summer time and the living is good…
After living in Halifax for three summers now, I have discovered that this is where the great continental summer thunderstorms come to die.
The storm that rumbled through Ontario and Quebec yesterday with such rumbling magnificence was, by the time it hit the coast, little more than some decent warm humidity and some gusts of wind – the cool Atlantic air having absorbed most of the hot energy. In three summers I have heard but 2-3 blasts of summer thunder while living in Halifax.
However, in this humidity the air is rich with summer smells. Passing by the horse stables on Bell Street, crossing through the fresh cut grass of the commons, cycling along long stretches of sweet clover out on the Spryfield bike trail – magnificent!
The air rich with childhood memories of horses, hay, clover and hot summer days.
But the news is full of darkness today, foreboding of times to come – as half the country seems to be going up in forest fire smoke, while the other half is on high alert to the same possibilities.
The drought that started in California – now stretching all the way north to Alaska and north east through the American mid-west, the Canadian prairie provinces – all along the great Canadian boreal forest from B.C. to Nova Scotia has the great forest at its mercy.
Fifty new forest fires every day in the country. The smoke of northern Saskatchewan now detectable in downtown Halifax.
If ever there was a metaphor for the state of the planet this summer is it. We see the haze from great fires 2000 miles away.
Yet, as I cycle back into the city, I see that it is rush-hour and I watch at the lights as long lines of bored faces sit in their solitary silences, idling absently as they move from red light to red light in sealed air conditioned containers smelling nothing but the stale Frabreeze they spritzed onto their car-seats last weekend.
I’m not sure why so many of us don’t get it – I only know that most of us don’t.
Why we agree to sit in our cars for hours each day – going to jobs most of us never dreamed about having – caffeinating ourselves against our own zombification – driving to our suburban communities where every house looks just like every other house – where our kids are all factory-educated, learning the same perpetual rules of discipline, deference to authority, and how to live the suburban dream.
No one seeing the bees as they flit from clover flower to clover flower, no one smiling at the three teenaged boys who laugh and swim out at the reservoir…
From behind the wheel of the car the landscape is reduced to a two-dimensional flatness – an invisible space between point A and point B – the space between moving paper from one pile to another at work and getting the frozen pizza in the oven before Jeopardy comes on.