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Ridin’ on sunshine to the Downtown Eastside

May 5, 2016
The Kupsay mural has many looks. Here it is at 7:20 a.m. squinting in the sun.

Kris Kupskay’s laneway mural in the DTES on April 2 at 7:20 a.m.

The time of year was glaringly obvious at 6 a.m. this morning (May 5).

I had to be up and about that early in order to make another of my regular bike-and-trailer runs to collect a few weeks-worth of returnable beverage containers from a certain small condo in the Downtown Eastside.

For most of the year, I at least begin the journey downtown before sunrise. Even the trip before today’s—on April 2—began from the Fairview neighbourhood in darkness. I recall on that morning that the sun didn’t break over the eastern horizon until I was downtown and crossing Main Street at the intersection with Union Street.

I also remember how the rising sun raked across the rough surface of Kris Kupskay’s laneway mural of an upside-down  woman looking calmly out from the wall of a building located in the 500 block of Cordova St.

It’s a wonder she didn’t squint.

It’s too doggone bright in the morning now!

At 7:20 a.m. the sad sight of condo owners walking their toy dogs

Sad sight of condo owners walking their dogs on a boulevard at Manitoba St. and 1st Ave. at 7:20 a.m.

Today, sunrise was at 5:43 a.m. so not only didn’t I beat the sun downtown—for the first time in 2016, I made the entire trip bathed in sunlight.

Well, actually, I made the entire trip northeast in the face of a blinding glare that was like the visual equivalent of a strong headwind!

The unsightly mess of construction looking west at 1st Ave. and main St. at 9 a.m.

Unsightly mess of construction, looking west at 1st Ave. and main St. at 9 a.m.

I have to say that a lot of the charm is lost when everything is so well lit.

In the half-light or darkness of an early winter morning, the condoville being built over the grave of the southeast False Creek warehouse district (which I cut through on my way downtown) is an interesting study in moody shadows, dramatic angles and geometric patterns of light.

In the full light of day—where it’s been finished—its a bunch of over-sized and mismatched glass and steel towers doing Yaletown one better for banal brutality. And where it isn’t finished, it’s just an ugly mess.

And the rather pathetically sad sight today, of condo owners walking their little condo dogs back and forth on any patch of grass that they could find?—I didn’t notice that once during all the dark  winter morning trips.

Poor dogs. Poor condo owners.

Not only did I miss watching the light slowly dawn as I made my way downtown, once I arrived at my destination, I found that I actually preferred the back alleys of the Downtown Eastside when they weren’t quite so well lit.

But I recognize that I’m an exception for wanting less light. Most people, I think, wait for all year just to enjoy the excessive summer sun.

The good news for sun worshipers is that the Summer Solstice and the earliest sunrise of the year (5:07 a.m) is still over a month away, on June 20.

For my part, I’ll just bide my time for the next five months, until October, when I can again play at chasing the shadows and trying to beat the sun downtown. Click the images to enlarge them.

  1. I live in S. Surrey with all the comforts of home, but sometimes, I envy you, except for that crap on the grass..


    • One of the many ironies of homelessness is the degree to which homeless people, such as myself, are dependent on people, such as yourself, who are not homeless! The debt that I owe my neighbourhood of Fairview is huge!

      And I think that crap on the grass is a hazard for us all. 🙂


  2. And in the summer the sun is up until 10pm, I swear.


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