Reflecting Vancouver

Urbanism and Life on the West Coast

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Wisteria in Bloom

Kitsilano Wisteria

Wisteria is blooming across Kitsilano. Somehow I never noticed how much there was until this year. Perhaps there are more blossoms than usual because of the pleasantly warm spring? The climate of the Lower Mainland seems to become more like vintage California with each passing year, whereas the real San Francisco Bay Area is increasingly struggling to provide drinking water to its residents.

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Vancouver Winter 2015 Jericho

In Vancouver, the winter runs November through January. In these three months we receive half of our annual rainfall, with temperatures steady in the single digits. Days — if you can call them that — run about eight and a half gloomy hours, usually the same hours the average worker passes under fluorescent lighting. If Vancouver in summer is exuberant, bright, and paradisaical, then the grim weeks from Remembrance Day through January are the subdued, grey price we pay for it. I call it the Tunnel of Darkness. I hibernate through the voyage, dreaming of cherry blossoms and distracting my waking moments with wet commutes, work, and books.

As January comes to a close, with daily high temperatures reaching beyond ten and light lingering on the afternoon horizon, the schadenfreude of realizing how miserably cold true Canadian winters east of the Rockies are reminds us: it’s nearly over.

The graceful ascent toward spring has begun.

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Bike the Blossoms

Bike the Blossoms

The turnout at Bike the Blossoms, one of the final events in the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, was phenomenal. A rough minimum of 200 people took to the streets for a whimsical combination of pleasure ride, blossom spotting, and bike solidarity. A partly sunny spring afternoon doubtless helped, when the unreliable forecast instead announced for rain. The demographic breadth was particularly striking to me. I suppose blossom scouting plus active transportation is bound to draw a range of ages and personalities.

The annual ride seems to be slowly becoming a Vancouver spring tradition.

Bike the Blossoms 2

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Procession of Blossoms

Kitsilano Akebono Cherry Blossoms
Akebono trees are starting to fade in warmer parts of the city, but full blooms can still be seen at higher elevations of Point Grey, Dunbar, and Kerrisdale. Akebono and other early cherries give way to lush Kanzan blooms by mid-April, a kind of glorious springtime procession best appreciated with snowy peaks in the background.

Kanzan blooms are also a main feature of Bike the Blossoms, a community bike tour of our cherry-lined streets scheduled to take place later this month. I’ll be there.

Every year the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the beauty and variety of our flowering trees. The horticultural tours are highly recommended. Learn more at their website: