An Ode to Vancouver’s Fraser River

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We’re there a lot in the spring and summer, this enchanted land right in our own backyard. Even in the fall when it’s getting cooler, and in winter when it’s downright cold, we still go down there most days. It’s always changing. Leaves turn golden or crimson and carpet the ground in autumn, wild storms bring branches and sometimes entire trees down and we ooh and aah at the size of them, in winter new tiny leaf buds appear as early as December, and the very first crocus and periwinkle appear in February.

Ducks gather in safe backwaters created by log booms, tugs come and go,





city gardeners rip out old gardens to plant something new, some paths turn to mud with the inevitable rain, lawn daisies



and flowers



explode in the spring. In summer it’s full-on green on land,



and blue on the water,





and people gravitate there to walk, or cycle, or eat a burger.



On a clear day we can see Mt Baker



and the mountains of the Cascade Range down south in Washington.





It’s our playground, always offering something new, this long wide river that flows from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. It’s a working river supporting the transportation of logs for pulp mills, but it doesn’t work so hard that it prevents wildlife from flourishing.

The first time we saw a beaver we were sitting on the shore right close to the water having a picnic dinner when one suddenly popped it’s head up just a couple of metres from us. It was there and gone again in less than a second. At least two years passed before we saw one again. This time it was in the marshy ground at water’s edge below the pier. Something made me look down and there it was, contentedly munching on long stalks of some kind of grass. We got to watch it for several minutes until it was done eating and waddled back into the water. There must be a lodge close by though we couldn’t see any obvious signs of one.





There are always birds,



chickadees, robins, gulls, sparrows,



pigeons,



sometimes eagles high overhead, and always Canada Geese





and Great Blue Herons.



If you walk right down to the very bottom of our street you come to the river and a pier that juts out into it. It’s a favourite place for fishermen. From the end of the pier you look up river to the left to the view of Mt Baker and the North Cascades. Straight across past the marshes and log booms, and the river itself is a tug parking lot,



and beyond that, just a bit further down river, the container terminal, looking, with a little help from Photoshop, like a giant stack of Lego blocks.



In winter the trees reveal their elegant skeletons, their branches and trunks dotted with bleached-olive lichen, some also thick with neon green moss. In the summer there are fields of dandelions and daisies and yarrow,



and alongside the river high mounds of brambles with their ever-ripening blackberries, sweet treats on a late-summer evening.

And sunsets. You just can’t have too many sunset pictures so here’s a whole bunch. All taken on the same evening, and in chronological order, some showing the full panorama from the pier, some zooming in for a closer view. It truly was a sky-on-fire kind of evening.













Some of you may remember that I already did a post about the river a couple of years ago. I thought I’d better do another if only because I wanted to share the above spectacular sunset on August 17 last year. I guess 2020 was good for something. Can’t wait for summer again!





Next post:  Montreal, where we spend a couple of weeks every December for Christmas with family. (Except for this past Christmas of course.) I know I said this exact same thing at the end of the last post. Maybe a Montreal post really will happen this time.





All words and images by Alison Louise Armstrong unless otherwise noted
© Alison Louise Armstrong and Adventures in Wonderland – a pilgrimage of the heart, 2010-2021.