The Geography of Self

The Geography of Self

By Caylie Warkentin

I am in love with this world. I have nestled lovingly in it. I have climbed its mountains, roamed its forests, sailed its waters, crossed its deserts, felt the sting of its frosts, the oppression of its heats, the drench of its rains, the fury of its winds, and always have beauty and joy waited upon my goings and comings.

John Burroughs 

In Southwestern France, flickering candlelight brings paintings of paleolithic bulls at Lascaux cave to life, dancing in shadow across undulating cave walls. A continent away, high rise towers like glittering stalagmites rise from the ground in Vancouver, glass curves like eclipsed moons revealing mountain peaks, punctuating the skyline. One such mountain range is home to
The Lions, twin peaks aptly named for their resemblance to the rounded, tufted ears of the wild cat.

While we cultivate and reshape our land with bulldozers and skyscrapers, the land also shapes and informs us and our whole being.  We see creatures in constellations and name them in recognition, construct buildings and make art centred around the topography of a landscape. The edges of continents and of shorelines are not borders but reference points and we creatively construct out of them, through them. The physicality of the landscape in which we reside informs our pursuits and our interests, offers us rest, discovery, and a sense of self.

How our land cultivates us

German photographer Fred Herzog captured scenes of Vancouver, a city unlike how we know it today. In the fifties, Coal Harbour was lush with reeds and bog, and mountains dominated a skyline unobstructed by skyscrapers. Though the city has grown and matured since Herzog roamed the streets, access to nature and green spaces are still abundant and have, in turn, cultivated a deep connection with nature. Fast forward to present-day Vancouver, images of seascape meeting mountainscape come to mind, and of people wearing Lululemon athletic wear climbing the Grouse Grind or walking along the seawall, all set against a backdrop of continuous development and change. Other stereotypical images come to mind, like over-priced avocado rolls, or of athletic apparel and yoga wear in place of suits and business attire, of yoga mats slung over shoulders rather than briefcases and laptop holders.

Though these images are often referenced in jest, they do hold some truth. Forest meets sea meets mountain, and there is a collective adoration for the natural world the city makes so readily available. Much of ourselves is rooted in the physicality of the place in which we reside, and Vancouver offers a landscape entirely interconnected with nature.

Throughout the conception and creation of ARALEA BEAUTY, before our brand had a name, the concept of wellness beauty was already rooted in the very ground we stood upon, informed by our passion and love of our land and surroundings. Favourite pastimes, like swimming, hiking, and skiing, are not just activities of the body, but of the mind and soul, capturing the intersections of an active lifestyle, health and wellbeing and our connection with nature and the outdoors. This intersection between beauty and wellness is entirely borne from the spirit of Vancouver, and of the Pacific Northwest – a landscape of purpose and fulfilment. 
Our landscape is a mirror, and in it is our reflection.

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