Sunday, January 11, 2009



In the South, You don't say hello or lift your eyebrows or somehow otherwise acknowledge the existence of everyone you see. It would be crazy, overwhelming, impossible.

Michael Pollan argues that what humans do all day is forget. That is our primary cognitive function. To prove his point in A Botany of Desire, he describes all of the sensory stimulation he experiences while sitting at his desk. His description of everything he sees, hears, smells, feels, and tastes is truly overwhelming and poignant.

One of the things I liked immediately when moving up here was that things were seemingly a lot less busy. There wasn't all of the hustle and bustle of the big and small cities that I had lived in for the past decade. There was no advertising (I didn't have TV), no traffic, no crowds. It appeared that there was less visual stimulation.

Over the past two and a half years, I've started to notice more nuances in the way the wind makes the power lines which are connected to my house sway back and forth. I can more or less accurately judge the windspeed by looking at them swing or at the municipal flag pole waving away. The sky and the clouds have begun to reveal their many patterns and layers and sophistications, and I am coming to intimately know each of the three-hundred sixty degrees of horizon surrounding me. It appears that I have begun to focus more on the natural beauty that surrounds me, and I'm making it up by ignoring the podcasts infiltrating my consciousness through my always connected, if somewhat isolated, iLife.

I have begun to think that there is not less stimulation up here, just less of it is man made.


Up here, Noah is like a rock star. Everyone knows his name and calls it out emphatically virtually every time they see him. I love the way the Inuit gravitate towards babies. It doesn't matter if it is a five-year-old girl, or a macho forty-year-old hunter. When someone drives by us on a Honda, it's routine to hear them yell out, "Noah Noah!" and wave. Noah has become accustomed to the attention. He smiles and waves back either from inside his stroller or from on his mom's back. Lately, he has gotten used to random people running up to him, full speed, and scooping him up off the ground, dousing him with kisses and love.

The South is a less personal place. At Christmas it almost seemed as if Noah was waiting for a show of public affection towards him. Sure, some people may give a "beau bébé" here and there, but it pales in comparison to his deification up here, where babies are gods.

Oh, I've been out on the town in Montreal and had people stop to comment on the beauty of something that was walking next to me. But it was not Noah. A man has actually made an illegal u-turn in the street just to stop me and say, "Il est beau en tabernacle!" But the man referred not to my son.

Just this past Christmas, I was waiting outside a shop on Ave. Mont Royal. A man walked past me, turned around, bent over, reached out his hand and said, "Il est vraiment beau". Of course, Noah was not the focus of the man's affection. The man was infatuated with Iggaak.

In Montreal, it's Iggaak, who is the rock star.