The Shamrock & the Yawn

19 March 2015 – That yawn sounds disrespectful but it’s not. Who would dare disrespect the Irish during a walk on March 17?

St. Patrick’s Day or not, the first symbol we encounter is not the shamrock, it’s a heart.

Lovebot statue, Eglinton Av. West

More Lovebot, this time in 3-D. The Tuesday Walking Society is heading west on Eglinton, the plan being to continue to Bathurst, then south to Bloor, then east again … and then who knows.

Lovebot is our first pause, ’round about Avenue Road, and I pretty well fill the sidewalk as I crouch to take the photo. An approaching Lady With Dog, instead of hissing at me for the inconvenience, stops to share her approval & some information.

“That,” she says, nodding at Lovebot, “is for her,” now nodding at the hair salon behind the little statue. This reminds me that the statues are always placed with local approval, to honour the kind acts of some local person. “She stayed in a homeless shelter when she first arrived in Canada as a refugee. Now she’s doing well, and supports the shelter.” LWD turns to go, throws back over her shoulder: “And she’s a great hair cutter!”

These are touching, wonderfully warm sentiments for a brisk west-wind day, so consistently windy that we don’t wait for Bathurst to turn south, we nip down Spadina instead for some temporary relief. West again on St. Clair, more wind smack in the face, but then a hit of colour as a reward.

painted traffic signal box, 375 St. Clair West

Nobody stops to tell me a story about this traffic signal box, I don’t even see the artist’s name, but I appreciate its energetic good cheer all the same. Phyllis & I very briefly consider taking the ravine trail behind the box, but decide her knee deserves another week or two on firm surfaces.

Even if they’re sloping! Because now we’re walking south on Bathurst, dropping down the escarpment from St. Clair that marks the ancient shoreline of glacial Lake Iroquois, which covered this whole area some 12,000 years ago.

Now there are retaining walls, with a different covering.

Bathurst slope between St Clair & Davenport

The images are fun, very pop-cartoony. Fingers making a shadow bunny, for example …

on Bathurst, south of St. Clair West

… which becomes a full-colour bunny, to the bemusement of the helmeted onlooker.

Down-down we walk, still on Bathurst, through the railway underpass just above Dupont. Where there is more art, all by Elicser, both sides of the road. I cross to the east, for a long view of the south-west approach.

underpass art, Bathurst n. of Dupont

I really like the long views, think the underpass itself adds urban punch to the scene. Motorists can enjoy it as a whole, as they drive through — but we pedestrians can cock our heads & take in details.

underpass detail, Bathurst n. of Dupont

Phyllis & I are still heading south on Bathurst. Still! Where, finally, somewhere south of Dupont, we see our first shamrock on this St. Patrick’s Day.

Rapido cafe, Bathurst s. of Dupont

I’m busy on this side of the chalked signboard, Phyllis is reading the other side & collapsing with laughter. Here’s why.

Rapido cafe!

Then — no pun intended — the penny drops. The signboard belongs to a café, of course it does.

Yawns are contagious, are they not? Pretty soon, we see a real yawn to echo the sign.

It has nothing to do with coffee. It’s all about stretching & rolling & blinking in a shaft of sunlight.

window of Weird Things, 988 Bathurst

I’d hoped to take Phyllis into Weird Things, my discovery of a month or so ago, but no, there’s his signboard neatly tucked away inside the closed shop. Right next to the subject of the sign taped to his front door: “Don’t let the cat out.” As you can see, at the moment, cat doesn’t want to go anywhere.

But we do. So on down to Bloor, and then east. It’s bustling as always, more than usual since this is March Break and there are kids everywhere. We do the glide-pivot thing that all urban walkers learn, and manage not to crash into anybody. (Not even into excited kids, who are definitely not practising Safe Walking.)

I’m struck by a new tower, going up at Yonge & Bloor. I haven’t approached it from the west before, or seen it with so much of the glass installed.

tower S/E Yonge & Bloor

Sunlight catches the glass, makes it glow like a river between the curving banks of balcony edges either side.

Then there’s a whole other architectural moment, almost immediately south on Yonge. First I notice the cheerful artwork half-way up on the left …

Yonge just south of Bloor

… an then I take in the old brick structure as a whole.

“A.D. 87” says the date ‘way at the top. How proud they must have been, adding that final touch; what a handsome addition this building must have made to a street pushing its way north, pulsing with the energy of a growing city.

And what a lot of changes the building has seen since then. The graffito being the least of them and, to my eye anyway, the friendliest of them all.

One more building to brighten the tail end of my walk — the rambling glass conservatories of Allan Gardens.

Not the usual view from the east, centred around the imposing 1910 Palm Court. This is from the north-west, showing the Children’s Conservatory (with the Palm Court dome in the background). It, too, is a heritage building, but it is a much more recent addition to the grounds.

Children’s Conservatory, Allan Gardens

I like that it’s for children. I like even more that it’s a “rescue building” — a vintage conservatory that the University of Toronto wanted to shed, and the parks system saved from demolition.

And I like all the nature & colour inside.

And I can’t wait for Nature to start splashing some colour around for us, outside as well.






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1 Comment

  1. Hi Penny – I hope you write up a book with walks around Toronto one day. You bring the city to life by foot.
    Thinking about your St Patrick’s Day discoveries, I thought you might enjoy this image of St Patrick having words with the snakes of Ireland


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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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