Appeared in the North Shore News – June 8, 2012
RELIGION being unfashionable these days, few know that West Vancouver has a Civic God, just like pagan Roman cities.
The gods of ancient Greece and Rome were completely amoral. They were licentious pleasure-lovers and robust imbibers – founders of Alcoholics Unanimous – and amused themselves toying with hapless human beings like playthings.
Considering our climate, it’s ironic that West Van’s Civic God is named Sunny God. He rarely pays the town any heed. He is preoccupied chugalugging wine from animal horns and chasing nubile, and I’m sorrowful to say willing, goddesses.
And while he is distracted, the mischievous Rain Sprite moves in and pretty well pisses on the town whenever he likes. Which is almost non-stop. (Little guy, big bladder.)
You’ll agree this is a lot more plausible than a Mark Madryga forecast.
So it was highly unusual when Sunny God paused from popping grapes into the mouth of his current inamorata, noticed the Rain Sprite was soaking his turf, and zapped him with a concentrated sunbeam on his private parts. (The Rain Sprite pouted, rubbed himself, and sped off to soak a Dairy Queen. But his GPS acted up, and he mistakenly wound up in a far place raining on a nice old Queen’s parade.)
Meanwhile Sunny God idly decided to smile down on his very own town on, quite coincidentally, its 100th anniversary day.
It rained before. It rained after. But on this very special day . . . the sun shone in all its glory.
It shone on Horseshoe Bay. It transformed taut faces and liberated their workaday wrinkles.
Children lined up for face paint and turned away smiling to their mothers. A skinny balloon man twisted his wares into hats and silly shapes.
A lad with a guitar sang into an empty space where unaccountably no one had provided seats, but three squatting boys listened and kindly applauded. So did a man with perfect sideburns who didn’t pause as he walked by, but, feeling the loneliness of the entertainer, gave this maybe future star a big hand.
A huge Irish wolfhound bent down and, as tenderly as a lover, nuzzled a squirt of a pup reaching up for a kiss. A teenage girl who’d rather not be alone walked by clutching a coffee cup. Old men inched along, faces down, silent and introspective, remembering who knows what.
A midlife couple, serious riders, dismounted their huge motorcycle by a cafe. He, a fleshy barrel, looked like a bouncer at a Hell’s Angels restaurant. But any menace fell away: “Coffee time!” he called with a massive smile to a watching idler. A man glanced longingly at the bustling bars on Bay Street with their fragrant ale, but thought better of it.
Long-legged girls barely into their teens walked by the stouter moms they would become. On the free bus (fine idea) a stoic dad held an infant to his chest and deftly steered a pram to the door while mother guided a toddler, parents engaged in humanity’s most important and unrewarded activity.
At Ambleside Beach offleash area there were more dogs than you could throw a stick for.
Action Central was the fenced-off beer garden and the tent temples to the human digestive system: hamburgers, salmon burgers, poutine, the indispensable icon of cotton candy. “Eat Live Be Happy” advertised a truck marked “spud.ca.”
Police, ever watchful to ensure that people didn’t enjoy themselves too much in impermissible ways, casually chatted. One tilted a bottle and took a large swig straight from the neck. Perrier, naturally.
An old print guy imitated a reporter, producing pen and pad thrust in the face of sauntering Mayor Mike Smith: “Anything you’d care to say?”
The mayor smiled, tossed off an original line: “What a great day! . . . What more can I say?”
What more, indeed? Further along, collectable cars were an unfailing magnet. Beside one, a Whippet, appropriately there were two braces of actual whippet dogs, finely boned and aristocratically aloof.
At John Lawson Park picnickers had spread their cornucopias of food on the tables – the wicked little Rain Sprite having kept the ground too soggy for down to-earth picnicking. Greying women in pairs drifted chattily past, as if needing no man. A lovely woman in a faux cowboy hat had a ring of male admirers.
At Dundarave by 5 o’clock a boxy rental truck backed up to haul away the rented chairs and tables. The last celebrants drifted away.
Two young women happily lugged a picnic freezer up to Marine Drive. Ambleside’s evening of music lay ahead.
The racial demonstrations must not be ignored.
The many races present demonstrated that under the skin of colour, origin, nationality and culture there is one indivisible human race. At least on Sunny God’s perfect day.
Soon West Vancouver was slumbering in the downy double bed of its next 100 years.
© Trevor Lautens, 2012