Wednesday, June 25, 2008

City Mouse...


I am again back in Toronto after being in Elora and Guelph again over the past 5 days. I have been back for approximately 7 hours and will be re-packing my bags and headed back on the greyhound bound for Ottawa tomorrow morning for another week or more to hang with my parents and take in some Jazz festival. I am almost dizzy from all this back and forth and whizzing around! I am very excited to hear Chick Corea for the first time live, and also Brad Meldau (for the second time)!!! Amazing that I will be hearing these two people live within the SAME WEEK! Wow. I'm pumped.

As could have been predicted, I have been thinking way to much about the country vs city thing over the past month or so, since I have been spending a lot of time on the farm and in (and around) Guelph. As soon as I start to visualize myself actually living in the country, or even in a smallish town the panic sets in and I start thinking thoughts such as this one: "How the heck do you think a city girl like yourself will hack it out here in the middle of winter, or any time of the year, for that matter, when you can't just hop on a street-car and head to your favorite sushi place?! Do you really think you will get busy canning pickles or darning socks or forming a quilting bee?! Get real!!"
And I have to give that thought some serious cred. It's true that I have become so accustomed to the excess of city living that I don't think I am even fully aware of how dependant I am on the little things - that actually end up amounting to a lot. Here is why I am the ultimate city person:

-I have early memories of sitting on benches in the middle of the busiest sections of the the city with my mom, eating ice cream, and making up scenarios about the lives of all the people rushing by. It is one of my favorite young memories.

-I am 32 years of age (deep breath) and do not have a drivers licence. Yes, this means that I have relied on public transit my entire life. I am slightly proud of myself for this (much to my family's bewilderment) ...but the only way I could have done this is by living in a place big enough to sustain a working transit system. Yup, you got it: a CITY.

-I have actual dreams about Istanbul and New York.

-I started eating Donair's, Fallafel's, jamaican patties, Gnocci's with Pesto, Poutine (god help me), and Shwarma's when I was still in grade school. I am not Greek or Lebanese or Italian. I thought that people who had never tasted hummus were totally weird.

-For most of my life, up until my recent burn-out from working at a homeless shelter, one of my favorite things to do was to head downtown and chat up the panhandlers.....not so much anymore. (understatement).

-I spent 3 weeks deeply exploring the city of Paris, France and felt I had only just skimmed over the top. And for a person like myself, I was probably right.

-I like to walk or bike down some city streets with no place to go or no goal in mind...just cause. This remains one of my favorite pastimes. I was under the impression that most people enjoyed doing this...and have recently learned this is not the case.

-I spend a fairly large chunk of my life in various coffee shops. I like my Americano long. The people at the Portuguese bakery know my "thing" for custard tarts. Yikes.

-If I wanted to I could go for weeks without doing groceries. Especially if I hit up China town on a regular basis. Ye-eah!

-When I am bored I window shop...really that only means looking in store windows and rarely walk in them. I like to do it at a fairly fast pace.

-I can maneuver my way through a giant crowd on a busy sidewalk like nobody's business. Seriously. I should probably be ashamed, but I secretly think it's pretty cool.

I'm on a roll with this list, and could go on and on but I'll cut it there before I really disgrace myself. Actually, it's not even that I see these things as bad, necessarily. They are the fabric of my life and I love many, even most, aspects of my life in cities. I feel that the city has been the teacher of my most valuable life lessons. City's are so messy, and busy and scary and lovely and gritty all at once. Cities are white lights at night, and music, and food smells, dancing and sadness and crowds.....

Cities are....sitting under a tree watching a little girl chasing a red balloon in the park
hearing the street car bell, seeing the tennis ball crack against the racket while eating Roti and squinting into the sun.

Cities are beautiful.

Can this city person try another way?
Stay tuned....

Monday, June 16, 2008

Yours to Discover

Back in the blogosphere.
Back in the smogosphere.

Back from 10 + days wandering around southern Ontario. I have been in Guelph, Kitchener, Wingham, Lucknow, Goderich and a few little towns in between!

Actually most of those days were spent on Ignatius CSA organic farm just out side of Guelph - visiting Don who is an intern there. I have been officially done work for a month and a day and finally, my nerves are beginning to settle a bit. I think 10 days in the country helped out with the "unwinding". I have to say I felt a certain amount of guilt as I was lazing around, swinging in hammocks, reading, taking leisurely walks in the fields, picking wild flowers, while Don and the other interns were slaving away in the fields all days squashing potato bugs, weeding, planting and sweating.

Last weekend we headed to Guelph Lake and watched the dragon boat races and splashed around in the water a bit. We headed into town and went to our favorite store called "the family store" which is the wackiest sally-annish used "stuff" store I've ever been in. It has everything from stuffed, mounted animals to old baseball cards to live budgies for sale...the place has everything weird and wild. They even host bands there, too! Love it. We stopped in at the Albion one evening and drank too much beer after eating too much ice cream and then had a harrowing bike ride back to the farm...I had to squint to see the white line...thanks to the moonlight we made it back without any damage!

Guelph is steadily growing on me. It is small but but lovely with a little grit and a lot of heart. It feels more and more like a refreshing alternative to big city living. Toronto, I am realizing, often makes me feel all clenched up and tight - in mind and body. I have started to accept the fact that i need space both literally and figuratively. I see the truth of my 'slow-ness' more and more. I'm starting to see that maybe it is not the bad thing i have always thought it was.

I made a trip to Kitchener to visit the Halls which was great fun. I got to see little Kathryn graduate from her swimming group "Sea Turtles". She will become a "Salamander" next and is super pumped.. I also got to see Simeon in the early stages of walking!!! He looks like a little
e-wok....super cute.

I went from Kitchener back to Guelph and then we drove out to Wingham to attend the wedding of don's family friend. The ceremony was on one of the most beautiful farms I have ever been on. The Farm house built on a hill over looking rolling green hills as far as the eye can see. I walked through grass up to my waist and stood looking over the grazing sheep and the ocean of rolling literally took my breath away.

On Sunday I helped Don and Carol hoe her garden (which is huge!) and we drove out to Goderich with Don's folks and spent the afternoon at the beach next to the salt mine. The waterfront is on lake Huron and is a really beautiful spot where they have built a long boardwalk along the beach. Don and I drove back to Guelph in the evening surrounded by lightning storms on either side of us!

This morning i got on the bus back to the city at 7am! Feel a little bit of trepidation upon entering back into the city...but looking forward to future travelling adventures! I think I am ready to tackle Ireland, Germany, Turkey...i think!

I'll update my plans on that front...

And there ends Julia's Ontario adventures (for now).
Peace OUt!