Category Archives: Walking

Only Child on dark days of winter

winter-13505549207QUThe sun is shining right now in Toronto, Canada. That is a rarity in winter. Usually the days are so dull, grey and dark that I need a flashlight to see the dirt to mop and dust in the house.

And even with lights on the subject, I find it hard to see using my laptop in winter…even with the sun shining. It just doesn’t shine like it does in spring to early fall.

My eyes are bad enough without this.

Used to be – even up to a few years ago, that something about winter interested me. As a child in the mid to late 1950s and early 1960s I slid down the hills in the school yard. I walked to and from school in knee-deep snow, threw snowballs. I didn’t have to shovel snow then. My dad did that.

In the early to mid-2000s I would cart along my camera and take winter streetscape shots. Once I went into the large Mount Pleasant Cemetery in mid-Toronto, stomping through crusted snow (some ice pellets had fallen a few days before on top of the snow) and snapped photos of tombstones in the snow.

Cemetery Knarled tree and cross

Not any more, even with a digital camera. It sits silent in the winter, except for family shots. I haven’t ice skated in decades and any winter sport does not interest me. Even going for walks in the winter is a chore. It is too cold and takes forever to bundle up. Then there is whatever is underfoot on the street to walk on or around. True, this winter in Toronto (so far) hasn’t been bad. And in December when we still had unseasonably warm weather I did enjoy going out and walking around. I know many other areas in Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, Europe and Japan are getting hit with worse winter weather. But it is all the winter season.

Now, just going out to mail a letter requires serious thoughts as to when. So does grocery shopping and shopping for health supplements. Despite my stocking up in the fall, there are some things you can’t stalk up on. And being a senior on a limited budget I do consider when what store has seniors’ discounts.

But to top it off, I miss my outdoor garden, now a white/brown desolate mess. That old Christmas carol titled In the Bleak Mid Winter (based on a poem by Christina Rossetti) says it all.

I’ve even resorted to planting lettuce and basil indoors, even potato eyes, although the latter will probably only produce a plant.

So, I look at gardening books and magazines, count the days until the big Canada Blooms show in March, and do some sorting of all the paper clutter (I’m the type who hides all that away in drawers). And write. The latter – always.

How are you spending winter?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

King St

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Mom and Dad, Only child, Snow, Walking, Weather, Winter blahs, Winter Weather

Only Child goes walkabout

Dowtown Toronto -  not green like Only Child's area

Downtown Toronto – not green like Only Child’s area

Last evening I went for a long walk, for almost an hour, in my neighbourhood. It is one of the two ways I exercise (gardening is my other one). With the weather recently turned spring, almost like summer, I have upped my time outside to get one on-one- with nature – the flowers, trees, and just no snow on the ground.

As I walked, I peeked at the gardens and outside the houses. There was certainly lots of greenery  – trees starting to get their leaves and the evergreens (well some) becoming  brighter green. Tulips, daffodils, hyacinths. But as I went further into areas I don’t usually cover, I couldn’t help notice two things. Not as many front lawns turned into gardens – do we really need all that grass to cut and water? And too many big mansions sprung up and in the works. Is bigger really better? At least, it is not like the condo take-over throughout the downtown Toronto core, where you have to look up up and more up to see sky and sun, the latter “glaring” off the metal and glass of the too-high condos. Their design is nothing to write home about (or anywhere else). They are so far from nature, from trees, from plants, from flowers.

This is more like it. Front of my house in spring

This is more like it. Front of my house in spring

But at least in my neighbourhood, despite a few big mansions (and I don’t call putting upper storeys on bungalows “mansions”) greenery and colour are there. And it is so peaceful (despite the odd lawn mower being used, but I do draw the line at leaf blowers).

My walk also eased some of the pains and kinks in my body and mind. Walking also helps me resolve something in my life – dealing with a client, something that has come up in the actual work, sorting out plot and character problems in my novel.

I’m not really sorting out my time problems overall. But for the time I walk, I can live in the now and enjoy what’s around me.

As long as it isn’t snow and heavy rain and winds.

I am thankful for this weather change.

Here is more information on the Top Ten Benefits of Walking daily

http://www.tescoliving.com/health-and-wellbeing/fitness/2013/october/top-10-health-benefits-of-walking-everyday

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gardening, Gratitude, Scenery, Sharon A. Crawford, Trees and Shrubs, Tulips, Walking

Going soon summer – Only Child dreads winter

Only Child’s front garden – soon to go dormant for winter

It’s raining outside and when that is over it will start to get cool in Toronto. A reminder that fall is very near (this Friday to be exact). I don’t mind early fall, except for frost which sends me running out into my garden in the evenings to cover tender plants. Just trying to lengthen their season because I know the tomato plants, the nasturtiums, etc. will soon die and the perennials such as Black-eyed Susan, phlox, artemesia and rue will soon die down for the winter.

I dread winter. I don’t get SAD but winter makes me want to hide inside; then I get somewhat claustrophobic and want to get out but hate the cold, snow (walking through and shovelling), the ice and cold weather. So I bundle up and go out to walk and meet up with friends and colleagues. And try not to fall down.

To tell the truth I want another “winter” like last winter. The weather was rarely cold and the snowfall so little my snow shovel might be stiff from lack of exercise. One and a half bags of sidewalk/road salt still remain inside and I hope they can stay in the same position this coming winter. Some people complained about the grey weather with little sun but I prefer that to cold, snow and ice.

Cold or cool/warm winter, one thing will be the same. My garden will go dormant and it will look grim and dungy in the front and back of my property. One year I took photos of all the bleakness of winter. Perhaps I will do so again this year. I will also bring my garden inside – well, what I can of it – some herbs, coleus, English ivy, citronella, even a couple of pepper plants (one survived indoors through last winter and went on to blossom and produce peppers outside this summer). I will take cuttings from some of my plants to create more and visit the nearby garden centres/florists for more indoor plants to create my own indoor garden oasis of coloured leaves and some flowers. Come late winter/early spring I’ll fill my windowsill with seedlings – the start of tomato plants, flowers and herbs for next summer’s garden.

As for walking – if it’s slippery and snowy, I may resort to mall walking or go to what is called The Path – a winding indoor walkway featuring shops and connecting to various places in downtown Toronto.

When “hiding” inside my house, I can continue rewriting my mystery novel.

One has to try to look on the bright side – even if the weather doesn’t.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gardening, Home and Garden, Horticultural Therapy, Indoor Gardening, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Walking, Winter blahs

Only Child says road construction sign of life’s discord

Only Child’s front garden – headed for some destruction?

Last weekend I did a lot of walking in downtown Toronto and was appalled at all the road construction. Supposedly it is to improve Toronto’s streets and sites. But as I slogged through the heat along Front Street West and down York Street I couldn’t help wonder if underneath it all there is a more serious sign. If you throw in the extreme weather conditions worldwide – more severe thunderstorms with flooding, tornadoes, forest fires, and the worst drought since the Depression in the mid-1930s, you have to wonder. No, folks, I’m not talking the end of the world, although some people believe that will happen later this year. I mean the extensive invasive construction and extreme weathers conditions  just might be signs of the clutter, overwhelm, and disharmony in people’s lives throughout the world.

It didn’t used to be so much construction at once, although I remember as a five-year old, poking my head out the front door and seeing the whole street dug up for pipe replacement.

Now, Union Station – Toronto’s railway hub – is going through a big renovation. From the diagrams displayed inside the station’s big hall, the future looks great. But the process is taking a long time and producing a spill-out of more construction nightmares. The actual entries to Union Station and maneuvering around inside appear tolerable. Front Street outside is something else as the islands of gardens in the middle of the street were removed last year and this summer more of Front Street is one big long hole while sewers, etc. get updated. In June, the construction and the extreme weather created a flood inside Union Station and the subway platform below.

This weekend, yet another street where streetcars run, entered the construction act – to upgrade the tracks and prepare the area for a partial pedestrian walkway for Toronto’s Harbourfront. These streetcars (as well as those on Spadina Avenue) use a dedicated track line. The buses don’t. So, we have people, cars and buses (when they come) jamming streets and sidewalks. I gave up on waiting for the bus transfer from the subway (up the stairs, around the corner and down the street) for the walk to Harbourfront. Along with many others, I trudged through heat over to York Street and then some shade under the Gardner Expressway (which has had chunks of cement falling down in various places) and finally to Harbourfront. I was trying to make it in time for the classical music concert in the Harbourfront Music Garden. So I walked in the heat and humidity over to the west end of Harbourfront. As I arrived (late) and started through the gardens I could hear the “music.”

Somebody was insulting an accordion, hitting random chords of discord. I decided to skip the concert and wandered through the gardens. Here, beauty appeared and I found areas of the garden I hadn’t known existed. Truly this is an oasis of calm (except for the occasional sound from the concert popping through). When I walked back to Harbourfront Centre proper as I passed by the main outdoor concert stage, my ears were hit with more discord in sound. Another sign of the discord everyone seems to be experiencing in their lives?

And if I think sitting out in my garden will help, I have to think again – at least for the front garden. In my walk along the downtown streets Sunday and in my walks in nearby neighbourhoods the past month, I’ve seen the big gas pipe movement – replacement of old pipes for presumably newer and better ones. And if they have to, they go on your property and dig, although for the lucky ones, it stays on the sidewalk, roads, and maybe the driveway.

Not for me. I have gas lines under part of my front garden (once a front lawn). Why would gas lines (except the one connecting to the house service at the gas metre) be under a lawn? Who was at fault – the house builder/developer or the gas company back in the day when the area was developed? Somebody screwed up. And I’m terrified they will be coming to get my front garden – if not this year, then next. I’m having nightmares and daymares.

I need to find out more and make a plan.

Does anyone else find the extremes in weather, and such occurrences as too much radical construction, etc. a sign that our lives are really out of whack and we (I use the royal “we” here) need to make some changes before it is too late?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Clutter, Extreme Weather, Garden Destruction, Home and Garden, Music, Only child, Road Construction, Sharon A. Crawford, Sign of the Times, Union Station Toronto, Walking