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.
The weekend was like the most spectacular gift the gods of late summer could muster: sunshiny, clear, breezy and free of commitment. It was the kind of weekend that enveloped me in its wide, generous arms and wouldn't let go. And I was happy to stay there and honour its whims. It was two days of hanging out in the harbour – people watching, reading, photographing, feeling the sun and relishing the freedom.
None of my attempts to photograph the light on the lake can capture how spectacular it looks – like billions and billions of floating diamonds shining so bright they hurt my eyes.
Me and a strawberry ice cream cone wander into a crowd of chuckling people to find a busker riding the smallest bicycle in the world. Just beyond, a lady dressed in officy looking gear hobbles in painful looking high heels and sips from a giant can of Sapporo beer.
In the middle of one meandery walk I sit on a bench under a tree, and the feeling of the breeze on my skin is like swaths of silk being trailed across it. A man sits next to me and we both try to capture photographs of greedy squawking seagulls going after bits of bread being thrown into the water by some girls. His camera is much more impressive than mine, and I soon give up on the birds and try out some shots of peoples’ feet and legs as they walk by.
I loll on the grass and flip pages of a magazine while I watch the action on the water. People crowding around the perimeters of tour boats and sailing ships. Others kayaking and canoeing toward the island. Sailboats leaning deep in the wind. Plane after plane setting down into the airport.
Sunday, Carly texts me from the baseball game and says she will come down and meet me after. We have a beer next to the bandshell and we’re glad we don’t have to listen to the bad girly hip hop music for too long. Kelsey texts and she’s coming down too so we plan a simple meal and buy a bottle of wine and go back to my place.
We eat baguette with olive oil and fresh grated parmesan and black pepper and we catch up on our news and plans. We admire the colour in our meal: red field tomatoes, yellow corn on the cob, orange and red peppers, green asparagus. We think the corn might be the best we’ve had this season. Later Carly takes off to go meet up with some friends and Kelsey and I finish the wine. I walk out with her to meet the streetcar, and then walk down by the water to try and hang on to that last few minutes of the weekend, feeling thankful for the spontaneous summer supper with my girls.
It’s the kind of weekend that sets you right again. I’m facing Monday with a deeper suntan and a rested mind. And it wasn’t until it the weekend was over that I realised just how much I needed those two days of glorious late summer and doing nothing in particular with them.
I should be going to bed but I can’t move away from the breeze coming in the balcony door. The season is changing, the air delicious; like that you might love in summer, but cooler, more substantive, lustier.
Tonight, on my walk, that breeze whips around like a playful child. Not so much a wind – it dances rather than rips. Energy and electricity are transported into my body; like droplets from the lake are being hurled up in grand funnels and rained down into my pores.
There are fewer people around the piers now. Another sign of the waning season. Vacations are finishing and families are heading home, focusing on things like school. And the people that remain seem different too – the conversations more lively, bodies seem a little more alert. There is less lolling in the walking – more vigour.
I walk by a group of about six sitting on a bench. Against the lights behind them, they are silhouetted – black figures, interacting in a conversation that wafts in and out of my earshot with the wind. The voices sound maybe Dutch or German. Each one is engaged with the group – I think of da Vinci’s The Last Supper, the shapes of these particular people leaning into or away from each other evokes lively discourse, like that painting.
The silhouetted people are sitting near a docked sailing ship. It must be because this particular ship is sitting north/south rather than east/west that she, unlike the other sailing ships moored along the piers, has ropes clanging a rhythmic, groovy beating against her masts. I think of drumming circles I’ve heard and that this is just as beautiful in its repetitive chant.
When I walk by the same spot on my way back and find the people still on the bench, still engaged in conversation, leaning into and away from one another, and the ropes still beating their clangy pace against the masts, I think that for sure it’s that sound which drew the group to that particular bench in the first place.
The wind whips my hair and my sweater. The air is electric. I’m glad I can’t see the colour of the clouds because I might not have enjoyed the walk as much if I’d known a storm was imminent.
But then, without the benefit of light in the sky you know your other senses. There's no storm – just a raucous, sexy night. A night that seems to be leaving me and my summer dreams down here on earth where we belong.