Hello, friends. I’m on holiday with my extended family again, this time in Whistler, B.C. It’s a glorious break from reality: brilliant sunshine, sublime mountain vistas, and every time I wish for a cup of coffee, my brother is already grinding beans. How could I possibly complain?
So this isn’t a complaint, but rather an observation: one of the stranger things about being in Whistler is being in a place built entirely around the idea of leisure and luxury. It’s a wilderness of luxury hotels, twee Disney architecture, and elaborately landscaped boulevards. The “villages” consist of expensive stores and restaurants with holiday condos atop them. And it’s full of people who’ve travelled here purely to have a good time. It’s oppressively, deliciously, entirely synthetic. And you know what it makes me think of?
Bath. As in the city of Bath, in Somerset, England. It became a fashionable holiday place during the eighteenth century, and Jane Austen is famous for disliking it. Even today, it’s a popular spot – especially for Austenphiles like me, who are torn between admiring the Georgian architecture and trying to imagine how such a setting might have dampened Austen’s ability to write.
I’m not sure I have a neat and tidy point to make this week, except possibly that if Whistler’s buildings survive another two hundred years (good luck – they’re made of wood and stucco!), it’s fun to imagine reverent visitors of the future trekking through here, checking out the haunts of famous people in history, and trying to imagine the chaotic, fleshy, posing multitudes who are making it so very popular this summer.