July 16, 2009 § 2 Comments
Well, as the Montrealers among you well know, it’s been a lousy summer. The rain is near-constant and falls in showers, sheets, and occasionally violent storms, the last of which flooded basements throughout the city and unleashed a rumoured tornado. The weather makes it difficult to commit to a terrasse, and even my balcony has lost its allure, being as often as not too cold and damp to enjoy.
The weather does have certain upsides: for example, it interrupts my neighbours’ renovation projects and sends their children scurrying indoors, leaving the alley beyond my window blissfully quiet. But whatever benefits this silence confers are far outweighed by the feeling of being trapped within four unchanging walls.
When the sun peeked out the other day, I dropped everything and bolted outside with my camera, which, not being waterproof, I’ve had little opportunity to use. On a whim, I decided that I would document the network of alleyways that Mile End is famous for, which had suddenly come alive in a burst of flowers and billowing clotheslines.
As the neighbourhood has gentrified, the facades of its buildings have lost a certain amount of their charm. Wood has been replaced by aluminum and steel, which are sturdier materials but also less crafted and colourful, and the decorative flourishes provided by unsupervised tenants have slowly given way to the visual conservatism of owners preoccupied with design concepts and property values.
Still, you can see vestiges of the old Mile End in its alleys, which, by virtue of being less public, have been slower to succumb to renovation. From the back, the neighbourhood is still a bit funky and lopsided, which is of course just the way I like it. It means that people like me still live here.