My weekend was restorative. I decompressed from the hellish work week previous and all that time not doing things at home. Like laundry. It was the perfect weekend for a recovery.
Saturday morning I awake to rain (never a sorry sound to wake up to as far as I’m concerned) and then thunderstorms and then drizzling rain and blustery, chilly dampness. I get out anyway and nose around downtown and buy some groceries and a few other items I’d been wanting. One could never accuse me of spoiling too much weekend doing things like housework.
Sunday morning shows pity on us weekenders, and opens the curtains wide, letting the heavens shed down a most welcome and most luminescent heat. I attend the Muhtadi International Drumming Festival up at Queen's Park. The afternoon is pretty much perfect; I move between sunny spots and shady spots and listen to drum sounds that at once electrify you and plant you on the earth. (Drumming arts at a time one needs some soul reviving: beautiful thing number forty.)
I've arranged to meet up with Kelsey so I walk slowly back through the University of Toronto Campus. It strikes me how I’d forgotten how much I love to be on a campus, and I wonder what life would be like had I chosen a path of academia. I don’t dwell on that thought too long, but I decide I need to visit this university more often. A campus bursting with green under sunlight: beautiful thing number forty-one.
As I’m heading back toward College St., groups of heavily garbed Muslim women pass me by going the other way. I can’t help but feel the contrast in us, me in my summer skirt and cleavage revealing tank top and sandals. Having just turned 50, I embrace my cleavage as a badge of honour, but the opposing theories regarding what one wears as a badge of honour is palpable as I move amongst the young women.
I smile at them as I would any stranger passing me by, though most of them, chatting amongst themselves or with thoughts elsewhere, ignore me. But then one woman makes a point of pausing to smile back with a small wave. I wave back, and the turn of her body in her long black gown and veil and charming smile makes me think suddenly of that nun who flashed the peace sign in the Woodstock movie.
Let's call the smiling women, one at the U of T on a sunny day in June 2011 and one on a muddy concert site in August 1969, beautiful things number forty-two and forty-thee.
I walk down to Spadina Ave. and hook up with Kelsey and we have dinner on a patio then take a meandering walk around the Harbourfront piers, chatting as the sun sinks in the sky and loosens its hold on the day. And I even finish the laundry.
I had a hell of a week last week. It's one of those periods that just comes with my job – it's nothing new but it's starting to get old. As I consider how much longer I want to have weeks like last week, I'm gearing up for another one.
If I'm questioning how much longer I want to entertain stress and long days in those five middle days in a week, I'm not questioning my ability to counter those kinds of days with what I need. I told a friend this morning: "that drizzly day is calling me." I went out there and walked. I smelled the layers of leaves fallen in a park. I admired the mist hanging about the lake and the city. I bought food, and I cooked meals for the looming week. I listened to CBC radio. My home smells of roasted squash and cinnamon and tomatoes and sage. I did laundry and cleaned my kitchen.
Mostly I breathed today. I thought my neighbourhood, which is burgeoning with busyness all summer long, seemed a little lonely in late October. In a good way. Maybe a place is like a person – and a break from everyone and everything does it good once in awhile.
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.