It is Sunday on our half of the world today. While many people are off to worship in their favorite place, I am here watching out my window at the street below. I didn’t really take very long to decide to take out the power chair to roll around the town if for no other reason to leave behind the sidewalk swap meet making a mess under my window here on Hastings Street.
While the big chair is in the mechanic’s hands for a couple of weeks getting a lot of that famous deferred maintenance done, I have a loaner from my friend Chris who does some quality time with Red Cross fixing chairs to be gifted to people in need. This chair has a really big battery and so I take myself out into my neighborhood, take the elevator that takes us up a level and uptown to the Dunsmuir viaduct, and onward in the central area of the city.
I invented a joke about uptown and downtown on the east side where I live: what’s the difference between an uptown guy and a downtown guy? The uptown guy had a shower this morning and he wears a clean shirt! And the streets here are clean, the sidewalks are clean. There are no snow drifts of trash hugging the curbs or stacked up beside the buildings. I roll on at a most leisurely pace just tuning in to the Sunday morning doings of people and children who are walking, who are sitting in the outside tables of various nifty looking restaurants.
I travel up Dunsmuir when I get off the elevator, make a left at Hamilton flowing southward onward until I reach Mainland where Davie crosses. I make a right turn and go uphill to the west from there as my first destination is the Davie Community Garden at the corner or Burrard.
There is a grey-haired man pushing a wheel chair and as I pass, I am greeted by the lovely smile on the face of a very attractive youngish woman in the chair. We smile at each other, each giving a greeting and a laugh at I continue onward up the hill. Soon there is the garden on my right and I take myself inside to sit quietly at the entrance to commune quietly with the growing flowers, vegetables, shrubs and fruit trees now swelling their fruits: a couple of small apples and a pear. The plots have all been diligently cultivated, and it is evident that the local people who do this have given a lot of effort that now is a green, very enthusiastic garden, a place of serenity in the midst of urban madness.
The whole journey unfolds as the sidewalks flow beside the streets. From the high point after climbing the grade from Mainland, down hill I roll down Davie through the center of the gay community businesses: restaurants, bars, assorted stores: hardware, groceries, dry cleaners, pet shops, beauty salons, etc. I roll onward toward the shore line of English Bay beside south side Stanley Park and turn right up Denman toward the north. This battery is really like the Energizer Bunny taking me across Denman and the row of old time west-end district businesses that now, Sunday at mid day are stacked full of people enjoying a rare sunny warm afternoon.
Now its another right turn once more to the really classy up town label stores which stand side by side on Robson Street as I near the hub of Granville. Then the final turn down the hill back into Gastown from whence I had come several hours before. The sidewalks there were jammed with tourists which had come from the cruse ships tied up on either side of Canada Place lured by fancy shops and eateries and the historical flavor of the area.
I’ve made a wide circuit of many miles about the town, rolling at a respectable pace, viewing my town and some of the people who inhabit its houses, apartment complexes and hotels. I hardly know where I fit here.
It was the early 70’s when I left for a marriage and a green carded life in southern California which over 40 something years turned into an amazing growing and becoming process, and which now brings me back to contemplate my age in the territory near where I was raised. I don’t feel so very ‘Canadian’ in fact even though I have a birth certificate and a government pension to support me. I witness my country’s people as rather conservative and often quite unconcerned by the very covert nature of their elite. Vancouver is third in the world for expense; the big money games rage on especially in real estate here. I’m quite happy not to be hung up in traffic driving a car as I used to. Now that the shelter organization found me a very nice new single place to live, I am becoming more comfortable by the day even to the point of writing this blog for your eyes. It’s all starting to work out quite nicely.