Lace Up Your Skates!

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.

Leaves (not Leafs) By Danielle

You know you live in Toronto when you hear people talking about raking “leafs.” As someone who pays less than zero attention to sports, even I know where the confusion comes from. But is it ok to say that I love leaves?

Today in the cemetery, only a few trees retained their fall colours. Even though it has been weirdly warm for November, we are clearly coming to end of that brilliant season when we look up for inspiration. So, I have been looking down. There are still so many lovely and interesting leaves on the ground. For example, oak leaves might as well be made of plastic. They do not breakdown even if composted for years. Did you know that until it was renovated, the Winter Garden Theatre had real leaves decorating its ceiling? They just didn’t decompose! Now, for some reason, they have replaced them with artificial leaves. I would have been very happy to give them the five bags of oak leaves I raked from my very small back garden!

Gingko leaves are now bright yellow and still on some of the trees. But, if you can, take time to examine the ones that have fallen. (Unless you have acquired a taste for it, avoid the fruit that is also on the ground – your nose will tell you why.) Unlike other deciduous trees, gingkos have leaves where the veins are not interconnected. They run from the base of the stem in two groups. In fact, the veins look like compacted and well-ironed needles. These trees are a living fossil and may have been a delicacy for dinosaurs! Some living gingko trees are over 1,000 years old, the fossil remnants are millions of years old.

And who hasn’t made bouquets of beautiful red and yellow maple leaves? We ironed them between sheets of wax paper when I was a child. That way we could keep the bright colours for a bit longer. I have a friend who tapes maple leaves to his walls in interesting patterns – fall décor from the garden.

Until the snow falls and covers them up, you still have time to look down and enjoy the crunch, the smell, and the beauty of leaves. And I won’t tell anyone if you want to call them leafs.

Glorious weather and some changes coming….

 

We have been given a gift of a warm fall – and what a gift it is. The colours are astonishing – on my last walk I was entranced by carpets of scarlet and canopies of gold and rust. When the sun hits the trees, it looks like the leaves are glowing. I think autumn is my favourite time of year and this one is particularly grand.  Enjoy it with all your heart as we know what comes next.

We have seen a coyote twice over the last while so be alert. Remember to make yourself big and loud if you see one nearby (do not turn and run away!!). We think they are particularly interested in dogs and make a point of warning those walking their pets as we pass them by.

A reminder that we are having our fall social at Harbord House on Nov. 22 starting 6ish. If you have medals, wear them. Please let me (DIANE)  know if you are coming.

There are some changes to walking times coming up so watch for emails and keep an eye on the website.  We will move to 9am this Saturday (the 12th) and are getting input on moving to 4 on Tuesdays toward the end of Nov.

How do you take your coffee??

Crisp! As in the weather. Some might say “brisk” or even “cold”, but nowhere near “<expletive>-ing cold”.
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It’s funny the way the mind wanders (at least it’s funny to me). Someone on our walk mentioned that it was brisk, and that made me think of crisp – a crisp fall day – and that made me think of the old commercial for Coffee Crisp (hence the heading of this post). Yes, my mind meanders almost as much as the roads we travel at the cemetery.
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Ah yes, we’re back in the cemetery. On my way there I rode under grey skies and then through fog. Leaves were coming down and there were lots of yellows and reds, but muted by the grey overhead. Along the way I saw the sun as a ghostly white circle through the misty skies. And by the time I got to the cemetery the sun was starting to stream through the mist from that morning’s frost.
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Some of the trees had lost all their leaves, but not too many. However, there wasn’t much green except for the pines and the grass. The grass itself had patches of frost making for a wonderful green and silver mottled effect. As for those red and yellow leaves that seemed dull under grey skies, they were absolutely sparkling in the sunshine against the sky blue1This display rivals the beauty of the stunning plethora of greens that covers the trees in the spring.
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And the cold? What of it? We walkers know that once we get moving we’ll heat up from our own exertion. That and the knowledge of the delightful post-walk coffee and chat! This week’s was no exception with plenty of stories, smiles and laughter. And look, we’re back to coffee. Just like our winding path through the cemetery we end up right where we started. But for all the effort, beauty and camaraderie, we know the journey was worth it!
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How do you take your coffee?? With TPW!

A Community of Care…

As I walked through the cemetery on Saturday morning, which was a gift of a day by the way, with a clear blue sky and a hot shining sun, that illuminated all the beautiful fall colours of the trees standing before us, I was struck, once again, at how kind and generous the members of TPW are.  Whether it’s illness or grief, chronic or temporary, individuals offer to assist one another without a moment’s hesitation; each one helping in whatever way they can manage.  Each one taking a turn accompanying the one who now needs a companion at all times; or changing the routines as required by the ever changing and sad circumstances.  A community that shows such care for each other.  I hope you realize how strong, brave and compassionate each one of you is!  And know that I feel so very grateful to be part of such a group.

 

 

Walking in creation

This week, I recognized that I’ve allowed my busy life to take away the time for walking.  During the months of covid lockdown I planned a walk every day, in all weathers.  I had the time and I needed to get out of the house.  These were times of consciously being in my body and staying aware of the world around me, especially as it was often more empty of people.  I was touched by creation, earth and sky.

As things opened up, I started planning my walks to do errands or to meet people.  I was still getting the exercise but my mind was focussed on what I would be doing next and how I could fit in a few more tasks on the walk.  I’d lost the idea of walking for itself.  Last week I realized that my walks had become shorter and that I was simply fitting them in where I could (except for Saturdays, of course.)  It struck me that I’d lost the actual joy of the walk itself.

So last week I went back to planning time for walks with no purpose.  Except for joy!  It’s great!

Banff (tick, at last) and now on to new adventures???

Well a lot has happened with the TPW group over the past month. The Banff trip (3 years in the making!!) finally became a reality – and it was worth the wait. We talked, we ate, we cycled, we rode horses, we swam, we soaked, we shopped – and, oh yeah, we all completed the Melissa 10K and have the shirts to prove it! In short we had a wonderful time in large part to the efforts of B and R. The trauma of the trip was little Spirit getting bitten but he is on the mend – a true TPW trouper.

I confess I find it truly amazing that such a large group could travel together so successfully – there were minor mishaps but everyone kept their sense of humour and there was always someone to play with depending on your interests. Thank you all for your company – and now let’s start planning our next adventure!

Just a heads up that we are thinking about moving the Tuesday start time to a bit later so we can have an early dinner afterwards. There will be an email to all when that is confirmed.

How to Do Nothing…

 

First of all, three cheers for the TPW’S who made their way to Melissa’s race in Banff and went the distance!  From their photos, it looks like they had a wonderful time in such a beautiful part of our country.

We who hadn’t joined them, walked our usual route in Mount Pleasant cemetery on Saturday morning, enjoying the fall colours and crisp air but the warm sun of a beautiful blue sky day.  It’s so peaceful and quiet in the cemetery (I guess that’s not surprising given it’s a cemetery) that I contemplated once again the many pleasures of walking.

According to the NYTimes daily newsletter that I receive, the artist Jenny Odell has written a book called: “How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy” and says “To do nothing is to hold yourself still so that you can perceive what is actually there.”  For me, that is the greatest pleasure of walking.  Of course I hear about all the health and social benefits from walking but something not so often referenced is how the pace of it allows me to “see” the environment around me.  To clear my mind and just observe, absorb and reflect upon my surroundings.  I am so busy trying to stay connected, responding and reacting to events reported in the news, that it is such a pleasure to slow down and just walk companionably with others.  The familiarity of walking lets me fire up all my senses so I can watch and listen to where I find myself, in the time I have left.

Thanks a million!

It felt a little bit like fall today and that made me think of Thanksgiving.  It will be over when I write again so I thought I’d write a little note of thanks to TPW for all you’ve added to my life.

Thanks for being role models – showing me how to be kind, how to be courageous, how to live with difficulties, how to recover from hardship.

Thanks for being mind-openers – I always expect that everyone I know thinks like me.  It’s so exciting when someone I respect has a different opinion and I have to stretch my mind to fit that in.

Thanks for being travel advisors and travel companions – we’ve been some fun places together.  And when I’m planning a trip, there’s always at least one person who’s been there and has good advice for me.

Thanks for parties – pool and tea and otherwise.

Thanks for companionship throughout these years of covid – you were there by phone and zoom through the darkest times.

Thanks for medical advice, experience and referrals – it’s helped me make good decisions.

Thanks for listening patiently when I drone on about my grandkids or tell you for the 500th time that my knee hurts.

And of course, thank you for being friends!  (Hear theme song from Golden Girls in the background.)

Back to school…

That is always how I think of September regardless of how long I have been out of school.  Mind you, Saturday was still full-on summer weather but there have been hints of cool since. I love the fall but it is a bittersweet kind of love knowing what comes next.

But enough of that – there is lots to look forward to, including an upcoming trip to Calgary/Banff for the Melissa race that a group of us are doing. Huge thanks to our wonderful organizers, B and R,  who have thought of everything, including pre-testing the 10K hill (conclusion – we can all do it, no probs!).

I confess I haven’t trained all that hard this summer but that is okay. We all have to judge our own energy level at any given time and remember,  just getting out is a win.  As we have all read in many studies, the combination of exercise and congenial company is what helps keep us healthy both physically and mentally.

Enjoy the long weekend and keep walking your own distance!