Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

A Quickening Of The Heart

with one comment

I just got back from a couple of days in the Big City…Toronto that is.

For years it was where I lived, the place where I was born, the city I was constantly leaving and inevitably coming back to. On return trips by train, plane or automobile, there were familiar landmarks that quickened my heart, telling me that I was almost home.

Driving up the small rise just before you exit the Queen E on to the Gardner the sight of Lake Ontario’s shoreline and Toronto’s Skyline never failed to make me smile. (So did the slight feeling of being airborne if you hit the rise at the right speed.)

Flying over the city at night was magical. I could spot landmarks from the air. I always knew which runway we were to land on from the direction of our approach. If we banked out over the lake then leveled off, I could see the street where I lived. That’s when the blood returned to my knuckles.

Entering Toronto by train brought me through the bottom of the city. Coming in from the West the lake and greenery of Sunnyside were certainly prettier than the industrial wasteland of the East end. Either way, pulling into the grandeur of Union Station always told me that I was in the city at the centre of the Canadian universe. At least, that’s what Torontonians believe.

But, all of this fails to impress me now. Now, I come to Toronto reluctantly and leave as quickly as I can. Whenever I’m there, I’m always planning my exit.

And this time, as I made my escape, it suddenly dawned on me; Toronto is no longer where I come from. Southampton is. And this reality, this transition happened effortlessly. I can’t remember suffering any withdrawal, homesickness or regret as a result of my leaving.

Racing everyone along the 401 speedway and up the 427, I realized that the pace of the city no longer excited me like it once did. Toronto was no longer my kind of town.

My blood pressure settled as we turned on to Highway 10. We were driving into quietude. There was no construction congestion, just the openness of farm fields freshly ploughed, that vivid just grown greenery breaking out everywhere, the soy bean fields now a brilliant buttercup yellow, all under a great big brilliantly blue sky.

And then, as soon as I saw the Saugeen River beside me on Highway 21, it happened. I knew I was home. Past the Range Light and across the bridge was the harbour with the sun glistening like fool’s gold on the water. That quickening of the heart I once experienced came over me. Only this time Southampton was the inspiration.

Yes, I come from away, as the locals describe us. Yes, I was once a ‘citidiot’ the name they sometimes use when they refer to newcomers. But I consider myself an adopted son now…a Southamptoner (Southamptonite?) I’ve happily traded the shores of Lake Ontario for the shores of Lake Huron, hazy smog for brilliant sunsets, hustle and bustle for peace and quiet, the fast lane for the slow lane, competition for contemplation.

There is a marvelous passage from The Place No One Knew by an unknown author, which sums it all up:

“You want a place where you can be serene, that will let you contemplate and connect two consecutive thoughts…that can stir you up as you were made to be stirred up, until you blend with the wind and water and earth you almost forgot your came from…There must be room enough for time – where the sun can calibrate the day, not the wristwatch, for days or weeks of unordered time, time enough to forget the feel of the pavement and to get the feel of the earth and of what is natural and right.”

I have found that place…right here, in Southampton.

One Response

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  1. My feelings exactly………….


    September 11, 2009 at 11:15 PM

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