I honestly couldn’t think of a thing to write about this afternoon. Yet, the blog needs a post! I turned back to the posts of previous Mays, looking for inspiration.
In 2017, we walked along the lake at this time of year and someone broke her elbow in a fall and DROVE HER CAR home afterward. Intrepid!
In 2018, on May 24th weekend, there were just a few of us walking the lakeshore in a monsoon. We thought 8 kilometres in a storm was taking it easy.
In 2019, I celebrated Omar Khayam’s birthday, rather than Queen Victoria’s, by quoting some of his pithier verses.
In May 2020, covid was settling in. We had no idea it would be for so long. I walked the lake alone and was delighted to meet 2 TPW folk walking in the other direction.
In 2021, we had learned a lot more about covid and I wrote a very grumpy post about it.
So I guess I need to say that in 2022, we are learning to actually live fully with covid. We had a great walk in the cemetery this morning (IN SHORTS!) and enjoyed meeting for coffee in the “church park” afterward. It all feels pretty normal now. Amazing!
What a beautiful week! All the flowering trees are showing off their blooms and the birds are hanging around, waiting to be admired. For the record, the redbuds, apple blossoms, and a Cooper’s hawk made me slow down even more than usual today in the cemetery.
Speaking of the cemetery, we have been asked by one of the security folks to refrain from parking along the roadway to the left of the entrance gate. He asks that we park along smaller roadways and perhaps not all in the same place. Some walkers are going to check out the area near the heroic monument (the Stavro memorial) at the Mt. Pleasant Entrance to the cemetery. We will park on the smaller roads near the fierce animals and then walk to the usual Yonge Street gate. This will also help us add more distance to our Saturday and Thursday walks.
And speaking of walks, it was quite warm today, reminding us that we usually start walking earlier during the summer months. As of June 4th, we will begin our Saturday walks at 8:30 AM. Thursday and Tuesday times to be discussed separately. Now get out there and admire the beauty we are so privileged to have around us in this city!
Last week was the Toronto Marathon (congrats to M on his speedy time), this week is Sporting Life, June 18 is the Waterfront Race, there are a bunch more during the summer and fall, and Banff on Sept. 24 (if you are interested in this last and haven’t been in touch with our fabulous organizer, B, please do so soon).
For those participating tomorrow, we will meet up in the last corral between 8:20 and 8:40. Remember that the TTC opens at 8 and that various bus routes will be affected so govern yourself accordingly! Also remember to fill in your COVID questionnaire first thing.
The forecast is for sunshine and 7 degrees at 8am going up to about 13 (perfect racing weather but a bit chilly to start). We will collect the gang at the finish line as each one comes through and, once we are together, we are planning to head to the Aroma Express Bar in Liberty Village for a well-deserved cuppa and a bite to eat. Please let someone know at the start of the race if you won’t be joining the group.
Can’t tell you how excited I am to be doing an in-person race again. I have always considered Sporting Life the real start of spring and am looking forward to being part of that big happy crowd heading down Yonge Street. Hip, hip, hooray!
A meditation on blue
I will admit that I felt quite blue this winter – the cold and the grey skies and the continuing pandemic. But this is not a meditation on the blues.
Rather, it’s a meditation on the blue that can drive away the blues (not the oxymoron you would think).
What started me thinking about blue? As I walk home from Bloor St., when Coe Hill (my street) cuts off from Windermere, I can see the lake above the trees (I’m standing at the top of a hill). Lake Ontario can be lots of different shades. It’s often greenish-blue, and when there has been a storm it can get quite brown with the runoff from the Humber river. This week I was stopped in my tracks as I admired the luscious blue sky and the bold, almost navy blue of the lake. There are no words to describe the feeling it gave me.
Even though April has been rainy and cloudy and cool, we have had our share of warmth (mmmm, I can still feel it, or is that the bath I just got out of). We’ve also had some wonderfully clear, blue skies. If I say that sky blue is my favourite colour, do you see the same blue I do? There are so many shades of sky blue – at the horizon it takes on a pale shade, at dusk it can be a deep blue tainted with the wonderful hues of the sunset. But my favourite is when the sun is well up in the sky and there’s not a cloud to be seen. Although the occasional white, fluffy cloud can set the blue off quite nicely, especially when that little puff-ball manages to block the sun. And I’ve mentioned before that a tree in full leaf always makes the blue pop. It makes me happy.
Hey there Mr. Blue
We’re so pleased to be with you
Look around see what you do
Everybody smiles at you
My choir sang Mr. Blue Sky and it is such a joyful song, capturing the delight of a sunny day.
Blue skies smilin’ at me
Nothin’ but blue skies do I see
Blue days all of them gone
Nothin’ but blue skies from now on
Another, calmer ode to blue skies, although caused by a new person in the singer’s life (not applicable to me). The version I know best is by Willy Nelson. Such a gentle voice makes me feel like I’m floating. And while blue days may not all be gone, I know the splendour of a crystal blue sky will always be my tonic. It’s right up there with the way I look forward to walking with TPW each Saturday.
And to celebrate the arrival of spring (finally!) is the following poem called “Bloom” by Emily Dickinson
Bloom—is Result—to meet a Flower
And casually glance
Would scarcely cause one to suspect
The minor Circumstance
Assisting in the Bright Affair
So intricately done
Then offered as a Butterfly
To the Meridian—
To pack the Bud—oppose the Worm—
Obtain its right of Dew—
Adjust the Heat—elude the Wind—
Escape the prowling Bee
Great Nature not to disappoint
Awaiting Her that Day—
To be a Flower, is profound
And in other news, in these unpredictable times when mandates, rules and regulations are constantly being revised, I have found the following website to be filled with good information as to how to conduct oneself during these (hopefully) waning days of Covid-19. Recommended by a friend’s doctor: https://dfcm.utoronto.ca/confused-about-covid
This Saturday was beautiful – sunny, cool, perfect waking weather. Walking with friends has got to be the best tonic available! We at the TPW have known this for a long time but now it’s showing up in medical studies all over the place.
1) 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week (you can talk but not sing) gets you a stronger heart, lower blood pressure, clearer thinking and sounder sleep.
2) Post mortem brain scans of active elderly people showed that they had more of a class of proteins associated with healthy cognition.
3) An average of 4,500 steps a day significantly lowers the risk of dying, every increase of 1,000 steps lowers the risk by 28%. (My math skills are dubious but this seems to imply you can live forever if you walk enough each day,)
4) The kindness and empathy exhibited during these walks helps us do better mentally and physically with illness and adversity.
5) Getting outside causes stress levels to fall by 60%.
6) Walking boosts immune cells to fight off infection.
7) And the nap after the walk helps the body regulate its inflammatory response.
April has been a cruel month – and we are not even two weeks into it. In fact, this week alone brought the horrors of war in Ukraine, the resurgence of the pandemic, the apparent rise of the far-right in the U.S. and Europe, deaths of three people I knew, a family member suffering shingles for the eight time, another family member targeted by anti-Semitic classmates — and my car was rear-ended.
And yet, the flowers in my garden are beginning to bloom, the first Black woman will become a justice on the U.S, Supreme Court, people I know have been kind and caring, reaching out to one another; strangers have helped us in difficult circumstances, and we have all celebrated the accomplishments of our amazing half-marathon walkers. Cakes and treats were baked, stories were shared, and there was laughter. There is always laughter.
Together we will get through April. We will celebrate our holidays and our achievements, and most importantly, we will continue to laugh together at all the world’s absurdities.
It was a busy week for TPW starting with last Saturday’s first in-person business/social meeting in 2 years (thanks P) and wrapping up with a walk under crisp sunny skies this Sat followed by another of our delightful out-door picnics (thanks B).
We are back in race season with 3 TPWs in London and others signed up for various local races (Toronto Marathon/May 1; Sporting Life 10K/May 8: and the Toronto Waterfront 10K/June 18 as well as an ‘away’ race in Banff in Sept.
Conversations during Saturday’s walk (and my own aches and pains) prompt me to remind everyone of the importance of STRETCHING! Several of the gang have experienced injuries (who knew Pickle Ball could be dangerous?) or have chronic issues. We tend to overuse our walking muscles and under use others. There is lots of stuff online (see example below) and, of course, the group is the source of knowledge on all things so let’s share what works.
The 3 Best Stretches for Walking
How about we restart doing stretches before we walk and add in some after – everyone invited to contribute! We did agree at our meeting that we would explore some expert training using our TPW reserves. We will start by asking about our regular coach’s availability but are open to other kinds of training suggestions too so bring it on!
What a fun day we had this Saturday! Gathered together for our annual business meeting, we shared food, drink, each other’s company and lots of information about upcoming races, training and trips planned. I am so grateful to be part of this remarkable group of walkers. I believe we bring out the best in each other.
My thanks to each and every one of you who came to my house, who contributed delicious food, including someone who delivered a salad but couldn’t attend, our fearless leader who steered the meeting, those who helped clean up, and unbeknownst to me, even left gifts. Thoughtful photos were taken and circulated among us and lots of laughter was heard.
We’ve been through a lot this past year, a seemingly never ending pandemic, loss of loved ones, physical ailments, emotional pain and lately, a tragic downturn of global affairs, and yet we continue walking together, upright and strong, ever onwards in the midst of uncertainty.
It makes me think of something Madeleine Albright once said: “The act of striving is in itself the only way to keep faith with life.” And so with hope in my heart and faith in life, I continue to walk on, with all of you.
Just walking in the rain
Getting soaking wet
All because the walkers in the cemetery met.
Just walking in the rain
Turning slightly blue
All because my clothes are completely soaking through.
People through their car windows
They always stare at me
Shaking their heads in sorrow
Saying: “who can that fool be?”
Just walking in the rain
Thinking how we met
And knowing things could change
I never want to forget, walking in the rain.
With apologies to Dave Burgess.
TPW had an amazing turnout in the pouring rain this Saturday, As the saying goes, there is no bad weather, just bad gear.