Derek Miller wrote something about Vancouver that jogged my memory:
Vancouver is a substantial city, but we have always been a city at the edge. To the west lies Georgia Straight, then the Pacific Ocean. To the east and north, craggy and glaciated mountains as rough as anywhere. Indian Arm makes sure we don’t forget it.
[Via Penmachine words music comment: Indian Arm.]
Just a week or two ago I was telling my partner that one reason I love living in Wellington is that it feels dangerous.
I grew up in Christchurch, on the flat Canterbury Plains, somewhat inland from the coast. It’s very English, very safe. It has gardens galore — generally neat and tidy. The streets are wide and orderly. Miss a turn and you can take the next one to still be close to where you’re going.
Sure, the Nor’West gales sweep through, but the landscape is all very ‘civilised’. The hills round about tend to brown, as the wind dries out everything.
Wellington, on the other hand, clings tenuously to a bunch of bush-clad hills, on at least one earthquake fault. It rains a lot, so green predominates, and the hillsides are forever falling down. Small slips leave piles of earth on the side of the road, while larger slips leave houses teetering above cliffs.
Wellington is on the coast. It’s built around a huge harbour, and lies exposed to the south. Next stop: Antarctica. The Roaring 40s bluster through.
The roads are narrow, and steep, and winding. Try taking the next turn, after missing the one you need, and you’ll find yourself across town, far away from where you meant to go.
Downtown cafes and restaurants come and go. Buildings are put up, knocked down, rebuilt. Nothing stays the same for long.
I love this city, the hills, the harbour, the
wind that blasts through it. I love
the life and pulse and activity, and the
warm decrepitude …there’s always an edge
here that one must walk which is sharp
and precarious, requiring vigilance.
An edge. That’s precisely it. We are on the edge in Wellington.
Derek describes Vancouver’s edge: mountains and fjords. Wellington’s edge is earthquakes and hills, wind and ocean.
I love it.