Monday , 30 January 2023
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View the Pandemic from a Porch

Kathy Renwald

I wish I had a front porch. At 7 a.m. I like to go outside and look, or more like stare at the garden. But in the North End, many gardens are so small that two steps from the front door you’re on the sidewalk.

  Standing and staring at the garden is regarded as suspicious by some.

   “What’s that woman doing? She’s not staring at a screen, she’s not talking on the phone to an imaginary person about the stock market. That’s weird.”

  My brother was once asked to leave a Starbucks because he was sitting and sipping and staring. “It’s making people uncomfortable,” the Barista said as she muscled him out the door.

  I like people watching too and of course I’m a busy body, what journalist isn’t? But sometimes I like to do it while undercover. That’s why a porch would be nice, it adds a bit of privacy.

  If you like city living, than street life never fails to deliver drama and humor.

  I was thinking this as I was detailing my compost bin in the front yard. Washing, waxing, cleaning the rims, you know the drill.

   Watching a stone slinger truck down the street was a pleasant diversion. It was backing into an empty lot, ready to prepare the foundation for a new house.

  In the North End many lots are just 20 feet wide or so. Watching the truck ease into place, while also negotiating space for the city garbage truck to get by was a lesson in cooperation. It was all very cordial.

  Next a truck arrived with the forms for the foundation. The crane operator placed the bundles of wood on the ground, gently pushing the gravel around so the forms would sit level and not topple over. How often do we get to see the skill and choreography that goes into building a house?

Watching the choreography that goes into building a new house on a small lot

  If I loiter on the sidewalk long enough I’m sure to see Colin Cote-Paulette. He’s a CBC reporter who broadcasts live from the street corner.

  With his video camera and a little box the size of a briefcase he reports live for CBC French TV.

CBC is broadcasting live TV updates from a street corner in the North End

  “It’s like 5 cell phones hooked up together,” is how de described the technology as he waited to do a live hit on Covid cases in Southern Ontario.

  The morning brings out the dog walkers, the joggers, runners and cyclists. Since the pandemic, many babies and toddlers are getting extra fresh air, and sometimes their parents actually say hello instead of staring at their phones.

  The various stages of the Covid shutdown, while producing tragic stories, is activating residential neighbourhoods.  For the most part I see that  people are respecting distancing, even in the waterfront parks nearby.

  So porch or no porch, the sidewalks are alive with stories.

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