… she gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night

Dear M,

The memory of stepping into Louise’s apartment for the first time is still fresh on my mind – there was music I loved and books I enjoyed, but most of all there was a heavy sense of solitude in the air which terrified me. Perhaps it isn’t a bad thing Louise departed from a life which frankly did not give her much at all towards the end but a loving dog. If there was anything to be taken away from that apartment it wasn’t music, or books, but the lesson that there are no guarantees in life, and that luckily right now right here I am healthy, and excited, and surrounded by others.

The housing co-operative brought me a lovely biology housemate with this poster on her door:


She said that it made her feel good about what she was doing, or reminded her that she should be doing something else. I’m sure you’ll agree when I say that Dylan has life sussed out pretty well in his way, too.

Canada has been quite a rollercoaster so far. I knew I was off to a respectable start when on my first night my wonderful, generous host Em and I spotted a beaver in the Ottawa River. Other beautiful life I have seen since then includes a hummingbird, groundhog, raccoon, and numerous Aussies and Kiwis. Any wild chipmunk will get me more excited than the penguins, wombats, or panda bears I saw when we were taken on a mystery road trip to (of all places) the Toronto Zoo at the end of the exchange students’ orientation week. I wouldn’t be surprised if a bald eagle in a ridiculous net die of two trees and little air felt similarly enthused about what life has to offer as Louise did during her final weeks.

I myself on the other hand have been treated most kindly by Canadians, the university, and its students since I have arrived, by which I don’t mean the absurd celebration of plastic freebies that seem to accompany the beginning of any new academic year at western educational institutions. Em and her family took me to the Botanical Gardens of Montreal, kayaking, and climbed Mount Sutton with me, while in Kingston I’ve had the chance to somersault into Lake Ontario, do some slack lining, and feel generally overwhelmed with other internationals. Looking forward to the beginning of classes and finding some faces that will hopefully truly feel familiar in the not too far-away future. Speaking of familiar: I ran into someone from my secondary school in Brussels – we had never talked to each other before I saw him in Kingston a couple of days ago and apologised for having to ask, but was he Dutch and had he grown up in Belgium. He was and had.

This is on the property of my new home! I’m in the process of finding out which angel has been growing these beautiful tomatoes.

Perhaps by the next time I write I will have learned a little more about plants, depending on how much attention I pay to the professors during lectures tomorrow onwards. There won’t be much talk about permaculture though, I’m afraid.



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