Sunday, 18 September 2011

Wish you were here

I wake up some days as if I am stepping into a dream. It is hard to believe I am living on the island. Somedays it seems too perfect to be an actual place, but then I encounter some one swearing and honking their car horn and I realize Charlottetown is still on planet earth, no matter how much I wish it resided in Neverland.

Slowly Charlottetown and I have gotten to know each other better and the awkward first introduction stage is over. I am comfortable with my surroundings and even if I find myself in an unfamiliar section of the city I can find my way home very easily. I make it a habit at some point during the week or weekend to take a long walk or bike ride to undiscovered territory and get lost for a moment. I feel my heart rushing in angste, my eyes dart around searching for a landmark, I scan the street signs and visualize a birds eye view of the city in my head. Finally I spot the three pointed bell towers of St. Dunsants Basillica, the position of the sun tells me I am in west end of the city and home is due east. I relax, take a deep breath and feel a shiver of excitement as I meander through quiet uncharted residential streets.

Let me paint you a picture of my daily commute to school:

My bike ride to school starts off slow. After securing my back pack and coffee to the basket on my bike with a bungy cord I hop on and glide out the drive way. The city is just starting the morning rush to work so traffic is minimal. I turn right onto Sydney street and head straight for the Culinary and Tourism Center. The convent on the left hand side is silent and stately in the morning light, tucked behind three large maples. The first half of Sydney street is small and thin, lined with equally sized houses of all different colours. The palette of houses changes from barn red, ochre, olive green, canary yellow, maroon, faded eggplant purple, and Tobermory blue. Regular white, cream, and toupe shaded houses are rare not only here but all over the city. One side of the street is boardered with red fences and over grown vines. If I were walking on the sidewalk the long stretch of their arms would gladly entangle me. One vine inparticular covers the east facing side of a house and lazily drapes its long leafy arm over the hydro wires above the street. It looks like a monster from a Dr. Seus book. Sydney street begins to crest as it nears St. Dunsants basillca and I peddle harder, working my way steadily up the hill. Relieved to be at the top I take a deep breath and begin the speedy descent down the hill. I zip past St. Dunsants taking quick glances, admiring the masonry, scrulptures, and rose window. Not more than a stones throw away I find myself between 2 Irish pubs on either side of the street. Hmmm, a convent, a Roman Catholic basillica, and two pubs all on the same street, it's a wonder it wasn't named O'Sydney street. The street opens up after crossing Queen and a sweet yet deceptively brute ocean wind blows against me. For now I embrace it, but soon enough that wind will carry an arsenal of ice and snow making my commute to class a frigid nightmare. My bike screeches to a hault infront of the bike rack and I secure the rickety, duct tape vehicle to the rack, and after arriving at my destination gingerly walk to class.

This is just one lovely pocket of the city that I have the pleasure of enjoying everyday. I could go on for ages about the granduer and yet simply beauty of other parts of the city. Before I go let me share one more special place with you. Victoria park is my favourite place in Charlottetown, there isn't a week that goes by that I don't find time to meander through the outdoor sanctuary. Woven throughout the 58 acre park are trails, a large playing field, tennis court, base ball diamond, play ground, and a bush with a dozen twisting paths all securly held in place by a board walk stretched along the edges of the water. Sometimes I sit on my favourite park bench, nestled between two grandmother shaped maple trees, one thin and spry the other filled out and stately, and watch the enchanting silver and saphire waves waltz between the fishing trollies and sail boats. I am blessed to be able to call this home.

Obviously I am choosing to highlight the better parts of Charlottetown, but like I said earlier it has its flaws like any other place on earth. People become impatient and yell at each other, they smoke and leave trails of the dirty habit, when I walk past a group of jaded teen ages I over hear their gripings and grumblings accompanied by sharp language, there is more than one creepy old man in this town, and I find negativety and down cast hearts even among my classmates. Was I naive in thinking that Charlottetown would be constant butterflies, Celtic music, charming Island men, and smiles around every corner? Yes. Does Charlottetown have butterflies, Celtic music, charming Island men, and smiles around every corner? Yes. You just have to know how to look for them.    

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