Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Down by the Bay

I went down to the waterfont park to cool off this afternoon. A large red cargo ship has been moored there for the past few days, filling its holds with steel. The giant cranes make a thrillingly impermanent backdrop to the location. It was still hot, despite the influence of the water. Some local kids were fishing and I put on a little skateboard show for them.

In the middle of a small waterside square, there is a pair of bronze statues of a naked woman and man, slightly larger than life in scale, postured heroically on one knee and holding representations of the sheets of a giant sail made out of steel tubing. It's not a horrible statue, though I think it has a slight tinge of kitsch about it. The kids were perched on the bronze man and steel tubing, watching me like a flock of seagulls while the statue wavered slightly under their combined weight. A large man in a wheelchair was sitting in the shade, talking to a friend and swearing occasionally.

Later, one of the kids caught a big turtle and put it in a tupperware container to bring home. I tried to persuade them to let it go, but the kids were too enamored with their new find. Matthew, whom I just met today, was climbing dangerously high into the "rigging" of the sail, and I had to tell him to come down several times. He deftly slid down the last few feet of the metal tubing on his sneakers, like an animated young Tarzan from Disney. Matthew is a daredevil, and wiped out on my skateboard several times, skinning his knee.

On my way back, there was an older woman sitting in the shadow of her SUV with a large tub of colourful plastic beads. They shimmered in the sun like jewels and I asked her if she was making some necklaces.

"All for the glory of God," she said, "but I won't be making anything resembling a bracelet or necklace. The market is flooded with those things, so I need to make something more original. I don't think God will mind if I make a little money while using the gifts He gave me"

"What he seems to have given you is an awful lot of beads!" I said, but not in a sarcastic way. Just then her husband or boyfriend appeared, a fishing rod in hand from which dangled a rainbow coloured plastic fish-shaped lure.

I talked for a little while longer with the woman, who repeated several times her desire to glorify God. She was sorting out the beads, putting them into a variety of emptied pharmaceutical containers that God had provided for her earlier that day. Sometimes it feels like everything is charged with metaphorical meaning and significance, even (especially?) strange old ladies by the waterside.

On a side note, the city has half a million dollars allocated to build a new skatepark, but they can't settle upon a location. Allot of skaters and councillors seem to be pushing for a location "on the mountain"--meaning the escarpment, but I think the waterfront park is the logical place for it. It's sufficiently remote to avoid annoying any homeowners, parents would have a pleasant environment in which to bring their kids, and the adjacent Marine Heritage Museum and Coffee Shop would flourish. As for the argument being made against the waterfront by one skateshop owner: that he likes to skate in the morning, and if the park is by the waterside it will be covered in slippery dew; this seems to be a case of "the needs of the one outnumbering the needs of the many". Who the heck skates in the morning, anyways?

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