Everyone has a 'spot'. It doesn't matter who you are or where you find it; it is a place where comfort is sought, and it is unique to every human being. It might be under a car, hiding in a closet, sitting in your favourite coffee joint, or perhaps a vat of jello with monkies dancing the conga. Whatever: it can be as personalized as you want. And the best part about it, is it can be your little secret.

'Spot' is the coined slang term used to describe a personal place of emotional refuge; a haven from the external influences of every-day that can seep under our skin and drag us down; if we let them. Although psychologically a person can maintain considerable control and influence over their personal microcosm, the grand collective insanity that procures frustration is sometimes overwhelming for just one small human to encompass without feeling worn down. The run-down: Life can get to you whether you like it or not. Everyone needs to let their guard down at one point or another.

There is a spot in the outskirts of the lower mainland of Vancouver, British Columbia that has captivated me for years on end, and continues to exercise that mystique each time I return to visit it. Although the environment and spot that one might stumble upon may be their own, it's certainly not uncommon to find that another brave soul has stumbled upon it as well. Chances are, your sanctuary may be someone else's as well. This place, in Maple Ridge, is a spot of the naturally occuring variety.

A serene and placid stream dubbed Kanaka Creek ties to a valley under a bridge that screams serenity. It's an invisible place, people rarely frequent there lest they be walking one of their pets and letting them relieve themselves. A shore of weather-smoothened stones cusps the stream, which can be found filled with infant salmon in the spring to late summer.

The fish are a playful addition deserving of their own recognition as well. Sockeye salmon and their offspring will swim about your ankles should you attempt to join them in the deeper pools of the body of liquid. They will 'taste' your skin with their succulent greedy little mouthes, and it is surprising to discover the very odd sensation of 'suction cups all over your legs'. (This is perhaps the most apt description one could give. It is purely a matter of experiance in which this can be understood clearly.)

Delving further into the brush which surrounds the clearing with the creek; there is a secluded grove of more shoreline and more bountiful water. Cascades of waterfalls and beautiful wildlife emerge into this grove, as it is considerable distance from the bridge adjoining the road. The sounds of cars previously audible to human ears are now assimilated into the pure rapture of the rushing water. Bushes lined with a plethora of edible fruits and berries are scattered amongst the dense green foliage. Salmon berries, boisonberries, raspberries, and occasionally strawberries or blueberries can be absconded from the area to satisfy any delectable craving for a sour-sweet combination.

Perhaps the most impermeable point that I cannot scrape from my mind is the giant tree of 'Ahn'. The tree is simply an elder organism that has resided in the hidden grove for probably the longest of any tree there. It's years of age emanate from it's presence. It is gnarled and has bark stripping itself away with time. The peculiar quality of this tree, however, is that it has a flattened surface as a 'top' instead of branches. Leaning against its side is a make-shift wooden ladder with messily scrawled letters etched into the top rung: AHN.

This elusive word perplexed me for a while as I stumbled in my mind to figure out if it was an error in spelling for some other word. Is this relevant to the sanctity of this place? Certainly not. But, from gazing at the tree from a distance, it is clearly obvious that some ample youth had placed the ladder and built a semi-fort from the rotting stump of a tree. So perhaps this fort in this grove in this valley under this bridge; is actually someone else's sanctified 'spot' as well. A child, perhaps. The thought of having a shared space of refuge is almost inspiring. It's an amazing feeling to find that someone else on the planet has the same feelings towards a place that you do. It's almost as if a portion of you has been emulated through another, and vice-versa. It is a subtle reminder that somehow, somewhere: you are connected into the giant universal consciousness that every mind and imagination on the planet it tapped in to.

And this, is why finding a 'spot' is so fantastic for the human soul. Not only do these places of seclusion offer a break from the monotony of the rest of the busy world, but overlapping moments of shared interest and peace of mind also remind us with comfort us that we are not alone - a feeling that sometimes comes with the overbearing sense of frustration we travel to these sanctuaries to avoid and dodge.

The place detailed in this write-up can be located at the following address/directions: (If you are ever in the area, or perhaps if you reside in Vancouver, I urge you to pay my favourite 'spot' a visit.)

The bridge on 124th Avenue; Maple Ridge, B.C. a.k.a. The elusive grove of AHN

Postal Code Reference: V2W 1C4 (A house in the area, but having a postal code and a map to the general area is very useful.)
124th Avenue can be cross-referenced with 256th st and 261st st.
There is only one bridge on the road, and it is found in the 'dip' of the large hill of the road. You can't miss it!

Where is your spot? Is it also neatly stored away in a select portion of nature? Is it in the corner of your favourite poetry dive? Is it in a vat of jello with monkies dancing the conga? The beauty of personal choice is simply that; I urge you to step out and find your own niche to hole up in when you need it. The world isn't inconquerable, but even the bravest of warriors need to rest at night.

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