March the Trickster

12 March 2014 — The Tuesday Walking Society scampered into action this week, you bet, grateful that Tuesday’s weather was on Tuesday and Wednesday’s weather was still 24 hours away.

Tuesday? Promised high of 7 C — that’s plus 7, my friends — and in fact it hit 10. Wednesday? A promise of -4, with 10-12 cm of snow. Oh, joy. March is such fun.

Streetcar east on Queen right to the end of the line in the Beaches, we decided, then walk the lakefront Boardwalk its full length before rejoining Queen St. and walking back in to the centre of town.

Felt warm & spring-like by the water, but still these great ice sculptures, built by winter spray on the wave baffles that project into the lake.

Lake Ontario nr RC Harris Water Treatment Plant

You see the rock mounds all along the shoreline, designed to break up waves and prevent erosion. By summer, people scramble over them, or stop to  read or just snooze. By winter… ice sculptures.

looking west along lakefront, Beaches

Some are piled very deep indeed — quite like icing on a cake, applied by a generous, enthusiastic but ill-coordinated chef.

ice pile-up on a wave baffle structure

We’ve come down to the water right at the glorious Art Deco R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant (Queen East & Nursewood Rd.). The first stretch heading west is beyond the Boardwalk, we’re right on beach sand & gravel as you can see above.

Soon, though, we’re on the much-loved Boardwalk. A real walkway, with real boards.

Beaches Boardwalk, looking east

Lake just out of shot to the right (beyond that red snow fence), then Boardwalk, then long ribbon of parkland, then homes. See the bench? It’s one of many, dotted all along the way.

Most, like most of the trees, are endowed — bear plaques to honour friends & family members.  You often see decorations on them, sometimes for events in those particular lives, sometimes for seasons and broader celebrations.

a Boardwalk bench, still with its Christmas bows

Phyllis & I agree it’s probably time to remove these Christmas bows, but our voices, like our thoughts, are gentle. We’re happy that the bows were there, and those people loved and remembered.

The Beaches, and thus the Boardwalk, is famous for its dogs. There is a complicated dog etiquette, too, all about on-leash and off-leash areas, and times of year, and the rules above and below snow fence lines in the winter season. Owners understand, and — on the evidence of all my walks in the area — obey.

They obey that other great rule of urban dog ownership as well. It is expressed so very nicely in this sign,  don’t you think?

urban dog etiquette

Some of the off-leash areas are quite large, sturdily fenced and treed as well. Good fun for both dogs and owners — who socialize as much as their woofs.

fenced off-leash area on the Boardwalk

The other great component of Boardwalk life: inquisitive toddlers.

Imagine the bliss for a two-year-old! All the textures and sounds and sights, so much to explore…

Boardwalk, looking west

The Boardwalk ends at Ashbridge’s Bay Park, where we head north back up to Queen Street and continue west — now on payment, not on wooden slats.

Nature is terrific, but urban life also has its rewards.

Café-bakeries, for example. Boulangerie Bonne Journée in particular, at Queen East & Craven Rd.

Bonne Journee, 1576 Queen East

Oh, yum. Phyllis chooses a brioche, closing her eyes in delight at the first bite. (She and her husband are recently back from a Paris holiday, I think she’s suffering culinary withdrawal.)  My choice is shortbread, twirled wreath-fashion and dusted with icing sugar. And fragrant coffee, of course.

You may drool. It’s all right.

On we go, enjoying the great mix of streetscapes, battered & up-market, necessities of life & delightful total non-necessities, clever signs & ones that just call a spade a spade, know what I mean?

You want clever? How about…

clever Queen E. signage

Oh, that’s good. And, right next to it, a plain black & white wooden TATTOO sign, veteran of many tough seasons and showing evidence of them all.

We spend a moment respecting this building kitty-corner from us, on the south side of Queen somewhere in Riverside. It’s not a special building, we don’t notice a heritage plaque, and that’s what catches our attention. Look at the detailing that once was the norm…

decorative Victorian brickwork, Queen St. E

We pass a few places where we’ve stopped for a drink or lunch on previous walks. Pulp Kitchen, for example (a great name for a juice bar), and the Merchants of Green Coffee, north of Queen on Matilda St., smack on the east bank of the Don River.

It’s at the junction of Matilda & Carroll, in the spanking new parkette, that we see an early sign of spring.

Or, at least, the human instinct to carpe the old diem in March whenever possible. The location is peaceful, and the weather — for the moment — is warm (comparatively), sunny & out of the wind.

This woman knows just what to do.

bliss in a parkette, Carroll & Matilda

Not half a block north on Carroll, just below Dundas St., we see this.

there'll be one more blizzard...

The City also knows what to do. Today is giddily wonderful, but tomorrow is on its way.

Too right.

By mid-Wednesday, my front steps railing looks like this.

March blzzar

Oh, March. You trickster, you.

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  1. Beautiful! The cactus are blooming here!!

    • In bloom already… Our native cactus here, Eastern Prickly Pear (Opuntia humifusa, I think it is), is still buried in snow heaps and deflated flat on the ground. One of spring’s delights is to see the cactus slowly ‘pump’ itself erect again. Soon… soon.

  2. Looks heavy going underfoot – love photos that go beyond pictorial. Can’t believe it yesterday 22 C Southern England – lunch outside and no coat!

    • 22C, oh I can hardly imagine it. That to me is the perfect temperature… (In fact, the going underfoot was almost always dry and clear — these spectacular ice piles were remaining on the buffers.)

  3. Smart you for taking such a great walk before our false spring was snowed away!


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

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    "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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