[This fragment is available in an audio version.]

In Vancouver, we have a tradition of going for a walk on New Year’s Day, no matter how foul the weather, if only to prove to Other Canadians that the thing is possible. 2022 too, despite its being an extremely low-expectations year. And it wasn’t the worst New Year’s Day beachwalk ever, so maybe it won’t be the worst year ever. And it leaves me with advice for the world. But first…

The traditional Polar Bear Swim, in which hordes of howling Vancouverites, half hungover and the rest inebriated, charge pell-mell into the hostile waters of English Bay, was Covid-scotched like so much else good in life. But that didn’t deter everyone; here and there an espontáneo shed their garments and made made a singleton splash. There was a bored burly bearded lifeguard not getting in the way, happy to chill with passers-by.

Solo Vancouver polar-bear swimmer, 2022

Hmmm, do those clouds look… a little weird? Yes, and not just a little. I don’t think there was a temporal vortex behind that mountain waiting to vomit city-eating chthonic lifeforms over its peak, but if I were a production designer for a city-eating-chthonic-lifeforms movie, that’s how I’d fill in the clouds around the mountain they were lurking behind.

Weird clouds over Vancouver’s Mount Cypress

Let’s look West, where the Blessed Lands would be if there were any, but in fact it’s just Vancouver Island and then Japan. But yeah, those clouds.

Looking west across English Bay on New Year’s Day 2022

See the ships? Those are the “supply-chain issues” that are screwing things up. Every ship parking spot out there is occupied, every time I go and look.

Looking west across English Bay on New Year’s Day 2022

That snow wasn’t melting because it was pretty damn chilly. So our walk didn’t go on for that long. But of course we couldn’t pass up Vancouver’s major new talking point, Marge the Barge.

Cargo barge washed up on English Bay beach

This big sucker blew up on this very-downtown beach in a big windstorm last November that unfortunately combined with a super-high tide, and it’s not coming off any time soon. A little bird told me that its bottom is severely damaged by those rocks it’s hitched up on and if the tide got high enough to float it off, it’d sink again. Another little bird told me that it was sloppily and amateurishly tied up to the barge buoy out there when the windstorm came along and disposed of its moorings in about fifteen minutes.

The city’s kind of adopted it, as though we had any choice. I particularly admire that mooring line someone’s tied up to it.

Barge tied up to a rock on the Vancouver waterfront

Now, that’s a damn expensive piece of rope. And I don’t know (but admire) how the hell they got it around that rock. The effect, of course, is purely symbolic. If Marge decides to float away via some accident of tide and wind, without immediately sinking, the rope isn’t going to help. But it’s stylish.

The scene by the barge was pretty cheery; everyone had a story to tell. There were toddlers sledding on the unaccustomed snow. The rent-a-cop down by the barge totally ignored the people checking it out. Every photographer was looking for their own special angle. Strollers and longboards and spaced-out hippies shared the paths, reasonably amicably. Everyone who wasn’t talking to the person walking with them was talking to their phone.

Advice · Covid sucks. Politics sucks. The weather sucks (and is a hideous harbinger of worse to come). But, don’t stay home. Go outside anyhow. Take pictures. Tell stories. Laugh at the laughable. Tune out the jerks. Nobody promised there’d be a tomorrow so do today today.

Happy New Year!



Contributions

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From: Paul Morriss (Jan 13 2022, at 00:52)

Happy New Year Tim! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and photos with us for another year.

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