Thursday, June 30, 2011


I'm sitting on a deck in suburban southern Ontario right now. It's warm, but there is a nice breeze blowing that keeps the heat from becoming oppressive. School just finished for elementary school students today, so despite the fact that there are four pools in backyards adjacent to the one I am sitting in, I've yet to hear a single child screaming and splashing around. Things are almost preternaturally quiet and peaceful (especially after living in a city for the past year).

I've been home for about twenty four hours at this point and it's just starting to kick in as I sit here in the sun looking at the trees. As soon as I crossed the border I was anxious to find the signs that would let me know I was home, something beyond a conscious recognition of the sentence "I am in Canada now." I needed to see something or feel something deep down in my bones. This afternoon has provided that, I think, precisely because I've stopped searching and just assumed that I'm home and I will recognize the fact sooner or later. I'm reminded of Barthes' description in Incidents of his home in France:
My second Sud-Ouest is not a region, merely a line, a lived trajectory. Whenever I drive down from Paris (I have made this trip a thousand times) I pass Angoulême, where there is a signal that tells me I have crossed the threshold and am entering the country of my childhood; a pine grove on one side of the road, a palm tree in a courtyard, a certain height of the clouds that gives the terrain the mobility of a face. Then begins the great light of the Sud-Ouest, noble and subtle at the same time; never gray, never low (even when the sun is not shining), it is light-as-space, defined less by the colors it imparts to things (as in the other Midi) than by the eminently habitable quality it communicates to the earth. I find no other way of saying it: it is a luminous light.
When I drive up from Buffalo on the QEW, as I cross the Burlington Skyway and see the Lake, I find myself in a similar landscape. I know the quality of the light here, and I know how to move within it. For a month or so, I'm home. Tomorrow is Canada Day, and I'm delighted to be here to celebrate my country.

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