Today I’m hammering away at my computer in my office with its rectangular windows with their rectangular venetian blinds overlooking a landscape filled with other rectangular concrete office buildings under rainy skies and I get a text from Debbie: “Thinking of you. Taking pictures of lupines in Parry Sound.”
It’s a nice thought – that a bunch of bobbing, wild lupines make your friend think of you. And that she tells you so. And that at least she is standing in a place where they are.
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These days more strangers seem to be smiling at me on my walks to work. It’s probably because last week I was listening to the wonderfully charming audio book, “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society,” and this week I’m listening to David Sedaris read his stories. I’m grinning and snorting and chuckling (and sometimes crying) all the time on my walks to work these days, and finding many passers-by with open faces smiling back at me. Reminder to self: Smiling at strangers always pays off – and it doesn’t even have to be intentional.
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Summer hasn’t even shown herself yet, and still, people are already complaining about the weather. Maybe all of those people are the types that ACTUALLY LIKE seemingly endless winters with seemingly endless snow and ice and seemingly endless strings of -25° days with whipping winds that hurt your whole body when you go outside. Me? I prefer a season with lupines.
Every year I dislike this more:
This year it’s been relentless. I’m tired of your icy sidewalks. I’m tired of it hurting to just walk outside. I’m tired of your grey monotones. I’m tired of cold feet and numb fingers and whipping winds. I’m leaving you Toronto.
It’s deepest, darkest winter. Technically it’s not the darkest winter; that went by a month ago and I am starting to notice the longer days and I'm grateful for that. But it’s deepest, darkest winter in that there are months of it behind us and months ahead. This past week we’ve been in a big freeze. And while winter walks usually feel good with cheeks glowing healthy pink and the hearty inhalation of great gobs of oxygen, recent blustery days have made it really unpleasant to be out.
I’m actively not complaining about the cold. In other parts of this province and most of my country it’s much colder than it is here. My Australian friends are enduring the worst heat wave they’ve ever had. In a cold snap you can make yourself more comfortable; in a heat wave there are only so many clothes you can take off. Cold is invigorating; heat is energy sapping.
In winter I miss the light more than anything. These days the subtle progress of daylight’s lingering over the street feels like a blessing; I want to reach out and grab it but the million colours of twilight elude me as exit the work day, moving westward ahead as I walk toward home. I miss the explosion of colours in the other seasons; winter's twilight is a jewel on the mostly monotone landscape.
The light has gone when I get home. I turn on the stove light, all my life a symbol of comfort. A symbol of the best thing about deepest, darkest winter – how good it feels to get home.
Monday morning I take the hour long flight from Toronto to Sudbury, to spend the week holed up in a boardroom with a team, working on a proposal. These kinds of team-based efforts are usually good experiences for me; they're intense but more productive than they would be if we were operating out of multiple offices. It's great to see and talk with people with whom I interact often via email and telephone. And getting with a team is always useful networking opportunity for me; getting to know colleagues with whom I can consult on issues and tasks that come up every day. It's a big company, and frankly, once you get to know someone in a live setting, they tend to return your calls and emails.
It's rainy and blustery here, but nothing serious so far. The sky doesn't give any indication of the size of that cloud formation, which swirls over a large part of the Atlantic and a significant part of America.
I'm itching to get home tonight, but I stop and think about how small I am, how small my city is, in relation to that cloud.
Time. I need more time.
Monday night and a gentle walk in the Harbour and the Toronto Music Garden. The season is changing – the birds are gathering and readying for migration, vegetation is ripening, and a few leaves are already beginning to fall. If I didn't love this time of year so much, I might start mourning the summer in advance of its leaving us.
Today we sleep in, and I feel a little bad because my guests are back at my place and have to find breakfast for themselves. Who am I kidding? My guests are just fine, like I knew they'd be. There is lots of food they make breakfast and take off to deliver Jared's bike to his place. Ceri goes off to explore new wheel options for my bike and I walk back and meet up with the gals. Later, we all go for a walk in the Harbourfront, shop the pretty scarves and fabric arts, eat some roasted corn from the One Love Corn Soup guy, and have a Caesar and watch the tourists.
After Deb and Mary Jane get on the road to go home, my lovely main man and I go bike shopping. Turns out my old wheel is not so easily replaced, and it's more financially feasible to buy a new one on sale. I decide on this terrifically maneuverable new ride; it feels great to be rolling again. Ceri provides me with sufficient locking up hardware to ensure neither tires nor seat nor frame will be robbed without big effort and bigger tools under that big light I'm parking it under.
It's been a stellar weekend.
This morning I walk out to go to the office, I round the corner of my building, putting on my helmet and the thingy that stops my pant legs from getting caught in the chain. I turn to unlock my bike and I find it sitting there minus the rear wheel. Crippled.
I'm shocked and not shocked. Sad. Angry. It feels awful to be robbed. You feel violated and helpless. Explosed.
I stomp off to work on my other vehicle: my feet. I'm grouchy today.
I go to the art gallery after work with Ceri and that cheers me up. Walking home later I'm carrying some thin hope that maybe I was seeing things; it wasn't MY bike I'd seen this morning. I look at the spot and there it is. My bike. Crippled.
I'm not so patient when it comes to life's inconveniences. And I know, in the mind of the thief, it's got nothing to do with me; but in my mind it's all about me and I can't stop thinking about the lurking tire predator, laughing at me; challenging me to fix it.