Granville Island Pairings: The Park

This series pairs recently released books with items from some of our favourite Granville Island shops. This week, Festival Assistant Aditya Bhagirath talks a walk and focuses on the simple things.

Within the bone-chilling dread that the COVID-19 pandemic has circulated around the world for much of 2020, a bright spot has been getting the chance to appreciate the nature around me. Outside of trips to Safeway and light jogging to the front entrance of my university residence to pick up my take-out, my main exposure to the outside world has been through taking walks around campus during the evening.

During these walks, I can’t help but recall similar walks from my past years in Vancouver, specifically on campus. The 2018 winter, where shimmering lights dotted the stretch of Main Mall, footsteps dredging up the melting slush of a dying snowfall. The 2020 summer, set on finding the small joys in the midst of uncertainty. I walked along Main Mall then too, usually with friends, almost always ending up at the Rose Garden. Walking down Main Mall today, the lights are nowhere in sight. Regular walks with friends have by necessity been reduced to one or two walks a week. Even solitary walks feel different, but I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised because everything else is different, too. But still, they have all proved so helpful.

On the solitary walks, I usually carry a book with me. Today, I have John Freeman’s poetry collection entitled, The Park. The copy rests on one side of my tote bag along with my water bottle, the other side housing my wallet, keys and a warm blueberry scrumpet from Muffin Granny. I set myself down on one of the benches that overlooks the Rose Garden, the book and the scrumpet in hand, and nourish myself. The scrumpet is soft and warm, filling my senses with a light buttery air. Freeman’s words are so precise, so revealing. He writes in the poem ‘Chosen’ about how a chance encounter with a dog “[R]emind[s] me what it feels like to be chosen, as in you too can give.” Sometimes, it’s the simple lines that really touch you the most.

When I’m done reading by the garden, and I’ve packed my things and gotten ready to trek back to my dorm, I think of how many people have walked along this path, and maybe done the exact same thing I just did. I am one small sand molecule on this ocean bed of uncharted history, and every day will have something new to give back and to receive.


Aditya Bhagirath