As I mentioned before, I’m trying to fully appreciate and even savour my trips outside and today is no exception.
After a wonderful morning spent first watching a great show produced by The Storytellers, a storytelling group from Pune, India, we saw an incredible improv show by Improv Comedy Bangalore along with a guest (also a friend of ours) from Ontario. I swear we haven’t laughed that hard in all of 2020. They didn’t just try to move an improv show into a virtual space, they utilized the technology masterfully playing with the unique abilities that Zoom afforded them including the ability to make up costumes on the fly and play with props they pick up from around them in the space as they get inspired After that, Sage headed over to an improv class. For her this is another opportunity. The teacher is in New York and students are from all over including from as far away as Ukraine. None of these are opportunities that we had before we all went indoors.
On the other hand, there are some things we could always do but just never took the opportunity to – or didn’t properly appreciate. For me this starts with the first thing I did when I went outside today. I finally went to help out in our neighbourhood’s community garden. Nestled between highrise buildings, on the way in to a park, this space has been cultivated for a few years now. People from the neighbourhood come by and give their time and connect with one another.
All of us were maintaining social distance and most of us were wearing masks. I only had an hour but it was hard work nonetheless. I spent the entire time turning the soil preparing it for planting. I was joined by a couple of boys around 10-11 years old. They weren’t always so great about socially distancing themselves (though they were wearing masks) so I did move around a little bit to give them space. As I dug, they would exclaim about the treasures they found. Big worms, marbles, and even a small plastic Canadian flag ring.
It may have only been around 14 degrees C but after just 20 minutes I was overheated and sweating. Growing food is hard work After an hour of digging, I had to get going because it was nearly time to pick up an order from the farmer’s market which was about a 20 minute bike ride away.
On the way out I saw that a tent had been set up next to the garden.
It looks like they are using it for a drop-off for food that a non-profit can come by to pick up. I like that they’ve made it easy for people to drop food off without too much effort. Now, especially, we need to be sure to take care of vulnerable people in our neighbourhoods and around the world.
Down in to E. T. Seton Park I went. Now you may be wondering who this E. T. Seton is. I know I was and so I did a bit of searching. It turns out he was, among other things one of the people who helped create the Boy Scouts of America and wrote a number of books including one of the first Boy Scout Handbooks as well as many fiction books centred around animals.
One of the things that stuck out at me in his story, though, is this little tidbit:
On his twenty-first birthday, Seton’s father presented him with an invoice for all the expenses connected with his childhood and youth, including the fee charged by the doctor who delivered him. He paid the bill, but never spoke to his father again.Wikipedia – Ernest Thompson Seton
Man! That is some seriously poor parenting. It makes me wonder a bit. What is it that makes some people’s response to poor parenting be to be bad humans and others look back on their experience and say “Now I know how not to be so I’m going to be as good a human as I can!”? I guess if we could figure out the answer to that we might then figure out how to get rid of most of society’s ills.
The Lower Don Trail is something I’m hugely grateful for in this city. It is a paved path that travels most of the length of the Don river in Toronto. In some ways it feels like a superhighway for bikes to get downtown or to the lake. And I guess it kind of is. It even runs parallel to the Don Valley Parkway – a major highway that also goes downtown.
Along the way as I always do I passed these sculptures. There are actually six of them. Some say they look like teeth, others elephants. For some reason today they make me think of polar bears. But I never thought to ask who did them or what they’re for.
Today I looked in to it. They’re actually an installation called Elevated Wetlands by Noel Harding. He was originally born in the UK but moved to Canada and taught at the University of Guelph. He is known for a number of outdoor installations that I’m now curious to go looking for. These are made of polystyrene and acrylic and are filled with soil and plants and actually filter water that is pumped from the nearby Don River using solar powered pumps. I think I need to go see his other ones now. There are some not too far away. Sadly, there will be no more new artwork from him as he passed in 2016.
After that I headed south on the trail and I have to admit I regretted it a little bit. Usually, even on nice summer days this path is not too busy but this is the busiest I’ve seen it.
Maintaining proper social distance was so difficult – and on a bicycle, you have to think about maintaining more distance if you’re following someone as you’re traveling much more quickly than you might walk so if droplets are suspended in the air, you risk breathing them in if you follow too close. It all makes me feel like this raccoon I spotted on the crossing at Pottery Road.
The farmer’s market also had a good number of people as it’s in a lovely public space. It felt like there were too many crowds there as well. Once I found the pick-up point for our food I went there, grabbed it and was on my way.
On a normal summer day I would have loved to have returned by the way I came, listening to and smelling the river as I rode, seeing the flowers blooming and leaves budding but today I needed my space. I headed back to the road and as soon as I could got myself away from crowded bicycle-friendly spaces in to busier streets. Sure, there’s more traffic, but I feel OK with the traffic. In fact, it’s been much better since the pandemic because while people may still be in a rush there is now much more space on the road so I feel less pressure from drivers.
The ride home was lovely and I resolved to avoid the paths during lovely weather like this – at least until we get a little closer to a reliable treatment or vaccine. It’s just too risky: hopefully others make the same conclusion. As you can see, we’re doing much better thanks to our lockdown but I don’t want to see us lose ground because we got careless once the weather got nice.
Stay safe everyone.