Above and Below

It’s Saturday and from far above the city we hear sirens. One, two, three police cars rush toward the building next door. Sage is asleep, and Daegan is outside on a walk.

Five, six, seven police cars come and now one of them has turned sideways in the big intersection near our building, closing our road. I send Daegan a text message: “Be careful, something bad is happening on our street. Find a more indirect route home”

I hear nothing back for a while but am not too worried. While Sage and I are safe high above the city, Daegan is likely also safe. He told me he was going below the city – into the nearby ravine with a portable easel and some art supplies.

Eight, nine, ten police cars arrive and now there are two ambulances as well.

Sage wakes up and is worried. What is happening? Where is our son? He still hasn’t replied yet but it isn’t unusual. Like Sage, his priority isn’t his phone, it’s whatever he’s working on, wherever he is being – the present moment. But it would be nice if we heard back from him.

Finally it comes. “Yikes! Will do!” he says. “I’m currently at a sandbank.”

The next afternoon I take the elevator downstairs to the city level, then climb carefully down the embankment to the ravine below the city and go for a run toward where Daegan sent his text message from yesterday.

It’s peaceful and I can hear birds singing. A hum of traffic comes from the city above. It seems like miles away though as the crow flies it is literally only a few hundred feet.

As my run comes toward its end I follow the road out of the ravine, taking the route I told Daegan not to take just the day before. And there, in front of the building next door to ours I see a few signs of yesterday’s activity:

I scan my key fob at the door and it unlocks, letting me in to my building and after a short elevator ride I am high above the city once again looking out. A hawk flies at our level, looking for a mouse or squirrel to eat in the ravine far below – in a forest it shares with deer, coyotes and beaver. In the city below us a pair of policemen stand in front of an elementary school looking for any signs of what may have happened yesterday. And in the hospital I see just a mile or so to the north are two teenagers recovering from being shot just one day before.

17 thoughts on “Above and Below

    1. Same here – we had another (fatal) shooting here just a month or so ago and before that there was one in December, I believe. It’s sad because we have a handful of people causing havoc in an otherwise lovely neighbourhood. Often I will go to Twitter when I hear lots of sirens to try to find out what’s going on and it doesn’t take long before there are lots of horrible borderline (and not-so-borderline) racist posts painting everyone with the same brush.

    1. Thank you so much! I’m glad I was able to capture some of the feeling I had about it. The contrast between the various parts of our neighbourhood – the idea that a space is not defined by any one thing…

  1. So, that mean there was a shoot out. Is it? But why? And, where do people get the guns from, that too in a peaceful neighbourhood as you describe it. As though the Covid situation isn’t enough!
    But I am envious of the place you live in, those pictures are like places i like to be always, everytime but cannot.

    1. Yes – it looks like that was the case. And back in April there was another what appears to have been car chase and (fatal) shooting.

      The why of it is so complicated. In many ways this is a very peaceful neighbourhood. It’s quiet, lots of families live here. There are no bars or night clubs. But the other fact is that this is a relatively poor neighbourhood and that brings a lot of challenges. Adults in the families often have to work long hours and multiple jobs. so family support and involvement is less. I think psychologically gangs make up for some of that sense of belonging / support. Drugs are a problem also though I haven’t seen a lot of people using more than cannabis here (which is now legal). And the thing with issues like this is that even just a handful of people can create havoc in an otherwise peaceful neighbourhood.

      There are strict gun laws here but they’re not 100% forbidden. However, in cases like this they’re almost always stolen/illegal. We have a pretty porous border with the US also and guns are plentiful and easily available there. So they find their way across the border and into the wrong hands here.

      But yes – we are so blessed to have spaces like this in the midst of the country’s biggest city. Most neighbourhoods have some form of green space and lots have some form of water – river, pond or if you’re really lucky Lake Ontario. I think we often really take this for granted.

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