Today it was hot so we went to the mountains. Thirty short minutes by car and we were in North Vancouver, up at Lynn Valley Canyon, AKA the park with the suspension bridge that is Free. One of these days I should go to the real Suspension Bridge (Capilano) and pay the $20 or whatever it is, and see what all the fuss is about. But, because I have lived here all my life and have crossed a suspension bridge across a yawning chasm over rushing water many, many times, I will not pay until there is a good reason.
Today being the Sunday of a long weekend and summer and really fecking hot, our 10:30 arrival time, while late by our standards, was late even by everyone else’s. We had to park in the over-over-over flow lot, which was fine because it was in the shade. Of course most things are in the shade, the canyon is full of really tall trees.
We filed across the bridge with all the tourists, some of whom were nervous and chattering, some of whom were taking pictures as they walked, which made the whole walking thing slower, some of whom weren’t tourists but very cranky locals who just wanted to walk their dogs on the other side of the bridge, in the forest.
Oh, the forest. I don’t know if I can explain the calm that comes over me when I walk into a west coast forest; it’s the smell of the cedar trees and the mulchy, muddy floor, the way the sunlight bounces like a pinball through the green canopy, the many many shades of green, on the trees, the floor, the moss, the mould, the mushrooms. Everything is green and brown and soothing. Sound is muffled and even hundreds of tourists and dogs and children traipsing through cannot rise above the sound that is the forest.
Beyond it, the faint rushing sound of water, which gets louder and louder until it’s right there, at your feet, just across the path, and the green opens into a clear glass river studded with silver rocks. People and dogs swim there, and from the rocks above, idiot teenagers jump into the water, and every year someone dies doing this but today we did not see anyone die.
The water is ice cold and it gathers momentum around the rocks, becomes a frenzy, carries sticks and froth and leaves down, down, fast, faster. We watched it, dunked our hands, exclaimed at the cold, and then Arlo wanted to walk up all the stairs, so we found the stairs and counted them (162) and took a break at the top for water and a snack.
Back across the bridge, half an hour later, I had to stop myself looking over the edge because sometimes looking over the edge feeds a panic in me. And something about people taking pictures with their phones –and tweeting them, from the middle of the bridge– makes me superstitious. “The last text he ever received…” reads the news article I’m imagining. And there I would be, surrounded by my family, after a very nice day, all of us plunging to our death because someone had to record the moment.
That’s why I record it now, when we’re all safe at home.
It wasn’t so much cooler in the woods, really. By the time we walked all the way back to the car — and by the time we drove the 30 minutes back home, at noon, without air conditioning (uphill! both ways! in the snow!) — we were sweating. But, we were content, not fighting or sulking. Eli fell asleep in the car and Arlo stared out the window. We were refreshed.