Wednesday, December 05, 2018
Port Hardy, After One Week
One of the most amazing things about Port Hardy (or our little part of it) is the silence. Walking out the back door onto the deck with Diego, turning right and going along the garage and down the driveway to the street, I would hear absolutely nothing. Except for some bird calls. The silence has a real presence. When there is no sound, you believe you can hear the utter quiet; the term "deafening silence" refers to something real. There is a weight to it, a heft.
No passing cars, no honking, no traffic on nearby streets, no machinery, no planes overhead, no bus announcements, no trains, no yelling. Two days ago, I heard a noise, which I determined was a ferry departing down on the bay.
We arrived at 9435 Mayors Way last Tuesday evening. It was a little dusky as we drove north from Campbell River. Port Hardy was 2.5 hours away. In addition to the dark, it began raining, so we saw nothing of the endless scenery of the trip's final 230 kilometers (143 miles). The landlord's agent was waiting - with a fire in the fireplace - to welcome us and give us keys. Later, we put a comforter down on the floor and had some dinner.
We knew we would be arriving at night and the house would be empty, so we had the movers in Mississauga load our mattress and a futon (and several boxes of necessary supplies) at the back of the U-Haul. When we took these items out, I noticed that several boxes were sopping wet on the bottom, the cardboard falling away in pieces. I immediately feared that the U-Haul had a leak somewhere and (considering the days of rain we had traveled through) a lot of our stuff was now ruined. I tried putting it out of my mind, figuring that another 12 hours would not matter if the boxes already had been in water for a week or more.
Four local men came by at 10 AM the following morning and quickly unloaded the U-Haul. I quickly saw that my fears about water damage were unfounded. My brother-in-law, who had driven the U-Haul across the country, surmised that two large jugs of water at the back of the truck had frozen. The plastic containers had then expanded and cracked and some melting ice had leaked out. It turned out that the water was really only in one area and nothing was damaged - other than the many things broken or damaged by the incompetent movers back in Ontario. (I wish the Port Hardy guys had been able to pack the truck.)
We spent the rest of Wednesday and Thursday unpacking, hooking up computers, putting legs back on tables, filling bookshelves with books, storing the flat boxes and bubblewrap in the garage. We had two great meals in town - including perhaps the best fish-and-chips we have ever had - which was tremendously encouraging.
Because Laura would be driving south to Nanaimo on Sunday for two weeks of job training (and her brother and his wife were returning the U-Haul in Campbell River before continuing on to Nanaimo, where they would take a ferry back to the mainland), we decided to explore the town a bit on Friday and Saturday. We drove down to Tsulquate Park (maybe three minutes from our house) and walked along the water, passing a playground, the ferry dock, and a large wooden carrot.
Laura also spotted two bald eagles high in the treetops, scanning the water.
My happiness over this move and our new situation has been a pleasant (and somewhat strange) surprise. The house, rented for several hundred dollars less than our 19th-floor Mississauga apartment, the outdoor space of a deck, the remoteness of the town, the ability to work from home ... it is striking how every single aspect of this resettlement has gone smoothly and wonderfully.
Yesterday I drove into town, thinking I would go to the library and the Port Hardy Museum (which are part of the same building), but I forgot they are both closed on Monday. I walked into Cafe Guido because there is a book store off on one side (The Book Nook), in a semi-lower floor, with some used books among the the new ones. In a craft store upstairs, I met an adorable golden-haired young dog. I bent down to pet him and he poked his nose towards my jacket pocket, where there were bits of Diego's peanut butter crackers. The dog followed me around the store before giving up and walking back by the register and laying down.
I bought a tea and walked past the library (a sign on the door: "No Bathroom - Key Went Missing") and found the Ministry office for which I had once hoped to work (before my law firm suggested working remotely). Back on the main street, one business was closed, the owner having added an explanation ("More Medical Procedures!"). I saw the post office down one street, so I went and picked up our mail.
I sat out on the deck reading for a bit, with Diego on the stake in the side yard. Our neighbour in the house beyond the deck came over and said hello to Diego. She and her husband are retired and they travel a lot in their massive RV (Arizona, Florida, and "down island"). They apparently are famous (relatively speaking, of course) for having the most Xmas lights on their house, but they are behind schedule this year. A pizza delivery guy asked her over the weekend, "So where are the lights?" She wanted to know if she could come into our yard to string lights on the fence separating our yard and their driveway because there are plants and whatnot on her side. I said sure. (There are some lights up now, but I don't think she will top the houses I saw in Brooklyn decades ago.)
There has been a lot of frost on the grass every morning, with the temperature around freezing. The snow/ice crystals on the top of the fence posts and the car roof are pointy or fuzzy.
The smoke from chimneys tells me that many people have wood stoves or fireplaces going in the mornings. The morning quiet and the smell of wood burning is exquisite. We will need to purchase some firewood, which I believe one of the movers said he chops and sells.
It's hard to tell for sure after only one week, but Port Hardy seems to be the right amount of town for me. At age 55, the basics are pretty much all I need. Everything is a mere 3-5 minutes away and there is neither traffic nor crowds (as long as I avoid the grocery store on the weekend or late afternoon). I also really like the uniqueness of every single house. I hope to drive around soon and take more photos.
And while it was raining on the night we arrived, I don't think it has rained at all since. On Monday and today, it reached 10 degrees C (50 F).
I love being so close to the water. In the first picture below you can sort of see a road in the middle of the picture going off to the left. There is another slight curve and then it goes down a hill and Queen Charlotte Strait is visible.
Today, I got a library card. When the librarian looked at my Ontario drivers license, she asked what brought me to Port Hardy. I told her my wife was the new librarian in this branch. She knew someone had been hired, and we talked for a bit.
I also drove out of town to take a picture of the Welcome To Port Hardy sign we half-saw in the dark last week.
I want to learn about this area and the various small towns.