Blissful BC courtesy of David Attenborough and the BBC

Nature's Great Event last night, viewed from the Ealing living room, was the salmon run in BC.   Bears, wolves, eagles, orcas and the salmon themselves paraded before me on the tv.  How rare and exotic they looked after an afternoon on the Central Line. And how exquisitely beautiful was, as always, British Columbia. So green, so blue, so many trees, so many mountains, so much water.
I've had a suspicion for years that if BC were in the USA where they are so much more inclined to self-promotion, the place would be a mob scene. But it's those reserved, self-deprecating Canadians who won the Majestic Landscape lottery. And they have, on the whole, spent it in quiet sensible ways.  (Yes, yes I know ...clearcutting, Sea to Sky Olympic massacre but Greenpeace was born in Vancouver.. and vast swathes of BC remain untouched and inaccessible)

London  life feels so small-minded and banal when confronted with the drama of grizzlies descending snow-wrapped mountains to wait on the shores of sparkling rivers for the arrival of the fish from thousand of miles out in the Pacific. Fish who are compelled to return to the exact place of their birth to spawn and die. On the way, BC's spectacular wildlife  - wolves, orcas, eagles and grizzlies will kill  many of them but the salmon persist, growing pink and uglier as they do. And when they die and rot and their carcasses are devoured and scattered by scavengers, their remains sink back into those lush green forests, feeding them the precious nitrogen that gives us the great cedars, sitka spruce and western hemlock that make up these glorious forests. Round and round goes the green and blue cycle.

On my first summer in Vancouver,  I was astounded to see  whole wild salmon on sale in the Safeway for about $3. The run had been spectacular that year and we, the blundering bipeds were also getting our pickings right behind the grizzlies and eagles.

When I come out of that Safeway, if I look down the hill on which it stands, I can see mountains and forest and ocean. How lucky I am that for just a few months each year, I get to live alongside such grandeur, such ongoing spectacle.

Blissful Vancouver Sundays - without the Sunday papers

I'd been going back and forth to Vancouver for 7 years when I suddenly realized why Sundays in Vancouver felt lighter and cheerier than Sundays in London. Of course, in the Canadian city I can see the snow on the mountains when I wake up. And in winter there's the prospect of snow-shoeing on those peaks - in summer there's a dip in the Pacific at the end of the road. But all the Lotus-land pleasures of BC aside, the one enormous difference is that nobody bothers with Sunday papers in Vancouver. This pathetic ritual of loading a stonking great pile of dead tree into your supermarket trolley and lugging it home to read all those opinions of all those dried-up poseurs  would be unthinkable in Canada. The leading national paper, The Globe and Mail doesn't even bother publishing a Sunday edition. 

I remember once reading a Stephen Fry column (in something like the Spectator NOT a Sunday paper) where he said that he had found himself becoming increasingly more depressed by the Sunday press - all those dismissive opinions - all the cynicism - and had finally called a halt and felt better for it. The prospect of a hike up Mt Seymour makes it easy to ignore the press but even in London, I think the time would be better spent picking dry skin of the soles of my feet.

And yes, I do occasionally write for said Sundays. And I do my best to make my stories witty and informative. I'm happy that people read them but I'd rather they were read over a cup of tea and a bun after a good walk in the woods. And the Style section should definitely be used to wrap the fish and chips that the food section probably tells us we should no longer eat.

Posted by Janette Griffiths
at 14:34