I’m back from a week in paradise, which included meeting my godson for the first time, spending four days with my childhood best friend and her lovely family in Vancouver, and traveling west to Denman Island to spend three sun-filled days with my grade 5 teacher and his wife. I saw Bald Eagles, Oregon juncos, spotted towhees, belted kingfishers, downies and hairies, an Anna’s hummingbird, and a magical red-breasted sapsucker. I heard dozens of pileated woodpeckers. It wasn’t so much seeing the birds that delighted me — though I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t squeal at the sight of the red-breasted sapsucker! — but knowing that looking for birds was now inextricably part of my life. We walked along the beach for hours, swam in the ocean, picked blackberries, ate pie and more pie (always the sign of a perfect vacation), and I even came home with a small painting of a chicken. (Alas, I missed the chance to return home with 12 [free!] semi-retired hens, which were advertised in the Denman Island monthly paper.)
I grew up in Vancouver, and it’s strange to return to a place where I can see fragments of my past on every corner. So this time we also visited a few places that were new to me: Iona Beach Regional Park in Richmond, where the Fraser River meets the ocean, and where we walked along the spit for hours in the company of gulls; Deep Cove, a charming village in North Vancouver, with great pottery, coffee shops, and a fantastic trail system, not to mention the cutest little beach. Of course I couldn’t do without the staples: breakfast at the Naam cafe, where I’ve eaten regularly since moving to Vancouver in 1980, dinner and pie at Aphrodite’s, swimming at Kitsilano beach, walking along Jericho beach, a visit to Hagar Books, and talking and talking and talking with old friends who have known me since the early 80s.
And on the way back to the airport, holding back tears, as always happens when I revisit a place so drenched in nostalgia, I realized that if small miracles exist, this trip was one of them: ocean, mountains, old friends, birds, books, pie. I love the pieces that make up my life.
And then I returned home to this gift from my sister:
Let me know if you have any ID tips for this lovely avian creation. I might have to put the question to the American Ornithologists’ Union (AOU), since I didn’t seem to find it on their checklist…