I am house sitting out in Lower Caulfeild (and yes, that is ‘ei’ Caulfeild, not ‘ie’ Caulfield) for a lovely Tommy Hilfiger family. They’ve gone off on an African safari and are hunting lions, giraffes, and elephants with cameras, and taking selfies with cheetah cubs. They are having a fabulous time. I’ve been left in charge of a faux French chateaux, a lovable wheaton terrier who is starting to get on in her years, a full fridge of food, and two bottles of chardonnay to get me through the next two weeks. The house is beautifully positioned to overlook Caulfeild Cove, and the summer nights have been stunningly clear and warm so just before I go to bed, I take in the full moon shining down the cove, making the water glisten like gold.
Lower Caulfeild is the only area of West Vancouver has that has a formal design policy for the area, as the founder of the area, Francis Caulfeild I think was his name, was an English gentleman who wanted to recreate the feel of an English village and associated landscape. The houses are situated on large lots, the landscaping is fairly organic and incorporates much of the natural topography, geology, and botany of the area. Houses, and much of them are mansions at this point, as it is a highly desirable area in which to live, perch atop granite outcrops, and command peekaboo views of the sea through the tall cedars that have to remain in situ. The houses are a mix of the older homes, and the newer ones either West Coast modern or Craftsman. I personally prefer the West Coast modern as it blends a bit of the Japanese aesthetic of being one with your environment (at least to my untutored eye). An Anglican church, St. Francis-in-the-Woods sits in an approximate middle of the area, with a English-styled village green in front, a nod to the area’s intent.
I walk Sophie, the dog, every morning and every evening. I took her once on a longer walk but the second time I tried to do the same, she puller her wheaton terrier card on me and balked. She’s trained me well. We just do the figure eight of the one way streets in the area (another quirk of Lower Caulfeild) so that she can enjoy her morning and evening constitutionals, and I stretch my legs at least. The walk is beautiful, even if only a twenty minuter: I have a stunning view of Vancouver in the distance, starting from Point Grey and UBC, to Kitsilano, then Stanley Park with the city looming behind, then Lionsgate Bridge, and finally the shores of West Vancouver. I’ve seen bald eagles sitting in the cedars, herons silently gliding overhead from tree to sea, squirrels throwing beech nuts down at the road, and sea otters scurrying across the lanes into the brambles of Caulfeild Park. Sitting out on the patio one evening, enjoying a glass of wine with a friend after we’d done a short hike up to Whyte Lake, two bats swooped about our heads, picking off mosquitoes.
As the days have grown rather warm, it hits about thirty degrees during the day right now, although there is a pleasant breeze off of the water still that keeps the air comfortable, I have taken Sophie out later on her evening walks, closer to nine in the evening, so that she does not overheat. We walk a figure eight route through the lanes in Lower Caulfeild, with the bottom of the loop meandering by the shore. My final leg is the short walk up the rather steep hill, atop which lies the house; the bottom of the hill is the village green. St. Francis-in-the-Woods, has taken an entrepreneurial spirit towards modernization and the necessity to branch out in order to survive. As such, some intrepid local parishioners had the church hall renovated into a modern banquet facility, albeit in a small scale, which is subsequently rented out. The revenue from the hall rental keeps the church in continuing along its religious business.
This Saturday, as Sophie and I began to round the corner to climb the hill, I could hear laughter and the clinking of glasses in the distance. A wedding was being celebrated at the church hall that perfect July evening. As I turned the corner, I came across three people, having a smoke in the middle of the lane. They were hidden from the church by the high laurel bushes that many of the Lower Caulfeild houses have lining the lanes. There was a man and a woman, in their late twenties or early thirties, members of the wedding party, as the gent was wearing a dark suit, and the lady was wearing a sassy cocktail dress. She had one arm crossing the other that was holding her cigarette, and she took languid pulls of the stick, blowing smoke up into the evening air. The man, perhaps her boyfriend, husband, friend, or fellow guest smoker, stood speaking animatedly, almost panting in excitement (and not unlike Sophie at the tail end of her walk) to the third person, a waiter. The waiter was Asian, and though dressed in his work uniform, he wore it like a tuxedo. He was surer and more dignified than the wedding guest, and commanded the lane like he was holding an audience, with the guests as his petitioners. The waiter said little, but would periodically inhale on the cigarette in silent concentration.
Clearly, decisions were being made, warrants signed, world order redesigned.
And it was was the waiter who was in charge, not the other two. I wondered what the conversation was about.
Sophie started to squat off to one side of the lane, so I hurried over to clean up her business. By the time I turned around just to see if I could hear anything, the three were gone, back in the thick of their evening.