“If You Go Down to the Woods Today …”

22 January 2015 – I really do find myself humming the children’s song as I step into Warden Woods Park, a 35-Ha expanse of woodland wrapped around Taylor-Massey Creek. I don’t really expect a teddy-bears’ picnic, surely they’re all hibernating, but I do hope for some kind of “big surprise.”

Or a series of small ones.

First small, very agreeable, surprise: the way the bright morning sun explodes against every surface it touches, turning even winter-bleached grasses into shining torches.

grasses by Taylor-Massey Creek, in Warden Woods Park

Second small surprise, which I don’t discover until later but choose to find agreeable as well: the way that same sun explodes against a camera lens. It shimmers a rainbow across the ravine cliff behind those grasses …

trail & creek, Warden Woods Park

… and it shines a purple spotlight on the trail in front of me, whose ice glints in sympathy with the ice on the creek to the right and the dead-end tail spur to the left.

My plan is to follow the creek as it drops almost directly due south between ravine cliffs the length of this park, and then stay with it — for a while — after it bends sharply westward into Taylor Creek Park and runs slantwise across town to the Don River and, finally, Lake Ontario.

After the “for a while,” I’ll hit city streets and enjoy whatever diversions present themselves. Surely a latte will be among them?

No latte yet, I’m still in Warden Woods, playing a game of Spot The Hidden Water. The sound of gurgling water fills my ears, but the sight of it mostly eludes my eyes. The creek looks deceptively still, frozen into its layer of ice & snow. But it isn’t still, and, every now & then, the water breaks through.

water breaking through the creek's layer of ice, Warden Woods Park

This shot takes some scrambling! I pick my way down a rocky/snowy/icy/shrub-littered slope to water’s edge. (The stone riprapping is only on the far side.) Several times shrub branches snatch my hat from my head, I snatch it back. Then, triumphant, I clamber back up the slope to the trail.

It really is in woods.

red trail marker within Warden Woods Park

In some places, says the plaque at the park’s north end, the woods “approach old-growth conditions.” This language is careful to the point of incomprehensibility, but I take from it that we have pretty old trees here, as urban stands go in this part of the world, and I am happy to read about the work underway to restore and protect this wild environment.

A little pedestrian bridge crosses the creek at one point, marking another access point from the city above the steep slopes.

pedestrian bridge, Warden Woods Park

The sun burnishes the worn planking, transforms the chain to a delicate silhouette.

On I go, and … whoa, nothing delicate here!

wall with tags, Warden Woods Park

Where there’s a wall, there will be tags. I don’t find them particularly interesting, I wouldn’t even call them art, not really. But they’re bright, and they’re cheerful, especially in a sere winter landscape, so what the heck. An old gentleman is there with a serious camera and a tripod, taking careful close-ups. His other passion, he says, is doors.

After a while, I turn westward with the creek, into Taylor Creek Park (also Bike Route 22, if you’re curious). The route is broader, flatter …

trail, Taylor Creek Park

… but it too has its diversions. I follow one side-loop to this hidden wetlands.

wetlands, Taylor Creek Park

By now (in terms of the surrounding city) I’ve come south two-thirds of the way from St. Clair Av. East to Danforth Av., and west from Warden Av. to Main Street. Enough ravines & nature, time for some urban grit.

First there is a whole Very Boring Stretch along some residential side streets, aren’t you glad this isn’t a real-time video. Eventually I’m at Danforth & Main, and decide to continue west on an alley just south of Danforth, one I’ve walked before and remember as having some nifty alley-art.

First up, a big surprise! (And I’m not even in the woods any more.)

alley between Danforth & Keystone, west of Morton Rd.

I don’t remember this garage at all, and I love it. I walk back & forth, discover a further message wrapped around the angles of the west-end fencing.

lane between Danorth/Keystone, west of Morton Rd

So I do, I smile as I walk on. It is in the next block of this same alley that I see some old faves, including a whole fence decorated with bold but unlikely fish.

alley south of Danforth, east of Woodbine

I like this guy best, but you can see glimpses of some of his sea-mates off to the lower left.

Fish need water, right? Same block of the same alley, farther west; artist Monica on the Moon has provided some very classy waves indeed.

waves on garage, alley s. of Danforth nr Woodbine

There is more of her astounding work in this alley. I’m happy to see familiar pieces still unmarred, and a new one added to the group.

One last bit of garage art, but I can’t tell you exactly where it is because for some reason I made no note of the location. So please do what I did: just lean back & enjoy it.

alley in Danforth area, somewhere between Woodbine & Broadview

After that, out to Danforth, west and west again along Danforth, and eventually into a café (Mocha Mocha, a local destination), where I have not just a very fine latte but — the day’s biggest surprise — a slice of alfajor, a treat I remember from my long-ago year in Peru and something I rarely find in Toronto.

Speaking of treats …

Guerilla Upholstery

Huge thanks for the following link to WP colleague Sing Better English. Do explore the blog, the name is intriguing, the slogan even more so (“Words are powerful. Use them wisely. Sing them well”), and post titles are downright irresistible (e.g. Why Starlings Don’t Bother with Synchronized Swimming).

She noted the lakeside upholstered chair in my Leuty Station in the Snow post, and suggested I visit the website of a Welsh upholsterer who, as he explains, “likes to use the waste products from my upholstery to furnish public spaces, particularly bus stops.”

Click, and click again for a whole video of his guerilla upholstery campaign along the back roads of Wales.



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1 Comment

  1. Enjoyed the walk in the woods and the photo of the wetland before you return to ‘urban grit’ is wonderful. I followed your link to the guerrilla upholsterer – what fun and a public service as well.


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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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