Saturday, April 29, 2006

and behind every tree was another goodbye

Malani and I climbed Grouse Mountain this afternoon, affectionately referred to by Vancouverites as "the Grind." I did this not only for some cross-training for next week's "launch of the grand tour," but for some good fun and sense of accomplishment. Our efforts were almost thwarted before even beginning, as the trail is still officially closed to the public. Being the deviant, mischievious lassies that we are, we found our way off the well-trodden path.

As for the hike, it's a gruelling 1 hour natural staircase; a good workout but not a great natural experience. If you like beer, food, tourists and gondolas waiting at the top, this hike is for you. If you like scenery more diverse than treetreetreetreetree (don't get me wrong, I like the trees, but), then you might want to look elsewhere. For some reason today it struck me as ridiculous, this fencing and developing of natural space that belongs to all of us. Being told I couldn't climb a mountain was like being told I couldn't breathe, because someone owned that air. More and more as the day went on, as I rode in seabuses and gondolas, I pined for an unmediated nature. Solitude and silence, not the smell of gasoline and the tinkling of coins in cash registers where only hawks should be.

The rhythm of my step, step, steps lulled me into a calm acceptance that my time here is done. The view from the top brought me a sense of wholeness, as if seeing the city from on high allowed me to move beyond it. I felt like a little girl again, learning perspective and proportion by looking at a large object from a distance and "measuring" it with my fingers: Wow, Vancouver is only 2 inches wide. I could hold it in my hand. I could blow it away like a dandelion seed. I could put it in my shoe and carry it with me.

The day of departure is approaching, and excitement has elbowed nostalgia out of the way. I know she will come though, revealing herself in future whiffs and memories of these past 8 months. "I'm glad you came to Vancouver with me," she said. I'm glad it was here for me to come to.

These last days have held many beautiful moments. The scent of the cherry blossoms is like roasted honey, and I cannot leave my apartment or open the window without wanting to drink the air. Outings with friends. Long, lingering afternoons. Ignoring "what needs to be done."

I just returned from an evening with friends. People I've known for only a short time. They are like frayed ropes I want to singe together with the flame of time. I wish my bike could carry it all. But I know better. Wanderlust travels light.


Mark said...

Two things:

1- What does that first sign mean? No old-order Mennonites? No Hutterites? Something else?

2- That picture of you... very nice, very nice!

Steve & Gillian said...

Hey Jen, just wanted to say hi. My memories of Grouse include petting a mountain goat outside the chalet/restaurant thingy when I was 13...I have the pics to prove it...corduroy Jets hat, tight jean shorts, L.A. Kings sweatshirt and all.

I enjoy checking in on your blog even if it be in sporadic bursts. You have a way with words that stirs up longings...longings for feelings that sometimes feel outgrown...and glimmerings of a peaceful, steady joy. That and Viking Moses kicks some serious ass! Thanks...

We just found out we get to volunteer at Folk Fest this year!