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I’m getting warm

I just turned the furnace on. Yes, it’s early. But though the days are sunny – at least, they are now, we had a few dark, rainy ones last week – the evenings are chilly, and I am frileuse, that wonderful word meaning ‘always cold.’ I don’t know why, but I am; people make fun of me, bundled up in many layers all the time. So – furnace. Toasty. Soon time to light the pilot on the gas fire stove in the living room. MMMMM.

Last Friday I went to Suzette and Pierre’s for a superb dinner. She’s been a friend since university, became a professional actor in the same show at the same time; now she and Pierre have a film production company, he producer and she screenwriter. They’re fascinating people who live half their lives in L.A. Great to get caught up.

On Sunday, joy, Bayview was closed to traffic so I rode down to the lake. It’s so easy to forget we have this beautiful big body of water south of this megalopolis, because the city fathers have done their best to conceal it with highways and development, concrete and giant buildings blocking the view. But it’s there, and it was very busy on a hot Sunday – paddleboards, kayaks, sailboats, windsurfers – it was crowded. Sort of. 

Yesterday was very busy; an old friend is moving into the basement suite on Thursday, and there was much to be done, cleaning, rearranging furniture, installing the new carpet I just bought on sale. Making arrangements for my trip next week, and much more. I was frazzled by day’s end. 

Today’s excitement – I’ve found a tech assistant, a young Ryerson journalism student, to help with the marketing campaign my friend Ron has mapped out and other tech issues. Her fingers fly on the devices, and there, it works, it’s fixed. Sigh. She is cheerful and reassuring and strong; I like her a lot. Her parents came from Bangladesh. It’s hard to imagine what the transition from Bangladesh to Canada must be like. My friends the ladies from Doubletake are all Bengali. This culture seems to specialize in kind, smart, warm women. Lucky us.

Anna FaceTimed from Halifax later – she and the boys were standing outside 816 Young Avenue, the beloved house where my family lived from 1958 to 1966, except for 1964, the year in Paris. The house amazingly looks just the same, though the trees at the front were not there when we were. One of those life moments – in front of that house were my grandsons, almost exactly the same age my brother and I were when we moved there. So long ago. My heart hurt, feeling the pull of the past so strongly – me sheltering in my little green room at the back, overlooking the garden, my mother in the kitchen making something for dinner that I’d hate, Dad buried in papers in his study. Racism, sexism, global warming – what?! They existed, but I had no idea. Anna had just taken the boys to the Africville museum. I used to see the actual place regularly when we drove by, a community of weathered shacks and dirt roads on the edge of town. To me, it was like a place on the moon; as a child I knew no one and as a teen I knew one person of colour. How long ago was that, a hundred years?

But then the boys started to wrestle, and it was time to move on.



4 Responses to “I’m getting warm”

  1. theresa says:

    I remember Africville from my time in Halifax, I think 1963-5. Victoria in those years had so few Black people, though Chinese and Indian and Pakistani families. The Africville community seemed so self-contained to me because I had no idea at that age that dominant cultures could create ghettos. Yet the evidence was everywhere.

  2. beth says:

    My parents were involved in the civil rights movement; when the Freedom Singers came to Halifax two stayed at our house and my parents held a reception for them. But that was the American battle which seemed far away from Canada. And as for "environmental degradation" – absolutely no idea, no thought about what we ate or drove or consumed. Our grandchildren have to be aware of so many things.

  3. alandmillen says:

    Hi Beth. Your post brought to mind the album "Africville" by Faith Nolan (released 1986), which was my introduction to a time and place far removed from my former West Coast world. The mention of Anna and your grandson's visiting a former family home also struck a chord. I did the same at various locations in England and Scotland for the benefit of my own parents in the 1990s. Always a poignant moment. On a related note, I'm heading west for my first Canada visit in 2+ years. The itinerary includes a boat outing past Gabriola Island. I'll wave for you!

  4. beth says:

    Alan, from Zurich to Gabriola Island – that's quite a hike! Have a wonderful trip.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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