CAUTION: THIS POST MAY BE INFECTIOUS

I live with earworms.  Most (maybe all) days, there is a soundtrack to my day.  Lately, I seem to enjoy part of the day with “Falling Leaves,” for obvious reasons.   My earworms insist on specific artists for each song.  Part of the time “Falling Leaves” will be by the Ray Conniff Singers but there’s a particular part of the song that is always sung by Nat King Cole.

I watched The Flower Drum Song last night so “I Enjoy Being A Girl” was playing here and there.

And just before I sat down to write this post, my high school fight song played a few rounds.

I am amused that the songs are often from my early life.  And also that I’m never sure of all the words so only a few lines are complete most times.  My brain spends a lot of time in the background trying to work out the vague lyrics from the rest of the song.

Clearly, Covid is getting to me – perhaps too much time alone?

The best part of today was seeing a half dozen TPW’s walking on the lake front.  You all looked fit and hearty!  I am hoping to be able to get back at it in November.  Oh Dear!  There’s Aerosmith with “Walk This Way.”

IT AIN’T OVER UNTIL IT’S OVER [Yogi Berra]

Another beautiful Saturday: warm, sunny, and perfect for walking and enjoying the colours of autumn.  Or was it? We awoke to news of very large numbers of COVID-19 cases in our city and warnings that we should stay out of harm’s way. Is it still safe to walk with up to 25 people so long as we are outdoors and staying at least two meters apart? Some of us think so and some of us are not sure. Some of us, for our own reasons, are concerned that we are risking our health and some of us fear we may be risking the health of others. Others believe our fear is overblown and that for everyone’s mental health, we should simply go about our business in ways that are cautious but not panic-stricken.

I think I may believe all the above – but at different times and in different places. And because it is Thanksgiving, a feast our family has not chosen to celebrate this year, I would like to express my deep and abiding thanks to all of the TPW walkers who accept everyone’s feelings and decisions on what is the right choice. No one is made to feel afraid or ashamed by the choices they have made to stay at home, to walk alone, in small groups, or all together. As my friend Robert Priest has said. “We are one another’s angels.”

Fall musings…

I love the fall – despite the fact that it is the harbinger of winter.  The cemetery on Saturday was ablaze with eye-warming reds and yellows. Made me think of poetry and so I went looking and found this lovely little poem by Emily Dickinson.

The morns are meeker than they were,

The nuts are getting brown;

The berry’s cheek is plumper,

The rose is out of town.

The maple wears a gayer scarf,

The field a scarlet gown.

Lest I should be old-fashioned,

I’ll put a trinket on.

This Tuesday is the last one for hill-training (10 times up and down that ever steeper hill) and, the week after, many of us are doing the Scotia virtual relay – after which we will have some lovely new ‘trinkets’ to wear around our necks.

Stay safe and sane, wear your masks, wash those hands and maintain  distance as you walk your distance!

Joy in the Age of Anxiety

Did you notice how sweet and juicy the peaches were this year?  They tended to be small but so intense.  And the tomatoes?  Plump and full of redness, just waiting to be sauced.  (I have discovered an old Italian recipe in which sauce and pasta cook together in one pot.  It’s genius!).  And the corn that was sweet and crisp, dripping with buttery salt, and the newly ripened apples, so hard and shiny, delicious with cheese?  And don’t forget the pears, my personal favourite, so soft they drip when you slice them open and let their fragrance spill out?  I love this time of year best of all.  It’s Autumn – the period from the autumnal equinox to the winter solstice.

It’s the time when the trees begin to flame orange or yellow or red and the damp earth smells rich and complex with fallen leaves.  Up high, the birds swirl together in dark clouds as they prepare to leave us and cooler air circulates at night, reminding me to get out my feather duvet so  I can snuggle under its the warmth.   Sweaters and gloves must be removed from their summer hiding places in order to withstand the crisp chill of morning air.  Soup bubbles intensely as it simmers for hours on the kitchen stove.  All our senses are engaged.  We are in the lingering transition of summer to winter…

And I recall my all time favourite quote which is by Northrop Frye, that great Canadian literary figure; he once wrote:  “Heaven is this earth, to the awakened imagination”.  And so it is.

I am glad to be alive.  I hope you are too.

Glad to be back…

I have finally, after being sidelined with a sprained foot for over six weeks, been able to rejoin the group  over the past couple of weeks and am almost back to normal. I’m still getting my speed and  distance up but thrilled to be able to keep up with the group all the way round the cemetery. Thank heavens for the resilience of the human body – even at my mature age!

Being away, has made me even more appreciative of the whole TPW experience – the beauty of the places we walk, the joy of being outside, the comfort  of being with friends – even if we have to keep our distances.

Some bits of news – we are going to move back to an 8:30 start on Saturdays at the cemetery (hooray) and we are going to start 4 weeks of hill training as of Tuesday, Sept. 15 at our usual spot at Sherwood Park. Hopefully the weather will remain mild and we can enjoy  after-walk pizza on the patio at our favourite place.

Phyllis will be updating us all on the plans for the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon relay but take note that there are couple of spots left – stay tuned.

Wishing everyone a relaxing Labour Day.

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.

Checking Out

Saturday,  August 22

It was a beautiful morning in the cemetery Saturday, warm but not so much, with a gentle early morning sun and scattered raindrops dripping on us as we walked under  the  trees.  I was very happy to walk with someone I haven’t spent much time with recently so it was a perfect opportunity to catch up as we strolled through the pretty grounds.  It felt so good to be amongst friends amid the exchange of conversations and my spirit lifted.

I confess to  feeling discouraged earlier in the week, because I was beginning to understand how long this “new normal” might go on.   As an antidote,  I have sworn off “doomscrolling” (how descriptive a word is that???), that constant stream of unhappy news,  so that I can focus on happier things and lighten my mood.  And so I offer the words of Satchel Paige, thinking how perfect they are for we TPWs at this time:

“Avoid fried meats which angry up the blood.  If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts.  Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move.  Go very light on vices,  such as carrying on in society.  The social ramble ain’t restful.  Avoid running at all times.  Don’t look back.  Something may be gaining on you.”

He also said: ” How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?”  That’s a very good question, don’t you think?!

 

Learning something new

 

Rain, sprain, go away….

As I write this, it is pouring and I am feeling sorry for myself.

I have been sidelined with a sprained foot for 3 weeks – and am looking at another week, at least, before I think I can join the gang again. Okay, it is a minor injury and it is healing, but, really, on top of COVID and just when I was getting back in the walking groove with my TPW buddies – very cranky making!

I really miss the walking and, maybe even more, I miss the company as I have throughout the lock down.

So, a reminder to us all, enjoy every step, every walk, every conversation.  Savour the sensory delights of foot in front of foot; arms swinging; the smell of grass; the beauty of the cemetery’s greenery or the waterfront’s every changing view; and  the voices of our friends chatting, punctuated often by laughter.

There, the rain has stopped and I have talked myself into feeling better.  How lucky we are –  I can hardly wait to rejoin you all.

I am looking forward to joining some of the group for a planned picnic lunch on the Toronto Island on Aug. 15. If you are interested, put it in your calendar and stay tuned.

To Sleep In or Not to Sleep In?

That actually wasn’t a question for me because I DID sleep in on Saturday morning and therefore missed the, I am certain, lovely walk with the group in the cool morning air of the cemetery.  I have no excuse other than it was lovely to lie in the stillness of early morning, uninterrupted and calm.  Undisciplined definitely, but then that leaves lots of room for improvement, doesn’t it?  Redemption shall be obtained next Saturday.  And does anyone else experience stiffness in the joints first thing in the morning?  What’s that about?  Is this what aging means?  I think of Leonard Cohen: “I ache in the places where I used to play”.

But I take consolation from a little book that I have called:  “Age Doesn’t Matter Unless You’re a Cheese.”  In which Fred Astaire says: “Old age is like everything else.  To make a success of it, you’ve got to start young.”                And horse trainer Horatio Luro, explaining the secret of his eighty years says: ” Swim, dance a little, go to Paris every August, and live within walking distance of two hospitals.”                                                                                                                            Ann Landers said: “Inside every seventy-year old  is a thirty-five year old asking: What happened?”

But my favourite so far is what financier Bernard Baruch said: “To me, old age is always fifteen years older than I am.”  I can live by that one!