I ♥ Winter

14 February 2014 – The day for love letters, and mine is to winter. I’m Canadian, and a February baby, so I’m doubly motivated to love the season. (Plus, love it / hate it, it’s part of our lives. Another reason to embrace it.)

I thought about all that, walking the central part of the city waterfront from the ferry docks at Bay St. west to Bathurst or so and then up to Queen St., past City Hall and around.

Winter offers a different kind of beauty: still, austere, minimalist. High contrast to the busy turbulence of summer.

wharf at Harbourfront, Toronto Island in distance

Then there’s the visual spark of seasons-out-of-context. Moments of summer, in winter garb. A tall ship, for example, quiet in the harbour ice, waiting its turn.

tall ship, in Toronto Harbour ice

Wrapped ’round with footprints in the snow – mine soon to be added – as winter walkers explore this annual transformation of familiar sights and sites.

Canoes, for example, scarcely remarked in summer, just part of the landscape, but when the landscape is snow instead, look how they pop. Part of the impact is just colour contrast, but it’s psychological as well. They’re incongruous, and they snag the eye.

a winter-time cache of rental canoes

Or take HTO Beach, its umbrellas and Muskoka chairs ready aye ready. (Just a touch more warmth in the air, maybe up to zero or so on a wind-free day, and somebody will plop into one of those south-facing chairs and tilt a receptive face to the sun.)

HTO Beach

While these new urban beaches are obviously designed for summer, motif and function both, they’re still giddy good fun in winter. Some public art isn’t as fortunate. Especially this grouping, which I find quite forlorn even on a hot summer’s day…

downtown Toronto statue

… but oh, when they’re shivering in winter snow! Somebody please drape them in parkas.

Other artwork does a whole lot better, even when — like these fish in a fountain — it is designed with summer in mind.

fountain, Metro Toronto Convention Centre

Can’t you just see them, swimming upstream in the snow, finding their way home to spawn? The salmon of winter…

And the Mallard ducks of winter, real ones at that. Clustered, no fools they, in and around a patch of open water in the harbour, created by this mini-waterfall from a water management outlet.

mallard ducks at an outflow point in Toronto Harbour

The ducks are happy to escape the ice, but there are humans just as happy to find it. This lone skater outside City Hall, for example. Playtime on ice.

Toronto City Hall skater

And, just down the block, playtime with snow.

This woman had been striding along Queen West at a brisk pace. I watch her suddenly veer over to the Metro box. For a free newspaper?

Queen West near Yonge

Seems not – she’s busy at the box, but doesn’t open it. Busy-busy, and then she walks on.

I go look. Of course I do.

Metro box face

Perfect!

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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10 Comments

  1. Oh I so wish I loved Winter. I do not. I do not hate it, and there are aspects to it that are okay, but I like to be warm (not hot, as in menopausal heatwaves hot) and in shorts and on a beach or a boardwalk or in my hammock. But you have made winter so much more bearable and remind me that getting outside isn’t all about shoveling (and shoveling and shoveling) and slipping and sliding in my car. Or doing yard duty or Kiss n Ride duty with my eyelashes frozen together….it’s about an adventure.
    As always, thanks for letting me walk alongside you!

    Reply
    • Oh Paula, I laugh because I identify with and share your loathing of all the horrible winter-consequences you list above. It’s just that at the same time I love the available beauty and fun of the season, and that offers very great consolation for the shovelling/slipping/sliding side of things. Plus, as I noted, winter will keep visiting us anyway, we might as well wring every possible benefit from that reality. And yes, the thought of the predicted plus-zero days next week is very, very welcome. (Also yes: we in Toronto have it dead easy compared to the eastern seaboard in general.)

      Reply
  2. Rick

     /  17 February 2014

    Your statues in need of clothes reminded me of when a couple of the Antony Gormley statues on Crosby beach (not too far from us) had a “Guerilla Knitter” attack back in 2012!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-18261992

    Reply
  3. I have an on again/off again relationship with winter. I can find the beauty in the season and work at enjoying it but then again an unrelenting winter such as this has been – a big challenge to maintain the love. But two weeks away always helps so I’m happy to join you again on your great photo walks through wintery Toronto and get out there myself with my dog companion Ivy. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply
  4. I’ve just left an admiring comment on your own post. I’m honoured to have helped inspire the idea.

    Reply
  1. A Love Letter to Toronto | Scenes From A City

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