“Sun Slant Low …”

21 December 2014 – It awaits me, right there on the pavement, just a few blocks from here, several hours from now.

pavement, Trinity Bellwoods Park

But for the moment, I have no idea.

I am looking up not down, thinking that the last time I walked past this 1914 west-end school building, it was still under renovation.

Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw St.

Now, $17 million later, Artscape Youngplace  is a “cultural community hub” (website-talk, but accurate) that provides 75,000 sq. ft. of space for galleries, studios and events.

I’m here for an event, the Holiday Collective Show of tempting handmade items.  It is mounted by (you guessed it) The Collective, a grouping of artists & artisans who “paint and sketch and work in metal, wood and clay.”

In the end … I buy a jar of honey! Not just any old honey. Like everything else for sale, it is rigorously local in origin.

Brian Hamlin's Toronto Island honey

I even meet the beekeeper, Brian Hamlin. He is Peterborough-based, but has apiaries in various points around the province. I choose the Toronto Island honey, but I almost choose Port Lands instead & note jars with other locations on their labels. They are not interchangeable, Brian tells me; each has a distinctive flavour because of its distinctive habitat. I promise to visit the Port Lands apiary next May 23, when it will be on display to the public as part of the annual Open Doors Toronto program.

So I am well pleased when I leave the building, and plan now to start some serious walking.

Except, right across the street, I see one of the painted traffic signal boxes, so of course I have to check it out. It’s a cheerful mural of bright candy jars, the work of Rosalie Lam.

outside Lucky Penny Cafe, 189 Shaw St.

And then I see what a charming, new-but-old-fashioned corner store is right behind it. And then I see the name: The Lucky Penny Grocery Store & Café. Of course I go in!

Groceries are there, as promised, plus a range of art & handcrafts  —  with almost as strong a bias for local sourcing as the show across the street. (Mad Mexican nachos are “proudly made in Toronto” & a greeting card shows Santa explaining, “I only hand out locally sourced coal.”)

I catch the tail-end of the transaction between two young boys & a very pleasant woman behind the counter. They have purchased multiple items (I don’t see what), and have just asked for a bag. “Oh no,” she replies, straight-faced. “No bag. You have to juggle them all the way home.” She mimes a juggling  act. One little boy starts to protest, “But, but, I don’t know how to —” and then he gets it. “Oh,” he says, “you’re joking!” Big giggles all around.

I purchase some hummus, made right on-site & you can’t get any more local than that.

Finally I’m back out the door, and walking. No great plan. I’m on Shaw Street, just north of Queen West, so I head on north for a bit, and east for a bit … it’s like that.

Then I see I’m on the western edge of Trinity Bellwoods Park, close to its Dundas West northern boundary, and I know what lies near there, so I angle into the park.

garages s. of Dundas, from Trinity Bellwoods Park

See? That line of garages, in the distance, sandwiched between Dundas Street & the park? See how colourful they are?

I found this line of painted garages by accident, something more than a year ago. I’m curious to see what state the murals are in now.

garages between Dundas West & Trinity Bellwoods Park

Everything still fresh & bright, it seems. I look for one in particular.

horse, by Birdo

Yes. There it is. This horse is the first work I ever saw by Birdo, and after that, I began looking for him. I’ve been showing him to you ever since, haven’t I?

All this pleases me, but it is completely overshadowed by what I saw when I took that first, long-distance shot.

Scroll back up, look at it again. Check the foreground. The pavement. (I’ll wait.)

It contains a whole poem; a neatly lettered farewell to the sun, written some time this fall. “Sun slant low …”

detail of words on pavement, N/W corner Trinity Bellwoods Park

I remember standing there, writing down all the words, pausing while people walked across it, oblivious to what lay beneath their feet.

Here is what he — or she — said, this poet of changing seasons. (And what better day to share it with you than on December 21, when the sun finally begins to rise again?)

Sun slant low

chill seeps into black

water. No more days of bugs

and basking. Last breath, last sight

of light and down I go into the mud. Every

year here, I sink and settle, shuttered like a

shed. Inside, my eyes close, my heart slows

to its winter rhythm. Good-bye, good-

bye! Remember the warmth.

Remember the quickness

Remember me



I walk on quite stunned. A few blocks over, these abandoned wasp nests seem to fit the mood.

dangling over a residential street

The walk goes on after that for quite a while, but with a completely different character, so I’ll share it with you in a separate post.

Meanwhile, happy Solstice.









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  1. That was a goodie! I enjoy all your rambles, but this one was particularly enjoyable. Why do I pay such close attention to all the turns of your walks around a city I do not even know? Good, fun writing and some great photos!

    • What a generous compliment! Thank you so much, I’m glad you tag along, I like to think of having bright, curious people with it (though unseen) when I walk, it adds to the pleasure. You’re one of them.

  2. Nigel Pleasants

     /  21 December 2014

    Wonderful poem of the end of summer warmth. N.

  3. Great holiday hike with responsible buying thrown in! Looks like a green Christmas and happy solstice to you!

  4. What a wonderful post you’ve written! Love the poem, the street art, and the very local corner. You make me want to visit Toronto. 🙂

  5. DJ

     /  24 December 2014

    Dearest Walking Woman,
    Jack (a.k.a. the Pooker) and I are sitting in at the kitchen table on this sloppy wintery Dec 23 reading your blog and he is very impressed, but not surprised since he knows of your skills. Once we figure out how to log on to his email here, he’ll become a new follower! And the poem – so perfect for the solstice. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us here.

  1. “Happy Tuesday” | 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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