Surrounded by Beauty

It’s April in Vancouver, and I have the privilege of being right downtown in an area known as English Bay.

It is early yet, before 10:00am and today is Palm Sunday. It is one of our most beautiful spring days and everything alive be it plant or animal is engaged in seeking fornication.

There is a city crew painting lines down on Pacific and Davie and even in 13° weather steam from their white plastic paint rises off the road.

A couple of years ago a dodgy looking character in muddy jeans with a nervous twitch approached me at work and asked if I’d excuse his load of rebar of and zip ties. At my raised eyebrow he showed me an official certificate and explained he was commissioned every spring to erect protective fencing around swan and geese breeding grounds near the park and shoreline. I think of him now and all the other seasonal workers coming out of hibernation.

The city isn’t really awake yet. I can tell because the Starbucks line is only three people deep, but the cyclists are out, merrily blowing through stop signs and red lights. As are the herds of runners, chugging along, pausing now and then to snap off a few smug burpies, or even smugger yoga poEnglish Bayses – I have to avert my eyes from such disrespect in the midst of all this splendor.

Even this early there is a portly senior in nothing but a pair of boxers setting up his blanket on the beach – that’s optimism.

The blossoms and early leaves are out in their newborn harlequin laciness and the bay is flat calm, a silver blue that runs out into the sky where the cargo ships wait, an impossibly patient form of commerce.

There is a lazy mix of leisure and labour down here at this hour. Food carts are beginning to fry things and shuttle busses tiptoe through uncontrolled crosswalks, while tourists pose with the Laughing Men and photographers play with the light.

In an hour or so the mood will have changed and this world will disappear. The cut off for any civilized dawdling seems to be noon, but that’s ok, morning will come again.

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