Small Pleasures

 

As recent news in Ontario suggests that Omicron may possibly be heading to the exit, my thoughts have turned to what I will miss in our post-pandemic lives.  Although the number of deaths and amount of illness over the past two years is staggering, there have been small pleasures too, such as learning to appreciate a slower pace of life (crossword puzzles, more time for books), a bluer sky to enjoy thanks to fewer planes in the air, neighbourhood street signs thanking people for “shopping local”, more conversations with strangers on the street, and little acts of kindness (like the man ahead of me at the Starbucks drive-through who paid for my coffee order before driving away anonymously). Included in this list also is the bonding amongst the TPW walkers.  We have shown flexibility in how we have kept the group in touch – first through Zoom calls in the early days, and subsequently through walking in various group sizes according to Covid restrictions, and almost always finding a way to connect over coffee, inside or out, afterwards.  I hope some of these pleasures will remain in the “new normal” world which will eventually come our way.

Walking In The Cold

 

It was minus 21 when I woke up this morning.  I rolled over and had a snooze.  But 8 other people got up, layered on their woollies and went out to walk.  I am in awe!

I’m told that cold weather forces one’s heart to work harder to pump blood around the body during a walk and that this is a good thing.  As well, it boosts your immune system (not a bad thing right now) for fighting off colds and the flu.  It’s also good for your mental health AND increases your caloric burn.  In other words, I should have been out there with them.

But my attitude is closer to the legendary Sam McGee.

“And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm in the heat of the furnace roar,

And  he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said, “Please close the door.

It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear you’ll let in the cold and storm-

Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.”

(with thanks to Robert Service.)

Best laid plans and wishes for the New Year…

Let’s admit it – planning in the time of COVID is really just sort of hoping.

You may remember that, in my last blog a month ago, we were planning a TPW Resolution Run and breakfast on Jan. 8 and our winter business meeting and social on Jan. 29th. Well, given the rising infection rate, both of these are now on hold until the spring (and that, of course, is hoping vs planning so stay tuned).  Until we know more, we will continue our regular Saturday walking schedule at the cemetery with outdoor tea and coffee when the weather allows.

As we say goodbye to 2021, I want to acknowledge that the group has experienced personal loss and sorrow over the past year as well as the joy of new unions and new life.

I want to wish everyone the very best for 2022 and to offer thanks for all of you wonderful people – your support, kindness, sharing and occasional silliness have made this endless pandemic bearable.  I don’t make resolutions but will do my best to carry on the best of our traditions throughout the new year. Happy, healthy New Year!

Tidings of Comfort and Joy!

 

To each and every one of you, powerful walkers, may you find peace,  joy and happiness with your families and friends during these holidays.

And as for the new year, I have only one wish that is actually more of a curse and it is:  VIRUS BEGONE!!!  (that should work don’t you think?)

My Men

My Christmas plans have been changed by omicron and I know some of my friends at TPW are worried that I may be lonely.  So to be sure you all are able to feel confident that I will have all the company I could need, I thought I’d tell you about all the men who will be keeping me company.

First there are all the guys who arouse my emotions on my Christmas music collection:  Andrea Bocelli uplifts, Colin James gets me up and dancing, Burt Kaempfurt swings me and Bing Crosby makes me cry.

Then there are my secret passions: Tom Silva, a he-man who knows his way around a construction site and Monty Don who talks dirt (about his garden at Long Meadow.)

Jonathan Franzen has me mesmerized with his latest novel which will take me some time to get through and D.I. Jimmy Perez of the Shetland Islands fascinates me with his brooding worries (and good looks).

There are others but I don’t want to brag.

The TPW Social Calendar…

We have had good turn-outs for the last while. I think it may be because other outdoor activities, like golf, are ending for the year but, whatever the reason, it is great to see people we haven’t seen for awhile.

And because we enjoy each other’s company so much (and because we all like eating!), we have a number of special events upcoming. Obviously, all are dependent on how the world turns between now and then but put them in your calendars and cross your fingers.

Dec. 18 – Holiday Goodies in the usual courtyard after our morning walk. Everyone is encouraged to bring a baked good of their choosing – and those who are known to be talented bakers/culinary creators (you know who you are) are particularly urged to bring their specialties.

Jan. 8 – TPW’s very own Resolution Run starting at our regular Saturday time of 8:30am. We plan to do a 5K walk in the ravine near the Brickworks with breakfast at Eggspectation at Greenwin Centre. The Sherbourne subway is nearby and there will be free parking at a members condo.

Jan. 29 – TPW Winter Business Meeting and Social – We have a new host this year (names will be named in emails to protect the privacy of all), her condo is central and she has a piano so those of you with talent, please start practicing. More details will be sent by email as we get closer.

In the meantime, we carry on with our Tues, Thurs and Saturday schedules. Thanks to all you wonderful TPWs for contributing your time and input to keep us going.

And a reminder to anyone reading this blog for the first time, we welcome new walkers – just turn up on a Sat morning at 8:30 and introduce yourself to the gang  just inside the gate of the cemetery.

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

I confess, when my turn at the blog came around this month, I intended to write about the experience of loss;  a contemplation of the age I now find myself to be, spurred by the funeral service we attended to support our much loved friend.  Coping with loss (of so many different kinds!) whether it be physical or mental or emotional has become a greater part of our lives and somehow we must find a way to come to terms with it.   But when I woke up early Sunday morning, nature unfolded a different plan for me and I will let Emily Bronte say the rest:

SPELLBOUND

The night is darkening round me,  / The wild winds coldly blow; / But a tyrant spell has bound me / And I cannot, cannot go. / The giant trees are bending / Their bare boughs weighed with snow. / And the storm is fast descending, /  And yet I cannot go. / Clouds beyond clouds above me, / Wastes beyond wastes below; / But nothing drear can move me; / I will not, cannot go.

Go out and enjoy our magical winter wonderland!

I’m not afraid of being a senior, Simone.

More than twenty of us sang Happy Birthday to one of our younger members as she strode up the hill to meet us at the beginning of our walk.  She turned 65 today.  It struck me that we are getting on!  And yet, as I looked around at a group of vibrant women (and one equally vibrant man) getting ready to step out and set their pace, I had to ask myself, “What does old age look like these days?”

I think the reason this is on my mind is that I’m reading Simone De Beauvoir’s book, Old Age, which she published when she was 62, about 15 years before she died.  She outlined society’s view of the elderly (and at what age that occurs) based on archeological, anthropological and written records.  From hunter-gatherer societies whose elderly were in their thirties, to medieval times when reaching fifty was a very old age, till the sixties when she wrote.  It was uniformly bleak: physically, socially, financially, and intellectually.

Now actuarial tables predict that I will live to be 89.  And our group looks forward to setting their own pace at least each Saturday, although most walk the distance at least a few more times each week. They do it for fitness and companionship and interest in one another’s busy lives. How wonderful to be able to enjoy these years with active, thoughtful, involved people!  I truly feel that these are golden years! Too bad Simone didn’t live to see it.

Reporting back and planning ahead…

Awhile back we asked everyone if they wanted to volunteer to take over various roles in keeping TPW running. Several of you did respond (thank you very much) but, in chatting with others, it became apparent that most people were happy with the rather casual way we have been carrying on. So, the end result is we are going to continue to muddle through pretty much as we have been doing.

‘And how exactly is that?’ several people asked, so a little history and clarification.

TPW came into being  when a group of JeansMarines’ walkers decided they wanted to continue on after that organization became inactive. That original group loosely delegated various roles to those who agreed to take them on and TPW was born. It was never intended to be very formal – no hierachy, no titles, just things that needed doing and people who undertook to do them. Some took on more than others and now want to step back a bit – and that is fair (huge thanks, you know who you are!). Others are content to continue doing what they have been doing and we know that others will step forward as needed.

We have always had people initiate ‘passion projects’ and run with them and that will continue. It seems to be the TPW way so, as the sages say ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’

So, announcing our first project for 2022, we are going to have our own Resolution Run on Sat, Jan. 8, a 5K route in the ravine around the BrickWorks (details to be revealed as we get closer), followed by a breakfast at Eggspectation (345 Bloor E).

And we will be planning to hold our winter social at Harbord House (our wonderful sponsor) sometime in February assuming it is safe to do so.

Isn’t it grand to have things to look forward to!

Preparing to Say Goodbye…

Not to you, dear walkers, but to my house.  My house where we raised our two baby daughters to adulthood, where I cared for my dying husband, where I have lived for the past 33 years, that house, my home.  I know in my head that it’s time; it’s far too much house for one person and two cats and I’ve seen too many elder relatives stay far too long alone in their homes as their houses crumble around them.  So I know it’s time, but the hard part is that one has to actually do the deed while one is still capable and that means before one has to.  That’s the only way to stay on top of it, to get out earlier than necessary.  I will be turning 70 years old in the coming year and in my mind that has always been my “drop dead” date (sorry, a very bad pun)

But when one leaves a place, presumably one has to go somewhere else and where was that  somewhere going to be???  The last time I moved was 33 years ago and I did it together with my husband.  Now I have to do this on my own (but not without the help of my friends, thank goodness) and where am I to go?  I find this time of my life to be very profound, with almost continuous  losses of different kinds that I must reflect upon and absorb without bitterness.

“I’m scared”, I thought, “I can’t do this”.  But then I remembered; to be alive is to be subject to continuous change and so really the challenge of selling, then buying, moving out, and then moving in, setting up, and then settling down is an integral part of life that proves I am still alive and in motion…Not dead yet, I think!