Every year I make the same resolution – to continue to walk 12 kilometres every Saturday throughout the winter. I haven’t quite made it in any year but will continue to try. This weekend I had a commitment to care for my granddaughters for the weekend from early Saturday afternoon till Sunday afternoon. So I wasn’t able to commit the time for another loop on Saturday morning. After breakfast it was my intention to add another few kilometres by walking to the market to pick up groceries on my way home. But I was thwarted by the weather. As we ate breakfast, I noticed a lot of snow flying sideways by the window. Stepping outside, I slipped on the doorsill. I realized that the sleek streets, the wind and the epic snowfall would make the walk too challenging. So another week of only 6 kilometres. Next week!
What an unusual Saturday for January. Warm and rainy. And from the weather forecast, I was half expecting to see the squirrels, rabbits, coyotes and deer to be lining up two-by-two looking for a big wooden ship and some guy named Noah. What I wasn’t expecting was a good turnout of walkers for our walk, more than 10. It started out with no rain and some mentioning they had seen the sun. It even looked like it might brighten up a little. Alas, it was not meant to last. We did get wet. It started as a gentle few drops and slowly progressed to a steady rain. We also got in a good Saturday walk before the heavens actually did open up. It was great to be out with my TPW friends early on a Saturday morning. That is the constant in all this strange weather. The friendship and comradery we find in TPW.
The day looked a bit grim when I first ventured out but first impressions can be deceiving. It was oddly mild for January and the grey skies sprinkled light, fluffy snow that settled on the cemetery’s trees like bridal lace. We walked through beauty.
By the time we finished, the snow was slipping off the trees. Such wonder is often fleeting, meant to be enjoyed in the moment. I was glad to have shared it with friends.
Heads up that our 2020 winter business meeting (and social) will be on Saturday, March 7 after walking. Please put it in your calendar.
TPW kicked off 2020 early with strong participation at the 5K Resolution Run. We all finished upright and smiling, despite the headwinds on the 2.5k back to the Palais Royale. Here are a few photos of the gang. Thanks to photographers Alex and Peter!
We were, I thought, a surprisingly large group of walkers on Saturday given that we are in the middle of the holidays and people have every excuse to indulge in the art of sleeping in. However, there were the keeners who arrived at 7:30 am and the rest of us (we the sloths?) who arrived at 8:30 am, all joining together to walk around the cemetery on a warmish (certainly for December) but overcast day. It was so good to see so many familiar faces (and some new ones) and to be able to wish everyone well, including our man of the bicycle accident. Furthermore, some courageous souls race walked in the Resolution Run on Sunday morning, bless them. I, dear reader, remained in my bed, warm and dry.
As we parted on Saturday morning, a chorus of “See you next year” was heard and so we have come to the end of 2019 and our last Saturday walk of the year. Endings are always bittersweet, it’s been quite a tumultuous year, containing both joy and grief and we look forward to beginning a new one. I hope that 2020 will be a kind year to each and every one of us.
Happy New Year everyone!
I read this week that food plays an important role in keeping people healthy. You raise your eyebrow and say, “You needed to read that?” But actually the article was about mental health. Sharing meals, especially ritual meals, is an important part of maintaining our identity as we age. Saturday morning breakfast has become that kind of ritual for me.
The ritual involves the first people to arrive at the restaurant after our walk trying to figure out how many places we will need. They call out the names of those they know will be coming and, with the help of the restaurant staff, pull tables together. No-one is to sit alone. Then, as people arrive, they move along the bench to include latecomers. Coffee is served and orders are placed, some eating the same thing every week, others studying the menu for novelty. There is sharing of hash browns and bacon. The food is the background to wide-ranging conversations – political (what has he done this week?), sociological (new social norms we are noticing), practical (where to find a good plumber) and stories of life’s adventures, big and small. We don’t stay long; we are busy people. We rise from the table, refreshed in body and spirit. We have renewed our bond.
This Saturday we had a large crowd of 20 walkers, probably because of the dry, not terribly cold, weather. Over a dozen of us joined “our” table after the walk. One of our talented members produced boxes of home-made baking and chocolates to share. She’s been doing this every year for a long time. Imagine beautiful truffles with a shiny coat of dark chocolate or white chocolate with limoncello or petit shortbread pinwheels. Another spectacular ritual!
The weather could not have been more miserable when seven TPW members arrived at the cemetery. Freezing glop was falling on our supposedly waterproof coats, pants and shoes, as we struck out to walk the 6.3 km. The two most intrepid walkers set off quickly, only to disappear from view. We sincerely hope they did not become breakfast for the soggy coyote the rest of us encountered as we shared our sorrows and recent tragedies with the apposite weather.
The other five turned around at the tunnel and headed through the icy puddles to hot drinks and breakfast. We generously shared our dripping clothes and squelching shoe noises with the restaurant staff, who treated us with remarkable kindness. Only one server slipped in a melting TPW pool, but since he wasn’t carrying anything edible, we forgave him.
As you can see from the attached photo, the bonds of friendship and the shared smiles broke through the gloom. And the long hot showers when we got home were not half bad either.
This past year, we have shared substantial loss and sorrow and, as the holidays approach, I think it is time to revisit joy and celebration.
Here are a few things that come to mind.
I love looking at the pictures of my fellow walker’s family babies and hearing the delight in their voices as they talk about them.
Our cemetery is a place of great beauty in the winter (okay, okay, I don’t like the slippery footing but the lacy trees are gorgeous and I marvel at our sightings of coyote, deer and hawks).
The season’s bright decorations and lights always give me cheer.
And this year especially, I cherish the warmth and friendship of the gang – both individually and as a group. My heart always rises as I turn into the cemetery and see the array of bright jackets and friendly faces.
So let’s all think about and celebrate the wonders in our lives – including each other!
On Tuesday November 26, we had the Annual TPW Black and Medals dinner at the Harbord House. The food was delicious, especially the sticky toffee pudding, and the medals on display were numerous, varied, and even, international. Thank you to the organizers for a wonderful evening of conversation and celebration.
We had an impressive turn-out of close to twenty walkers this Saturday morning in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. There was a chill in the air, but no snow on the ground (yet), and a round of robins chirped in the tree tops. Apparently, winter weather makes these normally territorial birds more gregarious.
Lucy Maud Montgomery (born on November 30, 1874) wrote about such a grey day in her novel, Ann of Windy Poplars: “But there is always a November space after the leaves have fallen when she felt it was almost indecent to intrude on the woods… for their glory terrestrial had departed and their glory celestial of spirit and purity and whiteness had not yet come upon them.”
I was shopping for a birthday card for an old high school friend of mine and saw it in a craft store window. An artist had drawn a very happy looking glass of red wine beside a very happy looking chunk of cheese and underneath them were written the words “Aged to Perfection!” It was the perfect card for my wine and cheese loving friend and, I like to think, a perfect one for we older generation who are lucky enough to be alive today. But it also reminded me of how old I am now and how many of my loved ones are no longer with me. My parents are gone, my brother and sister-in-law are gone and my husband is gone. I know I am not alone in this reality, others among us are suffering heartbreaking losses of their own. How does one have the spirit to keep going on?
Letting go is a very, very hard thing to do (and I had help in learning how from a very wise grief therapist who had a decidedly Buddhist tinge) and so very slowly over time I had to learn to let go of those I loved. And now, battered and bruised by life as I am at this age, I am still standing, and more importantly, still walking with my TPW friends to the finish line wherever that may be. I hope we will all be so fortunate to age to perfection as we walk there together.