Good Links No.19
Getting my bearings
It's done. We moved house last month and are no longer residents of Le Plateau. Hello le Sud-Ouest and the canalside neighbourhood of Côte-Saint-Paul! The neighbourhood is far less trendy and restaurant-filled, but the neighbours have been welcoming and we're starting to explore the area on foot.
My greatest disappointment so far has been the lack of good grocery options nearby. There's a small chain grocery within walking distance, which is great, but on my most recent visit I failed to find the green cabbage I needed and leeks were $5.49 a piece – and these were wimpy leeks. The combination of less choice and higher prices is frustrating, especially given the fact that Côte-Saint-Paul seems to retain much of its working-class character and population. I have a suspicion that many people drive over to Wal-Mart. I miss Soares et Fils already.
Yet, for all that, Côte-Saint-Paul has a unique character I'm warming to. It was mostly agricultural land before the Lachine Canal was dug in the mid-19th Century, along which factories and warehouses sprung up. The north side became Saint-Henri, and the south side remained Côte-Saint-Paul. I'm especially looking forward to poking around the old industrial bits (and the new highway overpasses) with my camera.
I don't believe the choices of the rich are synonymous with goodness, but this article makes a strong point nonetheless. A world with fewer self-checkout lines and no QR-code menus is the future we need.
Low-end and independent outfits won't be able to afford the tech or may choose to eschew it. High-end places will never expect their clientele to perform menial labor on their own vacations. It's the middle that's at risk of permanent, irritating, dehumanizing automation.
I will continue to sing the praises of physical media, even as I struggle to find space for my books, audio cassettes, DVDs, and the odd CD in our new apartment. I want Lucy to know the feeling of "putting on" music or physically choosing a movie, with the memory-making friction those acts entail.
As our family steadily unpacks boxes and settles into our new apartment, I'm thinking about what it looks like to put down roots – temporary as they may be – as a renter. I'm thinking about how to belong to a place, how to love it and its people. Not only because I believe it's necessary, but because it is beautiful.
It takes seconds to send a tweet that goes viral. It takes an hour to give a talk. It takes a year or two or more to write a book.
But it has taken two decades to restore this home, to tame its grasses and shrubs, to cultivate the flowers planted years before by others, and for the roses planted by us to climb over the garden wall.
Malcolm Guite is probably my favourite living poet and he recently shared a reading of his rendition of the story of Galahad and the Naiad, a tale in the King Arthur legends. Now, Guite reveals that the tale of Galahad is just part of longer work inspired by the 'matter of Britain' called Merlin's Isle, and I'm very excited about it.
And with the music came these words
‘Poet, take up the tale!
Take up the tale this land still keeps
In earth and water magic sleeps
The dryad sighs, the naiad weeps
But you can lift the veil.
Inside our new home, Lucy is growing at an alarming rate which, I'm assured by our paediatrician friend, is perfectly normal. She does something new every other day it seems, and my recent return to my day job feels like a small death. I'm looking forward to taking more paternity leave at the end of the year.
I hope you enjoy these photos because this is the only place on the internet I share pictures of this little potato.
Thanks for reading Good Words! I run this newsletter on a patronage model, which means the best stuff goes out for free to everyone. If you'd like to support my work and get some perks, you can subscribe here.