Friday, 15 April 2011

Every, every minute?

Being tired (again), I quickly checked my folders for photos taken in Aprils past and remembered that I got this digital camera for my birthday four years ago. I was terrified, but realized that the only way to get over the terror was to get out and start snapping. So I spent half an hour or so wandering along the banks of the Rideau River. It being April in Hades, I mostly went for branches in themes of grey and beige. Like so:

However, for some reason, I felt compelled to snap the little shopping district in our neighbourhood as I made my way home that Sunday afternoon. I thought it was a boring shot when I looked at it later, even made a half-hearted attempt to delete it.

Now I look at this ordinary scene and feel a bit spooked. It's difficult to make out in this photo, but just next door to the barber shop (you can see the old-fashioned barber's pole), there was a hardware store (see where the wheelbarrow is?) that had been there for many years, and next door to that, a rather more recent organic food store, where I bought "eco-cleaners" and the Resident Fan Boy got all our meat. A few weeks ago, the managers at the hardware store decided to have a spring sale event and in preparation for that weekend, stocked up the store with barbecue equipment, including several bags of self-starting charcoal.

That afternoon, younger daughter and I were heading out to take in a movie and found the traffic snarled and re-routed around a three-alarm fire. We retreated home and watched Twitter while the fire was upgraded to a five-alarm, and finally a six-alarm. Word went out for the neighbourhood to seal doors and windows due to the toxic nature of the blaze. (Well, it was a hardware store --- you can imagine...) When it was over, many hours later, the hardware store and the organic food store were gone, along with several apartments above the shops. The barber shop, another long-time neighbourhood institution, was so badly damaged that it is unlikely to re-open. No one hurt or killed, thank goodness, although a seniors' home nearby had to be evacuated. However, eight people lost their home and possessions, and three businesses were destroyed, with the other shops on the block damaged and even today, still using generators for power.

Stumbling upon this snap four years later, I'm reminded of that line from Our Town when a young girl, newly dead, is about to travel back to be a witness to a day in her life. When she asks about a special day, the so-called "Stage Manager" advises against it: "Pick an ordinary day, it will seem important enough."


Vol-E said...

How sad; I hope they can rebuild, or at least have enough insurance coverage and savings to live on for awhile. Not the same when such a thing happens to a Walmart...

Rob said...

Be watchful, for ye know not the day nor the hour etc etc.

And while being watchful, take photographs.

Didn't know Canadians went in for old-style barber signs (REAL old-fashioned ones are simply striped wooden poles: I can remember one from my first barber as a child.)

Persephone said...

There are now posters up in the local tea and coffee shops asking for volunteers to give free building and legal advice, Vol-e. It's a neighbourhood that has always been proud of its "walk-ability" (even though most people seem to drive to work and away for the weekends). As a car-less person, I really hope the shops can come back, but it's prime real estate. It's the sort of community that would fight hard against a Walmart.

The barber shop, Rob, has been there forever, or at least for the past thirty-two years under the current owner and I suspect the shop was there before that. The hardware store had been there for more than sixty years. A 27-year-old jewelry repair shop went too, along with the organic food shop. Very sad.