Guidelines

2 January 2017 – We all need guidelines.

But only a few.

Here are mine …

1. Know your priorities.

Odin café, King St. East

2. Get out & about. By foot, bike or skateboard.

Underpass Park

3. Remember the wise words of Antonio Machado: “Traveller, there is no path …

Corktown Common

Paths are made by walking.”

West Donlands Park, trail by the Don River

and,

4. While walking, keep a wary eye out …

Queen St. E. & Saulter St.

for very, very large flying insects with stingers & attitude.

Wildflowers, Wild Canoes … & a Touch of Z’otz

3 July 2016 – We’re on for wildflowers. That’s why Phyllis & I are trotting down Pottery Rd., heading for the Lower Don Recreational Trail that will take us north along the Don River, surrounded by nature. We don’t expect wild canoes, though — let alone Z’otz.

The unexpected comes later, upstream; we start with the expected, in Todmorden Mills Wildflower Preserve and Wetland. It lives up to its name.

Look! Wetland.

pond in Todmorden Mills Wildflower Preserve and Wetland

And look! Wild roses. I bury my nose (checking first for bees). Nothing smells as sweet.

detail, wild roses in Todmorden Mills

The smell and the sight flood me with memories of Calgary back alleys, bursting with wild roses all summer long. (Alberta is called Wild Rose Country for a reason.)

Out of Todmorden Mills, and sharp right to start north on the trail along the Don River. We had a fairly short, but intense rainstorm a day or so ago — the extra water is now boiling its way downstream to Lake Ontario. Rapids are higher than usual around the rocks, and noisier.

Don R. trail nr Pottery Rd junction

Salmon leap — some of them right there in the river, or so I am told, but they’re not the ones we see. We admire the ones leaping in and out of the waves painted onto this section of the trail, accompanied here & there by inspirational text.

trail mural nr Pottery Rd junction

“Life” is good. I’m willing to be inspired by that.

More wildflowers as we go, some of which we can even identify! Not this one, though, but we love it every time we see it, so we wish somebody would enlighten us.

It is not exactly a wildflower, but it certainly is wild.

mystery wild plant by Don River

We chatter once again about how beautiful it is, how sculptural. Somebody else obviously admires its artistic properties as well — here it is adorning a prosaic old Natural Gas Pipeline pole.

Lower Don Recreational Trail

And, while we are on the subject of art …

Leaside Bridge trestles, art by Z'otz

That’s the Leaside Bridge (aka Millwood Rd.), spanning the river and an adjacent train track while it’s at it. But we’re not here to admire the bridge, are we? We want to check out the mural.

detail, Z'otz mural

Who is this artist? A little research later, and I can answer the question — but first reformulate it. Who are these artists?

Right. They are the Toronto-based Z’otz Collective, formed in 2004, still very active — proof right here with their 2015 “Panamania” project, i.e. commissioned artwork to brighten the Pan Am Bike Path. Click here, and get a CBC video of the creation of this mural as well as background on the collective itself.

We are now into the Wild Art stretch of our walk! Next up, the promised Wild Canoes. “Wild” simply because, well, they are not where you expect canoes to be. Namely, in or beside the water.

I suppose you could argue they are indeed beside the water. Just not in the usual direction.

art installation, Don R. underpass south of E.T. Seaton Park

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could tell you what underpass this is? Somewhere south of E.T. Seaton Park, is the best I can do. Sorry. For that matter, wouldn’t it be nice if I could credit the artist(s)? No plaque visible, so — again — sorry.

Finally we are in E.T. Seaton Park, practically up to the Ontario Science Centre grounds. We have gawked at some archery practice (in a well-fenced, off-to-one-side enclave), and dodged the wilder throws of some disc golf enthusiasts. “Sorry!” they shout. We are gracious: neither of us has been decapitated, so no need to fuss.

We’re about to climb steps up out of the ravine, on up to Don Mills Rd.; nothing more to see down here, we agree.

Hah. There is always one last bit of magic.

slack-wire practice, in E.T. Seaton Park

Slack-wire artists!

We watch for a bit, and then, suitably slack-jawed with admiration, we climb those steps & catch a bus.

 

 

 

 

 

Bike & Hike

7 February 2016 – The bike comes early in my hike, neatly hooked high against the staircase in an alley near Sherbourne & Bloor St. East. Does it await spring? Or just the owner’s next outing, perhaps later today?

bike up staircase nr Bloor E & Sherbourne

Either way, a vivid punch of red against all that black.

I cross busy Bloor East & drop down a staircase to the pedestrian bridge over Rosedale Valley Rd. Why did I cross at street level? I could have cut behind the Sherbourne subway station on the south side & used the little tunnel instead.

But I didn’t, so all the tunnel offers me this time around is a view of its non-stop street art — some planned, some definitely unofficial.

I particularly like the Blue Jay atop the entrance.

murals in tunnel under Bloor E at Sherbourne

Then I walk across the bridge, and take in a very different setting from its north, up-market Rosedale side. North & south sides of Rosedale Valley may belong to the same election ridings but, I promise you, they live in different demographic worlds entirely.

No graffiti this end, but something very human nonetheless. The plaque tells us that author Morley Callaghan lived nearby from 1951 until his death in 1990, and was a frequent user of the bridge — at first with wife and dog, then with dog Nikki as his faithful companion to the end.

Rosedale Valley pedestrian bridge from n. side

I square my shoulders, brace myself to find my way through Deepest, Darkest Rosedale. My target is Milkman’s Lane, which will lead me down into the ravine and to Evergreen Brick Works. Feeling slightly sheepish, I sneak a look at my map.

Yes! Up here, dog-leg to there, follow that curve, and sharp right into Milkman’s Lane.

It’s a steep drop down the gravel lane into the ravine. I cantilever my weight slightly backwards, and admire the father who is coaching his little boy in the mysteries of riding his bike down the lane without losing control. The child (securely helmeted) is triumphant: he’s controlling speed beautifully and deliberately wobbles his voice in sympathy with the gravel beneath his wheels as he calls out to his father — “I’m doing it!”

Into the Evergreen Brick Works complex, once literally a brick works, now repurposed for community & the environment. I thread my way past the open-air skating rink in Koerner Gardens, with a pause to admire the jaunty sunflower-cum-windmill on the edge of the adjacent Kilns.

EBW art, this on edge of The Kilns

Into The Kilns — once really kilns, now left with enough old machinery for atmosphere, but sufficiently cleared to provide room for exhibits and assorted festivals. It’s Winter Village at the moment, with fire pits and food and other stalls, the structure open to its Koerner Gardens side.

fire pits, stalls, people in The Kilns enjoying Winter Village

Skaters come & go, especially helmeted small children, shepherded by parents.

Fun for big kids too, such as this great big bunch of wooden rectangles.

I arrive too late for the stacking thereof, but just in time to see Boyfriend photograph triumphant Girlfriend with the resulting tower. She heads off to find  them some coffee; he pushes his bike helmet to one side & steps in to fiddle with the tower.

big-boy playtime in Winter Village

Then he gives the tower a mighty BOOT!!! All those rectangles come clattering to the ground. Girlfriend, by now back with coffee, gives a yip & dances around on one leg. Seems her other ankle got in the way of flying pieces of wood.

I grab a savoury scone (“Warm it for you?” “Yes, please!”) and make my way to the pedestrian path along the  edge of Bayview Ave. My goal is the Lower Don Trail along the Don River, which I can join at the Pottery Rd. access point.

And I do. I am immediately rewarded, as I head north on the Trail, by salmon leaping in the waves. Great dancing salmon, leaping in curling waves and bubbling froth.

All this on the Trail itself, you understand.

trail art just n. of Pottery Rd access

Every now & then, there’s a word to trigger your own exuberance in life. Squint at the above photo, you’ll see “Cycle.”

The art does just fine on its own, mind you …

detail, Trail art

but I start word-hunting as well. “Power” for example …

detail, Trail art

and “Joy” …

detail, Trail art

and “Life.”

detail, Trail art

I wonder a moment about”Power.” It seems a bit aggressive, don’t you think, for this sort of list? Then I decide it means positive power, the power of energy and commitment and contribution, and I’m happy again.

Finally I turn south again, south across Pottery Rd., on south & south, with eventually a glance back at the Bloor St. Viaduct, its freshly painted arches gleaming in the late-afternoon sun.

Bloor St. Viaduct

And still south & south, to the not-gleaming — in fact, very scruffy — staircase from this Trail up to the pedestrian bridge across the Don Valley Parkway that links the East & West sections of  Riverdale Park.

stairs from Lower Don Trail to Riverdale Park pedestrian bridge

Ooof. It’s a lot of steps. And ooof some more steps, up the ravine edge of Riverdale Park West.

I check my pedometer when I reach home, prepared to be Very Annoyed. On Tuesday, Phyllis & I walked for 3 hours, only to have my eccentric pedometer tell us we had covered 0.39 km.

Today, I am offered a reading of 11.67 km.

 

  • WALKING… & SEEING

    "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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