Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Early Spring on the West Coast: purple and pink and yellow, oh my!

Jeans and top:Reitmans
The question is, do I pick my outfits based on the day, or do my outfits help to shape the day? Did I pick this top with its lovely spring colours because it's now spring here, or did I notice that it's spring because I kept seeing the colours of my top mirrored in the day?

Coat: Reitmans; Silver chain from Doctor Vigari; Silver star of David: vintage gift from a neighbour
No matter. What matters really is that it is spring here, much sooner than in most of North America.

And I love it.

Earrings and brooch: vintage
I didn't really even need my coat and kept wearing it low on my shoulders or even taking it off.


I took these photos over a week ago, early February, and just look at all that I saw on my walk. Spring indeed!

There was lush life everywhere I turned when I knew many of my friends were still trapped with snow and ice and frost-bitten noses. Yeah, I do sometimes gloat a bit. After all, I choose to live here so I get to be a little bit smug about my brilliant choice, don't I?

I am in love with this part of the world. I feel alive here in a way I don't anywhere else I've ever been or ever lived. How can one not feel more alive in a land that is so full of life?

I first moved here from the north-eastern United States when I was just six years old. On a cloudy, wet, autumn day, I gazed out at the ocean and the mountains and thought, "I get to stay here!" I felt like one of the most fortunate beings in the whole wide world.

I have periodically left, hearing the siren song of the east and its Culture and Art and Learning. I left to get my MA. I left to find New York city. I left to start life on my own. In all, I've lived in Massachusetts, the Kootenays, Toronto (twice), Montreal, and New York.

But, like Heidi when she had to leave her Alps, I've always pined for my home, aching to my very bones for the beauty of this little paradise. Like Heidi, I've become sick in my soul and even in my body when I've not been here. (In New York, I was so depressed and had so much trouble eating, that I went to down to a far too skinny size three.)

I've always returned.This time, I've been here for ten years. This time, I'm not leaving.

Gold and diamond ring: Birks; Silver and glass ring: I still don't remember
First, I love the mountains, which I wrote about a little and photographed here, but am bound to write about again.

Second, I love the fecundity. Just look at how deep and thick that moss is. There is never a time here when things are not growing. This land is lush. Our forests are thick and teaming with undergrowth and it's not uncommon for people to use machetes to hack their way through. The ocean and land are abundant with sustenance. There is a widely held belief that the art of the local Aboriginal nations is so advanced and beautiful because the land provided so well that they had time left over to develop complex art and culture. I don't doubt it.

There are, of course, the detractors. It does indeed rain a lot here and, as I write this, the low clouds and rain have descended yet again and will remain for many days. It can get dark, yes, and I know that some find this causes them to feel gloomy and even depressed.

But it is not universally grey in our winter. The trick is to look down, not up. If I look down, I see life busting out everywhere -- and I do see colours. It's not for nothing that we are sometimes called the Emerald City.  Thanks in part to all the gardeners who take advantage of the fecundity here, it is also a city of many other colours, like purples and pinks...

I didn't realize that I was in these shots till I looked at them later. It's kind of funny.
I think I've photographed this house before, but it's so beautiful that I had to include it again.

... and yellows.

And, really, what's wrong with "plain" whites? Snowdrops are always the first sign of spring. They've been up here for about a month already.

I was busy trying to photograph a gleaming bunch of white flowers when this cat came out of nowhere and noisily demanded affection. I was more than happy to oblige.


I still managed to photograph the flowers though. 

These gardeners have a wonderful sense of humour. Their neighbour told me that they've been working on this Ogopogo hedge for about four or five years. Imagine a child's delight in coming upon this!

Near the end of my walk, I came across this young woman selling flowers to help, as her sign says, the homeless, seniors, and those with mental illnesses. I loved what she was doing, I loved the beautiful flowers, and I loved her pale green, vintage coat, so I asked to photograph her. She seemed shy but she readily agreed to pose.

These guys are the only ones I know in the neighbourhood who have a better bird feeder arrangement than I do. It's a great way to bring nature right to your own balcony.

I'm sure this is my own prejudice, but I sometimes feel that it's easier to be more generous of spirit -- to birds, to the homeless -- when one is not burdened by an adversarial relationship with nature, its heat, its coldness, its bitterness. I do believe that this climate makes people more at home in and with nature and able to feel more a part of it.

Yet still, in beauty, there is, paradoxically, pain. I've written about this a lot in this blog.

This dancing woman emerging from a lotus blossom appeared one day under the rapid transit bridge. A lot of drug addicts live and do drugs under this same bridge. I've even witnessed a suicide here.

It only took a few days for this painting to be defaced with red paint, yet this somehow adds poignancy to the image. To me, she looks like a female Jesus on the cross, bleeding and redeeming in the same moment, with the words "I love" scrawled below her, and teeming, thorny life reaching up to join her.

I am not a Christian but there aren't many more powerful metaphors for spring than the crucifixion and resurrection: life from death and death from life.

But with just a little more life here than elsewhere? For me, indubitably, yes.



  1. The only thing green around Toronto right now is me -- and I'm just green with envy...

  2. So lovely! Not quite Spring here in Nashville yet, but my tulips are starting to peek out of the ground.

    Spashionista (Alicia)

  3. I would have thought you guys would be ahead of us. Oddly, I have two good friends in Nashville. One of them is a philosophy prof there and the other is her partner. I think they mentioned something about snow recently?