After moving to Vancouver’s West End in 2014, The Human is drawn to a small body of water called Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park. Daytime visits, with a surprising array of wildlife, are quietly revelatory; but so is suddenly waking in the night when owl hoots, or geese startle in alarm at otter on the prowl. The Human savors this up-close relationship between wildlife and fast-paced urban living, questioning the interface between the urban and natural world.
Upon learning the lagoon was named by nineteenth-century Canadian author E. Pauline Johnson, of Mohawk and English origin, Johnson then becomes a presence in the narrative. Pauline Johnson wrote evocatively about it: “Among the wild rice in the still lagoon/In monotone the lizard shrills his tune.”
During five years of intimate counterpoint between urban living and wildlife, The Human’s notions are challenged and altered. Questions of how significant the specificity of place is to story, how our relationship to nature is altered by urban living, and how we might return to the natural world. Reminiscent of Henry Thoreau’s Walden Pond, perceptions about nurturing, fear, inventiveness, delight, death, protection, humor, even tenderness change as the lagoon has exposed what being human in the twenty-first century actually means.