Monday, December 6, 2010

Granville Island

Yesterday Mum shoo’d  us out of the apartment and sent us off to visit the Granville Island Markets.      
            “You’re from Adelaide.”  She said.  “You need to see it.  You’ll understand why when you get there.” 
Mr Tabubil and I walked across the city to False Creek ferry and took the ferry across.  I don't know the nautical terminology for this class of ship, but the False Creek ferries are the most fun I've had since I played with fisher-price toys in my bathtub.  The ferries are round little boats with a row of portholes and a tall seat in the middle for the driver, who steers by peering out through a turret in the roof. In stiff seas the distance between the gunwales and the waterline is mostly negative, and waves slop sideways through the door, and the engine goes with a marvelous chug - a deep ch-ch-ch throbbing sound. 

Granville Island, on the far side of False Creek, is a neighborhood of old warehouses and chandleries- re-purposed for a farmer's market and colonized by artists. 
The Market Hall is wonderful place - very much like our Most Beloved Central Market in Adelaide, filled to the roof in glowing primary colors with heaped piles of blueberries and raspberries and gooseberries and strawberries and grapes and  figs and kumquats and cherries. Baskets of mushrooms and asparagus, ropes of  garlic and onions and barrels of potatoes, still dusted with soil.  Wheels of cheese - Bries and Cheddar and Swiss cheeses, tubs of feta and bocconcini.  Ropes of smoked sausages - wursts and salamis and chorizos and kielbasas and thing we'd never heard of before.  Bakeries, with shelves of enormous, flour dusted french loves, and cabinets of small, glowing, glazed fruit tarts. Beds of crushed ice with salmon and halibut and mullet and rainbow trout and Dungeness crab. Chocolate makers.  Fudge makers.  Fresh local honey. Don't eat the buckwheat honey.  It tastes like a barnyard.
We trailed lightly up and down the aisles, feeling faintly homesick, and feeling very much at home.  

We soothed ourselves with bags of maple-smoked salmon.  Vancouver-ites take their salmon seriously and eat it every way imaginable - and in one way I'd never considered.  They dice it into bite-size nuggets and baste it with maple syrup and smoke it and serve it in little paper bags like gumballs.
It’s very good.

Outside the market, the neighborhood is made up of art galleries and artists studios.  We saw a totem pole being carved from the inside out, then we walked down the sidewalk to peer into a glass-blowing studio.  A few doors down a woman was weaving a tapestry on a big wooden loom - and every other storefront seemed to be selling hand-spun silk yarn in iridescent colors - Mr Tabubil had to drag me away.  The yarn caught on the rough nicks and scuffs on my dry hands, and promised me scarves and shawls that lay like lace and clouds on my fingers - Mr Tabubil, in pained tones, reminded me that at that moment, my facility with knitting needles was limited to half of one lumpy doll scarf, and a lot of knotted wool.  He let me buy two skeins of rainbow-striped silk, craftily promising to let me use them as a graduation project, along with the title of 'Real Knitter', if I get the dolly scarf done - this year.  That silk yarn is in my sewing cupboard, Mr Tabubil - and eight weeks on, the dolly project is almost finished.  I'll be knitting that silk scarf yet!    

We found a workshop that builds scale architectural models.  It was extremely satisfying - and gratifying - to watch them through the window making 1:100 buildings SLOWLY.  Carefully.  Measuredly.  Consideredly.  There were no tantrums.  Nobody was slamming the sides of the laser-cutter and weeping with impatience because the CAD templates hadn't scaled and there was no more chipboard to be had at any price.  Nobody would be gluing their hands to each other with superglue, and then tearing their fingers loose and smearing blood across their models– and then showing off the mess as a mark of pride and aggressive dedication to their purpose.  I wouldn't mind that sort of job.  Without the screaming pressure and the midnight deadlines, it'd probably be thoroughly satisfying.

I wandered into a print workshop watch two artists roll a plate through a lithographic press.  Mr Tabubil stayed outside to eat maple candy in the sunshine – and was joined on his bench by an elderly couple who blinked at him amiably and introduced themselves; they were from Adelaide, in South Australia and they were visiting their daughter here in Vancouver.  She had sent them to visit the Granville Market.  She told them they’d understand why.

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