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.

 

 

 

“I Spy, With My Little Eye…”

26 May 2016 – I spy, indeed. Thank you, Birdo, for the eye.

An eye-spy!

detail, Birdo mural, Queen St. E. & Seaton

It belongs to one of his Lego-gone-mad-ish mural creatures, this one on a wall near Queen E. & Seaton.

Birdo mural, Queen E. & Seaton streets

I respond to the eye, and the invitation to look and see, really see.

Really-seeing is, I hope, a major part of every walk — certainly a major objective, whether solo or, as today, headed for a Tuesday Walking Society outing.

We’re bound for Toronto Island but I play I-spy while still city-side, even before I rendezvous with Phyllis.

I spy God & Mammon. for example — the St.James Cathedral steeple, neatly lined up against the V-nicked Scotiabank tower.

King St. E., looking west to Church ST.& beyond

Then hello Phyllis, and on down Yonge to the lakefront, and west to Bay St., and into the ferry terminal, and  over to Hanlan’s Point, the western end of the curving main island in the complex, and a good place to start.

And to resume the game of I-Spy.

I spy a tree disguised as a candelabra!

tree, Hanlan's Point

I spy two very distant bare bottoms on the Clothing Optional beach …

Clothing Optional beach, Hanlan's Point

and a glimpse of stencilled paradise …

on the beach nr Gibraltar Point

a shelf of carefully arranged found objects, tucked into a secluded tree crotch …

beach nr Gibraltar Point

one end of aged fencing, being eaten by the dunes …

part of old fencing, nr Gibraltar Point

and a foraging Mallard duck, with the most exotic back pattern I’ve ever seen.

Mallard in the waters nr Centre Island

Soon we rejoin one of the main paths, work our way through Centre Island, picking up an abandoned doggie tug-of-war toy as we go. Same thought strikes us both: Let’s donate it to the Algonquin Island take-something-leave-something kiosk.

Sure enough, right off the end of that island’s arched pedestrian bridge, we plonk the fluorescent green toy on one of the kiosk shelves, so that I can triumphantly spy …

kiosk off end of Algonquin Island bridge

the toy, now among wildly varied other offerings.

On around Algonquin.

I spy two snakes!

ceramic ornaments on an Algonquin Is. gatepost

and a crow, and other Celebration Of A Life decorations …

prerparations for an event to remember a beloved island resident

and Canada Post’s miniest-mini-van, linked up with the world’s largest tree house base (that imposing wooden structure visible above the hedge).

Canada Post mini-van, on Algonquin Island

One final I-spy, well worth the wait.

A Very Fierce Dragon, propped neatly against a tree near the Ward’s Island ferry dock.

near Ward's Island ferry dock

What could possibly top that? Nothing.

So we ride back to the city, and make our way northward to home. (I walk all the way: 14.8 km, says my pedometer.)

 

  • 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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