Victoria man tends unexpected garden at James Bay seawall
VICTORIA -- Although Stan regularly carries a 10-litre jug of water to Dallas Road, it’s been more challenging lately.
“I got my [COVID-19] shot,” Stan says, patting his left shoulder with a smile. “So this arm’s useless right now.”
So instead of lugging the jug all the way down to the beach, he one-arms the water from above.
You have to lean over the railing to see what he’s sprinkling. While we wait for him to finish and show me, Stan mentions he used to collect large pieces of blue beach glass here.
“There‘s not a lot now,” he says. “Just very small pieces.”
When he was a boy, Stan says they called it Blue Glass Beach, and you could find the pieces everywhere. He’d also catch bait here before running over to the Ogden Point breakwater to fish with it.
“The whole coastline is a playground,” he smiles.
A maritime amusement park where he later brought his daughter to play in, before she grew up to bring his grandchildren too.
“So it’s a special place,” he says, looking down on the beach below.
It’s a place that Stan now returns to every couple of days to do what he never imaged he’d be doing before retiring from a career in construction.
“I think everybody gets up and rushes to work,” he says, before gesturing down to what he was watering. “You miss out on all that.”
That is a community garden starting to grow way below Dallas Road, at the very bottom of the James Bay seawall.
“The neighbourhood kinda calls it the Nuke Wall,” Stan says, referring to how the sun warms it up. “It gets nuclear hot against the wall.”
It creates a unique microclimate that, with the help of volunteers of all ages, will result in an explosion of produce.
“It’s neat to see the kids come by and look at how their plants are doing,” Stan says.
The 45-foot garden bed is bordered by driftwood, filled with four inches of soil, and features a variety of flowers and vegetables ranging from tomatoes and beans, to sunflowers and lettuce.
When Stan’s not helping the garden’s plants grow, he’s painting the scenery’s colours.
He opens up a plastic container filled with stack of watercolours the width of a book. They feature the same view of the beach across to the water to Olympic Mountains but all look different.
“Every morning it’s like this,” Stan says pointing to the varying shades of blue in his paintings. “Then later it’s an orange green and at the end of the day it’s quite a thing.”
He’s created more than 70 watercolour landscapes so far and plans on painting one a day for the rest of the year.
“It’s like a meditation,” Stan smiles. “I feel blessed to be able to take time to come watch the sunset.”
And grateful to have found this place of perpetual inspiration, where he’s grown from a boy searching for glass and finding joy, to a grandfather watering plants and growing gratitude.