This being January after a snowstorm, we were most definitely cautious as we began walking on Saturday morning, concerned that we might encounter icy and slippery roads as we walked in the cemetery, but we were pleasantly surprised that the roads underfoot were mostly clear and dry. The side roads were still somewhat snow covered with small patches of ice underneath but nothing that caused us distress. The sky, as usual, was grey and cloud covered, rendering the landscape before us as black and white, all colours drained away to pewter.
Which leads to the question I have: where did the sun go? It is MIA. Where did it go? And why is it not coming back? Did we do something to offend? Did we say something rude? Has it packed up and gone home? Stamped its little feet and is now hiding under the bed? Is this a new form of job action? Has it sent its chariot to the garage, its steeds to the stables and now refuses to return to work until we give it what it wants …which would be what? An elaborate sun dance? Who remembers how to do that? A human or animal sacrifice? Definitely not a human one (though some politicians come to mind) or an animal, (though I suggest the mosquito), neither one is possible in our enlightened day and age (and virgins, at our age, are out of the question). Well what then? Abstinence from dessert? Surely not! But we could, perhaps, sacrifice anchovies or snails?
Whatever would be required let’s figure it out and get that sun back to work! It’s almost February and we most desperately need it.
Each year I buy three calendars. One is the same 13 month planner, a week at a glance, that I have been buying and using for well over 40 years. I’ve developed it into a first rate tool – every spot has its own specific use. People try to convince me that I’d be more efficient using an on-line calendar. They get annoyed when I say I’ll have to go home and check it before I can commit to something. But I can’t imagine life without it.
The other 2 that I buy each year come from the AGO gift shop some time in November (before all the good ones are gone.) One is for the wall in front of my desk. The other is for my kitchen. They have no utilitarian purpose except to tell me what day it is if I need to know. But they seem essential, perhaps a throw-back to a predigital time.
It takes me some time to select the pair each year. Some years I am drawn to the Impressionists. Some years to women artists, some years to the Group of Seven, some years to Old Masters, some to seascapes, some to Indigenous artists. I went through a phase of Portraits of Women Reading. The last 2 years I’ve been drawn to Japanese artists in my bedroom (for the calm) and Kandinsky in my kitchen (for the colour).
I’m sure an analyst would be able to tell a lot about my life’s progression from these choices, but I’m content to just look at each new month’s revelation.
Having been away for a month from my beloved TPW friends and our walks together, on my return this week I am more grateful than ever before for everyone. Now I will tell you why! Did you know that everyone in our group smiles? Even when things are tough, each one of us finds something to enjoy, to laugh at, and to joke about. When we talk about the serious things in life, we easily veer off into asides that are in turns fascinating, insightful, or hilarious. I remember someone saying the reason that angels can fly is that they take themselves lightly. You may not see yourself as an angel, but trust me, each of our TPW friends, perhaps unwittingly, fills that role for someone on a regular basis. And for this I am filled with gratitude and perhaps a bit of joy, even when my fingers and nose are frozen.
January 7, 2023
Eggs and crisp bacon
after walking with my friends.
That is the poetry and now to the practical. A reminder to put Feb. 4, after walking, in your calendar for the TPW Winter Business Meeting at my house. People are welcome to arrive from 10:30 on.
A number of us have signed up for one or both of the following races (most people are doing 10K): Toronto Marathon, May 7 and Sporting Life, May 14 (yes it is Mothers’ Day). The price for Sporting Life increases in a week – they are offering a $35 coupon.
And best of luck to those doing the Bermuda Triangle.
Can you believe it’s 2023 already?!? I’ve been waiting for, I don’t know, 365 days? Well … maybe not.
So it’s the new year. Have you made any resolutions? My first was to stop being goofy – as you can see from that first paragraph – that resolution didn’t get very far. The second resolution was to get my blogs in on time – and resolution number two is no longer a concern. My third resolution is to stop making resolutions – it looks like I’m three for three. I don’t know why I even think about resolutions. Do I really need the pressure? No. I heard a podcast recently that said this should be a time of new beginnings, not in a crazy way, but more of a gradual opening up to match the seasons. I like that.
I didn’t walk with TPW on Saturday morning. I did a longer walk on Friday and I started for a walk on Saturday morning. I didn’t get far before I tripped and went down. It wasn’t too hard but enough to tell me I should just go for a coffee. I did. But that evening I met up with four other hearty TPW walkers for a New Year’s Eve race in the Beaches. And I understand more of our group was out for a race on New Year’s Day. For some they were planned races and for others it was a last minute entry. I think that’s great. There’s nothing like the camaraderie of friends to make a walk enjoyable.
Happy New Year all!
I think it reveals our wisdom as elders that we did not venture out on this Saturday morning for our usual walk. It was freezing cold and an icy layer lay hidden beneath the snow. I had to go out a bit later in the morning to do some errands and the blustering wind was absolutely fierce. I was so glad to get back inside my house, which made me think how grateful I am to have warm shelter when there are so many who don’t.
As we come to the end of this year, it’s difficult not to be saddened by what’s happening in the world around us and so I say let’s keep doing what we’ve been doing; walking, socializing, looking out for each other, supporting one another, telling each other our stories. This will be our strength as we walk into the future.
And so along with my wishes of health and happiness to each one of you, I will share a poem that I love. It is from Jane Hirshfield’s book of poetry called The October Palace and her poem is called: The Weighing
Jane Hirshfield – 1953-
The heart’s reasons
even the hardest
its whip-marks and sadness
and must be forgiven.
As the drought-starved
the drought-starved lion
who finally takes her,
enters willingly then
the life she cannot refuse,
and is lion, is fed,
and does not remember the other.
So few grains of happiness
measured against all the dark
and still the scales balance.
The world asks of us
only the strength we have and we give it.
Then it asks more, and we give it.
In the olden days, pre-covid, we gathered for breakfast in a local spot that tolerated our large group, our idiosyncratic orders, and our rearranging of the tables. There, walkers who were fast and walkers who were slow and walkers who couldn’t walk at the time shared our lives. And not a single breakfast went by where I didn’t learn something. Walkers who understood pop culture kept me up to date; walkers who understood science and technology educated me; walkers who saw the political landscape differently helped me understand their point of view (not necessarily changing mine.) And in all of those walks and breakfasts there was never a disagreement that damaged the cohesiveness of the group.
So it was with immense joy that we learned that our favourite breakfast spot was opening early enough to accommodate us again. There were a few changes – no more moving the furniture, the menu is slightly different. The staff seemed glad to see us again. The conversation continued! Another thing to be grateful for.
At this time of year as we all run around to multiple social gatherings and events, I like to remember past Christmases. Looking at the group WhatsApp anticipating a drive by of Krinklewood Santas reminded me of a favourite memory from childhood.
When I was 8 or 9 my Brownie troop rented a school bus for us to go see the Christmas windows at the downtown stores. Simpsons, Eaton’s at Queen and the one at College, had all their windows decked with beautiful and funny scenes of Christmas. We were all excited and totally engrossed as we drove around downtown seeing so many wonders. The streets were all decorated, and it was a beautiful thing. As we drove back to our west end community, we got to enjoy the wonderfully decorated homes of many older neighbourhoods.
After getting off the bus we gathered in our Church basement for Hot Chocolate with marshmallows and lots of Christmas goodies. It was a memory I cherish. I think of our Brownie Owl Mrs. Needham and wonder if she realized what memories she gave us. To all the volunteers who share their time with others, thank you.
It was certainly the question on Saturday morning with rain and a drop in temperature in the forecast. However, I hadn’t walked on Thursday and was feeling the need so decided to go for it and, as often happens with this group, I was joined by a half dozen other sturdy souls (or fools depending on your point of view!). I blessed my rain jacket as we persevered for a full circuit of our beloved cemetery despite heightening winds and increased rain. And, when we finished, despite my chilly hands and damp feet, I was glad I had come out. Sharing hot drinks and chat at the end was doubly sweet.
The moral? When in doubt, walk!
It’s ice time and I don’t mean the bad kind of ice that we slip on but the good kind of ice that belongs on skating rinks. I love skating. Not that I am very good at it, not at all, but I can stay up and go forward which are the two most important things to do, I think, other than being able to stop!
I grew up on the west island of Montreal and every winter my girlfriends and I would lace up our skates and head out onto Lac St Louis and skate for hours. The ice was terrible, all bumpy and cracked but it didn’t matter to us. We would fling ourselves around, tripping over sticks frozen into the lake, fascinated by the deep black, murky ice full of bubbles and debris trapped below the surface. Fissures would lace the ice with fantastical images that were woven in to the cracks. The wind would whip our cheeks red and sometimes freeze our eyelashes with snowflakes. Often we would skate until the blisters came and then we would hobble home to warm ourselves up, tired but happy.
I forgot about skating for many years, I was a grown up too busy with other things to do, and I only re-discovered its joys after about forty years. It’s amazing what our bodies can remember to do if we let them. So strap on your skates, TPW’s, and join our little group for our weekly skate together. You’ll have more fun than you thought possible.