Other (not always) wordless friends:
The easiest method is also my favourite:
You will learn, among other things…… that the gallery cafe has
a) an excellent salad bar, and
b) a patio
that AY Jackson was all for women in the arts, which is more than can be said for many other chaps in the business
Prudence Heward didn’t paint sissies
the film by Rebecca Belmore recommended by the staff member who, when I asked a rather simple question, decided to answer by walking me through the gallery via all manner of hidden corridors and en route told me I MUST SEE THIS FILM BECAUSE IT’S SO POWERFUL, is actually astonishing.
another staff member who casually mentioned the experimental farm is worth seeing, that she loves the way the arboretum changes with the seasons
and a random someone who overheard my conversation about the arboretum and chimed in that if I’m looking for nifty places that are closer by, then I MUST go to the lanes
which I then did and found that there is a wonderful stationery shop in the lanes, great architecture, peaceful nooks, crannies, patios and outdoor art
you will learn, at the Royal Canadian Mint, that they commission Canadian artists to design their ‘art coins’, often via open competitions
and that the Olympic gold medal is silver on the inside with only a veneer of far-too-expensive-gold; the bronze is also veneer with silver on the inside (but this time to make it worth more than if it were entirely bronze)
if you’re lucky you’ll find the pub whose name I’ve forgotten that makes excellent fish tacos
and it’s not the Irish pub
or the fish place
you will crane your neck in one library and spend an hour in another discovering Lucy Lippard, writer and art critic who once wrote to her editor: “Herewith the twenty-two reviews. Hope they make whatever the deadline is. Slight delay as I had a baby last week.”
a patio on a hill, where staff do everything to make you comfortable on a chilly day… heaters, blankets, so much kindness. the market of course… this is the super condensed version (sans cheese)
you will, like the goofy Canuck you are, embrace what’s Canadian
I’m writing to you from Ottawa, having just left your soft, cheese-filled embrace, and I miss you already. (Just to be clear, I do NOT miss your traffic, and I do not miss your construction)… but I do miss the way the morning light shines through those big beautiful windows of a third floor flat at the top of those crazy wonderful circular stairs.
I miss the view of flat-topped row houses, weathered doors and every-colour colour-schemes.
I miss your windows.
Your biggest buildings.
And neighbours who have different uses for their balconies and which make me think of poetry about loaves of bread and hyacinths for the soul as I pass.
I miss your alleyways and secret gardens with statues of buddah and jesus and others, like you’re covering all the bases.
And those green olives swimming in spicy red pepper schmoo.
I miss your cars, so well disguised we hardly know they’re there.
Things seen under stairways.
I miss your shadows.
Hells bells, even your handyjustdownthestreet IGA is all meilleur…
Tea and trumpet by the canal.
Oh and dear Montreal… who wouldn’t miss your signs?
I miss your public napping chairs.
I miss the doodle I mistook for a labyrinth until I tried to walk it.
Community gardens-in-the-hood, enclosed by fences covered in morning-glories.
Views from unlikely places.
And let’s not even talk about the food.
So, yes, much missing but enough sniffling…
a bientot, eh…
The truth is this — on any given day, even when it seems otherwise, even when the fridge and the cupboards look a little bare, I have enough food in my house that I really don’t have to add a thing. Nobody here is anywhere even close to going hungry. We live in a culture of needing more than we need.
The truth is also that I love farmers’ markets and good bread, an olive bar, fish mongers, cheese shops and the Bulk Barn, but I don’t like a house full of food. What I love more is a house with some food, enough that I can forage, but not so much that I always know ahead of time what I’m going to be eating.
I rarely cook for a crowd anymore so I have this luxury.
Sometimes I don’t shop for weeks, I challenge myself instead to figure out what can be made with whatever’s on hand… a decreasing amount of rice, chickpeas, flour, raisins, walnuts. Right now there’s goat cheese and Coronation grapes, apples, leeks, only one egg but a jar full of pickles. (I love how those tomatoes that need to be eaten turn into the manna of roasted tomato and oh-look-a-few-jalapenos! over a cup-of-cooked-quinoa-I’d-almost-forgotten-about.) And that egg. There are two of us. Will it be shared, scrambled with a bit of recently made pesto, a scraping of cheddar (because, look!! we have just enough)… or deviled and divided in two? Or will we flip a coin to see who gets to have it all to themselves?
I know. It’s a wild ride in my world.
But, honestly, some of my best meals have come from cupboard/fridge foraging. And some seriously cherished memories come from a time when this was a lifestyle not a choice, when I had very little and valued every tea bag, when something like mild euphoria would occur at the discovery there were still two Digestives left in the packet, when I’d thought there was only one. But we’ve all been some version of there, yes?
Part of me still taps into that lack-inspired euphoria, maybe it’s why I’ve never really embraced shopping in any regular kind of way and why I’m so comfortable with my occasional (and relatively speaking) empty cupboards.
Or maybe I just embrace a certain kind of culinary laziness.
Oh, I’ll buy food this weekend, but not for me and mine. **
I know this is a privilege, this choice to celebrate the abundance by embracing the absence. Not everyone has that choice and so there’s gratitude in equal measure for both the shortage of eggs and that full jar of pickles.
Wherever your own wild ride takes you… happy Thanksgiving.
** (Update: I’ve been told that an exception must be made for mushrooms. Mushrooms MUST be included in the stuffing. Fortunately the other stuffing ingredients and the chicken were acquired last week.)