Wednesday 21 March 2012

The Place That's Ace

Today was one of those spring days that I have always loved. You know the kind, a day when winter has barely released it's grip and you aren't quite sure if spring is truly here to stay. It is the kind of day that isn't too warm according to the thermometer, but your inner "meter" tells you it is just fine. When the wind blows it is cool, almost cold because you left your heavy winter layers at home. The sky is so blue that if you turn your head and squint, you would swear that you can actually see heaven.

Today the sun was so bright, the it hurt your eyes to look at it. Okay, it hurts your eyes to look at the sun any day, and it isn't really a very good idea unless you like to have a white dot in your vision for the next couple of hours. I said that it was cool, but when I rounded a corner and stood beside a fence that blocked the wind I felt the sun warming me just like in the summer. So cool...warm.

I was waiting for a friend to pick me up, and as I waited I just enjoyed the warmth and the memories that it brought with it. Ken came and we went for coffee, but I couldn't get that feeling out of my mind.

I thought back to my high school days when my buddy Ken and I would wander the neighbourhood looking for interesting places where we could smoke without being visible. I remember one such place that was on the north east corner of a railway bridge over the intersection of Warden and Ellesmere. We could lean against the concrete that had been warmed by the spring sunshine, smoke and talk about our hopes and dreams. My hopes at the time was to pass math and geography, and I suppose that I dreamed about what most teenage boys dream of. We called this place simply "Number One".

Just across the street was a billboard that stood by itself in a field overlooking the intersection. I still can't believe how easy it was to climb. Usually, the powers that be build these things so that kids like myself wouldn't be able to climb them and in the process fall to either injury or death. It was another great place to smoke, and it usually had some rugged looking guy or beautiful woman with a cigarette dangling from their lips and a large photo of the cigarette pack on one side of the billboard or the other. We would climb inside and someone had even nailed some boards to sit on. It was pretty cool! We called this place "The Eagles Nest".

Then there was the place down by the creek and the railroad tracks. The creek went under the tracks through a culvert, but there was a large, dry tunnel right beside it that was strewn with rocks and garbage. This was a particularly good place to imagine that we were fighting the Nazis or some other group of evil doers that deserved to be fought by two high school kids. It was also a pretty good place to hide after we had thrown rocks at the train and with luck broken some windshields on the cars. This was known as "The Spot That's Hot".

There was another place that we would go to that was a little bit farther afield than we generally went, but it was quiet and sun baked. It was the Church of the Annunciation. We knew that hanging around a Catholic church and smoking might reserve us a spot in Hell or at the very least purgatory, but from what we had learned of the world, Hell seemed like it would have been a much more fun place than Heaven anyways. Cooler people for sure. It was also one of those places that was vacant a good deal of the time. It isn't as if we did anything bad like burning up side down crosses on the lawn. The only thing that got burned was tobacco. Mostly. Oh, and perhaps, just perhaps the souls of two young smokers. This was called "The Place That's Ace" out of respect.

Well, I suppose that I had best get my head out of the past. Over the years I have altered my thinking a little. I don't smoke anymore, and I am hedging my bets about the heaven and hell thing. I still love to talk about my hopes and dreams, but these days they are more about my kids and grandkids. I don't want Hurricane and Tornado to ever start smoking, but it would be nice if they could find their own "Place That's Ace."

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