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Sunday Night Read: 'A short walk'

This short story series submission is from Michele Paulse of Port Moody.
michelepaulseportmoodyjune2024
A stroll through the Tri-Cities.

Trees peak into my view of the horizon toned with shades of grey. A day of light and intermittent rain is ending in a perfect dusk.

I descend toward Noon’s Creek Drive and just pass the intersection, I cross the street where maple, alder and laurel border the north edge of a mini forest.

Two weeks ago, I decided to walk on this side of the road so that I am on the opposite side of traffic whizzing downhill toward Ungless. This rim of the street is unpaved and I am buoyed by the melodic crunch of sand and small stones beneath the soles of my turquoise Champion sneakers. Short grass flanks the varying width foot path and I keep clear of large rock on the mostly even ground. I tread around a bend of Mountain Ash, Hazelnut and Salmon Berry and carry on past Blackberry, Nipplewort and trickling water toward the traffic lights. 

I continue left where up ahead a partially in-grown ditch parallels the pavement up to the emergency entrance of Eagle Ridge Hospital. Car headlights penetrate the palpable softness of dusk, my favourite time of day when quiet and contemplation beckon.

For a moment, I am drawn into time past and am beside a campfire amid the dusk-muted clatter of camping cookware, plates and utensils that my father and mother pack into the trailer as imminent night settles our campsite. My younger siblings compete for sleeping spots inside the canvas tent.

I pass two people seated at a bus shelter. If I were in Bridgetown I would have said "Hello."

A momentary sense of human fragmentation breaks out on the surface of my skin as it often does when I encounter shared but separated social space. Toward Guildford, I pass the only fir I have spotted along this edge of the mini wood.

Just beyond where the Guildford sidewalk descends, deep orange and lime green scooters on a spread of grass pop the dusk as they await the next morning commute. Two scooters with their front wheels almost touching, form a V. Is the orange scooter on its side on the ground as exhausted as its last rider?

At the corner, I head up Falcon hill. It is less challenging than when I first trudged up it a several weeks ago and I am able to maintain my pace. I wonder what the leaves on the tree branches at my left are saying, as I recall an article about a UBC ecology professor whose research concluded that trees talk.

A fragrance laces the air and I deeply breath and breath before I exit the aromatic habitat. Eagle Ridge School might as well be boarded up it appears so deserted beneath the grey tones.

A rainbow halos the rounded rectangular soft glowing street lamp. Stage 1 cataracts have colourful benefits. Clusters of townhouses hug driveways that branch off the incline. Lights through windows accent homes tucked behind a treed landscape of cedar and fir that dwarfs the dwellings of modern urban density.

Clusters of townhouse developments hug driveways that branch off Falcon. Lights through windows accent homes tucked behind a treed landscape of cedar and fir that dwarfs the dwellings of modern urban density.

Falcon’s angle eases and knowing I am near home I consider extending my walk but I left at 9:25. Dusk does not seem much deeper than when I started out but I know it is and the remaining light will quickly recede. Rectangular windows at the Salal Housing Co-Op frame light inside the homes. The below-ground-level parking bays on the property are almost full. During the day they are almost empty. Three cedar trees amidst hemlock, fir and maple boast girths more impressive than their neighbours.

Across the street, I step through the path of a triangular median greened with a melody of shrubs punctuated with a Flowering Cherry. Over a second crossing, a canopy of cedar branches looms above my descent around a bend. The overhead ends and panels of stepped wood fences that border backyards begin. The fences straighten and up ahead give way to a Broadleaf Maple whose sibling equally dominates alongside. A few steps further, I stride beneath a draping Cherry Laurel. I draw one of its racemes to my nose and inhale the gift of its tiny creamy-white flowers.

Around the corner wild bleeding heart, wild geranium and western sword fern grace the roadside.

I glance at the parking sign where conservationists staked a warning about a bear in the area last fall. I prepare to leave the open and closely hold memory of the dusk as I head indoor.

- Michele Paulse, Port Moody


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