I live in Vancouver, a city that loves to boast about how “green“it is. If you are just visiting, you might think we are talking about the abundance of trees and how everything grows at a tremendous rate here, probably because it tends to rain every couple of days. Of course, this being a pretty political place, they might also be talking about the number of bike lanes we have, our Skytrain system to get cars off the road and the city planners ever growing desire to increase density in almost every part of the city.
But I am talking about the wonderful ability to take a walk in just about any direction from my home on a busy commercial corridor and end up in a green belt walking beside a flowing stream. I returned to Canada about a year ago after living in Southern California for about 25 years, and love my green places here. I feel I am lucky to also make a living doing something that allows me to take an hour walk in the middle of the day to enjoy it.
The other day I was out strolling in a fairly suburban neighborhood not far from home when I saw four coyote pups tumble out of a nearby green belt and play on the front lawn of someone’s home. I stood transfixed and not a little apprehensive knowing the mother and father were probably within a stone’s throw of the pups. But the chance to see them reminded me of how close we are to wild life in a city the size of Vancouver.
In my daily walks I have watched bald eagles soar above me, stumbled upon a falcon with its prey in hand on a pathway I was walking along and seen markings and fur from a black bear along my favorite steam-side trail. I walk down every week to Burnaby Lake to sit and watch the dozens of duck species and Canada Geese hang out in the waters by the beaver mound. No- I haven’t seen beavers yet, but they tell me if I go there at sunset and wait, they will come out. I am incredibly lucky to have this and the museums and jazz clubs of a big city like Vancouver only a twenty-minute train ride away.
I could never live out in the country completely away from the lure of a big city. Even if I only head into it every week or two, knowing it is there if I want it is something that I need for balance in my life. In the same way that having days on end where I only talk to myself and the cats while writing for my clients is balanced by weekends spent with friends either garden gazing with Katherine or dancing with Ria. But having those precious moments like the one I had this week, watching four coyote pups tumble and play in a suburban tract of houses perched on the side of a ravine reminds me we can all find our balance in where we live. It might just be a matter of taking the time to find it.