Sometimes I walk to work. There are lots of different routes I can walk, and they all take an hour and fifteen minutes. The other day I walked through my new neighbourhood (Carlington), zig-zagged through Hintonburg to Parkdale, and then walked downtown along Somerset, which took me through Chinatown along the edges of my old neighbourhood.
I miss my old neighbourhood. I miss living where I know the people and my dog knows the dogs. He and I lived there for 99 months. Maybe in 98 months we’ll know the people and the dogs here, but I have my doubts. The fact is, there don’t appear to be all that many people or dogs who venture outside of their homes here. Oh sure, I see the odd gaggle of children waiting for a school bus, or the odd adult scurrying to or from work, or the odd teenager slouching along the sidewalk with a scowl on his face. But I don’t see anybody stopping to chat with anybody else, or looking around, or making eye contact. This neighbourhood seems cold to me; people just want to stay anonymous and get where they’re going.
Maybe it’s the weather. The days are short and dark, there’s a damp chill in the air. Maybe all my old neighbours are hunkering down in Chinatown too, collars turned against the wind, eyes downcast, walking fast. But I don’t think so. Because one morning last week, when I was walking to work, I ran into an old neighbour: the big black woman with the little white dog, and she stopped to chat.
There’s a dog park here, much bigger than the Primrose Dog Park, but there are rarely any dogs in it. I think in the month and a half I’ve been here, Sam and I have met four other dogs – and each one only once. Sam seems to like the new park though.
By the way, whoever heard of a dog park with no garbage cans? Primrose Park has a garbage can at every exit, so you can throw your bag of poop away. Now I have to bring my dog poop home with me. Am I supposed to flush it down the toilet? Save it until garbage day? One day I actually took it downtown with me and put it in a garbage can at Gladstone and Bank. I felt a little eccentric sitting on the bus, knitting, with my bag of poop beside me. I hadn’t planned to take it on the bus, but I walked 10 blocks looking for a garbage can, and there wasn’t one, and then the bus was coming…
My new street isn’t that great. The neighbouring streets are better. The WWII veterans’ houses are all on the neighbouring streets. Tiny, tidy, well-kept little houses with nice big yards. The houses are all similar in size and construction and vintage, but each has its own unique character. I like them a lot. Then you get to my street, and it’s lined with low-rise apartment buildings and row houses. Most of the little veterans’ houses are situated on quiet little dead-end streets, which makes my street serve as the big, busy thoroughfare. It’s like the commercial district of the neighbourhood, but without stores or offices.
I like my house though, even if I’m not crazy about my street.