I am south for a few weeks, and the contrast between the peaceful, quiet bay I spent the last 3 months in and the busy, chaotic city is hard to miss. I can’t complain about being able to see Edmonton in the spring, arguably the most beautiful time of the year here. But it is very strange to go from ice-fishing on a remote arctic lake to sipping lattes at the Italian Centre within a matter of days.
Today, as I stood in line at a cafe, I was completely overwhelmed by all of the choices. Coffee, espresso, juice, decaf, full-caf, half-fat, full-fat. It was almost too much. I quickly bought a salad and a sandwich and went on my way. But it left me wondering how all this chaos and choice can affect a person, day-in, day-out. A part of me just wants to go back north, to watch the sun move around the sky and barely dip below the horizon in the early hours of the morning before it re-emerges in the east. It’s not that there isn’t chaos in the Arctic, I just have a different sort of relationship between me and my environment up there, something that I think I need in order to be nourished, healthy. Some people thrive on the noise and liveliness of the city, but I shrink from it. I think one of the things that sustained me through all my years in Edmonton was the fact that I could retreat to the river valley, to a place that was peaceful, quiet.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the pace of life in the city. We rarely reflect on how different our lives are now, with the convenience of airplanes, trucks, boats. The pace of our lives have accelerated in the last few hundred years, but have we really reflected on how that affects our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being? I don’t mean to be flaky or naive. But I do think it’s worth wondering how our relationship to time and space changes as we change our economic, political and social goals. I can’t help but wonder if our bodies are able to keep up with our brains, and whether it would do us some good to slow down, sometimes (but obviously there are all sorts of benefits that come with the technology we have today, so I am in no way advocating for some naive ‘return to a simpler time’. Just an acknowledgment that things are different, and an awareness of the things that are available to us today).
Maybe this is why I prefer to walk in the city, even if transit or a car ride are available. It gives me time to contemplate, to ‘unplug’, to observe and appreciate everything around me.
In any case, here are some photos from the last few months. From a place that means more to me than words can express.