Rooted, I used to think.

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Lotusland - Monday, Jan. 23, 2023
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Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022 @ 10:36 am
Grouse Mountain

I go night skiing alone.

This is the hill that I skied on the most when I was growing up, especially as a teenager. My paper diaries document Friday nights on the chairlift, my thigh pressed up against a boy, one of my crushes, me desperately wanting something to happen. But of course, never making a move myself.

I ski the icy slopes and pause at times, overcome with nostalgia. Here is the roll where we’d all stop to group up before continuing down to the chair. Here is the little trail through the woods that we found, still here thirty years later.

The hill sounds the same. The same wind through the snowy trees. The same bright scraping sound of metal ski edges against sheets of ice. The same thump-thump of the lift cables riding over the pulley wheels on the towers, like a heartbeat. My heartbeat. My breath in and out.

I grew up on the flank of this mountain. If you walk uphill from my childhood home, you will pass through subdivisions of houses, increasing in size and grandeur as you gain elevation. Eventually, the houses will end, and you’ll cross a swath of weeds and bush under high voltage transmission lines. And then, into the trails. Maybe you’ll get a bit lost in the maze of trails through the second-growth forest. But if you just continue going up, eventually you’ll break out of the forest and onto the ski slope.

My grandfather hiked those trails, every single one of them, on a regular basis. When he retired, he joined a group of fellow mountain enthusiasts who hiked up the mountain twice per week. They built a trail from the parking lot to the ski chalet so that they could have an efficient route up to their morning mocha. A table was always set aside for them on that morning, as the group grew to a dozen or more.

Eventually the trail became popular with others. Many others. You may have hiked it yourself, if you ever came to visit this city. And so, in a desire to reclaim the solitude, they built another trail. They hid the entrance to the new trail and would wait until all other hikers had passed before pushing aside a shrub and stepping onto their secret path.

My grandfather took me on that trail when he was old, definitely 88, perhaps 92. He told me to tell nobody about the trail. They named the trail after a poem written by an Indigenous woman whose ashes are buried in Stanley Park.


I lap the quiet ski runs at night and gaze down to the expanse of city lights.

My grandfather’s ashes are here on the mountain, now incorporated into the soil and trees.

My dad hikes the trails now too, and he’s become old. A seventy five year old man wandering around in the woods, hiking up, hiking down, talking to whoever he can find on the labyrinth of trails.

I hadn’t skied here in a decade, two decades, perhaps nearly three decades? Why did I come back here? What made me seek this place out after all of these years? I’m not sure, but my subconscious is beyond intelligent.

Because after all of the moving around I’ve done in my life, I finally feel like I’m home.

Roots | Shoots