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Dishing: Paul

After the upheaval of the past few years, I am still marvelling at what a treat it is to be able to meet up with friends in restaurants again. Such a little thing, really. And yet such a big thing.

And so it was that I found myself on Robson Street for a lunch date yesterday. Paul is as ubiquitous in Paris as Starbucks is in Vancouver and I was thrilled when I heard that a location of this longtime French institution was coming to my home city.

Paul in the Jardin des Tuileries

The bakery and café’s Vancouver location — the only one in all of Canada — has been open since 2021, but yesterday was my first visit (because, you know, pandemic).

Paul on Robson Street

You have to suspend disbelief to think you are in Paris, though. Although my crêpe aux champignons et aux épinards (mushroom and spinach crepe) was excellent, the size of the pastries we perused in the display case on our way out were supersized, not small and delicate the way they are in French bakeries. And the seating area was light and airy with tables quite far apart, not squished together as they are in Parisian cafés.

But the service was very Canadian and it was a wonderful way to while away a couple of hours with a friend. I will be back.

Snowy Gastown

As of a month ago, Vancouver had received more snow this winter than Edmonton. As someone who spent her childhood in Edmonton (where, in the coldest part of each winter, I would stand in our snow-covered driveway and try to remember what summer felt like — I could never do it), I find that fact rather astonishing.

A bunch more of the white stuff arrived this past week. Our streets have been a sloppy mess since Saturday night as the temperatures hovered just above freezing during the day. Every street corner I had to cross was an ankle-deep puddle that reminded me, ironically, of those early spring days in Edmonton when the snow melts all at once. Our schoolyard was always a giant puddle on days like that, and I often walked home from school with soaking wet feet.

Here, in Vancouver, more snow was forecasted last night, but it rained instead, and now most of the snow in my neighbourhood is gone.

Typically after a heavy snowfall, I head to Stanley Park to take photos of snow-covered trees. After the big dump of snow we had just before Christmas, I decided to head instead to Gastown. Here are a couple of the photos I took that day.

So pretty.

Through My Lens: Daffodil Surprise

These daffodils next to English Bay have become a harbinger every year to announce the change in seasons. They pop up in mid to late January — which is awfully early for daffodils in this part of the world — but I’ve heard they are a variety that is bred to bloom early. Plus, that part of the seawall faces south.

Whatever the reason, we’re always happy to see them. And they catch people who aren’t from the neighbourhood by surprise, as they can’t believe their eyes.

Through My Lens: Reflections

Here’s another photo of Lost Lagoon that I took some time ago. It’s a favourite of mine; the clouds reflected in the water remind me of a Dutch landscape painting.

Through My Lens: In the Pink

Did you know that three days ago was Blue Monday? Apparently it’s the most depressing Monday of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.

I can believe it. But yesterday, when the sun (finally) came out and I got myself over to Lost Lagoon, all I saw was pink. I took this photo a few minutes after the sun went down.

Merry Christmas!

Kensington Place, English Bay, Vancouver

Oh, the Weather Outside Is Frightful

Oooh boy. Christmas travel is chaotic at best, but this year is turning out to be a real doozy. On top of today being the busiest travel day of the year, as per usual, the entire country from coast to coast to coast is being walloped by storms.

Here in Vancouver, it’s our third storm since Sunday. Bridges are closed, some lines of the Skytrain aren’t running, and this afternoon I waded through a week’s worth of snow in a futile attempt to get groceries. (Given Vancouver’s minimal snow removal budget, our residential side streets do not get cleared.)

Half of the flights out of Vancouver since Sunday have been cancelled. And as soon as one major Canadian airport is a mess, there’s a ripple effect on all other major airports in the country because none of the planes and flight crews are where they’re supposed to be. Two young people related to me spent most of Tuesday at YVR, hoping against hope their flight to Alberta would go. It did not, and they left instead by train this afternoon, hoping to get home to their parents by Christmas Eve. I told them that taking a train through the Rockies was a rite of passage; I didn’t have the heart to tell them that VIA Rail never runs on time.

Locally, BC Ferries has cancelled multiple sailings, not only due to the inclement weather, but because of frozen pipes and staff not being able to get to the terminals. Yesterday, the BC government held an impromptu news conference, and the minister with the most unwieldy portfolio title ever — Emergency Management and Climate Readiness — urged everyone to stay off the roads except in case of emergency.

That it is the first Christmas since the start of the pandemic where people finally feel comfortable travelling seems a cruel irony. As the Yiddish proverb goes, “We plan, God laughs.”

All I can say is: I wish everyone travelling mercies, good health, and a very, merry Christmas. Goodness knows, we deserve one.

Through My Lens: A Snowy View Over English Bay

If this keeps up, Vancouver will have to give up its nickname as the Tropics of Canada. I took this photo this afternoon.

Through My Lens: November Light

There’s something special about the light on the bay this time of year. I took this photo a few days ago. A friend said it was like pewter and old gold.

Snow Golf

All right. Let’s get the obligatory first-snow-of-the-season post out of the way. Here’s a photo I took a week ago today.

Yup, we went from summer to winter in less than three weeks. First the rains came in a series of atmospheric rivers, and then the first bad windstorm of the season. Trees stressed from the drought and still in full foliage came down by the thousands, pulling power lines down with them. At the height of the storm, more than 300,000 people were without power.

After all that, an Arctic outflow blanketed much of the province for the better part of a week. Vancouver’s dusting of snow on Monday night a week ago was its earliest snowfall in decades.

Just so I’m not writing about our weather every single week, I put off posting this photo until today. That’s because I knew I wanted to acknowledge the one-year anniversary of the catastrophic floods and mudslides that ravaged British Columbia. There’s been a lot of local media coverage about it the past few days because, well, it was pretty traumatic. A lot of people are still in recovery mode.

Even the barge that came up on the rocks at the end of my street a year ago today is still there. In the end, it had to be dismantled and taken away bit by bit. A salvage team has been working on that momentous task since last summer. Theyre almost done and I cannot lie: Ill be glad when its gone.

Incidentally, although the Pitch & Putt at Stanley Park is open year-round (subject to conditions), it was closed the day I took the above photo. But obviously that did not stop the die-hard golfers you see in my photo.

Then again, Vancouverites are known to never let the weather stop them from doing what they love best.