Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Life in Waterloo: Living in a walking city

As I walked down King Street today heading to Uptown Waterloo with the girls and Henry, I breathed in the yeasty smell of Brick Brewery that permeated the street. As I pointed out the shiny vats in the Brick's windows to the girls and explained what the smell was from, we took note of the old house next door with the weathered sign "Brewer's Quarters". I told the girls how Waterloo has long been a centre of beer brewing. Only a few minutes later we walked by what used to be Labatt's (now a retirement home); in front sits a memorial to Waterloo's brewing tradition. If we'd continued further up King Street we would have walked by the wonderful Huether Hotel and Lion Brewery, still cooking up great batches of beer every day.

And it was at this point that I realized that my series "Life in Waterloo" fizzled out after one, or possibly two, posts. A brewing post would have been a nice addition. How sad. Also, how telling in regard to our busy year this year.

And it's not like I have more time now with a baby forever strapped to my chest or in my arms (a topic for another post... "Will I ever get him off of me?").

Life in Waterloo has been absolutely what I hoped it would be when we decided to return here for a year. In fact, it's been more than I hoped for. We luckily rented a house that allows us to walk everywhere we need to go: school, preschool, Uptown Waterloo for any number of reasons (Waterloo has hit the mark in reinventing its downtown affectionately called "Uptown" presumably because Kitchener is downtown King St - less confusing? You be the judge), grocery shopping, even movie theatres if we ever actually went there, friends' houses. There is so much to be said for living on foot or bike or stroller. And as we walk we see so many Waterloo-specific landmarks or people such as the breweries, the old Mutual Life building (now Sunlife), sometimes even an occasional horse and buggy driven by a family of Old Order Mennonites. And certainly there are memories for me given that I've lived here on and off since I left home for The University of Waterloo in 1991.

I'm going to miss my walking life in Waterloo. Today the girls and I (with an awake Henry in the buggy) walked to Dairy Queen, passed The Brick Brewery, over to Vincenzo's (a post unto itself almost... my, how I will miss Vincenzo's) for gift cards for teachers, then to the LCBO, then to Ten Thousand Villages for a midwife gift (not purchased as Henry was screaming by then) and then home again.

As an aside, by this point Henry was riding in my Ergo carrier on my chest and Hope was in the baby buggy. Why, you ask? Because Crocs suck. I HATE them. Used to like them. Now HATE them. I have a rule, in fact, that they are only beach shoes but somehow my two girls slipped out of the house with them on under my radar and Hope ended up with a doozy of a blister because of those dang shoes (if you can call them that) and so she rode home in what is essentially a pram. I must have been the sight. I imagine I inspired more than a few people who saw me to go home and renew their birth control prescription.

Tomorrow we walk to Hope's preschool for the last time this year. I'll relish the wildflowers growing by the railway tracks that we walk along, peeking into the backyards that I've come to watch through the seasons, sneaking through our "secret path" into the back of the church, meeting Emily and John on the way home in front of the school. I'll say goodbye to some of those landmarks but I'll remember them for a long time. And I'll miss them.


Julie said...

sounds like the perfect location indeed.

i like the new look.

Mary Lynn said...

A few months ago my husband and I had an afternoon in Waterloo while my parents watched the kids (my mom and dad live in a small town between Waterloo and Stratford). I'd done a term of study at U of W in the mid-90's, and Ed had just finished up his undergrad there the year before. We were both surprised how much downtown Waterloo had changed since we were there. They really have done a good job of sprucing up the area around Waterloo Town Square. It was so nice to just get out and stroll around the town.