Salute to Spring

18 May 2016 – The temperature begins to rise, and we get all excited. Body language changes, our use of public space changes. Even when the temp is still only mid-teens — because we’ve waited so long & we are so over-eager & anyway we are rough-tough Canadians (aren’t we?), so we act like it’s really, really warm.

Office workers, & for all I know tourists as well, bask in noon-day sun on tiered benches in Nathan Phillips Square, facing the Peace Garden.

noontime sun-bathing in Nathan Phillips Square

Even a bronze lion — paired with a lamb in Eldon Garnet‘s sculpture, “Equality Before the Law” — lifts his snout to the sun in drowsy contentment, right next door in the McMurtry Gardens of Justice.

detail, Eldon Garnet sculpture "Equality Before the Law"

A man down on Richmond West bends to his smartphone — sockless!

among office towers, Richmond St. West

A woman stares peacefully into space, enjoying every moment of her lunch hour.

office worker, Richmond St. West

Up in C0urthouse Square, just south of the old Adelaide Street courthouse, the tender new leaves of espaliered shrubs shimmer in the afternoon light.

shrubs, Courthouse Sq., 10 Court St.

The Square’s water fountains are turned on again for the season, gush happily into their troughs.

1 of 2 water fountains, Courthouse Square

A young man stretches (I swear) every muscle group in turn, then begins kicking his soccer ball all about the Square. Just for the sheer delight of it. Because he is young, & nimble, & full of springtime energy.

in Courthouse Square

Across the street, next to St. James Cathedral, a young woman eyes her smartphone …

N/W of St. James Cathedral, King West & Church St.

while east of the church, in St. James Park, another woman patiently eyes her dog, who is busy sniffing up every odour he can catch on the newly-green grass …

in St. James Park

and a couple only have eyes for each other.

in St. James Park

Ahhhh … spring!

Comment Catch-Up

  • Remember I showed you a blue-figure sculpture in my previous post? Now, thanks to Mary C (visit her blog As I Walk Toronto), I can tell you the artists: David Borins & Jennifer Marman.
  • Remember my post, Danger at the Cliff Edge, in which I lamented being unable to walk Gate’s Gully due to repair work, but more than compensated for that frustration with a walk first in Sylvan Park, then through Guildwood Park and down to the lakeshore? Popo posted a great comment, giving the link for a wintertime walk that virtually mirrored my own. Go see for yourself.




Bansky! (and other Very Good Things)

15 May 2016 – Well! You’d think Banksy would be quite enough Very Good Thing (VGT) for any one day, but this particular day has delivered a bumper crop.

Plus one Very Silly Thing, and we’ll get to that.

First VGT: the 11 a.m. Pilates class at Central Y, my home branch — it has a devoted following, & is fast becoming my own Sunday morning ritual as well.

Second VGT: finding the scrap of paper where I’d written down the directions to the one remaining example of Banksy street art here in Toronto. I wish I’d also written down the name of my blog follower who sent me the information, but I didn’t, so all I can do is say “Thank you” and know that he’ll know who he is.

Bansky, Church St. n. of The Esplanade

The location is now public online & the art protected with plexiglas, so I feel no concern about repeating the directions here: west side of Church Street, at the corner of an alley just north of The Esplanade. Also behind chain-link fence, just high enough to have short little me on tippy-toes to get any images.

Bansky art, longer view

Third VGT: carry on by bike over to the new, not-yet-quite-open Cherry Street YMCA — where despite being not quite open, they are open enough to offer tours and a free yoga class. I’m hoping to add a volunteer stint at this Y to my existing connection with Central Y, so I am a happy girl as I chain my bike and finally enter the building.

It’s a cheerful human zoo in there, all ages & types, people on tour, people lining up for the yoga class, people taking out memberships. I follow a tour, then bimble around on my own. (“Bimble = meander about. Thank you Smacked Pentax for this glorious verb.)

The exercise room looks out across Cherry St. at old once-waterfront industrial buildings, now spiffed & repurposed, but often still bearing faded names from the past.

from Cheery St. Y across looking west

Back out again, with a grateful eye at all that sunshine currently beaming down on the Y’s exuberant façade …

front, Cherry St. YMCA

since the weather has been more than iffy, all day long.

And that is the end of my planned VGT list, but no … more happens. I cycle along Front St. East, unrecognizable now among these new buildings, complete with bouncy public art.

Front St. E., nr Tannery Rd

I’ve seen this before, forgotten about it; squeak with delight to see it again. A fourth VGT! Having just come from the Y, I see them as a happy family, in exercise mode. Sorry, I can’t tell you the artist, but at least I can tell you how to find the art: Front St. East, between Rolling Mills Rd & Tannery Rd.

close-up, with the ground level

I hope you enjoy this closer look at the green ovals & wavy blue lines, since I was practically flat on the ground to get the necessary angle for my little camera. The posture earned me fluttering sideways glances by a trio of passing teens.

And now for the Very Silly Thing. The weather. By the time I straighten up from that last shot, the blue sky is again grey, and hail — hail — is pelting down.

detail, same artwork

Suddenly the happy trio are looking horrified! I share the mood.

Honestly. A high of 6C today, half-way through May, with ploppy rain/snow this morning and now hail. How silly can things be?

But I cycle on, spirits already lifting, since I have just added two more VGTs to my list. First, a latte somewhere in the Distillery District, and then — if I don’t loiter endlessly over coffee — on to St. James Cathedral for the 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon organ recital.

The hail stops, so all is well. Coffee is good.

But as I emerge from Caffe Turbo (Case Goods Lane), more hail! Absolutely pelting down, yet again.

Death Head No. 3, Case Goods Lane, Distillery District

Death Head No. 3 (right outside the Caffe Turbo door, artist name illegible) is not amused. Neither am I.

Once again, only momentarily.

The weather is too silly to keep this up for long. By the time I reach the cathedral, the sky is sunny again.

And the organ recital is terrific.



Rising, and Risen

27 March 2016 – This little fox (I think he is) has nothing to do with my theme. But then, when I set out on this walk, I have no theme in mind. He just amuses me, with his two tails, stencilled onto an alley wall just off Berkeley & Queen St. East.

stencilled fox, Berkeley/Queen E. alley

I’m still innocent of any theme as I head south on Berkeley Street, even though I’m planning to get myself to St. James Cathedral by 4 p.m. for an organ recital. And even though this is, after all, Easter Sunday, when Christians celebrate the day Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead.

No, it is this streetscape, just north of Adelaide, that sets my theme. I begin to muse about urban renewal, about the new buildings now rising up among, and almost always towering over, the old.

row housing Berkeley n. of Adelaide E.

This Victorian row housing has a whole new skyscape rising to the south.

I take another look from the corner of Berkeley and King St. East. Smack on the S/W corner, protected by Heritage designation, still sits the lovely brick building that, in 1891, housed the Reid Lumber Company.

view of S/W Berkeley & King E.

And there, just to the west & appropriating the whole skyline, rises the imposing new Globe and Mail Centre, a LEED Gold structure by Diamond Schmitt Architects, due to open this year.

East-downtown Toronto, once so scruffy, is changing fast!

In between those two shots, when just south of Adelaide, I lower my eyes long enough to admire yet again the Bell Box mural painted in 2013 by Natasha Kudashkina.

It is smack in front of the Alumnae Theatre, and suitably theatrical in motif. You’ll have to take my word for most of the front side, alas, since a car blocks almost all of it. Here is the one end panel on view …

Bell Box mural detail, 70 Berkeley St.

I squeeze behind the box, & find myself caught firmly against some shrubs and the theatre wall, No room to back up, so here is a necessarily partial view of the Comedia del Arte couple on this reverse side.

detail, reverse side

All happy with art & architecture, I now head west on King Street and, over by Sherbourne, find another example of — let’s call it — Architecture Rising. Here is one of a pair of pillars, guarding the arched doorway of an old building, now subject to restoration & expansion.

1 of matching doorway pillars, King E. nr Sherbourne

As is often now the case, the façade of the old building is being preserved, with its charming & human-scale presence on the street. But inside, it is being gutted for new purposes, and the new structure will rise far above the old building’s original height — though with a set-back that preserves street scale.

I lean toward the companion pillar, to capture a bit of what is happening behind the archway.

companion pillar, with view to construction behind

After that, a very happy stop for a latte & scone in the Rooster coffee house on King (sibling of the original, on Broadview Ave.), and then on to St. James Cathedral.

steeple, Cathedral Church of St. James

I plan to leave after the organ recital, but end up staying for the Sung Evensong that immediately follows. I am glad that I did.



    "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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