Last Walk, First Wish

31 December 2017 – My last walk for 2017, and it wasn’t even planned. At least, not the Granville Island bit and the discoveries that followed.

I’m just out there to celebrate the fact the early morning fog has yielded to a sparkling bright day. My path takes me toward Granville Street, remarking lingering hoar frost as I go …

and still marvelling at all the happy palm trees. With their holiday lights woven around their trunks.

One footstep leads to another, you know how that is, and here I am, under the Granville St. bridge.

I decide not to plunge into the shops and other temptations of the Granville Island Market. I turn right — eastward — to make my way to the Seawall along False Creek and then back home.

Indeed, I am away from the jolly shops. Look, a working crane.

Seven tons max, in case you care.

I love its strong lines, its beauty-through-utility, its sheer domination of the scene.

And I love the sturdy metalwork that supports it …

and the multi-coloured teardrop I discover at its base.

No, of course I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s another bit of beauty-through-utility, or maybe just beauty. Because it is beautiful, is it not?

More step-step-step, and I’m walking along the backside of Sea Village, a private houseboat enclave I have admired during ferry rides but have never seen up close.

Very swell houseboats, I must say, with clever mini-gardens …

and completely wonderful mailboxes! I want one of those mailboxes.

I’m still bush-whacking, wondering how/where/when I’ll find myself on the official Seawall path — but not worried. Too much to enjoy meanwhile.

Such as a wedding couple being posed for their photos at the crest of Ron Basford Park (eastern knob of Granville Island) …

and a very handsome but frustratingly anonymous sculpture down here at water level.

A pedestrian wire-mesh lock-up for lifejackets and boats near-by, made colourful by its contents.

Really, really colourful, when you get to the boats.

But they’re not colourful just for the sheer giddy fun of it. Those colours have purpose. As I discover.

One last glance back at the park, with Alder Bay to its right and False Creek beyond.

I think I’m about to join the Seawall … but no! A whole great chunk of it is closed for reconstruction. Big red detour signs arrow the alternate route. Bye-bye False Creek.

I follow the arrows eastward, then angle up through Charleson Park, admire more hoar frost (and, equally, the snake-fence construction) …

and head home.

A First Wish

Not quite 2018 where I am, but close enough to salute the year, and also all of you who, through your interest, add so much to my walks.

Here is my wish: may we all experience what poet John O’Donohue describes in the poem below. I first heard it when a dear friend brought one of his books to our Solstice Lunch on the 21st.

She opened the book …


and read us this poem.


Happy New Year. “Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning.”




Black & White, in Colour

15 December 2014 – I’m crossing the Don River on the Dundas St. bridge and my mind is ahead of my feet, hoping the kangaroo will still be there. (It’s not like you can count on kangaroos in Toronto, especially in winter.)

But I do stop a moment, stare south-east across the water. Suddenly a decades-old voice floats in my ear, & I laugh again at the way a friend once described her husband’s home town in hard-rock mining country. “It’s the kind of place,” she said, “where you take a colour photo, and it still turns out black & white.”

Dundas St. bridge over Don River

See why her quip comes to mind?

That’s OK, colour is not my top priority today, even though — as you all know by now — I’m on permanent alert for whatever colour I can find to brighten the grey season.

But, today, I want that kangaroo!

Back story: every Saturday, my partner & I reward ourselves with a mid-morning half-carafe (dark) at Merchants of Green Coffee, a former jam factory on the east bank of the Don, now turned coffee importer/roaster/wholesaler/retailer & events location. This week we were chattering as usual as we approached the door, and then stopped flat.

Which is what you do, for a kangaroo. Whether real, or made of ice.

“There was a party here last night,” said the young woman preparing our half-carafe (Sumatra this time).  “They must have carved him to welcome the guests. Don’t think he’ll last long, everything’s melting today.” She was right, and since I didn’t have a camera with me at the time, I decided to add a Kangaroo Hunt detour to my planned Saturday walk.

So here I am, and yes I’m in luck. And yes, he is melting fast. All the more reason to love him while we have him.

ice kangaroo, Merchants Green Coffee

The advantage of my Kangaroo Hunt is that my camera & I are now right across the street from Joel Weeks Park, so I can finally pay attention to the latest wildlife additions to the park. They, too, are sculptures, but unlike the ‘roo they’ll be with us for a while.

fox sculpture, Joel Weeks Park

Fox in the foreground; beaver across the park to the left, each on his own handsome rock. When I come closer to the fox, I can see there is imagery carved into the rock as well.

detail, fox sculpture Joel Weeks Park

Same with the beaver …

beaver, Joel Weeks Park

… who rests so sturdily on his hind paws and broad tail.

beaver, Joel Weeks Park

Later, online, I learn these pieces are the work of Aboriginal artists Mary Ann Barkhouse and Michael Belmore, and draw on traditional Ojibway design as they pay tribute to the ecosystem of the Don River — which is where this park, like MGC, is located. (I also learn there is a third sculpture, squirrels holding up a giant acorn, which I somehow totally missed! My apologies, & I promise you the Squirrel Update sometime soon.)

All of that is lovely, but still pretty relentlessly black-&-white-in-colour. Will there be any colour hits this walk at all?

Not on near-by residential streets, as I weave north toward Danforth Avenue. I am, for example, charmed by this tiny front-steps snowman, patted into shape on Friday and fast losing shape today …



… but it’s not a whole feast of colour, is it? Unless you count the snowshovel handle.

So I am reconciled to a black-&-white walk. And I have to acknowledge that, if I’m willing to meet it half-way, the muted tones have their own beauty.

But! Wait! ‘Way along the Danforth, after I’ve done some boring chores … yes, one burst of colour.

mailboxes on the Danforth near Pape

In the grey season, you take your colour where you find it.




    "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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