Hazel

Hazel Street. Number 45 is the house number that I have in my brain, though I think they have changed the numbering scheme now. I think the house is gone as well, just in the last few years sometime.

We moved from the house on McIntosh in Winnipeg, to Chilliwack, in the BC Fraser Valley. It was February. I remember that because when we got off the train we saw green grass and flowers. This, of course, would be an impossibility in Winnipeg in February. So stepping off the train into spring weather was at least something good about another move.

But we didn’t move straight away into our new house or start at our new school. We stayed with Uncle Mike and Aunt Shirley and their six children. I don’t remember it being crowded, but it must have been. The things I do remember are that it seemed like a very long time where we didn’t have to attend school, that Aunt Shirley made chocolate pancakes, that the baby, Matthew, had some health issues, and that my cousin Dawn was my new best friend.

There was a large open field behind their house. At the back was a cherry tree. Later in the year, I recall Dawn and I climbing into the cherry tree, eating cherries, making cherry tattoos on our skin and throwing cherry bombs at the little cousins (and the Angel Monster) clustering around the base of the tree trying to climb up. Dawn and I got along very well, because we liked to do the same kind of things. She was called a tom boy, but she turned out to actually be a lesbian. Sadly, when she was just 42 she was struck by a car in a shopping center parking lot by an elderly lady driver and she died.

Moving to another province with no actual place to settle was a disconcerting life episode. Kind of like being bent in space and time, displaced. I don’t know what the actual story was behind such a move, I can only speculate. Could be that father was fired from or quit another job, was seized by the wanderlust again and the prospect of more green grass. Certainly Chilliwack’s grass was greener than Winnipeg’s at that time of year. But there seemed to be very little consideration what effect such a displacement would have on the family. This may have been when the seed was planted deep in my brain that I would never inflict this kind of discontinuity on my own family.

As I recall, father did not even have a new job he was coming to. But he did have a brother, who likely told him about the very pleasant climate, friendly people, small town atmosphere and prospects for the future. So there we were.

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