Finnish: I’m striking out on my own and designing my own program of Finnish study. My brother, who is learning German, suggested I write a Finnish diary, so I have been. So far my entries have been fairly juvenile - This morning I made coffee, but forgot to add the coffee! - but I can feel the simple act of it activating new pathways in my brain.

Toronto: I have been twice this past weekend, once on the bus and once by car. I’m still not over the strange feeling of being so close and so far away at the same time. The first day, I actually found myself slightly overwhelmed by the crowded Toronto sidewalks, as if I had lived in the forest all my life. The second day, I missed living there, just a little bit. The idea of it, the potential of it. It’s nice to have that feeling on its own, without any attendant regret.

The Weather: On the first warm day of the month, my husband and I had lunch with a couple of friends in the suburbs, and drove to my parents’ house with the windows open, listening to the radio. I don’t know why, maybe it’s the force of memory, but to me there is no time I like the suburbs better than when I’m doing just that. Everything feels happy and open and possible. I don’t know if I could live in my suburban hometown again, but I don’t think I could ever hate it.

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Scenes from the first hike of the year, on an alternating muddy, slushy, and icy trail that may not have been officially open that day.

Afterwards, we drove to Brantford to see what was there. What was there was a delicious ginger cookie in a cute coffeeshop, more old brick houses than I was expecting, and a lot of places referencing Alexander Graham Bell.

In all the excitement of yesterday, I forgot to post about this!

I am proud to be participating in The Kissing Booth at Sundog Lit, two weeks of stories, poems, and essays inspired by my friend Leesa Cross-Smith’s forthcoming book, Every Kiss a War. 

My piece went up yesterday, and I’m thrilled about having my work amongst such great stories and poems and words. I’ve already discovered some fantastic writers, and it’s not even over!

Everyone should go have a look – and consider pre-ordering Leesa’s book if you like what you read!

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Monday’s weather was lovely, so my dog and I went on a long, long walk. No matter how long I live here I don’t think I will ever get used to the sheer number of beautiful houses in this city. People who only ever glimpse Hamilton’s factories from the highway and never go further in are really missing out.

I know spring isn’t quite here yet (especially right now, as wet snow is flung against the window I’m sitting next to), but I’m already beyond impatient for the first spring hikes, especially here, where there are nature trails and waterfalls everywhere.

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Toronto crosswalk, July 2000

A few days ago, I had to go to Toronto for a Finnish class. It was the first time I’d been to Toronto since I moved away in mid-January, and I was expecting it to feel disorienting. I felt a slight surge of alarm as I got to my old subway station and didn’t disembark, but aside from that, there was nothing major.

Afterwards, I was happy to cocoon in my parka on the bus back to Hamilton. It’s not anything special. It’s a stretch of highway I’ve been on hundreds of times in my life. But it was comfortable, it was quiet, the sun was low and the light was weak, and I had a cup of perfect Earl Grey tea I was more than willing to burn my tongue on.

When I moved to Calgary, I did so on a Greyhound bus. I spent 52 hours in total on it. It was such a narrow, contained little world for those few days. My Walkman died before I left Ontario. My life became little more than jockeying for first place in the washroom lineup at rest stops, eating packaged snacks, and watching out the window as my gigantic country slipped by. I wrote a lot. Fiction, but I also kept a record of everything I said in those 52 hours. It wasn’t much.

I’m probably making it sound dire, but it was actually nice. It was a big thing to do. I was 21. An Elvis impersonator serenaded us at the Dryden Greyhound station.

The trip from Toronto to Hamilton is nowhere near that long, but I found myself lulled back into that little egg of space, high up from the road, where I placed my gaze vaguely out the window and just let everything be important. And when we returned to Hamilton, for the first time I felt like it made sense for me to be there.