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On these long hot summer evenings Don and I like to have our dinner here:

It’s a tiny rocky pebbly “beach”, one of the few places on this part of the Fraser River that lets us sit right by the water. From home it’s a five-minute drive and a two-minute walk across a dry-grass field.

We pack up some food – a green salad, a potato salad, maybe some garlic roasted chicken or grilled salmon, some sweet ripe cherries, put it all in tubs and into an insulated bag – and carry it along with our chairs and napkins right down to the water where we squish ourselves into the little bit shade right up close to the wild blackberries.

Sometimes the tugboats

go by really fast and we wait for the waves. I see the waves coming as long high mounds moving across the water, waiting for the time they’ll get to us, making sure my camera is far from the water. After about a minute they reach us, splashing and crashing into shore, and we get our feet wet in the cold water or we lift them high to stay dry.

Sometimes mallards swim by

and once, right in front of us, not more than four or five feet away, a beaver raised its head, took one look at us and rolled back under water again.

I walk down river a short distance and find a heron preening on a log boom, grooming itself with calm presence and meticulous attention. Each feather is addressed; the heron’s long neck reaching this way and that to make sure it gets them all. Every now and then it lifts its head, looks around, then goes back to its task.

One evening, suddenly, there’s an explosion of dogs as a couple of dog owners throw balls into the water and their three dogs race by us splashing into the river. Their unrestrained enthusiasm makes me smile. One of them shakes itself dry right next to me, a welcome shower in the heat.

Looking west, to the right, way past where we can see, the North Arm of the Fraser divides into two branches around Mitchell Island and then Sea Island on its journey to the sea.

Looking east, to the left and inland, we see the log booms

and on a clear day, Mount Baker in the distance.

Sometimes a tug goes by pulling one of the log booms. The booms are easily ten times the length of the tug and yet it will cruise by against the current as if the trailing logs weigh almost nothing.

Closer to shore is the pier at the bottom of Kerr Street, shining in the golden light before sunset,

and almost directly across from us is the container port, and a few tugs in what seems to be a tug parking lot.

Wild flowers grow around us, some pink, most an audacious bright yellow.

We forget to pay attention to the tides and arrive one day to find our beach submerged by high tide and our little garden flooded,

so we arrange our seats on the dry grass a couple of feet above it all.

Birds fly overhead – eagles, gulls, cormorants, and crows.

And planes. This part of the Fraser is one of the final approaches to Vancouver airport, which is to the west on Sea Island. We watch the planes coming in, still high in the sky, one after the other after the other, about ninety seconds apart, in a never-ending stream. On another day the wind has changed and instead of watching them arrive we watch them leave in the same one-per-ninety-seconds rhythm.

We sit and watch the water letting it soothe us. We eat slowly. I take photographs, Don reads or plays Sudoku on his phone. We’re mostly silent.

Sometimes we stay for sunset,

sometimes not.

There’s something soothing about sitting by water, and as the heat of the day ebbs away the soft breeze off the water cools our burning skin. We feel lucky to have a river so close to home, and a little rocky beach to sit on. I revel in the heat, and in the cool that comes from the water and from the evening. I love summer.

All words and images by Alison Louise Armstrong unless otherwise noted
© Alison Louise Armstrong and Adventures in Wonderland – a pilgrimage of the heart, 2010-2018.