Delta, British Columbia, CANADA – Welcome to Delta, British Columbia. Ours to preserve by hand and heart.
By hand, we preserve the forests. The trees, the mosses, the Latin words and bird calls I’ve been learning since forever.
The Fridays that I’d take off from elementary to attend nature school instead.
We preserve being held in at lunchtimes because of a cougar on the field, or a windfallen tree.
The fact that during a neighborhood fire, we stood in our backyards with garden hoses to stop the woodland from going ablaze, and the fact that every street in my neighborhood is named after a type of tree.
We preserve the beaches, the tides, the great blue herons on the great, blue Pacific.
Our highways are lined with the nests of bald eagles, the cars trudging along slowly behind a massive green tractor on the flats.
There’s a heron cut-out by City Hall that people dress up for holidays, and there’s a smile on my face every time I see it adorned in feather boas or bunny ears.
We preserve the Beach Grove Cafe, with the best Italian sodas. Petra’s, where you can paint pottery while you eat.
We preserve that one exceptional Tim Horton’s coffee shop, and the 7-11 convenience store on my street that literally became the cornerstone of my summers. We preserve the bubble tea restaurant that we’d walk 45 minutes for, and the Krispy Kreme donut place that stayed open late for all of our midnight adventures.
The Little Caesars pizzeria with the bouncy ball machine and the Safeway grocery store that I know inside and out by heart.
By hand, we preserve our favorite places for good food, fun times, hanging out with friends or just on our own.
But by heart; by heart, we preserve our memories.
By heart, we preserve finding shelter in Starbucks on the rainiest of October days. In waiting for that really slow traffic light to blush green on our walk to school. The time my mother cried as they took down the sick cedar in our front yard, its massive limbs falling to the ground like a whale slowly retreating back to depths of the ocean.
I preserve my fridge, completely covered in pictures and artwork and love. The three gargantuan scrapbooks that my best friend and I spent months on, a compulsive history of our friendship. My driveway, the perfect location for lemonade stands. The park down the street. The secret foothold for getting on top of the dugout. The fear we felt jumping off of it, and the joy we felt when we landed.
I preserve the creek in our beloved forest where I’d take my Barbies to go swimming. The sleigh that they’d put on the ice rink during public skating in December, the pinchy rental skates there and the color that the concession slushies left on my tongue.
I preserve the snack cupboard under my best friend’s stairs, and the secret way we knew how to get onto her roof.
By heart, I can see these things around Delta. There is the spot where the street DJ was playing, when my classmates gave him a dime and asked him to rap.
There is the elementary school that I visited on Halloween, when a teacher that I didn’t know tried to feed me canned beets off of a spoon. There’s the giant staircase that we walk down on our way to school every day, the one that turns into ice in the winter and a torturous exercise device in the summer, and where we saw that boy throw his bicycle over the railing.
And there, there is where I laughed with my friends, there’s where I cried late at night, that’s the streetlight that I danced under in the rain.
There’s that place, and this one, and this memory, and that one, and there is where I’ll be in the future and where others have been in the past.
This is the birthplace of our joy and our sadness, the best laid plans and the worst ideas, our memories unfolding, forever and ever and ever.
Welcome to Delta. Ours to preserve by hand and heart.
Jaime Terada is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.