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Posts Tagged ‘city’

 

(This young singer from Montreal has such talent!)

The grey clouds rolled in from the sea and the gulls whooped overhead. The harbour was abuzz with activity as the city of Vancouver woke to another day. There was the deep throated hoot from a sleek cruise ship. It was dropping off its load of passengers who had made the trip up to Alaska. Then the distinctive clatter of a seaplane propeller added to the orchestra of ‘sea sounds.’ The first load of island hopping tourists was heading out to sea. For a moment I was lost in thought, as I imagined the panoramic view that would be theirs from the air. 

 

 

Seaplanes, boats and mountains....

Seaplanes, boats and mountains….

  A shout went out…..”Hey, get out of my way!” The little man hung out of his truck window. He was perched in the driver’s seat with his cap pulled right over his cheeky eyes. He skillfully maneuvered his freight down the alley to the well frequented restaurant. They were obviously replenishing stocks as the warmer weather had brought in more customers. I dashed over the street as I could see that this driver meant business!
The fine drizzle continued and I slipped into a corner coffee shop and ordered my usual….a latte. I blended in with the locals now. They were all on their way to work supporting their cup of morning sustenance in their hand……the Canadian salute!
I stopped to find an ATM and noticed that there was one inside a shopping centre. The entrance was round the side of the building. The centre was quiet as the shoppers had not ventured out yet. It was easy to admire the well laid out shop frontages with all the bright spring colours. It was time to press on and I used a different exit to get out on the street again. The bustle greeted me as I looked around. I was disorientated.

Where was the sea? I find this ‘direction finding’ in the northern hemisphere so confusing, as I never know where the sun is supposed to be! I had to admit that I was lost! I contemplated my map in my pocket but decided otherwise. I did not want to stick out ‘like a tourist!’ After all I was working hard at blending in.

Where was the sea?

Where was the sea?

This resulted in ‘the blonde’ in me turning the wrong way. I had planned a tentative route before I left the hotel that morning. The ‘wrong way’ brought me to a very different part of downtown. Gone were the sleek ships and the debonair men in grey business suits. These men stood in queues and waited. They waited to receive help…… some for basic needs, others for shelter and many needed assistance with addictions. Those who did not form part of the line stood in doorways or sat in wheelchairs. Their faces weathered with deep lines that showed the hard road that they had walked. Sad eyes greeted me as I walked past them. I hesitated as I took in this sad scene.
What were their stories?

As with any city there are the softer moments too...the Chinese Garden.

As with any city there are the softer moments too…the Chinese Garden.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Urno088IAo

 

I dreamt of Alaska so far away……..

 

I dreamt so much as a child. These wild and wooly dreams were often escapades into a fantasy land. I think Enid Blyton played a huge part in the content material. The Faraway Tree was by far the firm favourite. As I recall…… you clambered to the top of the tree and with each visit, a different land appeared. Imagination took me to some of these exotic destinations which later became part of my Buckett List. The list was largely in my head, as I had no idea what a Buckett list was.  I was surely too young to have one anyway! Although at that age, it was probably just the sense of adventure that conjured up these vivid thoughts of visiting far away places. On one such nocturnal journey, I visited the beautiful Alaska.

 We flew into Anchorage and all that I had dreamt about became a reality. The melting snow cascaded down the sharply chiseled mountains that surrounded the city. The ice -blue tinges shone through   glaciers as they groaned down the mountain face. They were forever on the move, melting and freezing as they were subjected to the elements. I stood at the bottom of this ancient mass of ice and felt very small in the grand scheme of things……. Then a ski lift took me up to the top of a mountain and I surveyed the world from above. The thread of trees wove their green path through the expanse of white snow. The silence was broken by the call of a bald eagle. It swooped overhead on the lookout for the ‘catch of the day’. This mighty bird had impeccable taste and found the local salmon to be most agreeable to the palette.

The fresh seafood crumbled open under the drizzle of warm lemon butter. We sampled the most delectable morsels from the sea and my favourite …. the white Halibut cheeks. Can you believe that these fish weigh up to 160 kilograms? No wonder that the ‘piece de resistance’ is the plump rosy cheeks! We were also treated to crab legs…..bright orange muscular ones. They appeared to have trained for a half marathon! Then there was the king salmon, served on a cedar strip with brightly coloured garden vegetables. The fresh pine aroma permeated through this delectable flesh. Both unusual and delicious!

It was time to visit these Piscean beauties on their home turf and we flew up north over rough terrain to a small fishing village. One out of 5 Alaskans can fly a plane and it is a necessary mode of transport in a country that has many rivers and over 3 million lakes!  So the salmon was duly caught, weighed and released. It was a beauty and it glistened silver in the afternoon sun. It swam off to drop its eggs and to surrender to the circle of life.

It was time for us to get back to our lives in Toronto.

 

Live every day like the first or the last one, with nothing to lose and heaven to gain.

 

Here’s to Alaska…..

Here’s to the people.

Here’s to the wild.

Here’s to the free

 

Up close to a glacier.

The closest I got to a moose!

 

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It takes quite a bit to shut me up, so I am told, but there are times when I grow quiet and just sit alone with my thoughts. As it is Mother’s Day coming up, allow me to indulge myself and to think aloud about my 3 sons.…..

These three boys, who are genetically from the same parents, are so different. They have inherited so many wonderful traits from their dad but today I am going to reflect on the part that I have played in making them special human beings. They all have that strength of definition in the shape of their faces with a strong chin. This is obviously derived from their dad’s genes, but with that strength comes a softness too. I notice this at certain times in the expression on their faces and in the curve of their smile. That look presents itself when they tend our household pets or engage in conversation with a child. I like to think that I had a part to play in those mannerisms.

They all love music albeit that their taste varies considerably. They play it in the car, strum guitars when they ponder their own thoughts or don earphones and allow the rhythm to obliterate the outside world. It all started way back in their car seats when we traveled long distances to do the monthly shop. Even my youngest son was ‘my city car kid’ as we traveled backwards and forwards to the sport commitments of ‘the brothers.’ They would bob to the beat while their mother kept time with her hands on the steering wheel. This would later become a great source of embarrassment to them as I sang and tapped to the music. I was severely reprimanded as it was not cool for a mom to display such behaviour. But as little one’s they thought it was grand! And so the seed was planted to enjoy music in any form.

 Where did dinosaurs come from? There were endless questions that had to be answered. The older two were borne in the ‘the pre internet stage’. I often resorted to seeking the answers in the local library, as it soon became apparent that my field of knowledge did not stretch that far. How do you explain evolution to a four year old? He eventually explained it to his mother with the use of pictures! I do still pride myself that my boys were encouraged to question, to seek knowledge and to analyse the facts. As an older mom, I was thankful to have the use of the internet when my youngest son began the ‘stage of questions.’ I had the added bonus that he would run and look up the answers for himself, as he was more computer literate than I was at the time. But I must add that I was involved with the discussion that ensued afterwards!

One of the joys of having sons is that over the years partners will be added to the extended family. If they are blessed with offspring, I will take great delight in observing small traits that could possibly have come down the line from me. Of course I will not take ownership for any possible ‘streke’ that might present themselves!

Jumping for joy with my boys!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Toronto in the distance

 

 

The ‘silver city skies’ glisten as I gaze across at the city of Toronto in the morning light. The towering buildings quiver in the sun as they stretch upwards. The pulse of the city is tangible even at this distance and reverberates across the calm waters. It beckons me and ‘is asking for the taking’ as I conjure up another visit of exploration. Maybe this time it will be the antique shops or another graceful old heritage home. An aeroplane takes off from the Island and leaves its plume across the sky. I cast my eyes back along the shore and watch the water lap at my feet as if to transfer this energy straight from the source.

It is hard to imagine that this lake has a shoreline of over 1000 kilometres.  It is like a huge stretch of sea! Today it even smells like one and I gather up the small mussel shells in the sand of this manmade beach. Rounded pebbles that have been smoothed away over time knock up against the rocks. I pick one up and skim it across the mirrored lake; it ripples and sinks down….. far down. In some places it may be as deep as 244 metres.  Josh peers over the edge for the proverbial fish. He has taken a shine to the sport as he has no African Hyrax to taunt anymore. He gazes into the mirrored water and leaps at his innocent victims. His lack of success keeps his interest fired and continues to chase up and down peering into the depths from all angles. This determination will surely pay dividends and allow him to land one soon!

The stillness is suddenly interrupted by the sound of progress. Another condominium is going up nearby and a bulldozer is gnarling away at the earth. As it piles the broken ground into a waiting truck, a new basement is being formed. This will park more cars, house more people and create the opportunity for more eyes to enjoy this vista of the city.
I know that I have to ‘run with the new.’

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Purple Iris

Recognition

I awoke in the early hours of the morning with a start! I needed to get up and make that call to SA if I was to wish my dear friend a happy birthday before she started her day. This whole time difference thing requires some orchestration if you have to catch up with people on the other side of the world!
.Once I had made the call I crawled back into bed. Memories of South Africa flooded back as i lay listening to the sounds of the city. A dump truck trundled past and screeched to a halt as the bags were hurled up to the pile on  top. The train wailed in the distance as it clicked along the tracks and the air conditioners surged as people cooled themselves in their apartments. A taxi hooted and a supply van stopped at the local supermarket across the road and the men shouted their cheery greetings to each other.Although I could not see any of this I could envisage all of it going on in the street down below.The city life and the people that keep the city ticking over just carry on, while we sleep peacefully high up in our apartments.

I got up again as sleep would not come and Josh sneaked up to greet me hoping that I would soften and provide a midnight snack. I reflected on my wonderful visit to the Botanical Gardens that day and the kindness shown by fellow South Africans also making their way in their new life here in Toronto.The gardens were a peaceful refuge from the heat and the bussel of the city.There were cool waterways that meandered through  this green oasis and children that played games on the wide stretches of lawn.They had set up 17 different themed gardens and my eyes feasted on the different plant types. Oh, if I could just recognise one plant species!  Then I spotted a bunch of Azalea peeping out from behind the undergrowth, such a welcome sight! I began to draw the comparison of my new life here in Toronto, it was like walking through this garden and the azaleas were the people that had shown us kindness along this new adventure.

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The furry child

The furry child

I am going to write a bit of a blog, hopefully it will help me settle in and to learn to appreciate what I can enjoy here. I thought I would write it through the eyes of my dog, Josh, as he is always with me as I stroll the streets around the apartment. We rose early today and looked outside at the weather, we seem to do that each morning here in Toronto. The first job of the day is to take Josh,our Jack Russel, down to the park for his early morning ablutions. Josh hears us wake and knows the ritual.He excitedly dashes straight for the front door and slips and slides over the pseudo wooden floor. Once in the lift he checks out his reflection in the mirrors that line the walls of the elevator. Initially he thought that it was a mate but has worked this out for himself and just gives himself the once over instead. We dash through a car park next to the apartment block and over to the local park. Beautiful maple trees waft in the early light and the odd keen dog lover is out braving the chilly air. Josh surveys the talent, canine and ‘kleinwild.’ No raccoons to be seen today but a grey squirrel excites him into a frantic stampede. It realises the imminent danger and quickly scampers up a nearby tree. Josh continues to monitor the squirrel`s progress just in case it might come within biting distance. Then he spots another four legged pal, he runs over and displays his newly found EQ. He greets his mate with much licking and wagging of tails and moves on. This is so strange to see as Josh would always nip his Lonehill furry friends whenever he was taken out for a walk to the Lonehill Dam. Once all the necessary sniffing and morning rituals are complete we move along Spadina Road. The buildings are old and remind me of Cape Town and Loop Street. People are stumbling out of narrow doorways on their way to find the nearest Starbucks.There is the odd night club doorway with all sorts of spilt liquid which Josh finds delectable. Josh comes across a narrow planted trough alongside a building, he suddenly goes into attack mode and we realise that he has discovered the another member of the kleinwild city gang, a rodent. There is much soil flying and growling but the lucky devil gets away thanks to a hard tug on his leach. There was no way that I was going to expose him to the local strain of rabies. We get back to the apartment and make our own cup of nescafe coffee and I eat the last of my Woolies rusks. I have my first pang of being homesick! I need to find some buttermilk so that I can make myself some! Going to brave the shower outside to head down to the St Lawrence farmers market. Who knows, I might find some rusks there!

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