were buried deeply, some stashed away in thick plastic bags. There are no traces of human excrement nor scent of urine. I assume they have been here a long time. Perhaps this site was abandoned in favour of accommodation at tent city, a temporary measure set up on the courthouse lawn to get homeless people off the streets and out of public parks.

I couldn't free up the huge sheet of plastic propped up against the concrete. A layer of roots and vines grown up between them would provide extra insulation and comfort. The jug was anchored to the ground by an endless vine.   

A brave man stops to talk to this crazy lady hauling out garbage. We talk of the plight of the homeless and attempts government and private organizations are making to provide shelter, food and clothing and help people gain skills to get back on track. The break down of family and the support it offers, a particularly North American problem, is the cause, he says. His parents are from Spain and Portugal and he visited their homeland often as a child. He tells me that you don't find this in Europe so much. Why do so many immigrants live together? Why do generations and extended family members share houses? Because they take care of each other, he says.

I walk through Beacon Hill park, taking time to lean against, and gain support from my "dreaming" tree. I glance across the pond and this lovely little heron, one of my sisters' favourite birds, calmly oversees the comings and goings of the other resident ducks, peacocks and turtles.