Monthly Archives: April 2015

Hometown SOJOURN Pt.1 of 5

..Big Business

i
was pulling the big yellow caddy up
and pulling into the large parking lot of
one of those American store chains

i
remember when the store first came here
and the threats of boycotting didn’t last long.
more items and cheaper prices did their job.

today
i’m slightly conflicted about big store chains
they employ a large portion of people from the surrounding area
people – who need the work.

at the same time
we as Canadians were also watching another
American chain leave
after less than a year in the cold north.
and as we watched the chain leave
we were witnessing former employees across the nation
throw their hands up and say
‘now what?’

Anyways

i
pulled into the parking lot
and pulled a sheet of paper out from the
pile of resumes sitting on the passenger seat.

realistically
it wasn’t American chains every
local person had to worry about
no
it was online shopping.

sure
it wasn’t going to catch on with
certain age groups
but the younger crowd
they understood product availability and
prices cheaper than walking into an
‘all in one place’

such as this one.

i
was also thinking
that stores on the opposite side of the
border could possibly feel the hurt
from lack of Cndn shoppers

high gas prices
border taxes

why bother?

not when you could press a button on your keyboard and
save yourself

a trip.

so what was the answer then?

well for me it was in this parking lot.
no – not the big American chain swallowing up most of the real estate
instead
it was the smaller store beside it.

a local indie store selling local product to its community
at a decent price.
things you couldn’t get online or
across the border

or

inside the big blue monster next door……

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Cliques

i have returned to this busy hamlet
leaving behind the noise of the city

single traffic light control
bringing stay at home madness vs rush hour alternate route past feed store

here love offers no compromise
turning your matter into art through words in a generation after the easel

so love has purpose
and the words are sinew combining bone and flesh

in the city the traffic is controlled but endless
in this hamlet it is contained then sparse

a 40 zone becomes a dare
an alternate route rushes the stop sign

i have left behind the noise of a calm city
i have returned to the busy hamlet – people walk by no matter the type of sidewalk


HOMETOWN PT.5

Pt.5…..Heading Home

I was rolling down Sidney Street
corner of College with the lights behaving
like four way stops.
But it no longer mattered to me –
at least not for the time being.

My talks with grandfather always brightened
my day – as much as I hoped my visits to him
did the same.

Gruff and to the point
and perhaps out of touch with today’s problems…
it was his attitude and outlook I wanted to
feel rub off on me – sheer determination
knowing I would find what I was looking for.

Negative attitude and excuses set aside
I wasn’t going to be a

‘this is good enough’ kind of guy.

And of course getting out and moving helped too.
Just taking in the scenery of Quinte and PEC and
thinking about someone other than myself.
Making myself see that I wasn’t the only person in the world…..

God this area was beautiful.

Hidden gems
Lost gems
Neglected gems

But Gems

New diamonds in the rough trying to pop out as well.
It would take an artists eye
working hands
and a city with its citizens able to look beyond itself to
move forward….

And I drove past Reid’s Dairy
I turned left onto Roblin rd and into Taste of Country for
some homegrown grub.

I would continue north until I was
on the outskirts.
Turn the local radio up and
let Miller drive me home
while he brought hockey and the Bulls to life one last time.

I would
Find the same girl who stuck quarters in
the wall with me
and sit down and have a meal together.

Tomorrow would be a new day
and in our youth
we’d figure out how to conquer it

Together…


Hometown Pt.4

Pt.4….West Lake Retirement

It was my weekly visit to the small retirement home on West Lake.
Forgotten people that had lived and worked in the general area.
More often than not
you had to wear a surgical mask
you had to be prepared that someone you visited last week would
not be here this week.
My grandfather could easily be that person.

‘Car still running well?’
First question every time.

‘How’s your grandmother?’
Second question every time.

He knew I had the car
but had forgotten that my grandmother
his wife
was long gone…. perhaps a memory
too hard to hold onto.

I needed these visits.
My grandfather grounded me.
A previous generation within another generation
battling the same fight that each of us face…

The battle of existence with meaning.

‘Don’t be so melodramatic boy!
Just get out there and get moving.’

How?

‘With the Caddy of course!
You got the schoolin’ now go drive around and
drop off resumes!’

Easier said than done

‘Bah! You stay in the boat and paddle the waters
someone will notice…. you step back on land
and time just passes you by!’

*

I slammed the heavy door on the caddy
sitting behind the large wheel.
This car could battle through any kind of weather
and with my grandfather’s help
so
could I.


Hometown Pt.3

Pt.3…Prince Edward County

I
love driving through ANY part of
Prince Edward County.

It’s not just the wineries.
When I was kid coming over
they weren’t here yet.

It’s not just the Sandbanks.
I loved bombing over with
friends during college
but more often than not at that age
you could find me more north in the Land O’ Lakes region.

It was the change in the air itself.
a lighter feeling
and a drop in weather pressure which
always cleaned out the sinuses.

PEC County was an island unto itself.

You could drive in an eastern direction and follow
the water towards Kingston.
You would eventually meet up with the ferry
now
made famous by a Gord Downie song
and take a free 15 min ride across
before continuing on along the water system
and eventually find yourself travelling
the St. Lawrence system.

I love to drive.

PEC Island intrigued me because it was a
tourist location.
Visitors saw what they wanted in the Summer.
They enjoyed the Fall weather

But

What about Winter survival?
What about Spring Cleaning preparing
for another onslaught of travellers?

It was the down time that impressed me.
Surviving the winter weather along the
same waters while
trying to keep basements dry during
April showers.

Hell

just trying to make a regular income
by doing a regular drive to places of employment not
found on this island refuge.

It helped me in appreciating my own drive
taking my time without a care in the world
knowing in a few hours I would be gone-
transported to a whole other section within this
area of Ontario.


Hometown Pt.2

Pt.2….The Bridge

My caddy turned right onto Dundas
and the water ran along my left.
I put the downtown behind me
and the memory of Reddick’s Bakery back in the vault.

Sailboats lined the shore
the bridge was pulling herself up
facing the sunshine and blue sky.
20 more minutes and I would be in the County.

I was feeling nostalgic today

The drive I was hoping
was going to help clear my head.

I’ve been trying to find myself
trying to find my place in the world
and I had nothing but time to think

‘how do you find yourself in this area?’
But
negative thoughts don’t help.

I turned left and the bridge began
to nose the front of the caddy.
A gas-guzzling gift given to me from
my grandfather.
I’m a 20 something man
driving a long yellow canary
rather than something modern.

My thoughts rose with the bridge
and over to the County.

It was now Spring moving into Summer
but passing over the bridge always brought back memories of
Hockey.

I loved winter in Belleville as a high-school’r
and I loved it as a Loyalist College kid.
Skating on the Bay
looking up at the brown brick radio station
and OHL players of the era
coming down to skate and join in
a scrimmage…

I hit the arc of the bridge
and the sun sparkled.

Trenton was just down water to the right
and Kingston was just up the
waters to the left.
But
I was heading straight – south.

South through Puslinch
South past Roblin Lake
South beyond Picton.

I was heading towards West Lake Retirement
I was going to visit my grandfather.


Hometown Pt.1

…Local Radio Appreciation

I was coming down Front Street
heading towards the water
passing buildings on either side
when it hit me

Buildings.

Not stores anymore
Not busy sidewalks or
Independent businesses.

And I felt a longing for stores
such as Greenley’s book store
or Geens pharmacy.

My car was moving forward.
An old Cadillac sucking gas
floating along – a boat on springs.

I had the local radio going this early morning.
Mitchell waking me since my childhood with
Tim breaking news at 9 am before
Brooker talked on Open Line tradition since Milt Johnson.

I thought about conversations while driving
people comparing downtown to
a war zone
and I thought

No

It’s not war-torn.
Historic Britain could tell you
stories about war-torn buildings
telling you about the days of the Blitz.

No
this was different.

This was unfortunate neglect and opportunities lost.
I remembered the Bohemian Penguin
a place where I met a girl.
We put quarters in the gaps between the brick
within the old bar
promising each other we would always have
25 cents hidden to call one another.

I think of those same gaps in the brick now….

So
What was happening?

If I listened to the Open line show
the general public had their own ideas of
who to point the finger towards
but general public usually only has general knowledge.

The caddy proceeded through
passing between the empty buildings –
lost independent stores and empty sidewalks….

I drove along thinking of time.
Sat at the stop lights and closed my eyes for a moment.
This is a beautiful town no matter her troubles.
It just needed the return to heritage pride
and a bakery open once more wafting over crowded sidewalks……


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