Check Mates

5 September 2017 – We’re on our way to the funky shops of Main St., my houseguests & I, walking shady residential streets as we go. Chat-chat, walk-walk, and then I’m stopped flat by the sign pinned to a tree at one corner of a little triangular parkette at West 18th & Ontario.

“We love our cheeseboard,” I read aloud, puzzled.

My friends shoot me worried glances, equally puzzled.

“Chessboard,” one of them says, with remarkable patience. “Chessboard.”

And indeed it is, just look.

Black and ochre squares underfoot, somewhat faded but sufficiently clear for the purpose, and a whole pile of suitably outsized chess pieces. Plus a community bulletin board and a take-one-leave-one shelf for book swaps.

My friends read notices, glad to cool off for a moment in the dappled shade. I move in on the chess pieces.

Lovingly hand made, everything accounted for.

A pawn, right on top …

and then a knight …

I don’t dig to the bottom of the pile for all the others, but I do walk to the parkette’s south apex, where they’ve erected a child-height king & queen.

With empty ovals for child faces and photo opps.

It is all entirely charming.

I look back over my shoulder as we walk on, and catch the sign facing east.

I have no trouble reading this one!


    "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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