By James Fife
Some folks I know believe they have a theme song, kind of like Bob Hope ("Thanks for the Memories") or Charlie Chaplin ("Smile"). A song that sort of sums up who they are and the dominant thread in their life. I have never felt that I had such a theme song, if only because my life has had too many threads for one to stand out in particular. But just recently, I had a revelation that I may have come across the signature tune for Marilyn's and my association with Home North. It's called "Love This Life." Yes, that pretty well puts our impression of Victoria in a nutshell.
Until that Golden Time not too far off when we will make the transition to James Bay permanent, we continue to cherish the all-too-brief spells we get to be here. Maybe even more so as the goal line creeps closer and the calendar pages keep flipping. We recently added a new piece to our project of constructing a mosaic of seasonal impressions of life in Victoria, our making as many visits in different times of the year as possible. In our pre-purchase days of mere tourist stops in Victoria, we naturally got a good feel for summer life here. And then the trip when we suddenly realized we were serious about buying a home was deliberately billed as a visit to "see what winter is like in Victoria." Our most recent foray added a stretch of savouring the delights of autumn, including invigoratingly cooler weather than San Diego and a whole lot more gold in the trees than we normally see.
Though still regrettably too short (even for Marilyn, who came up a week earlier, because, well, as an official retiree, she can), our Fall Frolic in Home North was especially tinged with experiences reinforcing our attachment. It included some of the usual haunts and favoured activities, naturally. But there was a special air of celebration attached, because the visit was flanked by special bookend days: Marilyn's birthday at one end, and our second Canadian Thanksgiving near the other. Being in James Bay tends to give us a sense of holiday excitement and adventurousness, but that impression was even more intense this time. That was odd, if only because so much of our stay was just our normal routine in Victoria.
So, we went out most days, rain or shine, in one day logging more miles/steps on the pedometer than in two days at Home South. All the usual spots had to be checked out and errands needed to be run. That meant a hike down Government Street, to Harris Green or Cook Street Village, or even just down to the Five Corners. There were ordinary household chores to do, small tasks of completing the settling in or just getting a home not-lived-in back up to speed after time away.
Then there was the evening routine of visits with neighbours or the weekly rounds to the music venues in the city. We try to make it to one or the other of the different live-music nights in the area during our stay, supplemented by occasional special events that just happen to coincide with our arrival. That too was pretty 'normal,' so it was hard to explain the special feeling that was permeating this trip. About the only thing that was truly novel was my signing up for the new bike-share program and taking a short ride along Dallas Road on one of those ubiquitous green bicycles now appearing all over downtown.
But then it dawned on us why we had this continual near-giddiness of excitement despite the very routine nature of the visit. Since it was close to Marilyn's birthday, a special visit to Hermann's Jazz Club was called for. We picked a night when locals Maureen Washington and Daniel Cook Quintet were playing. It was kismet. Because one of the original songs they played was It: our theme music. The catchy song had a chorus that ran, "Hey, I love this life. I'm playin' music and it feels alright. Yeah, I love this life. I'm singin' with you and it feels alright." The audience was urged to sing along, and Marilyn obliged, while I, not so typical for me, also felt compelled to join in. It struck me as we headed toward home after the show this song explained that odd feeling we'd experienced—constant content from just ordinary activities. The song held the answer: we love this life of ours here in James Bay. Our delight with even the everyday shows that we have a deep-seated attachment to our adopted city.
Our fall trip did more than add another James Bay season to our repertoire. It unexpectedly added a theme song for our Canadian experience. Now I'm looking forward to belting out my downloaded version of Maureen's song the next time we walk in our front door at Home North. Just like Bob Hope.