Winter’s Package Deal

20 February 2014 — I your comments on my I Winter post, where you list the season’s pains as well as compensating pleasures. I share the pain!

My first activity (OK, first outdoor activity) Tuesday morning? A whole lot of shovelling.

it's winter in Toronto

With that out of the way (oh the relief, oh the smug sense of virtue), I set off for a walk. As we all seem to agree, winter, like any season — or any person, come to that — is a package deal. The good is interwoven with the bad, so let’s cope with the bad and enjoy the good as much as we possibly can.

A home-front kind of walk, up through Cabbagetown more or less, across the little pedestrian bridge into ever-so-superior Rosedale, and home again. Just to see what’s happening, on yet another snowy day.

Icicles are happening, big time.

pretty icicles, not pretty heat loss

So pretty! Until you think like an environmentalist, or a home-owner, and calculate what that means in terms of heat loss and potential water damage to roofs and eavestroughs. Sigh. Just another of winter’s package deals.

Oh, never mind that. Look, here’s a wide open window, and no heat loss at all.

restaurant mural, Cabbagetown

I smile at this — but it’s the next thing I see that really makes me laugh.

I know the snowman is a blow-up Christmas yard decoration, stored away & slowly losing air…

in Cabbagetown

… but I prefer to see him as the ultimate Nosy Upstairs Neighbour, endlessly peering over the balcony to spy on downstairs comings & goings.

Another happy hit, up on Wellesley East: artist Jim Bravo’s contribution to last summer’s Bell Box Mural Project. A mural of someone painting a mural is good fun in any season, even more fun blazing out against the winter snow. Bravo, Mr. Bravo.

Wellesley St E. nr Ontario

Then a not-fun moment, and I knew it was coming grr grr.

Glen Rd., so very elegant up there in Rosedale, has one final vestigial block south of the ravine, linked by a pedestrian bridge. Lots of foot traffic on the block (there’s a subway station entrance near the bridge), but the homes are all boarded up.

Glen Rd., south of the ravine

They were already empty and deteriorating in April 2012 when I went past on an Iceland-training walk, & the accompanying “Gentrification Proposal” notice already outdated & vandalized. Grr grr, indeed.

One happier, related thought: a very pretty plaque on the Rosedale side explains that author Morley Callaghan lived nearby 1951-1990 and neighbours frequently met and chatted with him as they all used the bridge. Let’s think of that, not the sad houses, shall we?

So I think of Morley Callaghan as I cross the bridge.

Glen Rd footbridge over the ravine

Such Is My Beloved, More Joy in Heaven, The Loved and the Lost, That Summer in Paris and a lot more. Callaghan is, and deserves to be, remembered for his contribution to literature — but of course the irresistible factoid concerns his boxing match with Ernest Hemingway.

They knew each other from their  days as reporters for the Toronto Star; when they crossed paths again in Paris, and Hemingway threw out that let’s-box challenge, Morley said yes. And knocked him to the ground.  A fact that, curiously enough, never made it into Hemingway’s own accounts of life in Paris, but did appear in Callaghan’s That Summer in Paris.

In case you’re interested.

By the time I’ve remembered all that, I’m over the bridge, taking a quick look at Rosedale-in-winter. The name is synonymous with old money, WASP money, the right people and the right schools & marriages & careers & clubs thereafter. The truth is more complex than that, but not very.

I don’t immediately take this next photo.

Dale Av home with sundial

I spot the sundial, of course I do, and decide I’m willing to like it not laugh at it — decode it as fun, not pretension. (Even though I wonder why they don’t add a precisely angled spotlight to supply the necessary illumination on dull days like today…)

But then, just a few doors farther down the block, I see this, and just about fall over laughing.

roman numberals, for upscale addresses

Far too swell to live at a mere number 16!

Or maybe I’m just indulging in reverse snobbery. There is always that possibility.

Anyway, I take that photo and the sundial-house too, they seem a matched set somehow, and then I head back over the bridge, and around, and south on Parliament Street.

Where, at the Carlton St. dog-leg, I again enjoy a very familiar, very long-standing, very iconic Cabbagetown mural. See how nuanced it is, how comprehensive? Right down to clouds drifting across that lovely blue sky.

S/E Carlton & Parliament

Then I remember there’s a new addition to the street’s murals, almost directly across Parliament from this veteran, an alley-side work by JAH. (My thanks to reader Michael, who saw my 6 January post about that artist & gave me the tip.)

JAH mural, w. side of Parliament, n of Carlton

Finally, I head for home.

Along the way I pass our local Home Hardware store and, by sheer habit, check what’s in the window display. A whole range of de-icing compounds … and a bright, happy snowboard.

See? Winter really is a package deal.

Follow-up: Clothing for Naked Statues Dept. 

Rick saw those shivering naked statues in the previous post, and sent this comment I want you all to see:

“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!

Do click on the BBC story. Then follow up on Antony Gormley and those statues, if (like me) you don’t already know them, because they’re stunning. Thank you, Rick.

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  1. bobgeor

     /  20 February 2014

    How I miss my semi-regular walks through Cabbagetown. Thanks for the Callaghan anecdotes too…shall have to check it out!

    • Thanks, and do check Callaghan, maybe hit the library for That Summer in Paris. (You can see why Hemingway & pals didn’t ever mention it. Apparently Hemingway blamed the whole debacle on Fitzgerald, who held the stopwatch & according to Hemingway, was slow in counting…)

  2. I know people complain about the snow…it is indeed a package deal but when we miss out snow one winter which is happening this year, I miss it terribly so, you brought sunshine to my heart by posting your winter photos if that makes any sense 🙂

    • Oh yes, I like each season to make its appearance and do all the things I expect of it. I’m glad I can provide a little winter-snow experience for you! Thanks for taking time to comment

  3. Hi Penny! shall I send you over some sprintime?… 🙂 as we don’t have winter in Toulouse, 18°C yesterday… btw, I like snow, too… 🙂 my very best and a pleasant weekend! cheers, Mélanie

  4. Another great tour. The signs of conspicuous consumption in the two photos you took were very funny and I didn’t think they we’re reverse snobbery. The city has changed in so many ways and the corners with character you find on your walks are fun to share.

    • I’m still ambivalent… Those indulgences hurt no-one, and look quite handsome… AND they gave me a laugh. All good! Thanks for the comment, I’m so glad you’re enjoying my walks

  5. Enjoyed walking with you once again! ~SueBee

    • Thank you — I love feeling that you (you specifically and some of the others who have commented) are out there with me.

  6. j’ust walking my dog…singing a song’…such a beautiful post…feels like i cam right there 😀


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    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

    "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" -- Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

    "A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities" -- Rebecca Solnit, "Wanderlust: A History of Walking"

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