Fall First

Today I was looking through flyers trying to figure out what store had my favorite frozen pizza on sale when I saw it. A Halloween candy sale. I closed the flyer pretending it never happened. Unfortunately what has been seen cannot be unseen. Even though you know it’s coming, there is still the moment of denial  when it does. It can’t be that time of year again.

These last weeks are a drawn out traumatic affair. By mid-August, everyone sinks into poorly concealed desperation. You can hear underlying dread in casual comments about earlier sunsets and cooler nights. Secretly we wonder if living under a Trump presidency or Mexican drug lords might be a bit of a treat compared to winter. No other seasonal shift causes this much anguish. There are just so many things ending. Lake season winds down. Holidays are over. Patios get packed away. And  oh. Do you hear that? The honking, not of traffic, but of geese. Even the animals don’t stick around because they know what’s coming.

Fall is a nice in-between season that gets overlooked because of two unfortunate features; it’s short and it precludes winter. So much so, that the way some people talk about it as if summer turns directly into winter. Every time I mention the school year or early nights, someone is there to whisper “Winter is coming” in my ear. Let’s just hold off for a minute. Summer isn’t technically over until September 22nd. And the daytime won’t be shorter than the nighttime until after September 22nd. Even then, it starts off gradual. It’s not until Daylight Savings time ends that it really gets dark early. And that’s not until November 6th. We should train ourselves to look forward to Autumn because it’s a really lovely season. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say they dislike it. People regularly hate spring (too messy), summer (too hot), and winter (too cold). Autumn is the best of all worlds. There are no bugs tormenting us. The temperature is perfect for walking and outdoor activities in general. We get stunning displays of colourful leaves. We finally have a chance to wear the nice ‘cold weather‘ clothes like booties, leather jackets and insulated vests instead of actual winter clothes. My favorite part of fall is actually wanting to cook again. Comfort foods like stews, soups, crisps, and pumpkin everything sounds so good. There is so much to enjoy so between now and November 6th, let’s put winter out of our minds. By the time that dreaded day rolls around, we might be so full of pumpkin spice that we won’t even mind.

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The Pokelure

Have you visited Assiniboine Park or The Forks lately? If you haven’t, you should. Wander through the Leo Mol garden in the evening or walk over the Esplanade Riel. The amount of people is shocking. On July 17th, Nintendo released the Pokemon Go app in Canada and it changed our environment. Kids, families, even seniors are all out searching for porygons and pikachus.

When I came back to Winnipeg from Europe a few years ago, I was struck by one thing; how few people were visible. Winnipeg isn’t comparable to European cities in terms of population or tourism, but it’s a city nonetheless. It was eerie going from consistently busy streets to walking down every road alone. Post-Pokemon, there are people everywhere. It makes me sad that I haven’t seen this before.  As a city, we regularly fail at tempting people to come out of their homes. Sure there are festivals, sports games and other special events but those tend to target a certain section of the population. Those same events often cost money and have crowd limitations which limits accessibility further, especially for families. There are some fun events put on regularly in the summer like Downtown Drive-In Movies or the Summer Entertainment Series at the Lyric Theatre. Those are great and from what I have seen, moderately popular. There isn’t any hype around them though. I have casually thought about going to an outdoor movie, but I think, why not just watch the movie at home? It’s easier. No pants or driving required. What Pokemon does is get people excited to go out.

It reminds me of when I first moved to the city. I would designate some days to be adventure days. I’d drive to a different part of town. I would check out a new business that I hadn’t been to before. Eventually though I stopped adventuring. I found favorite places and stopped leaving the neighbourhood. That’s really too bad because although I stopped adventuring, the city hasn’t stopped changing. It’s really inspiring to see people adventure around for the entire day. They bring backpacks and chargers for their phones. They frequent local businesses which in turn have seen an increase in foot traffic. Ultimately Pokemon Go has shown us that we can be lured out from our suburban homes. We can come together to experience the city we live in. Before the summer ends, I would like to spend a day in the city with my backpack, exploring all the new places that I haven’t seen yet. I hope that once the Pokemon Go craze dies down, that the players will continue to come out to explore their city. Or at least that they have found some new favorite places to enjoy.

I would love to hear about your recent Winnipeg adventures, Pokemon or otherwise. You can tweet me at @winnipegishere  tag me on Instagram @winnipegishere. Thanks for reading!

Winnipeg Renaissance

Why are transitions so painful? Within the past 6-8 months, I had some fresh starts. I went from renting an apartment to owning a home. I began sharing my life with someone. I moved to a new employer. I created this blog. As each new thing began, I didn’t stop to tie things off with my previous life. It was more of a cut-and-run approach leaving a trail of loose ends behind me. Sometimes that is how reality plays out. Sometimes things don’t work out exactly as you hope. There are a lot more grey areas than black and white. This is the place where things are messy.

In my case, my endings,the apartment, the old job, my prior hobbies, as a result of these new beginnings continued around me. Mentally, I quit my job last October, but couldn’t find a new job until June. I moved into our house in December, leaving most of my belongings in my old apartment until July. Life isn’t nearly as neat and tidy as we would like. If you are in one place today and another tomorrow, you can deal with that. It gets a lot more complicated when your right foot is in one place and your left is in another. It’s exhausting trying to care when you just don’t anymore. I settled into complete apathy regarding all of the things that I had ‘moved past.’ Those past reminders sat there waiting to be dealt with. July turned out to be a month of reckoning. I had to deal with every single ending which was painful and difficult. I’m emotionally tapped out, but I’m also a little lighter. Now I can go forward. I can embrace the future with all that I have. This experience is not unique to me. Nor is it particularly awful. Relatively speaking, these are minor challenges that fall under the category of Normal Life Shit. While I was feeling the anxieties and stresses that accompanied the entire experience, I thought about what that could mean for a community.

Cities experience their own periods of change. Leaders in our community push for change all the time. Of course with civic changes, the pace is slower. New developments have to be reviewed and approved. Designs have to be drawn. Funds allocated. And yet there are clear periods of time where there is a momentum shift. Downtown is a prime example. The way my grandparents spoke of it, downtown was a thriving destination. In their time residents would dress up, catch the bus and go downtown. To catch a show, to get a coffee, whatever. As the years went by, circumstances changed. The pendulum swung. Portage and Main became a place for work with most spending their time inside office buildings. Downtown was only a destination in that we drove in, only to drive back out at the end of the day.We built outwards, expanding city limits as we pushed to be away from downtown. Public transport became unfashionable as we found the convenience of strip malls and big box stores. Downtown continued to decline. Slowly as a city we acknowledged that something had to be done.  In 2003 Eaton’s was torn down to be replaced by the True North Arena. The momentum shifted. In true Manitoba fashion, our progress has crawled along, slowly, persistently.  We built a modern green home for Manitoba Hydro, the building itself reflecting the thought process that an office building doesn’t have to be only for work. Office building by day, beautiful venue for social functions at night.We bridge the gap between today and my grandparent’s time by ripping the guts out of old Exchange District warehouses while honouring their memory by preserving stylish beams and bricks. 

Once you achieve a level of distance, it is easier to accept and honour the past with a feeling of nostalgia. With recent history, it’s tempting to erase it because we don’t see it as heritage. It’s a reminder of a previous time including the failures. Currently the Public Safety Building is slated for demolition. This fortress-like building doesn’t fit with our current beginning. It serves as a stark reminder against the lightness and beauty of places like the Manitoba Hydro building. If the PBS building is razed, we are left with one less building in our collection of Brutalist archicture that fits together with the Manitoba Museum and Manitoba Theatre Centre. If we can hang on to the PBS building to honour its memory and repurpose it, we can take the opportunity to share another piece of our past with future generations. In our zeal for a Winnipeg Renaissance, it’s easy to get carried away in the new beginnings and not take a moment to accept that the past is a part of us. We shouldn’t give that away in an attempt to forget.