Wednesday, April 27, 2011
misty morning thoughts
I realize I haven't done much diarizing about Halifax since our first few weeks here early last fall. The reasons for that are several, high among them is the fact I'm not a very good photographer but what good are stories without pictures? I've noticed there's a very big difference between what my camera sees and how I prefer to interpret what it sees. Neither is necessarily truly real. The picture at the top was taken here from our 7th floor balcony at 10am Atlantic Time this morning and then spent 3 minutes in my sample photoshop elements program. Although this is exactly how it looks on mornings when the sun is burning through, the view as my camera saw it looked like the next one and would be called by Haligonians a misty rather than a foggy spring day. When the fog does roll in I might manage to get a picture of my hand at arm's length but certainly not of the park across the street.
Had I pointed the camera more to the right you'd see a construction site next to the cathedral where they're taking an enormous amount of time building.. you guessed it, another retirement home. I could equally have shown you the hazy forms of more low-rise and high-rise apartments. Next door to us they're building The Trillium, a luxury condominium where a penthouse will cost $4.5 million. Next door to that is Halifax's famous Lord Nelson Hotel where the Queen stays when she gets bored with the palace. Right next to the hotel is the local YMCA.
Halifax is a small city of many contrasts. In the misty haze beyond these buildings is the enormous main campus of Dalhousie University where approximately 50,000 students are working on degree programs. Considering the fact there are 5 other universities here in the south end you can imagine the balance between the elderly, middle class, and boisterous students is pretty stark.
The autumn and winter months belong to the kids and keeping in mind our huge 1960's building is relatively inexpensive for people willing to share and double up in apartments the weekend winter parties that spill out into the halls can be both loud and disturbing. Drunken fights well after midnight were the norm during the cold months as was seeing the glass doors at the front and back of the building smashed every other week. Management try their best to keep a lid on the recklessness but considering there are 420 units here it's often impossible for the small night security staff (one guy) to find the culprits.
We lived in Portland apartments near the medical school for a number of years and thought it would be okay here too. What we hadn't taken into account was never having had to share space with undergraduates in their Animal House stage of social development. I'm not even going to try to describe the stench from the garbage room that permeates the elevator lobbies, nor the fact our walls are painted brown or the carpets stained and burned by previous tenants.
When we arrived last September we were lucky to get the place at the same time the main student body was returning. Yes, we'll move eventually but we want to keep our current address until the Canadian immigration service sends us the documents for my husband's permanent residency which might not be until August. Bureaucracy is getting worse everywhere (take a look at the proposed new regulations for a US passport). Since we have to sign our new lease in June it's likely we'll be here another year. Much as I'd like to unpack the artwork and the other boxes of goodies stacked in the closets that will have to wait.
Now it's almost May, most of the students will be leaving for the summer and 'The Season' will begin. All the open air cafes, pubs, and shops are preparing for the tourists and the Public Gardens just up the street opened a few weeks earlier than planned. The sail boats and novelty ships are out of dry-dock ready to carry their passengers on short trips around the harbor and part way out to sea. Last week the first cruise ship was docked at Pier 21 right next to our grocery store.
It will be our first full spring and summer here. Now we've gone through a winter with the locals we're accepted as true Maritimers and we'll make the best of it. In case I made too much of the rowdiness I should mention most of the other tenants are relatively normal, considering I have a wide view of what constitutes normal.
ps: May 1st is International Sunflower Planting Day as called by the Guerrilla Gardeners. I finally remembered to buy a few packets of seeds that will be in my pocket on Sunday for planting in likely spots. Maybe I'll remember to carry a pencil for poking holes in the dirt.
I promise to take more pictures too.