Heather Conn Blogs

spoutin’ about by the sea

An urban solstice: a labyrinth, garden magic, and memorable food

Our group at Catch 122 (I’m on the front right, in blue; Annie’s beside me, in green)

While in Vancouver, BC on Dec. 21, I was tempted to carry a tongue-in-cheek placard that read “The end is near,” just to see what responses it would spawn. I decided against it. Instead, I joined my friend Annie at her “end of the world” brunch at Catch 122, a fine-foods bistro at 122 W. Hastings in downtown Vancouver, BC. She’s part of a food bloggers’ Meetup group, which gathers regularly at various urban eateries.


Eight of us enjoyed a memorable meal. I’m not a foodie at all, yet I loved my dish, the namesake “Catch 122.” It was poached eggs on a croissant with house-smoked wild sockeye salmon, melted gorgonzola bleu cheese, arugula, and Yukon nugget potato hash. Delicious!


Owner Brent Kyle  introduced himself  to our group, noting the historical origins of the restored building (he’s got photo murals of 1909 Vancouver street scenes on the back walls, which show the original brick exteriors). He said that he wanted to create an eatery that has great coffee and excellent bistro food. And he’s done it. My sole complaint is that he needs more non-meat dishes. As a pescetarian ( fish and seafood are the only meat I eat), there were only two dishes on the brunch menu that I could choose.


I appreciate Kyle’s sense of humor. He has two 1950s style signs that read “Unattended Children Will Be Given Espresso and a Free Kitten” and “Drink Coffee — Do Stupid Things Faster with More Energy.”

That solstice evening, my friend Vicki and I walked an outdoor labyrinth in Vancouver’s West End, created by Les Blydo. He made an 11-circuit pattern on the beach at low tide, below Beach Avenue near the Aquatic Centre. It looked lovely, with the outer circle illuminated by mini candles, and the lights of Granville Island flickering in the background, leaving reflections on the water.

Later we walked to the Sun Yat Sen Garden in Vancouver’s Chinatown, where we enjoyed a beautiful outdoor array of lantern creations as part of the Winter Solstice Lantern Festival, produced by Secret Lantern Society. Reminiscent of the annual summer Illuminares, this celebration of creativity displayed whimsical paper lanterns of animals, birds, and fish, arranged on-site as if interacting naturally with habitat. Their collective layout looked stunning.

We wandered through the various corners of the garden, delighting in the serendipitous encounters with tree branches full of lit-from-within owls, a heron, and other creatures, including a row of lotus flowers spread across the garden’s still pond. Inside were fun lanterns of a tea set by Carmen Rosen and a large, elongated Year of the Snake lantern by Jacquie Rolston, made with lunaria seed pods. Many thanks to all of the volunteers and artists who helped provide an imaginative world of magical escape

, , , , , , ,
December 28, 2012 at 1:39 pm Comments (0)

Labyrinth provides solace during winter solstice

— iPhone photos by Heather Conn

The candle glow in circles fell, arcing row upon row, in lines of light, stillness in the dark.

This week,  I walked the indoor labyrinth, created temporarily to mark the winter solstice, at the Creekside Community Centre in Vancouver, BC. It was one of five such labyrinths installed at community centres across the city by the Secret Lantern Society.

I was the first one to walk the labyrinth, after sitting in the dark room for a half-hour, listening to a recorded chant of Om that filled the room. (I had sneaked in early, watching a photography class set up their tripod shots.) I walked in my stocking feet to gain a greater sense of connectedness to the floor and earth. Several young children behind me, clutching handmade paper lanterns with candles inside, whispered in the darkness. I beckoned them to pass me along the circular route.

A man in a wheelchair moved parallel to me in a different row. Some people walked slowly, as if contemplating every step.

A woman sat on the floor, eliciting melodic tones from large white crystal bowls by running her hand repeatedly around their top surface. These higher sounds joined the low drones of the recorded Om, which continued to waft throughout the room.

It was wonderful to join in such a meditative flow within an urban place, surrounded by dozens of others. We all respected each other’s space and distance, each managing to find solo walking time within a group event. One of the organizers ensured that only a small number of people entered the labyrinth at a time, to prevent crowding.

As I walked, I focused on what I wanted to draw to me within the coming year, feeling open and centred, ready to let go of the darkness of the year and make way for light. What a great way to celebrate the shortest day of the year, the ebb and flow of light and life.

Drawn to mandalas and spirals as ancient symbols, I seek out labyrinths wherever I go and walk them in gratitude. I was married in an outdoor labyrinth and have co-facilitated workshops on labyrinths and SoulCollage. For more information, see my website Sunshine Coast SoulCollage.


, , ,
December 23, 2011 at 6:02 pm Comment (1)