rough notes

It stoned me to my soul.

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Well, everyone else has posted recent wild-weather experiences. I suppose I will do the same. But what I will do is post an email I sent to a close friend of mine who still lives in the T-Dot. When you’re done reading it, you can perhaps consider such lofty topics like reader response, authorial intention and the effect different audiences have on the writer – something I’ve studied a bit too much of lately.



From: Mitchell Irons
Date: Tue Sep 30, 2003 3:02:46 PM Canada/Atlantic
To: xxxxxxxx
Subject: A full-force gale.

D’arrr, thar be a fierce wind, that was, Sunday last.

So, I lived through a hurricane Sunday night, which provided much opportunity to talk Pirate through the evening. The funny thing though, is that when the windows rattle so much you think they might shatter into a million pieces and forever scar your face, talking Pirate is not really on your mind.

Actually, the hurricane was quite fun. I saw the newspaper headlines Saturday morning, that we should be ready for one fucking strong wind sunday evening, and I was quite exciting. I mean, face it, southern ontario doesn’t really know what “extreme weather” means. We’ve grown up around an in-land sea that ensures a more-or-less temperate climate. So, having heard about a Hurricane! to hit The Fax, I was quite wound up and ready to go for it.

Now, I wanted to head to the waterfront before the hurricane hit to check out the waves and the wind, but Lesley, who has a bit more experience with this “When Tropical Weather Patterns Attack” (all next week on TLC) thing than I, advised against it. I moped a bit, but it was probably for the best. I know this because we listened to the CBC after the power went out, and they had a reporter down there, who was describing 15-foot waves in one of the most sheltered harbours in N.America. It turns out the restaurant I used to work in, not 100 feet from the water, was submerged by the water. Good old Hurricane Juan hit the peninsula (the eye of the storm passed about a 20 minute drive out of town) just as the high tide peaked, which added about another 3 feet to the water levels. The CBC man also witnessed several other people down on the water, who were being hit by various forms of flying debris, including: a pop can, a piece of styrofoam, and “what might have been a starfish.”

To ride out the storm, Lesley had a friend over, and they played Arts and Crafts. By this I mean, I went to rent a movie, and they took cheap dollar-store-bought frost glass, hammered it to pieces, and then cemented it to picture frames. It was rather loud, but things seemed to work out for them. Then the power went out, and I realized I should not have rented Bulworth, Undercover Brother, and MP’s The Holy Grail, as hurricanes tend to knock out the power lines when they pull through your neighbourhood.

The next morning (Monday), we took a walk through town, and man, it was the shits. Its like the entire city had a frat party. There was garbage everywhere. Windows were smashed in (and out), trees were fell, light standards were uprooted, and everyone was taking photographs, perhaps to remind them of the carnage that ensues when you get shit-faced on a keg of Mother Nature Old Stock Ale. It was an entirely different form of Shock and Awe. The waterfront, which I so dearly wanted to see the night before, is now in shambles. The entire boardwalk (well, what’s left of it in some places) has been shifted two feet up onto the ground/shore (well, what’s left of it in some places). Boulders from the harbour were washed ashore. Kiosks and shacks that once sold trinkets and boat tours are gone. As well as a restaurant, which slipped into the water. Some streets in the downtown were closed to all traffic, as office tower windows were blown out, and the occasional shard of glass (or desk) was still apt to fall. Equally sad, if not moreso, are the DalKids, as I have taken to calling them. One of the Dalhousie residences is in shambles – it is a large 30-story tower, and many windows on the upper floors were blown out, on both sides, creating terrible wind tunnels through hallways and students’ apartments.

What is really sad is the state of the parks, though. The Fax had some really really nice urban parks until Sunday. The city definitely had an amazing number of 150+ year old trees in several parks and sanctuaries. (Being an old British military town, it has had its fair share of patronage and largesse in the 19th century.) Likely the most beautiful was the Public Gardens, which is an old Victorian Garden, whith a local flair. An entire city block is surrounded by cast iron fences and gates, and inside are pretty paths around ponds, flowerbeds, bandstands, etc. The neat thing about it though was that you could not actually see into the Gardens from the outside. The trees that lined the iron fence were so large, so old, and so leafy, that it made for a natural barrier. This barrier made the Gardens all the more inviting – it drew you in, it forced you to go inside, to see the forest for the trees, so to speak. Well, the trees are no more. The Gardens are a wreck. Its an awful mess. What used to be green leaves everywhere from the outside is now just a calm blue sky. That’s how everything is now. Its like some one cut the city in half – nothing but brick towers and buildings now.

(Many trees were uprooted rather than torn apart limb-from-limb, so I wonder if they can be set upright again and live another day… I don’t know though.)

Many of the homeless are okay, as they managed to get to shelters, but some braved it out in the open air. There’s no wonder some are as haggard and thick-skinned as they are. I’ve got walls to shelter me. And they don’t.

As for the DalKids, they are now being housed in hotels all across town, including mine. They were told to pack up for two or three days, but the RAs figure it’ll be a week at least, and I have to agree with them, having seen the damage done to the building (its just down the block from me). They had to pack everything up and go. Right now, the building is secured by padlocks, and there are DalCops guarding the doors, given the unsafe conditions, and so many valuable stereos, computers, laptops, PDAs, etc, inside. No one can enter until building inspectors can give an all-clear for the whole building, and they figure that will be Wednesday evening, at the earliest. The older students will manage okay, I figure, but for the frosh, I figure their term is fucked. They are completely frazzled, and are always asking where they can buy calling cards so they can phone home to Mom in Etobicoke (an inordinate amount of Dal’s frosh are from Ontario this year, due to the double-cohort). In the mean time, they will stay at my hotel, a four-star building, and sleep in big beds and dine on some half-decent food. You can call me Mike Marriott now, if you like.

As for work, I know about this, because I went in for a shift last night, the day after the storm. Power had not yet been restored to the hotel, so we had to serve the hotel guests a buffet (prepared at a kitchen off-site and then trucked in) under candle-light. It was not my cup of tea at all, but at least for once, the patrons were very accomodating, given the circumstances. I for one am glad to have a computer to keep track of me tables, and amazed at how you ever did it with written bills and the checkerboard system at the Green Room.

Anyhow, I’m okay, my home is okay, L-A is cool, and the cats are finally emerging from the closet. All is well. For what its worth, I’m looking forward to the next mega-weather pattern to beat against my walls.

D’arrrr, the sea she be a tempest tonight, says I…. (D’arrrrrr….)



Written by mitchellirons

September 30, 2003 at 10:14 pm

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