Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Breakfast at Hoito

Today, I left my house at 7 pm, planning to jog down to the waterfront trail, then jog to the Hoito and show Urho that an old photo of him dancing with Elvi Jokinen (who recently died) is in the current issue of New World Finn newspaper. On the overpass I met up with Erkki who told me that most days he has been going out for his walk about 5 a.m. Erkki asked me if I knew the name of the small yellow birds that can be seen in the trees along the creek; he said one of his friends in Upsala said he sees them up there too but hadn't seen them before. I said, if it has red streaks on its breast, it is a yellow finch. If it has black on its wings, it's an American goldfinch. Then we moved on to the murmeli [woodchuck]. Saying näkemin [see you], I jogged up to the crest of the overpass and was surprised to see someone hiding in the bushes.

What is the Great Blue Heron doing over here on this side of the harbour? Must be out fishing, I said to Hannah, who had just come up the overpass on her way back from her early morning walk. Hannah usually walks with Liisa, another Finnish woman, but Liisa has gone to Finland this summer.

After stabbing a crayfish, the heron slowly made its way to the sunnyside of the breakwater

where it became completely camouflaged among the stones.

Suddenly, a veil of fog began rolling across the water, and although

beyond me the fog was like a dense curtain,

at my feet, surprisingly, it was clear.

I looked back and saw the Great Blue Heron hunched in silhouette, beak to the East, looking like an old codger.

Continuing on my way, I saw the sun gleam like a silver road on the lake

until the mist closed in again. As I passed Randy and John, the "Danish couple" early-morning walkers, I gave BlueSea a dog bisquit and told Randy and John to keep an eye out for the blue heron as they climb the overpass. Randy and John often meet up and walk aways with Esko, a lean Finnish fellow who is 80 years young.

Around the bend, a finer fog came along

and a very perplexing white rainbow

which looked like this when you walked into it.

Then I ran out past the railway tracks, through the Charity Casino parking lot, along Lake St, up Manitou Street, past the Polish woman having a smoke break from making perogies at the Polish Hall, down Machar Avenue and up to the Hoito to have a cup of coffee and look for Urho and give him the newspaper.

I sat down at the coffee bar and decided oh well, now that I'm here may as well have pancakes and scrambled eggs. I sat beside Yrjo (he said he is called "Georgie" in English) and Vaino; both are in their 80s and "regulars." Alex joined us later. He is in his 80s, too. He is not Finnish, but from Belarusse.

Have you seen Urho? I asked them. No one had seen him. I showed them the newspaper. After talking about dancing we talked about toxic waste being dumped around our town and in the region. Some in the Lappe area, some by the Nipigon dump. Whatever you do, don't go to the Nipigon dump, said Yrjo. There was some toxic chemicals dumped this side of the dump. Who put it there, no one knows. But don't walk there.

After leaving and stopping to tell Jay, who was part of our Midsummer Festival, who was out this morning selling photos outside the Hoito (it is a very popular busking et al area), that his new image is AMAZING and, is it the side of the Finnish Labour Temple? Yes, it is, he said. Yes, I recognized it. Looks like someone or something is haunting the building...It needs a story, said I. Lots of ghost stories in this 100 year old building, said he.

Next, I reminisced about the 70s with Wally (whose dad is Finnish), who I hadn't seen since a funeral, who was just leaving the Hoito with his new wife's daughter, and then I bumped into Michel, and then, I said to myself I better hurry up and get back home! I ran uphill to Hillcrest Park where a ruby-throated hummingbird buzzed by my shoulder on its way to the wildflower meadow. I was home by 10 am.

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