Monday, July 18, 2016

Remembering sloughs

Surrounded by trees, bush and full of plant growth, Beaver Lake in Stanley Park reminded me of the prairie sloughs of my childhood.

But no, we didn't have pink and white water lilies like Beaver Lake has, and if there were ducks, they weren't as tame as the ones in Stanley Park.

Around the edges of the lake is the kind of natural growth that reminds me of  the prairies.

Cattails add to the atmosphere of a wild lake in the middle of the park.

Clear water at the edges of the lake made me want to dip my toes in.

My friend Ros thought some of the weedy growth near the lake was intriguing. A check online makes me think she was holding a type of sedge.

One of the best times of the year for prairie farm kids like us was slough season. That's when melting winter snow turned low-lying spots into mini-lakes, a rare and wonderful phenomenon in a dry landscape where real lakes were few and far between, and the ocean unthinkable.

To kids whose main experience of water was a few inches in the bathtub once a week, a whole body of it was magical. So what if it lasted only weeks, months at best? So what if the cows created shifting shades of yellow and brown in it? You could put on your rubber boots and wade through it. You could admire the things floating in it, and you could see right through it to the bottom. But mostly, you could build a raft and try to propel it through the water with tree-branch poles. Inevitably, it would start to sink. Then you would stand on one end to try to keep afloat, awaiting with thrilled dismay the coming shock of cold water.

Now the ocean is a 30-minute walk from my front door, and after four decades, it is still exciting to look down the Dunbar hill and see giant freighters at anchor. But a visit to Stanley Park's Beaver Lake on Monday reminded me of prairie sloughs, and how a little body of water gave such pleasure to me and my siblings. Beaver Lake is much bigger and more picturesque, with ducks bobbing among nearly solid mats of pink and white water lilies. But the trees and the bush that circumscribe it, the cattails and weedy brush on its shores, gives it the natural feel of the sloughs I grew up with.

All I really wanted to do was build a raft and feel it slowly sink beneath my feet.

1 comment:

  1. I guess the last time I was at Beaver Lake was in my teens when my friends and I would bike from our homes that were almost in Burnaby to Stanley Park. Of course, no helmets and girls only had "coaster bikes" because "3 speeds" were only for our neighbourhood at least. I think our parent didn't want to encourage something as unladylike as cycling. Growing up on the coast has made us gravitate to places with oceans...probably why we love the south of France so much. I'm surprised I have come to love the desert so much. Perhaps it helps that the ocean is only a couple of hours away. After all the lushness of the rain forest, there is something very beautiful about how things can grow in the desert. Cacti seem to adapt to anything. I planted some in Victoria and they survived the deluges of rain as well.