Poetry in Slow Motion

If I were a weather-vane residing on the rooftop of a house in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, I would be throwing up all the time from dizziness.  All of that spinning round and round and round.   I mean, Mary Poppins would have had her black little umbrella blasted into and out of this town on the winds of change before Jane and Michael Banks even had time to go fly a kite with Daddy Warbucks.  (oops, wrong musical)  One minute six inches of snow, Sorels and long-johns;  the next minute grass and mud in all the parks, soaking and spreading up the hem of my jeans.  Salty sea winds that sear icicles into your lungs and then sub-tropical breezes that have red lobsters dancing a tango with silver nutcrackers on golden, buttery ponds in my minds’ eye.  The weather in this town is downright crazy.

I still have not yet determined whether I am a City Mouse or a Country Mouse.  However, there is a tension in my chest that seems alleviated.  A tension I was never fully aware was there until I’ve now noticed it gone.  As if there is suddenly more room to breathe.  City life can take its toll.  Sardine-crowded subways, rush-hour traffic, droning planes and rumbling trains, the crazy guy screaming at the stop sign in front of the grocery store, the hunched-over shufflings from place to place, void of eye-contact or connection.   Individually, seeming insignificant, but like a fine-grade sheet of sandpaper, they eventually wear you down over time.

Here simplicity prevails.  Not simple in mind, but unfrivolous.  Back to the roots of importance.  And I’ve noticed it takes getting used to.  For instance, why does my neighbour say hello to me EVERY time I walk out the front door?

Small talk here is crucial:  check-out lines, bus stops, sidewalks, and parks.  Everyone has something to say.  And people are so gosh-darn-friendly I feel like the entire town might suddenly break out into a Gershwin Broadway musical of song and dance in the streets, twirling around lampposts and clicking their heels up in the air in harmony and unison.  You have your earbuds in while grocery shopping, which is city-speak for “F**K-OFF!!—don’t bother me,” and people will still approach you, insert their face into your field of vision, gesticulating and miming violently until you unplug and pay attention.

“Excuse me, Miss.  But I’d like to buy some Epsom salts to put into my bath, because I ache.  Which container should I put them in and about how much do you think I should add to the tub?”

—I KID YOU NOT—-this happened to me at the Bulk Barn.

Oh, and don’t get me started on the Bulk Barn.  A mecca of bulk food only found in Atlantic Canada.  Row after low-priced row of anything you could possibly imagine wanting a lot or a little of.  I am so stocked up on oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruits that I wouldn’t be surprised to poop Cliff Bars.

As a yoga instructor who has to sign clients into a computer system by first and last name, I have never encountered so many “Macs” in one place.  And I’m not talking Apple computers although there assuredly must be a MacIntosh around.  Dozens and dozens of last names like MacDonald, MacInnis, McDougal, McIntyre, McMurphy, and McCauly.  It is now second nature for me to ask, “Now is that McCollum, M-A-C or M-C-C ?”  Maritime accents so thick you feel like maybe this island broke off from the land o’ Ireland sometime around the Great Continental Divide and these are the remaining descendants of Leprechauns.

This small town friendliness is so infectious, so genuine that I find I can hardly stop smiling.  I say hello and wave madly whenever I possibly can to anyone who comes within a ten foot radius of my person, and I have come to discover that the weather is a perfectly acceptable thing to chat about.  Especially, with weather like here.

The pace has slowed down so much that I notice how the heart beats in the shallow of a belly lying in Savasana, a car reversing out of a driveway, one private hand placed on the heart, the other on the navel of someone sensing themselves for the first time.  The salt crust of ice formed at the sea’s edge or a solitary lamppost shining in the snow, a ray of sun reflecting off a bead of sweat; the quiet moment when the inhale becomes the exhale.

The Buddha said, “When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.”

And I do, because in the Country, there are so many stars.



5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Airlie
    Feb 05, 2012 @ 09:43:09

    AAAAAHHHHHH(that’s a sign of content)-mazing! Love this, Jen. Like you, I noticed these things when first returning home from “big(ger) city life” on the west coast, and it saddens me to think that that appreciation of simplicity has so quickly slipped from consciousness. It’s nice to be reminded every now and then of just how special this place is. I’m so glad you came, have fallen in love, and are sticking around for a while!! Maybe you’ve been so nomadic all your life because your heart was waiting to find a home…and maybe, just maybe it has?! 😉


  2. Rhonda
    Feb 05, 2012 @ 09:56:47

    Hey there, how’s the weather? I love this post. It makes me relax and feel like a jovial neighbor even though I’m 4000 miles away in another nation altogether. 🙂


    • Jennifer Reed
      Feb 05, 2012 @ 20:26:45

      It’s a cold one today. Colder than yesterday, but did you feel that sunshine? Thanks for shoveling the walk today. If you need to borrow a cup of sugar, you just let me know, neighbor!


  3. Michelle Blanchard
    Feb 22, 2012 @ 15:40:02

    Love this post Jen. It is so refreshing to hear C-town described by a new arrival such as yourself. If you think it’s great now, wait until yo experience the summertime version….you may never leave.


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