“The Cucumber Tree”

May 3, 2011

I’m a little behind with my blogging so I am only now reporting on a meeting of the Vancouver Historical Society which we attended last Thursday night.   On the last Thursday of most months they have a presentation lecture on a subject of local historical interest.

Last Thursday, Bob Ross took us through “The Cucumber Tree,” his excellent memoir of growing up in Kerrisdale and the Fraser River Flats in the 1940s and 1950s.  It was interesting to listen to what childhood on the almost rural westside was like in those years.  It was so very different from the more industrial inner-city environment that was the lot of those on Commercial Drive.

I’m giving the January lecture by the way. Oddly enough it will be about some parts of my “The Drive.”

The Joy Of No Car

May 3, 2011

For a couple of days at the end of last week we rented a car.  We had to take the cat to the vets in Burnaby and we had an evening appointment across the city in Kitsilano; so it was a useful time to have the car.

It was the first time I had driven for more than a year, and it was an interesting novelty once again at the beginning.  But I was happy to turn the car in on the Friday. By Saturday morning we were both feeling bushed!  Having the car seemed to oblige us to use it over (get soil from Home Depot) and over (dim sum) until we were exhausted with the constant doing.

Over the last twenty years without a car, we have developed a slower — and, I like to think, a more considered — life.  Without a car we are obliged to think carefully before we go out; we have to think about getting from place to place and what we can carry with us, more concretely than does a driver; but at the same time, we have none of the stresses caused by parking, for example.  As we walk the sidewalks we actually meet people and chat, something that is impossible when you are driving.  We are weather-prone and sometimes even weather-limited; but our car never breaks down and is never damaged. In a pinch, we are happy to call for a cab or a rental car.  Otherwise, we are happy to keep to Shank’s pony.