Oz

With the recent, grand re-opening of almost everything recently, people started showing up in droves around the city. It brought to mind the song, “Come out, come out, wherever you are …” from Wizard of Oz. I’m sure you can all see in your mind’s eye the Munchkins slowly peeking their heads out before emerging and going into the joyful, “Ding! Dong! the COVID’s dead!” … er, witch! But that’s what it feels like. I know it’s far too early to be singing about COVID being over,  but there seems to be something in the air that the worst is over now. It was lovely to see people getting closer together and (dare I say it) almost hugging on our walk on Saturday morning.

And the four friends linking arms and heading for the wizard makes me think of all of us as we support each other through these trying times (I’ve always had an affinity for the Scarecrow, myself). Helping each other to ward off the perils, “Anti-vaxxers, and tigers and bears, OH MY!” Trying to stay out of the clutches of that evil, green faced virus! If the witch’s guard is the original virus moving across the land, then the flying monkeys must be the delta variant. If we stick together, we can get through this.

And so my TPW friends … wait for it … I know that all of you know what’s coming next ….

Follow the Yellow Brick Road!

Thanks mom!!

What to write? What to write? My turn comes up and I’m always unprepared … it does seem to be a life habit for me.

I knew I didn’t want to talk about that 5-letter word that has been uttered with such vehemence for far too long. No, not the T-word from south of the border, although if I never heard that word again it would be too soon. I mean the C-word that seems to creep into every conversation no matter how that discussion starts. If there is one thing worse than suffering through the malaise of this lockdown it’s the constant re-hashing of the whole affair (you see, it’s even crept into this blog – pooh!)

And then I thought about the real excitement this May has brought to us. Our spring weather seems to have changed almost as often as the premiere’s pronouncements. Remember that heat wave in April? And that led into a rather cool early May. Nature didn’t seem to mind as everything seemed to start budding and blooming early, and exploded into a myriad of colours. Purples popped, yellows yowled, reds raged, the blue sky blazed and greens gratified!! And the temperature seesawed through the month, from blazing heat to a late month burst of cold (I heard a rumour that there was snow). Yes there were some cloudy days, but not too many to spoil the month … and yes, we did need every drop. If you’ve been down to the lakeshore lately  you’ll see the lake is sorely missing any significant snowfall from this past winter.

So I say thank you Mother Nature for doing your darnedest to get us through to better times!

A somewhat sober thought

What a glorious day it was for walking on Saturday. Not as cold as was expected and a sky that was bluer than blue! I walked along the lakeshore and the lake was oh, so calm. Wonderful!

Along the way I got to thinking about COVID (what else!?!) and all the restrictions we’re dealing with. This is really tough. And we should be proud of the extent we’re going to abiding with the efforts to curtail the spread. When (not if) we finally get to the end of this it will be a changed world and we can look back with pride at how we handled ourselves.

On another note, I’m currently reading the last in the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. It’s a “weird fiction” set of novels about nature rebelling against the environmental devastation humans are inflicting on it – I’m not finished, but that’s where things seem to be heading.

I guess that, and a sky that seems all the more blue for the reduction in smog, got me thinking that after we’ve survived COVID, maybe we can use the same resolve to become more green. I put if forward that it is much slower than COVID but climate change is just as much of a pandemic as COVID. This is just a practice to show us what we can achieve as a society; an exercise that shows we can tackle huge societal problems.

I’m not going to suggest what to do. Except to do what we always do – read up, share ideas, make recommendations – as we walk our regular walks. Ours is a green activity and we have extraordinary, bright minds in TPW. Here’s to walking on glorious days well into the future.  Let’s just do it.

Brrrrr!!

Yes, it was quite cold Saturday morning as we huddled (in an appropriately socially distanced fashion) together before the walk. The sky was crystal blue, though, making for a lovely day for a walk. Of course, as we walked along, warmth (and feeling) crept back into our extremities. I didn’t see any non-squirrel wildlife this week – last week I saw two coyotes. The real surprise for me was how the trees had shed so many of their leaves in such a short time. As I shoof-shoofed through the leaves it reminded me of childhood and the joy of fallen leaves. It was also a great reminder that later on we would have to “fall back” and change our clocks for standard time. If there are any of you out there that keep showing up an hour early to appointments, it’s time to change your time pieces.

I’m late getting this blog posted – no, I did not forget to change my clock. I toyed with writing about Halloween, or the lockdown, or the mess down south, but in the end I decided not. I’ve written about the little joys I experience every Saturday when I get out to walk. I think I’ll hang onto that ray of sunshine until we meet again next Saturday. I wonder what rays of sunshine will happen then?

Lush

Lush. No not the person who starts drinking early in the morning. The vegetation this summer. I heard someone say this weekend that everything was so lush this summer. And she was right. The blooms this year have been wonderful. The trees seem to be wearing their green leaves with more panache than previous years. Is it my imagination? Or has our new, physically distanced, locked down world made us more observant of the small beauties that surround our everyday lives? Or has it been a most lovely summer? I think it’s all of the above.

This time of year has always felt like the start of a new year to me. Far more than January 1st. In normal times we would be heading into the last week of the Ex. School will start soon, and even if you don’t have school-aged children, this year we are all looking towards that start. How will this year play out under these circumstances? The first trees have started to shed their leaves. Fresh corn is everywhere. All of this reminding us that Thanksgiving is not far off. Even in these peculiar times the lush plant life is a joy to behold. Another joy is to join my friends on a Saturday morning for a good walk, filled with friendship and laughter. How to describe this friendship and laughter? Lush.

A “spring” in my step

Happy (insert whatever day you think this is) day, walkers!

What a lovely day for a walk today. This week and last, four of us have walked together – responsibly distant – along the lakeshore. Last week we went east from High Park area, enjoying the shut down lanes of Lakeshore Blvd. This week we headed west.

“Heavy with scent” is a phrase on my mind of late. At the beginning of May there was vibrant, vibrant green everywhere. Was it extra lush this year with fewer cars to blur the air? In the last week or so I’ve really noticed the visual has been accompanied by the fragrant. That burst of hot weather made heady everyone and everything. Heavy with scent was led by my favourite, the Lilacs – we passed many on our walk.

Along with the trees and flowers and blue sky – okay, there was plenty of cloud this morning as well – was mother nature putting the stress on “mother”. We came upon two swans and their swaddlings (?) with two of the little ones heads up the mother’s wing.

And then we saw Canadian penguins! When geese tip over to graze below the water, all you can see is their white backside, trimmed in black – looking suspiciously like odd penguins. Canadian, eh? As we were finishing up our walk we encountered these youngsters being shepherded (gooseherded?) by their parents.

So pandemic lockdown or not, the circle of life continues, with or without we humans. Lets keep walking out there and make sure life continues with us.

Rain, rain, go away ….

What an unusual Saturday for January. Warm and rainy. And from the weather forecast, I was half expecting to see the squirrels, rabbits, coyotes and deer to be lining up two-by-two looking for a big wooden ship and some guy named Noah. What I wasn’t expecting was a good turnout of walkers for our walk, more than 10. It started out with no rain and some mentioning they had seen the sun. It even looked like it might brighten up a little. Alas, it was not meant to last. We did get wet. It started as a gentle few drops and slowly progressed to a steady rain. We also got in a good Saturday walk before the heavens actually did open up. It was great to be out with my TPW friends early on a Saturday morning. That is the constant in all this strange weather. The friendship and comradery we find in TPW.

Whew!!

Did you get out to walk this weekend? By all accounts it was great walking weather. Two TPWers participated in the Zoo Run and report a beautiful day. Somewhat cooler conditions are really ideal for getting out there. You may don a jacket to start out, but it isn’t long before it’s tied around your waist.

Meanwhile, further to the northeast in Ottawa, Phyllis and I took part in the Canadian Army Run, doing the half-marathon. Saturday afternoon, when we picked up our kit, it was very hot – about 27 degrees. Fortunately (or so we thought) the forecast called for cooler and cloudy for Sunday. And so Sunday came and as we lined up things were looking mostly good, with even the hint of rain as the odd raindrop fell. But it was humid. Very humid. And then the sun started to come out. And runners started going down from the heat. So much so that towards the end of the race, the course was shortened.

Now I must say that the race is very scenic. It starts by going through the centre of Ottawa, past the parliament buildings, etc. Shortly after we were going past the Governor-General’s residence – through one gate and out the other, with a military band in dress red uniforms providing music. Then through a lovely cemetery and out into a country-side park along the Ottawa River. Across the bridge to Hull and we were in Quebec! Then back across to the finish. Lovely.

Funny how I still have the competitive edge in me during the race, but I’m learning to accept the vagaries of race conditions (and how much I have or haven’t trained) with a growing modicum of grace. I’m going to put it down to growing wisdom rather than anything chronological.

Yet another beautiful weekend …

Yes, it’s turning out to be a good summer for weekends. But we’re really only a little over halfway through official summer, June 21st to September 21st. Although I think of summer as late May to early September – maybe I’ll start a movement to have a Daylight Savings Season, where we all turn the seasons back a month.

It started out cool at 7am Saturday morning, and some were wearing jackets. Those didn’t last too long as the temp, and we, started to warm up. That cool temperature reminded me that we’re seeing our first signs of Fall. I told a younger friend that I was volunteering at TIFF, and he said that TIFF was his signal that Fall was getting close. I replied that it was always the CNE that got me thinking of Autumn. And of course the signs are up, and the CNE starts next weekend.

But hold on, even though the mornings have been cool (almost brisk), the sun has come out this weekend and given us wonderfully warm weather. Even though we are making plans for September, let’s keep ourselves firmly grounded, some might even say well-mindful, in the summer that is here and now. Savour each day for the rest of the summer.

Another beautiful weekend …

My it was lovely. I’m sitting here on my balcony (again) soaking up the last rays of sunshine, thinking of what a marvellous weekend it’s been.

We relocated this weeks walk back to Mt. Pleasant Cemetery due to the Toronto Indy that is running all weekend. I must say that although I’m only 4km away, I can only hear a slight buzz of the race, and the occasional loud motor – but that is pretty normal when you live close to the Gardiner.

So back to the cemetery. I needed to do 19km and it didn’t look like I’d have company for that distance, so I started out from home and walked up there. The streets of Toronto have a very different vibe in the wee hours of the morning. Traffic is lighter, shop keepers are just starting to open for the day, a few stepping out front to see what the world is bringing. The sun creeps up from the east – thank goodness there are plenty of trees along Toronto streets to give some shade to my eyes.

I had 13km under my belt when I met the gang at 8 for a loop of the cemetery. I started to walk with the group for a few minutes, but then I learned a lesson – it’s tough to slow down when you’ve set a pace you’re already comfortable with. So I left the gang behind and set off at my own pace. And that’s one of the nice things about TPW.. I knew that no one would be upset that I bolted ahead because we all know that we’re going at our own paces and with our own goals. The important part is just to show up.

Just as the streets of Toronto are different in the morning, the cemetery in summer is a completely different animal. All the trees are in full leaf, with more shades of green than steps on a Fitbit. A hawk swooped down not 10 meters in front of me! I didn’t see any coyotes, and I didn’t see any rabbits (I wonder if the hawks and the coyotes account for the lack of rabbit sightings?)

And if you’re still with me and this winding narrative, you’ve experienced the winding nature of walking that all gets us to …

The End