The second in a series of jaunts in the key of white. This week, I recount a December 27, 2017 walk along Mosquito Creek in North Vancouver.
I have misgivings about attempting a walk this morning. With a mug of hot coffee in hand, I watch the snow fall just outside the expansive windows of my sister’s North Vancouver home. A curtain of white flakes all but obscures the dense stand of conifers lying not more than 10 metres away. It looks beautiful, to be sure. The opportunity for a good walk. Yet my planned course down the familiar paths skirting Mosquito Creek worries me. Just three days ago, I climbed that very route. It was cold and the path was icy. Today, that fresh snow would cloak a slick, glassy surface. Slipping and falling holds little appeal.
But the scene outside is too enchanting to ignore. I will take my chances.
The earth paths, it turns out, are easily walked. Fresh snow covers the ice below but it is sticky, securely gripping the soles of my boots and keeping me upright, comfortable, confident. Up here, close the the mountain slopes, the snow paints a minimalist yet picturesque scene. Sheets of white blanket the forest floor, masking nature’s debris. Fluff balls of snow balance on delicate armatures of spruce needles. Bright colours of human intrusions illuminate the tidy, snowy backdrop.
Further down, as I approach Vancouver Harbour, the trail loses its icy base and what’s falling transforms into a light drizzle. It suits the messy grey, urbanized world clustered about the harbour. I make my way down slushy streets clogged with traffic, tires hissing loudly on the wet pavement. I wait patiently as a diesel locomotive shuffles back and forth along railway tracks incongruously running through the gentrified grounds of Lonsdale Quay.
Here lies my destination, The Polygon Gallery. Although the gallery opened in November, just one month ago, it’s not really new. Formerly known as Presentation House Gallery, it had, for years, occupied a building nestled in the historic centre of North Vancouver. It was, as I recall, a quaint place with the charm I associate with an artists centre. Personally, the gallery was noteworthy for its focus on photography. And that my work was included, way back in 1985, in a group show there, Photoperspectives ’85.
Today’s visit is long overdue, one prompted by the gallery’s new minimalist-yet-picturesque home for photography. Surrounded by innocuous commercial complexes, grey condo towers and old industrial warehouses-cum-restaurants, lies this clear, clean box. Its trim exterior, all silvery and glassy, gives way to a relentlessly white interior.
It’s a quiet refuge, not unlike the upper reaches of Mosquito Creek I passed through an hour ago. Here, it is the artwork – primarily photographic – that punches through the snow storm. A remarkable place to conclude my little white walk.