I draw a blank every time I try to write about what I’ve been up to since arriving in Vancouver ten weeks ago. Yes, I have minutely detailed notes capturing the subtle humour, pathos and essential truth of my day to day activities (e.g. “Baseball!”, “Risotto is difficult”), but mostly I’ve been going about my business as usual. Things did take a turn for the eXtreme!!11one over the last month or so — where, among other things, I’ve completed a two-week scuba diving course, pedalled for my life on the lunatic 47° banked curves of Burnaby’s velodrome, and slogged sixty grotty kilometres through the pouring rain for the MS Bike Tour — but those are the exceptions rather than the rule. But that’s cool. I’m going to write about the little things anyway.

* * *

Vancouver wants to reclaim its streets. It also wants to get high. Often, it combines the two.

One Sunday afternoon after I arrived, Monica from the office invited me to a friend’s barbeque over in Grandview-Woodland, cleverly timed to coincide with Car Free Day on Commercial Drive. The sun was shining, a beer was thrust into my hand almost as soon as I arrived, and chat ensued. It was a good day already, but we pressed on: hot dog and open container in hand, we made our way over to the Drive to take in the sights, winding up in front of a small stage in Grandview Park. We plonked ourselves down on the grass along with a surprising number of people smoking grass, and watched a succession of earnest white people play African music and exhort the audience to “feel the rhythm.”

I will not lie: I did the dance steps along with everyone else. Perhaps I had heatstroke, or maybe I’d passively smoked so much pot that I was experiencing reefer madness. Either way, it was not pretty.

Car Free Day is just one of an endless succession of street festivals and other events which dot Vancouver over the summer months, and I’m pretty sure that most of them are just excuses contrived to legitimize the smoking of copious amounts of weed. Kits, for example, has its Woodstock revival/tribute Summer of Love, where a stretch of West 4th is closed to traffic, and which I have absolutely no doubt is one massive bong-fest. Critical Mass, a sort of mobile street closure in its own right, builds up a distinctly herbal aroma whenever it brings a bridge or an intersection to a halt. In fact, it occurs to me that if the irate car drivers waiting for the kilometre-long train of cyclists to pass were to light up a fatty as they did so, everyone would be a hell of a lot happier. Even safely off-street events like the the Jazz Festival in David Lam Park get in on the act; I could have sworn I caught the familiar odour of jazz cigarettes wafting over the sagely nodding crowd.

Most recently, the Vancouver Pride parade passed right by my apartment, although I missed that one and can’t speak as to its toking tendencies. Ironically enough, as the parade was going on I was in a pack of mostly lycra-clad cyclists over in Horseshoe Bay being heckled as “gay” by some teenage skateboarders. Thinking about it, they were probably high.