Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Rhododendrons and salt water

Despite conceptualizing myself as complicated and nuanced at times, I can also be a very simple kind of girl. Take off my shoes and socks and toss me under the sun, and I'm generally a pretty happy camper.

Victoria Day long weekend is unofficially the entrance into summer for Canadians. Typically, as a way to spite us for pulling out our flip flops and tents, when, really, as denizens of the "Great White North", we should know better, the weather tends to be a little underwhelming.
This year, thankfully, was an exception to the rule, with my toes being bared to the world for the hottest May 17th in the city's history.

The Duke and I took the opportunity for a mini-escape to seaside community along an inlet. Just an hour's bus ride from downtown, with stops in areas as diverse as Chinatown to industrial areas decorated by bright yellow sulfur to residential stucco'd neighbourhoods, we emerged to this:

Though the water was still numbingly cold on my heels, the sun beat down and soaked through our shorts, and I began thinking of all the symbols of summer that were flashing before me.

The craving for ice cream and ice cubes on your tongue.

The sweet fragrance of rhododendrons mixed with the pungent odor of salt water.

The bizarre contrast between sweat and goosebumps when a breeze hits you.

The imprint of grass on your calves. The slickness of sunscreened skin.

The tickle of ants crawling over your mountainous toes.

The distinction between hues when enveloped in the sunshine versus the shade, making you reluctant to put on my sunglasses.

(I thought I caught a lovely moment above, but the Duke tells me its creepy to snap people I didn't know.)

The beach is also a prime location for people watching. It was fascinating to watch teenage girls learning the power of their newly acquired bikini-clad curves, their strutting down the boardwalk an odd combination of sexuality and awkwardness, their hips swaying as their arms are desperately clutched over their stomachs.

I grew up on the shores of a lake, so I remember well the first bikini milestone. It was striking how different I was perceived by mere virtue of a midriff. Suddenly I went from unremarkable to one of the girls being thrown off the pier after skin-to-skin wrestling contact with one of those boys.

Other milestones popped into my head as I watched the seashore, like the significance of the first swim of the year (usually done more for bragging rights than an actual urge to immerse oneself in glacially cold water) or the first time I was busted skinny-dipping (why we thought people stopped coming to the beach at 5pm in the evening I'll never know). Even though it was the first time I've been at that particular place, there was something about the landscape that just linked me right to those summery recollections.

After a sticky bus ride home, it seemed like the perfect way to cap off the evening was to stay outdoors, and head to a different beach to watch the sunset.

We sat on a driftwood log as the clouds faded from orange to pink to grey, before they melted away into the night sky. As the night air grew chilly, I shed my sandals, and ventured to the shore, with the wet sand clammy against my feet. I stepped tentatively into the blackened water, which seemed to envelop me a mere few paces in, and I fought back the urge to dive into that dusky water, for nothing is quite as freeing as night swimming.


Katelin said...

i seriously just want to relax by the water now....mmmm

Anonymous said...

Awesome! That reminds me, I haven't put in for my vacation yet.

Anonymous said...

I WANNA VISIT THE AREA TOO! Seeeriously. And lakes? LOVE THEM. Will be visiting one this weekend!!

Oddly enough? It's our 3 day weekend cuz Memorial Day is on Monday.


EF said...

Night swimming was so nice in the NW, where there was no threat of sharks or alligators or snakes in the water- I have lost that thrill and gained paranoias/phobias here in the South. And I miss the everpresent Rhodies that just aren't much here...yet again you make me miss the NW!

Dorky Dad said...

Excellent! I totally forgot that y'all had just celebrated Victoria day. Glad to see you had a good one!

Chelsea Talks Smack said...

These pictures are a reminder of all the things that I really. really. love in life.

Ant said...

Hmm, not sure where I stand on the creepy/lovely photographing thing. I am utterly utterly plagued by notion that any photography in busy areas is creepy and unsettling for the subject so I rarely get the human shots showing candid emotion that I want.

On the other hand there are actually laws against publishing photos on t'Internet without asking permission of who you've photographed first. But a) they'd have to find it and b) everybody seems to do it anyway...

Heart Of Darkness said...

As I live in "Siberia jr", I know all about summer and winter and the need to wear flip-flops even when you're endangering loosing a toe to mild frost...

...and yet, here I am, leaning by reading! :)
Besides, it looks so amazing, I might just shift things some and go there instead!

Anonymous said...

Mem. day weekend is one of my favorite times of year - I can't wait!! I struggle with the whole is it creepy to photography strangers but you know what? sometimes you just can't help but find a sweet moment.

PS - I'm going to be in Vancouver in August!!!! I need suggestions of what to do/where to eat :)

Melissa said...

Looks like you had an amazing time..

Abbey said...

I don't think taking pictures of strangers is creepy. There's many a picture out there for sale in the stores that do so. Keep in mind, I am funny about taking pictures in general so I don't often take them even of friends. I still support your ability to though!

Alexa said...

how fun! i love anything by the water, end of story.

Maxie said...

I like taking pictures of strangers too :-)

Yoda said...

The duke is right!! Snapping other people is creepy!

I'm looking fwd to beach getaway this long weekend :-D

WKC said...

"Nightswimming, deserves a quiet night..."