Written 5/12/14 I haven’t done anything elaborate to celebrate spring finally arriving in Toronto. Then again, that’s because the same friends who kept reminding me that this was the worst winter ever also are careful to say that we’re not safely into the next season yet; some years still see frost in these last few weeks of May. As I look out of my window at the green grass of the parks around my house and the flowers springing up in yards and window boxes and in the markets of Chinatown, Kensington, and Leslieville, I pray that this joy and freedom doesn’t end–like that awful Tuesday a few weeks ago when it went from sunshine and 70s to snow and ice again in less than 24 hours. But this past week and weekend, I did as much as I could to enjoy the spring tidings while they were here. I spent more time walking outside in parks than studying inside. I moved a meeting with theatre collaborators into Riverside’s park. In the free moments between an interview and more meetings, I took my tea and lunch snacks in the park across from Canadian Stage’s Bluma Appel Theater and wrote there instead of in the dark corner of a cafe. On Saturday, I went on a hike and discovered a lovely 6 mile trail that never seems to leave behind great views of the Toronto skyline and is less than 30 minutes walking distance away from my house. Tommy Thompson park: I think I’ll be visiting you again. It won’t be the same without the large pack of Meetup hikers, all strangers at the entrance and all united in some way by the time we passed back through the park gates. Events like these remind me that the city’s occupants are as varied as its neighborhoods.
On Sunday, I decided to finally brave the garden stores to purchase my first plant. It was scary to finally commit to caring for a living thing, especially since I know nothing about taking care of even the smallest, hardiest herb sprout. Dogs and cats, sure. I can take them out or clean their little boxes any day but waterings and mulch? I have no idea, but thankfully the employees at the East End Garden Center gave me a few gruff hints and a friend in DC has given me more encouragement. At least I’ve gotten to harvest a few fresh leaves off of it already and it does give my little yellow room a fresh fragrance. It welcomes me each time I open the door.
And the best: after my morning run, I took a stroll to walk off my tensed muscles in the park across the street. Finding the place deserted (Monday morning after all), I made my way over to the swings. It’s been way too long since I last felt the wind rush past me, the ground zoom away as I push off banks of sand until my legs take over and it’s just me swinging to the limits of the chains. Flying. It didn’t make me feel childish. It made me feel more alive, more connected, more prepared to greet the rest of the day. The summer is uncertain, the fall even more so. As I reach out my sprouts and dream of how I’ll grow this summer and where I’ll plant myself after August, I’ll care for my new basil buddy and soak up as many new experiences in the Toronto sunshine as possible.