fear & loathing in Lotusland

Category: Refuge

Refuge: Something Dreamlike

by Zbigniew

The sudden arrival of the unseasonal cold has sped-up the fig tree’s autumnal striptease.  Its bare limbs stand among a discarded shroud of leaves.

On this crystal clear Sunday I opt for the raking zen exercise.

Pulling the freeze-dried leaves into a pile, sunshine catches.

Something dreamlike: ice, molded by the corrugated skin and delicate veins of leaves.


Refuge: Frivolity

by Zbigniew

It’s a dark, wet, dreary rush hour commute home, on a slow moving bus. A thin film of steam coats the windows. Its just warm enough to make my collar stick to my neck or produce some exotic disease that will feed on patience and imagination. I’m about 10 metres too close to some schmuck mindlessly scraping his chin stubble against the artificial fibres of his once-shiny black coat.

The doors open and I’m on the pavement, drinking in the cool air.

This is my favourite shop.  A One Stop Shop for a good range of quotidia. They do everything: cut your keys, fix your shoes, hem your pants, and rent you a washing machine.

And now they’re expanding into whimsy. Of all things quickly antiquating -a photo booth now stands outside.  Four poses for $3. Pictures processed and air dried, while you wait.

Happy Laundry.

Photo Booth

Refuge: Thanksgiving

by Zbigniew

Late Figs

Ficus lattarula, the Italian honey fig, has a green skin and a reddish, honey-coloured centre. Although one the best cultivars for Pacific northwest coastal gardens, in our climate it only rarely produces a second crop.

Rare, even abnormal, still I give thanks for this gift from the mother.

Refuge: Silence

by Zbigniew

Six-and-half hours of multinodal travel, rewarded.


by Zbigniew

It’s dank: wet and damp, grey skies and greyer markets, floating billboards, and a concerted effort to manage expectations downwards.

Forecasts call for more.

In this moment, a brisk wind carries the scent and petals of cherry blossoms. Warmth and light fill the brief gaps in the cloud cover. The loathsome sounds* have withdrawn to the fringe, far enough to be drowned out by birdcalls and the rustling of branches.


* These include sounds associated with asset improvements, cranky fauna, proselytizers of sacred or secular fantasies, and elected officials and leaf blowers.

Refuge: Rain

by Zbigniew

July 24, 2015 Rain

Refuge: Hammock Time

by Zbigniew

Hammock Time

Nestled amongst the grape and fig leaves: off the clock and free of schedule, far from the maddening hassle, with vices close at hand.

Refuge: Stepping Out

by Zbigniew

With everyone in such a goddamn hurry, I remind myself that the trick is not to give in to such foolishness.

It’s Friday evening and the sky is clear and the light is slowly waning. I pass on the subtle pleasure of coaxing a ticket out of a Translink automaton and all that crowded bus transfer jazz and opt for the long walk –circa 50 minutes, plus dawdling time.

A few steps off the main road and the droning traffic suddenly drops off to background levels. By the time I reach Trillium Park, the big noise is the intermittent pop of cleat striking ball.

At the public works yard I wave for the security cameras and pause at the Malkin side when I spot a Ken Lum diptych –A Tale of Two Children: A Work for Strathcona. Did I know this was here? I take it as a surprise.

Walking east and now and then I’m reminded of the near-by chaos, as lead-footed drivers desperate to shave a few minutes off the commute roar past. Otherwise, it’s pretty quiet.

The park is apparently all but empty. I pause at the eagle’s nest. Last week a gentleman carrying a substantially lensed camera and a Hancock Wildlife Foundation affiliation expressed his concern for the resident eagles, then absent and a couple of weeks overdue. There are positive developments.

Strathcona Park Sunset

Strathcona Park Aerie

Strathcona Park Eagle

Further east, sandwiched between warehouses, a substantive number of skateboarders are doing their thing.

The path to the gap in the fence and a short cut across the tracks is marked by a concentration of consumer waste, from plastic cups and stained leather shoes, to used needles and discharged condoms, including one coloured a violent mustard.

I arrive at the base of the hill, at the edge of what was the inlet. East of here the road – framed by mini-forests of evergreens and power lines and bathed in copper- sweeps slowly and quietly upward.

But first I need to forge a raging river of glass and metal, six lanes wide. I trip the switch, and wait -for the light, and then the stragglers taking liberties. The waters stilled and parted, I step out onto the road, and take my sweet time crossing.

Refuge: Creek

by Zbigniew

Eagle Creek

The salmon negotiated the Fraser, Brunette, and Burnaby Lake, concrete culverts and metal gratings to reach this unlikely spot among suburban homes and warehouses. A stone’s throw from the freeway and a steady stream of speeding traffic shrouded by the flow of water and the rustling of trees.



Refuge: Fungi

by Zbigniew

With the civic political silliness in full swing, and the day of reckoning drawing near, my mind takes refuge from the hullaballoo in the quiet contemplation of the mushroom.

That is, mushrooms; according to the Vancouver Mycological Society, the Lower Mainland is home to some of the most diverse forms of fungi found anywhere in the world. In the fall, with the rains, they appear in great abundance and diversity.

Some are quite palatable, others less so. There are some that should be avoided for their poisonous qualities, particularly the “death cap,“ which has made it’s way to Vancouver in recent years. Determining one from the other requires a good deal of applied information.