Walk. Look. Taste. (Repeat)

10 August 2014 — There’s always a reason to point a walk in a particular direction, even if other distractions pile on as you go & sometimes take over.

Saturday’s plan is to explore Taste of the Danforth — a yearly weekend fiesta that has a western chunk of the artery closed to traffic and filled instead with food & other kiosks, many bands,  and lots & lots of people to sample everything going. Plus wander the shops, almost all of which are running special sales.

As it turns out, I do more walking & looking than tasting. Unless we want to call it, tasting with my eyes. (And why not?)

detail, JAH's "We see right thru you"

An eye to launch me, therefore — a detail from JAH’s huge mural on the alley-side wall of Face Furniture Optical on Parliament Street.

A great day, too, warm verging on hot, but not oppressive. Nature is in full stride everywhere I look, park or garden.

Goat's Beard (I think!) in Cabbagetown

I pay attention, I love it, I notice it, because soon the cycle will turn, we will shift gears from fat summer opulence into the fall transition to winter’s minimalism.

But not yet. I walk through Cabbagetown into Riverdale Park West, looking down the ravine slope and across expressways and the Don River to Riverdale Park East — and the towering Bridgepoint Health facility — on the far side. See? Toboggans fill these slopes in winter, but for now, flower boxes & baseball rule.

looking east from Riverdale Park West

Over the connecting pedestrian bridge, up the ravine slope on the east side, more memories of snow and toboggans — today’s reality of books & sun-block (and the promise of soccer, below).

slope of Riverdale Park East

This brings me to Broadview Avenue, the western edge of Taste of the Danforth. I draw breath … and plunge in. One kiosk after another with pennants to mark their place,  tourism information & yogurt & a public-sector union & a particular branch of Christianity & more kinds of food than I thought even Danforth — a famed restaurant location — could dream up. Vegan? Halal? Organic? Beer-wine? Greasy-fatty-salty? Take your pick, and line up.

Taste of the Danforth, nr Broadview Av.

I don’t line up, I hate lining up (even though my nose twitches with temptation), instead I think about all those pennants, and idly wonder what that grey tower-looking-thing is, farther down the line, just this side of a (I think) church tower.

It is a grey tower.

climbing tower, Taste of the Danforth

I’d like to say this climbing wall is being run by some sports-minded non-profit organization like Mountain Equipment Co-op, or Outward Bound Canada … but it’s not. It’s a promo for some upcoming action movie.

Ah well, the moppets are getting some exercise. All good.

And my nose still twitches with temptation but I am still line-up averse, so instead I duck into Carrot Common. One more line-up to avoid, this  time for shiatsu massage …

shiatsu massage in Carrot Common, Danforth Av

… and I head into the defining store of the complex, The Big Carrot Natural Food Market. I buy a can of chilled coconut water, and suck it down as I rejoin the street party.

Kids & clowns & music & dogs & skateboards & food/drink line-ups & sales in the street-side shops. (Though when the 60% off price for a T-shirt is still $59, I back out the door again, right quick.)  By now I’ve had about enough of crowds and the shuffle-step needed to navigate them. I stop looking around quite as avidly, start thinking about escape.

Then I see a combination of possibilities to stop me flat. Roman Catholic church? Sure. Henna tattoos? Sure. Henna tattoo tent on the steps of Holy Name Roman Catholic Church? Oh come on, you’re joking.

kiosk on church steps, Taste of the Danforth

No, you’re not joking. Goodness, I think to myself. Glad I didn’t bail before I got to see that!

But now my mind is made up. At the next intersection, just past the mini-amusement park, I’ll escape to the south.

Danforth nr Jones Av, Taste of the Danforth

Inching toward freedom, but still enough in the spirit of things to enjoy the fact that modest amusement rides — by today’s mega-standards — can still delight an urban audience. Bouncy castle, small ferris wheel, and adults as happy as the kids.

Then I discover that this is the end of the closed-street stretch anyway! Giggling, I head south, starting my S/W zig-zag back toward home. It takes me first through some quiet residential Riverdale streets.

I see a notice pinned to a utility pole up ahead. I don’t need to be close enough to read it to know what it will say, because I know the look. Some variation of “Missing cat” is what it will say. These signs always make me so sad, you think about the frantic owners, the frantic (if not dead) cat …

But no, look!

happy ending in Riverdale

Isn’t that the best? I’m delighted to know the end of the story, and I admire the owners, who took time to say thank you to those who helped, and reassure the rest of us. As I walk on, I see more notices about Max — they’d papered the neighbourhood — each with its thank-you stapled on top.

Another sign, this one very summer-in-the city.

Dusk Dances poster, Riverdale

I’d never heard of a week of Dusk Dances in near-by Withrow Park, and I think it’s terrific. As I walk through the Park, I try to guess where the dancing will take place, but the park is too large and varied, so I give up on the challenge and instead just enjoy everything that’s happening right now — kiddy play area, landscaped garden areas, facilities building, trails, space for the weekly farmers’ market and all.

Still dropping south and hoofing on west, soon back to Broadview Avenue bordering Riverdale Park and the Don River. Down the eastern slope, onto the pedestrian bridge, and yes, the baseball diamonds are still busy. (Though with different teams, or so I conclude from the different colours of jerseys.)

baseball in Riverdale Park West, from pedestrian bridge

This time I don’t take the stairs on the western slope, I instead walk the trail up through the woods into Riverdale Farm. It takes me past the ponds, and a notice about the restoration project underway.

pond in Riverdale Farm

Now I’m cutting back though Cabbagetown and closely eyeing the gardens, always something to learn. And look, twined among the shrubbery, between sidewalk iron railing and the home behind …

prayer flags in Cabbagetown

Prayer flags. I’ve never seen them in Cabbagetown before.  I’m mildly surprised. They seem more likely in Parkdale, say, or Riverdale — but not out of place, even so.

One final vignette, this one not surprising at all. It’s very typically Cabbagetown.

a Cabbagetown moment

Iron rail fence, bicycle, attractive wooden box to camouflage the plastic wheelie bins, with a tiny, perfect green roof on top.


And now for a bit of

Shameless Self-Promotion

The catalyst is a comment on my previous post from the author of woman’s eye view (I’m a follower, check it out). Do I publish my walks? she asks.

Yes, as a matter of fact! Not as a straight compilation of my posts, but focused in themes. Two books, so far.

First came, Walking the Waterfront.

"Walking the Waterfront" by Penny Williams, Blurb

And then, Walking the Streets & Lanes.

"Walking the Streets & lanes," by Penny Williams, Blurb

Please click, and riffle the pages. See what you think.

Leave a comment


  1. great summer day/sand max is home…lovely post.

    • Oh I know, Max was such a happy moment. The superimposed notes took us into another world, a short story with a happy ending.

  2. Phoenix Tears Healed

     /  11 August 2014

    I clicked through and had a look at your books, great pictures 🙂

  3. You have such a wonderful way of carrying the reader along with you – enjoyed the places and your thoughts

  4. Phoenix Tears Healed

     /  11 August 2014

    yes, I think they are really lovely 🙂

  5. nigel pleasants

     /  11 August 2014

    Love the ability to preview your two books.

  6. Thanks for the links to your books – they’re excellent.

  1. Image, to Question, to Story | WALKING WOMAN

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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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