Morning began with a weather report on the radio: "Cold records warnings have already been broken in southern Ontario, including at Toronto Pearson, as yet another day of extremely frigid temperatures looms."
Crazy to have left clumps of daffodils and bursts of forsythia on the west coast for blades of wind that slice down from the north to scrape my face as I wait to cross the intersection of Bathurst and St. Clair West. Ah Toronto with all its charms and eccentricities. Its cold! "Jesus Christ on a bicycle," said the woman in the ladies room of the pub we ducked into when streetcar movement stopped on account of an accident. No one knew how long we would have to wait. A whiskey will warm you up, my companion advised and he was right, but two whiskies, just past noon would have drenched ambition and there were places to go, things to see. Against the backdrop of a glass wall above the sunny frigid corner of Queen and University, two young opera singers waltzed around the foyer of the Canadian Opera Company building to the music of Franz Leher's "Merry Widow". Next, MOCCA, where fellow west coaster Douglas Coupland's humorous updates on Canadian identity included a back to back lounge chair entitled "Two Solitudes," referring to author Hugh McLennans's term for the French/English divide; and a couch, two-thirds of which was covered in plaid while a narrower portion of the same piece of furniture was upholstered with an aboriginal knit design, another kind of historical divide, between the anglophone settlers and the First Nations groups that they marginalized soon after arriving in this big country.
On a slow day at Global Cheese in Kensington Market, the man who rang up my choices lingered to tell stories of his native Azores. Good coffee at Moonbean, perfect crusts on the baguettes at the Blackbird Bakery. Back out to the streetcar island where a man with a crowbar was digging ice and dirt out of the track grooves.
Among the vendors at Wychwood Farmer's Market on Saturday was the mushroom man from whom we bought a basket of fresh shitake, and a lady who makes chocolate from the milk of her goats. Fresh root vegetables even in winter, and the cold makes you hungry, but a huge Loblaws store is nearest the subway station and there is never a shortage of entertainment there: a man behind me at the register, whose order included pizza fixings, as did mine, described the four different versions he intended to concoct for his wife and two sons. One of the two men working on a vending machine near where I bent down to smell the leftover valentine bouquets delivered a thought for the day:"If you never fall down, you never learn how to get up."
And on the street in front of Loblaws, the ever present busker whose song repeats as if on a loop. Summer, winter it's always "The Last Farewell". No relief from the weather in the forecast. If he stays out there much longer, it might really be farewell.