The Weekly Gardener 1

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Vancouver in Winter

The Steam Clock

The Steam Clock

I didn't get a picture of this city feature last year, so here it is, the Steam Clock on Water Street. I read the explanation about how a steam boiler operates something as delicate and precise as a clock mechanism and I will leave it to people more familiar with the intricacies of clockwork to shed light on it.

It puffs and whistles every fifteen minutes, certainly more delicately than a steam engine, attracting the interest of locals and visitors alike.

The Steam Clock boasts an old fashioned Victorian design, but it is a lot younger than its looks: it was built in 1977 by horologist Raymond Saunders and metalworker Doug Smith. (Am I the only person to think that writing horologist under 'your occupation' is way cool?) I wonder how many of them there are in the world.

By definition, horology is the scientific study of time, a broader category that includes the measurement of time and the making of clocks. Add to this steam powering intricate mechanisms and you'll understand my fascination with the subject.

I went down that Internet rabbit hole and learned more fascinating details, which I will share with you. For instance, I learned that any feature of a mechanical time piece that goes beyond a simple movement, which means only the hour and minute arms, is called a complication. A grand complication is a watch that has several complications, traditionally at least three. The most complicated watch has 57.

What could possibly add up to 57 complications? An astrolabe, the phases of the moon, the signs of the zodiac, and last, but not least, a tourbillon.

What does a tourbillon do, you ask? It mitigates the effects of gravity. Enough said.

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The Bay at Sunset

Vancouver at Sunset

A view of Vancouver at sunset from Lonsdale Quay. Even as you see it, the picture doesn't really do it justice. The sky was ablaze with colors one hardly ever sees, even in the middle of winter.

The white sail structure in the forefront is Canada Place, which will host the second largest celebration for Canada Day; this year is the country's 150th anniversary.

You wouldn't believe it, when you look at this picture, that rain poured uninterrupted the entire day, from a leaden blanket of storm clouds as thick as the atmosphere itself.

On our bus trip back from Capilano we watched it lift and dissipate suddenly, to display this beautiful spectacle of light and color which was hidden behind it.

We got to admire the sunset at leisure, while the ferry took us back downtown, past the northern Vancouver shipyards and the Lions Gate Bridge, and the Stanley Park seawall.

The night and us arrived at the ferry terminal at the same time.