One Million

Call it civic pride or call it mathematical curiosity, either way the latest census data for Canada was released this week and my city officially recorded one million residents for the first time in history.

One million.

That’s a lot of neighbours, most of whom I’ll probably never ever meet. A great big crowd, busy streets and an ever-more bustling mini metropolis with which to contend.

We sometimes talk about the switch from being a big little city to becoming a little big city, and what that means for everything from being a resident here, to welcoming visitors, to building and growing and changing now and into the future.

Admittedly, it’s been a tough couple of weeks to think about the future of our city and my country. The crowds are pressing against each other and it’s getting uncomfortable in here.

If you watch the news these days, Canada is abuzz for mostly the wrong kinds of reasons, including blockades of borders and an occupation our cities by protests that have been spiraling into more complex political movements. Even last week, as I drove south of town for a family event, we passed on the highway a parade of (literally and at least) a thousand flag-waving semi-trucks, tractors, SUVs, and other supporting vehicles en route to my city to protest vaccine and masking rules. And whether you’re on one side, the other, or stuck in the fuzzy middle it’s hard to sit back and watch with anything resembling hope when such protests are driven mostly by heated emotion, divergent ideologies, and ever deeper pits of self-affirming misinformation.

Alas, my golden rule, and one that has served me well living in a big little city — and now living in a little big city too, perhaps — is whenever possible to lift those around you instead of pushing them further down.

You can interpret that how you will, but in this great big city, and this great big world, one million of us or seven billion folks spread across the globe, I recommend to try it for a few days.

Stop honking. Stop blocking. Stop insulting. Stop trying to crush others to climb for yourself a little bit higher onto the pile.

Instead, elevate someone else’s opinion, even for just a moment. Clear a path so someone else can climb a step up. Complement a friend and give a stranger a boost. Think what would happen if we all did that.

One million people might feel less like a crowd and more like a community.

Boston Pi (Virtual)

Most everyone I know in the running community knows that in addition to Canadian thanksgiving, this weekend is also the Virtual Boston Marathon.

At least five people I know signed up for the race, which thanks to the pandemic was a once in a lifetime opportunity to run through your own streets, track it on the Boston Marathon app, and call it an official run.

I did not sign up.

… but I did go out on the dawn trails with a trio of friends who had signed up to run the pandemic version of the famous race.

When three of us tag-alongs met up with them early on Saturday morning near a local park, the sun was just peaking over the horizon and they had been at it for almost ten kilometers already.

We trotted into step with their route, followed it as it wend its way along the river, up in the neighbourhood, down into a local recreation area, and around the back side of a golf course. After about eight kilometers of support running, we turned back to where we’d left our cars … and ultimately logged just over thirteen klicks total even as we zoomed past a half dozen other virtual Boston’ers with their race bibs or support cyclists or multi-coloured tutus plodding along with fierce determination through the morning trails.

Our thirteen was not quite a marathon. Obviously. Not even quite a half marathon. I later calculated that my logged distance of 13.43 km as per my GPS watch, worked out to almost exactly one pi of a marathon. Weird. After all, forty two point two kilometers divided by thirteen point four-three kilometers equals three point one-four, or pretty much as close to one pi of a marathon as my technology can measure.

Mathematics and adventure collide on a Saturday morning in a curious way, it seems.

And then the event ended, and we cheered in the actual racers across the finish line via text message, as they completed their virtual distance … and won their real medals.


four hundred and sixty
meters per second
tracking a prograde elliptical orbit
an average of nearly
one hundred and fifty million kilometers
around a nuclear fireball
seven hundred thousand kilometers wide
a wet ball of rock
barely sixty three hundred kilometers thick
askew on her axis
twenty-three degrees
touches a mathematical moment
briefly marking the progress through
cold space against
ever-shifting durations of light upon
her surface
nudging atmospheric variations
triggering biological changes
bridging annual manipulations
of air and water and life
marked by words we simply call

– bardo

I have reserved some space on this blog each week to be creative, and to post some fiction, poetry, art or prose. Writing a daily blog could easily get repetitive and turn into driveling updates. Instead, Wordy Wednesdays give me a bit of a creative nudge when inspiration strikes.