Pam and I were walking home from dinner (we were hungry, so we feasted on the delicious All-you-can-eat Sushi, Korean barbecue, tempura and Ton katsu at Shabusen, up the hill on Granville) when she pointed out that we’ve been in Vancouver every month of the year except for June. In a week and month ahead, we’ll have been in Vancouver for at least some period of time in every month of the year. (in mid July, we’ll have lived here a year — already!).
This is significant, because I’ve sometimes remarked that this city does indeed have a Jekyll and Hyde personality; actually it’s more an Apollo and Dionysus dichotomy. At any rate, what I mean is there is a brainy Vancouver, and then there is a more languid, epicurean Vancouver. These two faces make their appearance depending on the change of the seasons.
Here’s how it goes: Half of the year, the city’s residents must duck into a dry library, concert hall, movie theatre, book store or workplace to escape the continual showers. There, by the gas fire and sipping serial lattes and cappuccinos, we hunker down at our computer screens and notebooks, write novels and software, think deep thoughts about culture and philosophy, listen to countless new music concerts and go to documentary festivals into the sunset (which takes place at about 3 PM). In short, Vancouver assumes the role of Seattle of Canada. Maybe with a touch of Prague and Cambridge (OK, OK, I’ll stick with Seattle).
Then in late April, the city undergoes something of a metamorphosis. Like those mousey librarians of those clichéd movies (and episodes of ‘Love, American Style’ ) who remove their cat’s-eye glasses and with a twist of their head, unfurl their long, brown hair from the bun it’s been in since November, the city magically transforms into a Party Girl. Or, Surfer Dude. The beach beckons, and we leave work to take a long walk, or sip some Merlot (or beer). There are flowers everywhere, and a book is OK, as long as it’s surrounded by a picnic. The sun sets at 9 PM, so every day is potentially a little mini vacation. To be sure, it’s hard to sit inside at work when you really want to be wearing sunglasses and sauntering down by the water. Vancouver becomes Canada’s San Diego. Perhaps even a little LA and Cannes. (Oh all right. San Diego.)
In a little over a week, the Gamelan I play in, Madu Sari, is playing at Simon Fraser University (where we usually rehearse) in the afternoon, and then in the evening, we perform at the In the House Festival, where a series of people in East Vancouver open up their homes and back yards for a series of eclectic concerts and Burlesque shows. Well, maybe some of that Apollonian, intellectual side does last through in the Spring and Summer months.
The most notable thing about the Gamelan rehearsals at SFU lately has not been the fact that my bus trips to Burnaby mountain are no longer into the dark, but that we seem to be competing against the Marching bands of Bagpipers who are also practicing on campus (I assume for Graduation Ceremonies in month or so) . It is truly a multi-ethnic Ivesian (and in fact, I’d venture to say, typically Vancouver) experience to hear the duel between Javanese Percussion and Scottish Pipes.