Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The fifteenth September

This is our fifteenth September in Ottawa, but only our fourteenth September in our house.  When we arrived on August 31st, 2000, our semi-detached was still occupied, and we took up residence for five weeks in a hotel on Cooper Street.  The windows faced north, and in the morning, we could see the high school students arriving at Lisgar Collegiate, from which elder daughter would graduate ten years later.  We didn't know that then.

Elder daughter was entering Grade Three, so mornings soon featured a scramble with younger daughter in her stroller to the elevator, then to Elgin Street to catch a bus to New Edinburgh, followed by the fifteen minute climb up the hill and past our future residence with all others who weren't school-bussed or driven.  One of elder daughter's classmates made the climb with his mother reading aloud from the latest Harry Potter as they walked.

I thought about those things as I waited out in front of our house for younger daughter's lift to arrive this morning. I thought about neighbours who have moved and the changes in the neighbours who have stayed.  Across the street in a house that was renovated over four years from a tiny bungalow to a two-storey house four times larger is the home to three platinum-haired children who squabble as they tumble and leap from their porch to the tank-like car which is one of the family vehicles.  I think the eldest must  have graduated to middle school; she often leaves separately with her mother now.

Next door, the tiny children who peered out curiously at the Accent Snob and me last winter are now escorted to the school bus by their father.  The little boy waves at me when prompted, trying to drag his eyes from the dog standing next to me.

I consider the changes I see in the cars bearing toddlers to teenagers up the road to two private schools, one Catholic school, and one public school.  It's alarming how many parents I see on cellphones with their children strapped in expensive carseats in the back.  I've even seen a mother holding her phone at arm's length as she proceeded slowly through the intersection at our corner. Checking a text?  Taking a selfie?  The mind boggles.

Across the street, a new neighbour is bringing in the garbage and recycling bins, talking to what appears to be a largish squirrel.  It's a dog which he picks up with one hand and tucks under his wrist.

As that first of the fifteen Septembers we've spent in Ottawa drew to a close fourteen years ago, Pierre Elliot Trudeau died.  His funeral was televised the day we moved into this house.  His eldest son, then a twenty-something, spoke eloquently at the service.  He now has three kids and lives up the hill, the leader of the Liberal Party. Last September, we ended up sharing a table with him, his pregnant wife and two tiny kids at the restaurant down the block which features "family dinners" (set menu, shared platters) on Mondays.  It was a bit awkward, really.

In 2000, I had an eight-year-old and a four-year-old.  One has graduated from university; the other will graduate from high school by the time the next September rolls around.

No, I wouldn't call those Septembers back.  I watch them flow by me like the nearby river.

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