Experimenting with normal(ish)…

In an attempt to keep myself motivated to ‘walk the distance’, I have been identifying friends who live within certain distances and walking to see them.  This Saturday, I asked a group of east-ender TPWs  to send me their addresses if they were interested in participating in the experiment. I plotted out a route that brought us together at a half-way point in ones, twos and threes. The complete circuit varied depending on where people were coming from, with the longest being 10-12K.

Our half-way host went above and beyond, offering yummy  baked goods as we kept respectful distances and chatted in her back yard (huge thanks). The day was glorious and it was wonderful to actually see people in person – even if we couldn’t hug. Over the last while, Mother Nature seems to be offering us some apology for COVID by providing one of the most glorious springs that I can remember.

And, as a bonus, on the homeward journey, we came across a woman who was doing a spring purge and getting rid of some unopened art supplies amongst other things. I availed myself of a couple of canvases which I hope will motivate me to do some work with acrylics. Hmmm, maybe a pear…..

For those of you who don’t know, our beloved cemetery is now open from 5:30pm on (and noon on Sundays). Some of the Tuesday night keeners have tested it out on the last two Tuesdays. I found the first time a bit stressful because there were a lot of bike riders but the second time was great. So, if you are interested, grab your hand-sanitizer, don your mask and join us (walking in twos at an appropriate distance) next Tuesday at 5:30. It is almost like normal.

Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!

I am trapped in my condo with my only escape being food, wine and Netflix!  Quickly, send memes, schedule Zoom chats and figure out how to get me  some of those baked goods I keep seeing on What’s App.

Okay, okay, not really that big a deal in the scheme of things. I do have lots of time to think about all sorts of trivial things and so, what with it being May and being in the middle of a pandemic, I got to wondering why/how/when ‘mayday’ became a distress signal?

Here is what Uncle G. tells us:

Mayday got its start as an international distress call in 1923. It was made official in 1948. It was the idea of Frederick Mockford, who was a senior radio officer at Croydon Airport in London. He came up with the idea for “mayday” because it sounded like the French word m’aider, which means “help me.”

Very appropriate for a duel language country, n’est-ce pas?

I did get out this morning to get some costly cat food at the vet (we spare no expense for evil Leo) and, on route, found myself unexpectedly moved to see the flowers planted in the street planters. How lovely that even now, in a crisis, our city takes the time and resources for such grace notes.

Hang in there everyone – I am looking forward to seeing you, in person, on the other side of this.

Walking in the new reality…

It is hard to believe that just a month ago, close to 30 of us were socializing at my house, pressed close to each other with lots of hugs and enthusiastic close up conversations.  It seems like another world.

This morning, with our beloved cemetery closed, I went out walking on my own. In prep, I washed my hands, slathered on the hand goo, made sure I had wipes and a handmade mask in my pocket, put on gloves and off I went.  I used the stairs, not the elevator, dutifully observing the blocked off space around the doorperson’s desk, opened the door with my shoulder and hit the street.

I carefully eyeballed any approaching pedestrian to figure out how to maintain at least 6 ft between me and them.  It created some interesting dance like moves as we weaved and dodged around each other.  Most people were very polite and more friendly than in the olden days pre-pandemic – lots of smiles, hellos and good mornings. Several people paused as I hurriedly, took a snap of the first spring daffodil I have seen. Of course there were exceptions – the runner who thought she deserved the middle of the path while I clung to the marshy edges and the group of people who hadn’t heard of single file.

We needed some groceries so I ended my walk at our local No Frills but there was a long lineup so I took a chance and added two blocks to my walk and went to the Longos. No lineup, in and out in a jiff.

At home, I repeated my washing routine and then wiped down the groceries. Felt like I had been on a major expedition fraught with danger and I was glad to be back home, even if I am getting a little stir-crazy.

What a strange new world this is. Keep the faith my wonderful Walkers.

 

Belonging…

On leaving the cocoon of my home on Sat. morning, I was conscious of putting on what I think of as my ‘urban armour’. I sat as far as possible from others on the subway and avoided eye contact. As I approached the gate of the cemetery, I could feel my protective shell dropping away and, by the time I saw my friends, felt myself opening up to the smiles, the pats, the cheery greetings. I was very aware of the joy of belonging to a group of warm, welcoming people. Hooray Toronto Power Walkers – you are the best cure for the February blues!

A reminder to all to put Saturday, March 7th in your calendars for our winter business brunch meeting. We will talk about races, sign up for the new year, donate gear, eat, drink and be merry. If anyone has a book they want to exchange please bring one (with the provisio that, if no one takes it, you take it back).

Getting past first impressions…

The day looked a bit grim when I first ventured out but first impressions can be deceiving. It was oddly mild for January and the grey skies sprinkled light, fluffy snow that settled on the cemetery’s trees like bridal lace. We walked through beauty.

By the time we finished, the snow was slipping off the trees. Such wonder is often fleeting, meant to be enjoyed in the moment. I was glad to have shared it with friends.

 

Heads up that our 2020 winter business meeting (and social) will be on Saturday, March 7 after walking. Please put it in your calendar.

It is time to celebrate…

This past year, we have shared substantial loss and sorrow and, as the holidays approach, I think it is time to revisit joy and celebration.

Here are a few things that come to mind.

I love looking at the pictures of my fellow walker’s family babies and hearing the delight in their voices as they talk about them.

Our cemetery is a place of great beauty in the winter (okay, okay, I don’t like the slippery footing but the lacy trees are gorgeous and I marvel at our sightings of coyote, deer and hawks).

The season’s bright decorations and lights always give me cheer.

And this year especially, I cherish the warmth and friendship of the gang – both individually and as a group. My heart always rises as I turn into the cemetery and see the array of bright jackets and friendly faces.

So let’s all think about and celebrate the wonders in our lives – including each other!

In sympathy…

The grey sky matched the sombre mood of the Saturday morning walkers. Collectively and individually, we were sharing the grief of one of our friends who lost her husband unexpectedly last week. Over breakfast, we talked about how grief is universal, no one escapes it and yet we each have to suffer it alone in our own way.

Here is how I characterize my own experience. At first sorrow is a jagged, crushing boulder sitting on your chest. It is always present and when you touch it, you bleed. Over time, it wears down, becoming smaller and smoother. It is still there, tucked into a corner of your heart, but it doesn’t rip you apart the way it did at first. It is bearable and you can feel joy again.

Let’s all be extra good to each other and our loved ones.

Loss and joy…

Fall is a bittersweet season. There is both beauty and death in its eye-delighting colours and monochromatic landscapes.

A dear friend died this week, after a long and awful illness. I am glad she is at peace and I grieve her absence.

I have been here before and know that my feelings will vacillate between all-consuming leaden blue sorrow and sparks of uninvited joy at being alive. It is glorious to breath in the crisp autumn air, to feel the swing of my arms, to hear the life-affirming murmur of my friends talking as we walk.

I choose to treat this joy as a celebration of the people, here and gone, that I love and care about.

I will end by sharing some of my friend’s final wise advice to us all:
• Be kind to each other.
• Look after those who can’t look after themselves.
• Be generous.
• Love yourself.
• Eat ice cream.

Keep walking the distance (either actually or metaphorically for those with injuries), my friends, and give yourselves a big hug from me.

A reminder that next week is the last week at High Park and then we move back to our beloved cemetery.

Let’s hear it for our legs and feet…

MG and I took a structural figure drawing class earlier in the week that used anatomy and basic shapes (circles, squares, cylinders, etc ) to help us better visualize how the body works. Focusing on legs and feet got me thinking about how wonderful the simple act of walking really is.

The National Academy of Sports Medicine says it can be considered a full body exercise. It involves all the joints of the lower limbs and has been proven to improve posture, balance, flexibility and core and muscular strength throughout the body. Our joints are meant to move. Looking at a skeleton shows you the marvels of our hip ball and socket joints and our hinged knees and ankles – not so easy to draw but so easy to move that we rarely even think about them (until, of course, they begin to ache but that is a whole other blog!).

On this lovely long weekend, take a moment from enjoying whatever you are doing, and give your legs and feet some loving attention – they will thank you for it.