Sunday, April 22, 2012

Like A Rolling Stone

English Bay beach low tide photo by Junie Quiroga
In Vancouver the only time anyone gives any thought to the tides is usually when they are either playing on the beach or going for a walk along the seawall.  When the tide is in (high tide) there's only a narrow strip of exposed sand at each of the beaches with everything otherwise covered by the ocean.  But when the tide is out (low tide) the muddy bottom and all of the ocean's dirty laundry is left exposed, with a jumble of rocks and boulders dominating most of the shoreline.

Low tide rocks west of 2nd Beach photo by Junie Quiroga
Where all the rocks came from in the first place is a geological mystery of its own, though some have obviously been put there by engineering crews to create mini breakwaters and stave off the erosive effect of the ocean.   It's so rocky that, as you walk along the seawall, you quickly realize how fortunate it was that a beach like English Bay even came into existence.  Though in actual fact that beach needed a little help from city hall to get enough sand to make it what it is today.

More rocks and boulders along the seawall
Added to the mystery of these rocks and their random placement is a certain beauty that goes with their wildness. However, what's fascinating about all these rocks isn't so much how they got here but what the locals have done with them.  One example being a painstakingly cleared path someone made just so they could get to the water.

Pathway to the ocean photo by Junie Quiroga

Steps Beach photo by Junie Quiroga
Another is the alcove that has been created by using the stones and a little mortar to reinforce the hill, install some steps to access the beach, and put in some seating.  Obviously quite a collective effort has gone into this project, because the group also cleared an area of the waterfront and used the rocks to build a breakwater. It has become quite a popular spot for folks to gather and socialize and, in the process, they have created a new beach.

Steps Beach photo by Junie Quiroga
Balancing Sculptures photo by Junie Quiroga

But my favourite use of the stones and imagination is the little balancing sculptures that folks are always putting together.  Whether it's making little Inukshuks or creating whimsical creatures, it seems to breathe life into the stones themselves, and builds a unique existence for them out of the randomness of their particular surroundings.  Life is what you make it, even for a rolling stone.

Balancing stone sculptures


  1. Once again a fantastic story about the wonders of English Bay. Love the last picture. Almost looks like a little village created by little "Inukshuks"!!!!
    Well done - keep up the good work.

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