Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Japanese Land Leeches

When I was a kid, I used to catch tadpoles and treefrogs in a frog pond near my house in Maple Ridge. I was delighted, as I recall, to find leeches therein. My friends and I would actually put the leeches on our skin and let them start to feed, then experiment with the best ways of removing them. The easiest, most surefire leech-repellent was fire. Hold a flame near them, or touch them with the hot metal edge of your lighter, and they would curl up and drop off, eager to get away.

The leeches were nowhere near as big as the ones in the picture accompanying this article, but they were still pretty cool.

Too bad the pond was paved over and turned into condos - it's been gone for around 25 years. I wonder where the decendents of those frogs mate now (assuming any are still alive?).


MW said...

hello AiV
I once was an alienated Vancouver person(actually a Richmond person-far more deadly) until I moved away to the much despised and loathed Ontario
Now I'm a happy bloke as is my spouse and kids
who thank Horus everyday that we left "BEAUTIFUL BRITISH COLUMBIA-the land of hubris and Ontario envy (what else can explain the pathological hatred of a place most BCers have never seen?)
I hated the rain, the cultural vapidness, the knee jerk childish provincialism, and haughty sense of entitlement and superiority that most of you seem to project. This is actually a pretty much accepted social affectation of BC known to many of us and has been been commented on in many articles in the print media and even a program on TV. Why you folks seem to believe that the only true natural beauty worth mentioning belongs exclusively to your small corner of the world is baffling-I have tried to work it out (having a few psych degree's) but I've given up as a task not worth bothering with. Every so often a relly living in BC makes a tacky unprovoked Ontario bashing comment and for a few moments I'm provoked-but these responses are becoming less pronounced with less emotional energy attached to them. I'm becoming more and more like the rest of the citizens here who rarely gives the place a thought unless someone asks why we left such a beautiful place (they haven't been to BC either) so potent is the myth you folks have created with a skill Of Joe Goebbels. Of course I can recall with incredible vividness the unspectacular down town core with very ordinary buildings with the past completely eradicated except for the lower east side-the shadow side of the Vancouver vainglorious self aggrandizing psyche. THe glories of the Kingsway also springs to mind along with New West Minster as does all the tedious small towns in the Fraser Valley stripped of charm and relevance.
yes I know you built the mountains and created the PAcific Ocean along with some cosmic creator but why didn't you bother to build a city that actually had some soul ?

Allan MacInnis said...

Don't ask me - I didn't make the place, and the city is getting uglier every day. The 2010 Olympics means the spread of gentrification and a Yaletown-Uber-Alles/faux-Asian design sensibility that makes one wince. There's a joke going around at the moment that the official bird of Vancouver is the construction crane...

And forget about resenting Ontario: I personally suspect we make much ado about our trees and mountains because we're aware that the people, the city proper, and the cultural life here leave much to be desired, and that this provokes a sort of bizarre jealousy - a resentment of the very landscape itself, for having one-upped us; which leads developers to want to soil it as drastically as possible.

Or maybe we just figure we've got a ways to go until it's as flat-out ugly as Toronto, I don't know.


MW said...

Actually many of us think of Toronto as an extraordinary city with a wonderful vitality and energetic cultural powerhouse which is why so many people choose to leave here. Ugliness sir is the eye of he beholder-I personally find Vancouver as drop dead offense to the eye.
Its squalidness and and dreary ordinariness is repulsive to me. As I said before it is soulless unless you think pretentiousness is somehow
attractive. Toronto is beautiful to me-I love walking down Queen Street west day or night and the Beach area or Roncensvale or The Greek and Italian districts etc. (the list is long) they remind me of the attributes of a living city-its mix of the old and the new, the gritty smells the crush of many peoples from many places contributing the pulse of the place.
I lived in Vancouver for 15 years-I found not a whiff of character or charm-the streets were empty at 11:00 on a Friday night except for drunks, druggies and whores. Then again this is my own subjective sense of beauty-what you call flat ugly I call vitality, zest and aliveness. I'm glad you've given me a sample of the good old Van arrogance-I sometimes have certain nostalgia for its patina-sometimes but not often.

Allan MacInnis said...

Interesting that I can spend a couple hundred words more or less agreeing with you, then have you focus entirely on my last sentence. This would suggest either you aren't reading very carefully, or simply want to pick a fight, which would mean that responding to you is sheer folly... but fuggit, I don't want to go to work just yet.

Toronto IS a vital and interesting city. I've considered relocating there myself - I found the people much more engaging than Vancouver's, much warmer and more open, and the vibe more sincere and real. And yes, the architecture has more character, coherence, and soul than Vancouver's; the cultural life is a bit more vibrant; and there are more places to get Carribean food, which is a VERY good thing. But you're blinding yourself if you don't notice how Old, Dirty, and Squalid (and fuckin' FLAT) much of the city is: character or no, there's a level of unbroken urban tedium to the landscape that makes it rather hard on the eyes, especially if Vancouver is your point of contrast. The whole time I was there, I was contemplating the tradeoff - trees, mountains, green spaces, and beaches in a cold and soulless city (Vancouver) versus a soulful, warm, sprawling eyesore (To): which is worse?

And probably I'd say Vancouver is worse, and that by and large, To is the more liveable space - except I really LIKE the trees, mountains, and green spaces (and moving is expensive). I'm not PROUD of our natural beauty - it's not like we built it, and much of what we HAVE built here is in atrociously bad taste (see above). But Vancouver still IS nicer on the eyes, if you just imagine all the buildings and people gone...

All the same, I'm not particularly interested in the dumb regional one-upmanship thing you want to do. It's a Canadian cliche we can perhaps grow out of, no? (Let me diss my own city in peace).