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Going ‘home’



There’s a weird thing that happens out here when you tell people you’re from Toronto.

You get a look of pity, a shake of the head, a big sigh and the distinct impression that people feel terribly sorry for you for having the misfortune to be born and raised in Hogtown.

I’ve been getting the same performance more often recently as I mention that I’m going home for a wedding next week.

Seven days in flat as a pancake, smog-filled, SARS-spooked Toronto is akin to a lifetime of torment for mountain folk around here. They shudder just thinking about it and, I hate to sound like a traitor to my hometown, but it’s starting to rub off.

I can sort of see where these people who are born and breed in B.C. are coming from, despite all the good things Mike Myers has to say about TO these days.

Right about when my plane touches down the smog warnings should be just coming into effect. It’s usually about the beginning of the summer that smog starts to become a hazy issue over the city. Residents will be told not to do excessive physical activity outdoors, not use their lawnmowers, drink lots of water, stay in shaded areas.

Unless you’re elderly or have heart problems, you have nothing much to worry about anyway except maybe a few guilt pangs about how you’re actually contributing to the problem.

They ask you to cut back on your addiction to air conditioning but spend a summer in the city just to see how hot, humid, muggy and oppressive it actually gets. Sometimes you can’t help but move from office, to car, to grocery store, to home without the AC cranked all the way.

Sitting on my back deck in Emerald at the height of summer after a hard mountain bike ride with the wind rustling through the tall trees, you feel a little sorry for the rat racers.

You just can’t help but breathe a deep sigh of relief, not to mention fresh clean air, when you hear about smog warnings in Toronto or the Humidex reaching never-before-seen heights.

You never think much about it when you’re living it.

Plus there’s a mass exodus out of the city every Friday afternoon as people head to cottage country for the weekend to catch their breaths.

Fortunately as smog season fast approaches many Torontonians will have their SARS masks handy this year to protect them. When you think about it, as funny as it seems, there’s nothing funny about it at all.