Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

Hanging Out in Toronto

with 2 comments

We left Southampton between storms. As we got closer to Toronto, though, snow found us again. Eventually we found ourselves in a city struggling with the weight of winter. With two days to go before Christmas the town was congested. Not just with Christmas crowds but because of snow, piled high and hardened by the temperature, lining curbs, corners and sidewalks. Navigation, by the excess of both people and traffic, was difficult. Parked cars, occupying half the curb lane, jutted precariously out into the street. And nothing angers uptight Toronto drivers more than impediments to their speedy progress. Those driving their SUVs while chatting on their cells phones had no patience for the traffic tie-ups. Torontonians on Christmas shopping missions scurried up and down the slippery snow crusted sidewalks with scowls on their faces. All made the merrier by freshly falling snow. One big wet sloppy mess.

Rain and fog on Christmas Eve made things even worse. The wet weather turned the already accumulated snow banks into dams welling up with water. Curbside the corners and crosswalks became slush ponds – pools of cold, brown water and ice. Women in expensive high-heeled leather boots cursed as they waded in ankle deep. Water soaked the cuffs of their pants and crept up their legs. In sad contrast a bag lady struggled through the slush with her ladened shopping cart only to have the contents tumble to the wet street. She cursed each passing car as it sprayed her with slush. The miserable weather made everyone equal.

The only creatures that received special treatment were the tiny toy dogs sheltered in purses. Those wrapped in custom coats and booties, were carried in the arms of their owners, shielded inside their jackets, safe against the elements.

It was equally interesting in the stores. Shoppers sipped lattes as they checked their Blackberrys. Cell phone addicts walking and talking, heads down, banged and bumped their way through the crowds giving their victims dirty looks. Long lineups wove all the way from the mall to the cash register. Irate shoppers were not reticent to voice their opinions out loud demanding a better system to speed them in their quest for more stuff.

Ah, the spirit of the Holidays.

We were in Toronto to celebrate with family. We checked into a downtown hotel, which gave us the freedom to hang out in what was once our favourite part of the city.  And there is a difference between living and visiting in your previous hometown.  You take things at a more leisurely pace. You can sit in the hotel lounge sipping an overly expensive glass of wine and wonder why the people crowding the bar aren’t at home this late on Christmas Eve. You have time to chat with the coffee lady at Holt’s and explain to her how to make a RedEye while she tells you that in El Salvador ( where she comes from) they prefer light roasted coffee to dark roast. Lingering, chatting to strangers and people watching become second nature.

There is no Toronto rush. You see things differently.What you once took for granted is now a source of amusement. Its not that you’re smug or above it all. It’s just that it doesn’t involve you directly anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

December 27, 2008 at 8:16 PM

2 Responses

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  1. Southampton; a year in words and pictures.
    Wow, when we sat down at the dinning room table a year ago and I suggested you share your take on country life, I had no idea it would come this far. I mean, I knew you’d get’er done but I never thought I’d be sitting in a film studio in Toronto and a Grey Brucer would come up to me and ask, “Are you any relation to the Southampton blogger?” I am proud to answer, “That’s my Dad.”
    Somehow we all knew you were destined to be there. Thinking back about the old house, there was foreshadowing on every wall, even in the furniture. The etching of the tall ships on the edge of nowhere, the cottage by the lake somewhere in Scotland, heck, even the dinning room table, made from wood salvaged from some sleepy rural train station in Northern Quebec, it all spoke about where you were and where you wanted to be. We can’t wait to see how you see it in 2009.

    castingcallofcthulhu

    December 29, 2008 at 3:37 PM

    • Thanks for the kind words. Even the house on Woburn began life as a cottage in a part of Toronto that was country – farmland – not yet developed. It was the shed actually. So, there ya’ go. Destiny! Hope that 2009 brings a structure to the Land that you can call your own “home in the country.” Love. Dad.

      metropolitanhomesickblues

      December 29, 2008 at 4:33 PM


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