River rituals on Annacis Channel

Annacis ChannelSimple pleasures.

Coming downstairs into the kitchen and opening the back door onto the floating deck. Cool river air seeps in through the screen door first thing. Noticing the flow of the river and how that changes every day. A tap. A stream. A languid pool.

Of course, there’s no escaping the ever present hum from the traffic pushing towards the Alex Fraser Bridge, a deep rumble, a constant whiz, air through a wind instrument, every so often the sustained roar of a big truck rising above the steadiness, a more consistent note.

This morning, three Canada Geese flew eastward.  A Blue Heron, barely visible in the shadows, sat perched near the neighbor’s deck last night.  I remembered it from last summer. Was it the same one?

Late yesterday afternoon, I watched a massive eagle, plucking its way in the shallow waters of the shoreline across Annacis Channel. I watched him through the scope from the second floor and he spent the longest time standing in those shallow waters, occasionally dipping his hooked, yellow beak into the murky water, bug hunting I suppose.  From a distance a geometric pattern wove the dark feathers on his body together and his thick legs, feathered and strong, held his body like a cup. His eyes beady, intense, all seeing.

Later on, he was joined by two smaller eagles and they began to dive bomb into the middle of the river, swooping in a triangle, up and down, gliding, trying again,  catching nothing that I could see but converging like synchronized swimmers putting on a show. My camera lense isn’t good enough to capture them from this distance.

Back on the deck, the spiders are spinning their webs off the Adirondack chairs and I want to remove them.  I want to sit out there, but so far, I haven’t the heart to destroy all their work, rip apart their delicate homes. Their days are numbered however. I want to sit out there first thing, coffee in hand.

Every once in a while, I’ll hear a big splash, and look up to catch water twisting and then the rippled circles on the river’s surface. Sturgeon? Salmon? I’m surprised that fish can live in there. It’s easy to pretend the splash is more sinister. What was that?

The river turns glassy and golden-green at night. Its flow slows as the clock ticks off hours on these long summer days.

In the morning, there are dew drops on the fanned strawberry leaves shading roots in the pot tight around their base.

Once Norman, the cat, has gobbled down his breakfast, he sits at the door waiting to be let out. Lately, I’ve been keeping him in. I saw a documentary on the disappearance of song birds and I know, if I stay strong, he’ll eventually give up, go upstairs and lay down and be quiet.  In the notes, it clearly says, “there’s no need for him to go outside.” I say, it’s not for him. It’s for me. Peace.

Small things to be noticed at the beginning of a day have a way of becoming rituals in the long run.

Staycation II: Revisiting close to home

breakfast

I’ve relocated back to the float home for July. For the second year, it’s Staycation Central thanks to owners Pat and Janna who have made their annual migration back to their ocean-side home near Bonavista, Newfoundland.

As with every place we inhabit,  I have found my favorite place inside their home. It’s not, as you might expect, on the top deck, although that is especially nice on a sunny afternoon when the wind is minimal and the bees dip and settle.

For me, there is nothing better than Sunday mornings on the second level where, with coffee and fresh raspberries and yogurt, I can settle into the corner of the comfy velveteen couch, The Globe & Mail and The New York Times plucked from the old tin mailbox outside and now resting on the side table. This perfect cocoon on the comfy couch, offers a comfortable positioning to write longhand which, itself, such a rarity, feels deliciously decadent.

Couch

I can write my morning papers by hand with my favourite pen. My hand moves across the page of the large, hard covered Writer’s Way book I found for a steal ($2.50) at a recent flea market at the Westminster Quay. I can let go of all weekday worries of shoulds, musts, and ever-present wondering about redesigning my life and just relax into the moment, to feel gratitude, to just be.

From that little corner, I can scope out the entire room with all its marine-themed artifacts and allow daydreams to hover.  The olive-green river on an overcast day, like today, flows continuously past, movement as reminder of the fleeting realities we all face. The reflections of the trees off the far bank and the texture from smooth to linear, circles of tidal movement, seem like the varying thickness of paint on a canvas of abstract imagery. A fantastic creative retreat this does make. I feel a renewal of inspiration here the way you’re supposed to when you leave your familiar for viva la difference.

shells

A tugboat chugged by yesterday. I love tugboats. No matter how large, I imagine plucking them from the river and floating them in the tub.  The blue heron squawked by its legs outstretched behind it prehistoric. The eagle, I can’t see, calls out to me with that tell-tale, identifying high-pitched staccato piping.  The swan, alone this time, floated by the other morning. I wonder like last year if I’ll see them just once? I hope not.

beachglass

My return was christened yesterday. I dropped my keys into the river as I went to lock the door. I watched with horror as they succumbed to the green liquid just for a few seconds and were gone. Sucked under. As far as accidents go, a minor mishap. A walk, a bus ride, a Skytrain trip back to my apartment where, uncharacteristically,  I had copies of all of them. They were easily replaced, although I will miss my Roots lanyard key chain.

The familiarity of return. The anticipation of new finds. It’s good to be back even if it’s close to home.

Fraser River Sky at Dawn

earlymorningriver

awake at 5 ammoonoveralexfraser

on the river where the pink light

complements half crescent moon

guides eagle’s shimmering squeal

slate current pushing

faster today,

pushes transient logs back to where they’ve

already travelled.

There, a fish,

it jumped,

did you see it?

Lights from the bridge shining distortion,

make no difference to

tugs chugging east, ever-steady hum muted

beneath siren

crossing the bridge, farther on.

To the south,

Alex Fraser spires imitate drawbridge

and just behind me,

Norman, your cat, peers out like a prisoner,

or a child, waiting his mother’s return.

Sky mixes pastels,

slivers of pink

alight tips of clouds

hints at heaven’s reality

what’s for breakfast?