The Kitsilano neighbourhood where the story takes place is close to the ocean on the west side of Vancouver. Zoning regulations prohibit the demolition of houses in the area, so almost every house has a basement suite and some houses are divided into three or four units. The spring and summer gardens are a riotous bloom of hydrangeas, rhododendrons, flowering pink cherry trees and magnolias. It’s always a terrific relief when the cold winter rain finally stops and the flowers take over again.
Jericho Beach is an area of Vancouver that figures prominently in the book. It’s one of those places I can’t get enough of. I love the trails along the beach and around the nature preserve. I love the sail boats and freighters, the view of West Vancouver across the water, and I love the sand and logs. I love Jericho Beach in the morning, afternoon and evening, but most of all in the early evening.
During the summer months, a large number of cats can be seen in our neighbourhood lounging on doorsteps or poking their paws out of hedges as you walk by.
Excerpt from Chapter I:
The houses looked much the same as they had a century ago, except many were divided into suites and had two front doors. The sidewalks were bordered by rhododendrons, hedges, and massive messy trees that shed leaves, sticks and seeds throughout the year. It was the kind of neighbourhood that cats liked, where you could still hear pianos and push mowers.
I don’t think there is anywhere on earth more beautiful than the forests of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Soon after I started running, I began taking the trails in the woods near our house.
Excerpt from Chapter 23, “Almost a Trail”:
On both sides of 16th, the deep, dense woods of the UBC Endowment Lands spread to the north and south. The UBC Endowment Lands were a big chunk of real estate – about 3,000 acres worth. They began twenty blocks west of us and included a large regional park and a protected ecological preserve. The entire area was crisscrossed by a complex maze of trails where people hiked and jogged, walked their dogs, rode horses and mountains bikes. Just a few steps inside one of the trail entrances, an indescribable silence descended, broken only by bird calls.