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April 23, 2016


By Maryanna Gabriel 

"Forget it Jake. It's Chinatown." 
                - Movie Chinatown

When I got home last night I was causally warming up a frozen casserole, to the cosy smell of a roasting elastic, as I contemplated my day. I had recently seen a special about Vancouver's Chinatown disappearing and very clearly my visit to Fisgard Street in Victoria revealed a similar trend. This Chinatown is the oldest in Canada. Only San Francisco's is older in North America. It sprang up during the gold rush here in the west and is a maze of alleys and interesting twists and turns. The old stores that I was looking for had vanished and are now replaced by boutiques. A little research revealed the developer to be someone I have worked for and unhappy memories surfaced. Fortunately Victoria, unlike Vancouver, has strict rules in place for preserving the heritage of vintage buildings. The old brick structures will remain but I am always sorry to see a cultural hotspot that is so rich in character and alive with history, diminish.

April 15, 2016

Dreaming Of Tall Terra Cotta Pots

By Maryanna Gabriel

"The foolish man seeks happiness at a distance
The wise man grows it under his feet"
                           - Oppenheimer

Spring is a mad burst of glory around here and I am all in a tizzy with planting. My daughter sent an article to me. It is about a revived "old world" garden in France. The acreage and chateau belong to former Polish royalty. "Effortless" was how my daughter described the elegant photographs. I blink as I check my vision. I read such sentences as - Prince and Princess Poniatowski strolled past "ill conceived garden features" with the very same landscape designer as for the Chateau de Versailles. Apparently their mutual solution was a moat lined with irises and a boxwood arrangement resembling a treble clef, just the thing it would seem, for European society. 

I don't want to make Princess Pontiiatowski jealous.
Meanwhile, progress with design elements for my own forest wilderness has been slow. Sometimes I wildly fantasize what an unlimited budget would manifest. It's fun. In the interim I coax out the features I can with some sense of accomplishment. I wonder to myself if I should stroll leisurely past ill-conceived features of my own, glass of champagne in hand, dreaming of piazzas and terracing and tall terra cotta pots as I ask myself, what kind of footwear does Princess Poniatowski sport on such occasions? One wonders these things as one traipses past the shrubberies. Probably not heels I decide. It would depend I should think if there are photographers. The columbines seem to nod knowingly. 

April 7, 2016

What Are You Sinking About?

By Maryanna Gabriel 

Dawn Swim For Duckies In Sink Hole

The froggies are singing in raucous chorus at night, always a good sign, for it is mating season. Pollen has fallen everywhere, a golden persuasion of yellow dust that spring is here in full glory. My car wipers are thick with sticky swirls of it as I do my morning errands. Down at the local bakery we were all in agreement that the weekend crowds of the newly opened Salt Spring Island Saturday Market were an indication of the busiest summer yet. The bakery owner commiserated that negotiating the traffic turn to her place was a full six minutes. Of course it was not helped by the crazy traffic posts in the middle of the busiest road where cars were slowing as if an impending sink hole was coming into view. It is well they do. There has been a hole in the road for months now and as roads go, our island record for fixing sink holes is abysmally slow.

One day I drove by and someone had posted a sign on top of the poles that said "What Are You Sinking About?" Then of course of there were the yellow duckies. Some dear soul had placed them in the hole and I caught them joyfully swimming in the glowing dawn light. Something to sink about indeed.  

April 2, 2016

The Breach

By Maryanna Gabriel

As the whale breached the breadth and length of him seemed to go on. And on. And on. Maybe it was because time seemed to slow. Like a film, frame by frame, his progress was
dimly registered as he arced heart-poundingly close. His gnarled and mottled back floated by my peripheral vision as my body seemed arrested in a kind of rigor mortis of adrenaline. One second, the length of a century, ticked into the next. It never seemed to be over. The arch of his back seemed unending. I dimly wondered if I had control of my physical faculties as fear pounded through me. Then it was over. He was in. But it wasn't over. I was afraid he was going to come up under us. We waited. It was such a helpless feeling. I think I was holding my breath. Then he breached again 200 meters away. He was headed out to sea. I let go then. 

Later we managed to exchange impressions. My friend thought 30 to 50 meters of length. I don't know. All I know is that my heart and body were a mess for hours and the kayak back into the bay was a most welcome physical release. Some stories just need to be told. Thanks for being here with me.