Susan Pieters is a fourth-generation Californian who took warm weather for granted until she moved to Vancouver. Now that she’s a Canadian, she sits at home during rainy nights and writes about sunshine. This story, told from the point of view of a young boy, surprised her.
I adjust the focus on my Dad’s Nikon and shoot.
The building is simple bare wood, plain and honest, no cheerful veneer of paint. The horizontal boards are aged from the sun. They’ve been bleached past silver to dark again. I wonder if a fire has passed and singed the edges into charcoal. But I think it’s from the sun, because that’s what light does, given enough time. It reveals the scientific truth of a thing and brings it back to elemental earth, to essential carbon, even as it stands.
“That’s where Steinbeck wrote Cannery Row, right in there.” My mother stands beside me as I take the picture. She’s lit a cigarette. It’s the seventies, and women are entitled to their privileges.
I step away from her. I’m only fourteen, but I’m my father’s son, and I don’t smoke.
My Dad has a wide-angle lens, and I wish I had it with me. I want to capture how small the two-storey building is next to the tall cannery buildings. The canneries also look decrepit, empty, deserted. Faded lettering on the sides.
My mother gets halfway through her cigarette. “Most people don’t know about this place. But it should be a monument.”