GOLDEN CITY CYNIC: Four seasons on Thompson Avenue

Allyson Kenning
By Allyson Kenning
August 11th, 2010

Recent minor events have inspired some reminiscing on my part.  One was the appearance here in The Rossland Telegraph of a story about speed limits on Thompson Avenue, and another was the visit of an old and dear family friend from the UK who wanted to see some of my older scanned photos from days predating digital cameras.  One of these pictures was of Thompson Avenue, taken by one of my parents, shortly after they bought our house there in the mid-1970s.  

Growing up on Thompson Avenue was both a source of childhood pleasure and teenaged irritation.  Our house was on the eastern end of the street, near Esling Avenue.  Behind our house and the houses that went to Esling, there was a huge old apple orchard.  In the summer, this was a prime place for tree forts and mini-battles fought with arrows made from the stems of the ferns.  When we were smaller, you could make tunnels through the ferns.  Our parents let us run wild there; it was safe, we were always withing calling distance, there were some other kids to play with, and we never had any reason to go near the road.  Even our front yard was so high above the street that we could play there and not worry about traffic.

It wasn’t that the yard was particularly big; it was just terraced with two large retaining walls that brought it many feet above the road.  We weren’t a ball-chasing kind of family, so I don’t recall ever going after toys or sports equipment that might have been thrown towards the street.  If anything, we were more worried about our cats crossing it, and twice our cats were victims of poor judgement on Thompson Avenue: one was smushed on an Easter weekend, and another survived a collision with a car but had to have many stitches  – and I’m pretty sure that didn’t deter him!

In the fall, the multitude of cottonwood trees changed to brilliant shades of yellow and gold, and the apple orchard in the back yard yielded a ton of fruit which. if we got to it soon enough, provided us with desserts galore.  But there were always too many apples, and the bears knew where they could feast.  In all the time I spent in that house, though, I never once saw a bear in the back yard; I saw tons of scat, but not one actual bear.  I almost feel gypped.  In fact, my most exciting wildlife siting came in my late teens, when I came home one night from a babysitting gig to find a bunch of raccoons in the back yard poking around.  That was very cool, but a nice big bear would have been cooler!

Thompson was also a Trick or Treaters’ mecca;  there were always tons of kids out on Halloween, and one thing I’ve noticed about living in upper Rossland is that there are fewer Trick or Treaters out.  I thought this was just me and my perception, but when I mentioned it to my brother, he claimed that Trick or Treating was always “more of a lower Rossland thing.”

Winter on Thompson was always interesting.  When all the on-street parking at that end of the neighbourhood was combined with the snow, the street became narrow and annoying to navigate around.  Our own parking spot had to be very well shovelled at all times because it abutted against a retaining wall on one side, and on the street side, if you didn’t have the space cleared out properly, you could really impede traffic.  It didn’t help that the city’s sand trucks often plowed us in, either.  And because of how the house was situated above the street, we had about a billion stairs to reach it, and of course those required frequent shovelling.

It was in wintertime that living on Thompson became a source of aggravation for me.  As a kid, the snow fort and tobogganing possibilities had been awesome.  As a teenager who attended RSS, I came to dread winter because the hike up the mountain to school, usually earlier than snow removal came around for the morning, often meant wading through knee-deep snow, which is never fun.  As if I didn’t detest high school enough as it was, I had to endure what at the time seemed like the grandest of hassles just to go somewhere I hated! I resented how far we lived from school, I resented the fact that the route to school wasn’t plowed at 7:30 AM, I resented winter and snow and Rossland and my parents. 

I got so fed up with snow and the amount of time I spent in it that I eventually even resented cross country skiing, so I stopped that altogether!  During these times, I felt like I was losing a battle with the elements that I didn’t have any choice but to participate in, and the futility of it all overwhelmed me.  (I must say, that since I moved back to Rossland in 1996 I have always lived in upper Rossland, and I really find it much better for walking in the winter, and really there is only one hill for me to contend with between my home and downtown–but when I attended RSS there were three)  

I have only recently made my peace with snow!

My teenage fury about winter made me appreciate spring all the more, though.  The blossoming apple trees always made me happy, the lilacs we had in our yard made me smile, and the appearance of rhubarb was very welcome.  As a kid, the spring run-off streams all over the street were fun and we used to make these dams in some spots that were off the road.  This annoyed adults (no one wants their parking spot turned into a lake) but was great fun for us, and I think, from what I recall, this was the only time we actually played in the street.  

Once the melting ended, it was back to the back yard for another cycle of life on Thompson Avenue.

Categories: Op/Ed

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