This week’s blog is rather unconventional. You won’t learn anything about housing, or home maintenance, but you may gain a new appreciation for the city you live in. Let me describe for you my weekend in Kingston.
I’m often in Toronto for work, and, because I’m too afraid to drive there, I rely on the bus to get back to Kingston. As we moved further and further from the city, signs of life were everywhere in the landscape. I’ve made this journey countless times, and, during the winter, the most striking element of the landscape is its stillness. To see movement return to the land is energizing. I see deer, and hear the honking of the returning Canada geese, not something you experience often while driving on a major highway.
After I arrive in Kingston and drop off my bags, we head to my favourite pub, the Iron Duke, and enjoy wings and local beer. The walk from Princess Street to our house takes 8 minutes, and is blissfully free from the hassle of subways, streetcars, and crowds. In bed, I don’t have to sleep with a pillow over my head. There’s less light pollution here—the sky is properly black, not a dull, orangey-grey. Outside, a strange creature, possibly a bird, is making a slow whooping sound. I don’t know if I’ll ever find out what that sound is, but I enjoy hearing it.
Early morning, around 6:00 a.m. Though far, far earlier than my usual rising time, I’m woken up by the sound of birds. Robins mainly, and later in the morning crows and blue jays chime in. I try to keep time by counting the ringing church bells, a novelty I only experience in Kingston. The birds and the bells are the single biggest thing I miss when I’m in Toronto – I hear no noise in my downtown apartment other than the ceaseless sounds of traffic.
We go to Peter’s Place for breakfast, and enjoy a no-frills breakfast for $20. On the way back home, we walk through Market Square, pick up a bunch of tulips, and admire locally-made honey. Later in the afternoon, we pick up a friend at his apartment. My partner and his friend are in their last semester of law school at Queen’s University, and want to explore Wolfe Island before they graduate. I successfully drive the car on to the ferry, despite my visions of accidentally pressing the gas and flying into the lake. On the ferry, we admire Kingston from a angle we’ve never seen before. We drive to Big Sandy Bay, walking along the trail to the beach. On the side of the trail we see dozens of garter snakes, still sluggish, warming themselves in the sun. We arrive at the beach and are taken aback by the waves – it sounds like the ocean.
Once again, I drive on to the ferry. This time I’m full of confidence, I’m a pro now. That night, we make Austrian food and talk about our day. I go to sleep with the pillow under my head, listening to the slow whooping sound outside the window.