Three weeks here in beautiful Victoria, BC, on my self-designed writer’s retreat, and some observations begin to congeal. As the new guy, the outsider, I have become the flaneur, an observer, undistracted by the usual everyday concerns and noticing a thousand details each time I wander through the city. Here are a few of the things I’ve noticed in my temporary home.
- People are generally nicer here than in the states. I have yet to see a shouting match or a fistfight, even at the bars I’ve been to. In general, they’re far quieter than Americans, and definitely more polite. A couple of young men knocked on my condo door yesterday, thinking it was someone else’s place. When I opened the door they had a case and a six-pack of beer, ready for a party. But when they realized their mistake, all they could do was fall over themselves with apologies. In the states, the reaction would have been more like it was my fault for not having a party where they expected. I should have invited them in.
- They really do say “eh” sometimes. And “aboot” instead of “about.”
- Victoria is the only place I’ve ever been where people dine alone and bring books to keep them company. I had dinner in the restaurant downstairs Thursday night, and there were three of us reading.
- They put bacon on almost everything. I kid you not. Burgers, salads, soups, pasta, donuts, breakfast cereal. You don’t even have to ask for it. No wonder everyone is so nice.
- They also tend to put citrus fruits in many of the meals. That’s not as good a thing as it might sound. Linguine and tangerine with pesto sauce? If it wasn’t for the bacon…
- Victoria is Canada’s retirement capital because it has the best weather in the country. During my time here, the temperature has averaged below 60…in June. I brought some short sleeve shirts with me, but they’ve stayed in the closet.
- I miss my wife, and my crazy coffee-drinkin’ dog. And my writer friends. As nice as it is here, I’m starting to be ready to head home.
My friend Stephanie Barbé Hammer has one of the most creative minds I’ve encountered. Her flash fiction, some of which can be found at her blog, Magically Real, never fails to amaze and entertain. Her new chapbook is titled Sex with Buildings, from dancing girl press, and is as creative and thoughtful as her previous work.