Saturday, February 9, 2013

Hamilton in the snow

Piffle - we in Toronto got a mere 12 inches of snow yesterday, whereas parts of the Eastern seaboard got 3 times that! Still, when I read on-line last night that the express bus to Hamilton had been cancelled due to the storm, I was not happy with the weather gods. My workshop at the Hamilton Public Library was to begin at 10 a.m. this morning, and the 8.30 express bus got in at 9.15. The train would be much more complicated and longer. So I rose at 6.15 a.m. - can't remember the last time I got up so early - to get ready for the train.

Posted at 6.11 a.m.: All busses now running normally.

It was a gorgeous day - bright sun which will melt the piles of snow in no time, and then there will be floods. My host Jill met me at the bus station. Jill came every Monday recently all the way from Hamilton to my Ryerson class. She has decided to start a weekly writer's group at the library there, and asked me to run a writing workshop to help get it started. The snow deterred some, but still, 19 Hamiltonians (and one homeless woman who wandered in and out) came through the snowdrifts to sit in a sunny room for 3 hours, to talk about writing and do some on the spot. It was wonderful. One of the participants, who'd been a lively part of the workshop, came up at the end to tell me that he is 95 years old and just beginning his literary career. I'd told them about Diana Athill and the bestseller she wrote at 92 - I hope this man will top her.

The homeless woman said at one point, "So, writing - does it come from your imagination, or from, like, just from the top of your head?" Good question. "Both," was my terse reply. "What about from your heart?" she said. Oh yes. From there most of all. Thank you for pointing that out.

The participants seemed to get a lot from the day. So now I have ready a 3 hour workshop template I can run anywhere. Just ask.

The kind librarian gave me a very impressive Public Library of Hamilton notebook with matching pen. Afterwards, lunch with Jill, who works with street people and is one of the good people of the earth, and her daughter, and back to the bus. A bunch of artist friends have moved to Hamilton because life is calmer and housing much cheaper than in Toronto. The downtown has a nice vibe. But living there, I'd feel in exile, so near yet so far from the real thing - the big city.

But then, I'm a city girl.

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