The Poetry Walk. Almost.

7 August 2016 – Here I am in High Park on a hot Saturday afternoon, eager to join the the Poetry Walk that will tour us around this 161-hectare urban park, hearing site-inspired poetry as we go.

Alas for the plan. I have misread the info sheet: the walk started at 1 pm, and here I am all bright & bouncy at 2 pm.

So I console myself with other discoveries. Of which there are many.

The picnic for the Former Thu Duc Reserves Officer Cadet Association of Ontario, for example …

the ietnamese & Canadian flags at the picnic

complete with flags & speeches & long food tables filling plates as fast as picnic-goers can present them.

Right across West Road, an equally busy baby shower. The signage in English, but the MC definitely latino, pleading again & again, “Por favor … por favor” as he struggles to bend the chattering crowd to his agenda.

Bright, busy splash pad over here …

the splash pad off West Road

and nearby an ice rink, stripped of its ice but the hockey nets still in place. The little boys do what any true-Canadian group of little boys would do: they grab some basketballs …

basketball hockey in a summertime ice rink

and play “hockeyball.” (The adjoining outdoor swimming pool has equally enthusiastic, but more orthodox, use.)

High Park is billed as a mixed recreational/natural park, and it does seem the most amazing combination of facilities — off-leash dog areas, garden allotments, a zoo, food stands, trails, public art, you-name-it — plus natural areas and other areas undergoing naturalization.

And Shakespeare.

roped off venue for the summertime Shakespeare presentations

A summer institution.

And formal ponds & hedges …

in High Park

and the signature great maple leaf in a broad expanse of lawn approaching Grenadier Pond. In winter, the outline is black and dramatic; in summer, it is a-blaze.

in High Park

Typical: the mum lining up her little boys for a photo. A-typical, but unfortunately true this year: the parched grasses of our very dry summer.

I see sketchers …

one of two sketchers by a hillside pond

and sleepers …

in High Park

and fishers in the designated area in Grenadier Pond.

fishing is permitted in a defined area

I walk a pond-side trail, its shoreline plants almost obscuring the helpful signs.

signage typical of High Park

On the left, the role of cattails & sweetflag in stabilizing shorelines; on the right, the habits of the pond’s diving ducks. Lots of High Park nature information, here in signage and online too.

I climb back up from Grenadier Pond, begin working my way back north playing tag with Colbourne Lodge Drive. One foray off-road takes me , most unexpectedly, to the High Park Labyrinth.

High Park Labyrinth

Who knew? Well, I suppose I should have known: I showed you the labyrinth next to the Church of the Holy Trinity (Into the Labyrinth, 7 July), and noted the website giving all the other locations as well.

Back up near Bloor Street, I stop to admire a few of the sculptures in that north-east corner of the park. I am particularly taken by this one …

a sculpture in High Park

perhaps because it reminds me of the strong, minimalist work of Inuk carver John Pangnark (1920-1980). Art historian George Swinton rightly called him “the Brancusi of the North.” Since High Park doesn’t credit its sculptors (or not anywhere I could find), all I can say about this piece of art is that it is by “the Pangnark of High Park.”

More art as I pile aboard a streetcar at the Dundas West subway station. Right outside my window.

alley next to Dundas West subway station

And look! Some art inside the streetcar, right before my eyes.

passenger in my streetcar

So there we are. I blew my chance to walk with a group, and hear poetry inspired by the Park’s black oak savannah, the wanderings of its buried creeks, and the assorted plants, birds, snakes & insects that call the Park home.

But it all worked just just fine.

 

 

 

Beach & Boots & a Q&A

14 January 2016 – We’ll start with the Q&A. Well, with the Q.

As follows:

Why did the traffic light turn red?

I’ll get to the A later. Promise!

Meanwhile, join me at the very eastern end of the Beaches neighbourhood, right where Queen Street begins/ends, a boundary marked with Art Deco flourish by the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant — still functioning in that role, but with historical designation for its architecture.

I’m not gawking at the water treatment plant. I’m down on the beach gawking at ice on rocks, glinting against the grey Lake Ontario waters under a chilly grey sky.

ice on Beaches rocks, Lake Ontario

Even the nasty abutments pushed into the lake to baffle wave action become sculptural, given a sheathing of ice.

Beaches, Lake Ontario

 

As always, quite a few people are larking about with happy, bounding dogs — the pooches busy fetching sticks, lugging fluorescent tennis balls to and fro in their mouths, & pushing indelicate snouts into delicate places on total strangers, in equally total certainty they will be praised & stroked, not scolded.

Lifeguard stations dot the lakefront year-round, all currently bearing their seasonal notice.

on Kew/Balmy Beach

After a while I take myself back up to Queen St. East, planning to walk on west toward home until … well, until I either reach home or hop a streetcar en route.

Not surprising that I almost immediately see another dog. This community loves it dogs.

outside a Queen E grocery store

I contemplate Doggie-Two-Boots a moment. Has the little devil shucked two boots, or — for some arcane reason — does he only have two? (About an hour’s-worth of walking time farther west, I see him again — all four paws neatly encased in boots.)

Somewhere near Coxwell, I catch a surprising sight down a short alley-cum-parking-lot. I start down the alley to investigate. “Yes?” calls a voice behind me. The man attached to the voice is wearing a restaurateur apron & has just rushed out of the adjoining building. “Can I help you?”

Which, we all know, means: explain yourself.

“Just want a photo,” I reply, smiling as endearingly as I know how & waving my camera in his direction. His smile matches mine as he waves me on down the alley.

This is what the fuss was all about.

off Queen nr Coxwell

Well, it’s very odd, isn’t it? I realize I’m thinking of it as a barn, a corrugated metal barn, but of course it isn’t that & I don’t know why it strikes me that way.

A bit later on, another just-off-Queen sighting, this time at Curzon.

N/W Queen E & Curzon

It could have been projected, that tree silhouette; a perfect art installation against the wall. (Come to that, it is projected. By the sun.)

Somewhere in there I peer hopefully up Craven Rd., home to “Tiny Town” and the city’s longest municipally maintained wooden fence. Also the city’s longest wooden-fence public art gallery.

Except… it isn’t, not any more. Finally all that wonderful art work has tattered itself to the point of (or so it seems) being removed. Just a long, very naked fence. I’m glad I have images, first shared on this blog in November 2013 and several times since then.

Between McGee and DeGrassi streets, some public art that is increasingly battered looking, but still in place: the animal vignettes running the length of the railway underpass.

Queen E railway underpass at McGee

This guy is one of my individual favourites in the series. Each side bears a whole wall’s-worth of images, currently enhanced with a few icicles in the framing arches.

RR underpass south wall

I angle toward home through Joel Weeks Park, north of Queen & just east of the Don River. I could have chosen many other routes — but I cannot resist the squirrels.

south end, Joel Weeks Park

I’m as amused as ever. Acorn worship!

detail, squirrels & acorn in Joel Weeks Park

The A to the Q

Did you get all impatient on me & scroll down? Or did you wait?

Before totally wowing you with the A, let me give credit where credit is due: I read this on the sidewalk “street talker” for The Sidekick, a Queen East coffee & comic books emporium.

Remember the question? It asks: “Why did the traffic light turn red?”

Answer.

You would too, if you had to change in the middle of the street.

Was it worth the wait? I hope so.

 

 

  • 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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