Monday, August 27, 2007
Many listeners know that I have been absent from the host position ofThese Days
for much of the past four months, due to rehab that followed a serious cycling accident. Yet my most recent absence over the last couple of weeks was actually for a visit to family in faraway places.
Spending time with far-flung family is a hybrid model of vacation. It's part fun and part obligation. At any rate, the excessive mobility and dispersal of modern American society makes it necessary to travel long distances to see relations. If there are any people whose core and extended families live only in San Diego, I don't know them.
In my case, vacation meant going to a foreign country. It's a place where they speak English, eat sausages and talk quite a bit like we do. Correct! The answer is Canada. My destination was, in fact, Toronto . I'm told Toronto became Canada's commercial center partly because money fled Montreal due to fears of a possible Quebec secession from the national union.
Toronto is a wonderful city but not a beautiful city. Residential areas are stuffed with rather drab brick homes. This is due to an old ordinance that required construction of brick buildings, only, following a disastrous city fire early in the city's history. The only iconic structure in Toronto worth mentioning is the CN Tower , located downtown.
As for the Torontoans themselves, they're civil yet very reserved. We Americans expect a lot of "Hi, how're you doin'!" And we often have these conversations with people we've never met. Canadians, at least in Toronto, are not overly friendly. Good folks and helpful, yes. But don't expect them to meet your eyes, nod hello and strike up a chat as you encounter them on the street.
All in all, I had a great time in Toronto, a large cosmopolitan city with lots to do. Rochester, NY, was my next destination. Today, Rochester still has some great neighborhoods and some fine educational institutions. But a lot of jobs have been lost and some parts of the town are looking down at the heels. It's the home of Kodak, of course. But some rascal had the nerve to invent the digital camera.
Now that I'm back in San Diego, I'm in the city I'm lucky to reside in. Sure, not all things made by humans are worth mentioning. But we've got the weather and the Pacific. And it's good to be home.