It’s like 30 degrees Celsius (that’s 89 Fart-and-hide for you Americans) and it’s soaking humid and the cleansing torrents of thunderstorms seem to be bypassing Hogtown on the north (waves hi to all the drenched 905ers), so I’m sitting outside this arvo, perched at a wobbly boulevard table on the brick sea of the Distillery District. All the passing traffic is on foot or bike or Segway. The guy at the next table has his phone on a gimbal and is taking 360-degree video shots of his female companion as she reads a book.
Sitting outside to work on a hot day may seem like an odd thing to do when I could be inside where it’s air conditioned, but it’s not air conditioned inside this coffice space, so the main difference is that the air is moving faster out here. Also I’m hearing the quadrophonic chirps of urban birds rather than the occasional grinding of the coffee crusher and the quiet mellow music on the speakers. And I’m still in the shade. And once that rain I thought would miss us comes anyway, I can go inside and that quiet mellow music will keep me working. That plus caffeine
Say, did you like my antipodeanism back there, “this arvo”? This coffice space is called Arvo. When I walked past it yesterday with my wife, whose father came from Estonia, she naturally saw the connection to Arvo Pärt, the Estonian composer, and to all the other Estos named Arvo. I suspected that it was instead connected to Australia.
There’s an old map of Sydney on the wall just inside the door. Score one for me.
Then I had to explain to my wife how arvocould possibly mean afternoon in Aussie. (It’s a combination of truncation and -o–based colloquial suffixation with non-rhotic vowel mergers and intervocalic fricative voicing. …Yeah, she kinda glazed over on it too.)
If you’re looking for Ozzie accents, you will be disappointed at Arvo: the owner and other baristas are not Australian. The owner lived in Australia for several years and named the place in honour.
He tells me that a family from Michigan with Estonian roots came in recently and bought one of every branded thing, mugs, hats, shirts. I’m sure that was a profitable arvo.
The flat whites here are small and fairly tight and served in cups without handles, so mind your fingers. The drip coffee comes in mugs with handles. It’s all very pretty. The décor is Distillery District, which means repurposed redbrick Victorian industrial. And the people-watching is good. It’s summer. It’s a tourist attraction. Any time you look up from your screen you’ll see someone interesting nearby.
And when you’re done work you can declare it shopping o’clock or drinkie o’clock. They have free beer samples at Mill Street Brewery. It’s not far. Just past the sake brewery and the gin-vodka-and-akvavit distillery, down by the chocolate shop, past all the places you’re going to think of buying clothes and furniture and pretty things at once you’ve had a few beer samples – and maybe stopped for margaritas at one of the restaurants…
Let’s call that your motivation to get some paying work done.