Saturday, January 12, 2013

Our First Walk of the "Spring"!

Heading down to Taylor Creek
Last year I didn't blog about a walk through Taylor Creek Park until May 27, when Sarah took a solo toodle and brought back some pictures, and a week later, when we both went together. Here it is all of twelve days into the New Year and Sarah and I have already taken our first stroll through the valley in the Spring-like weather of today (twelve degrees Celsius when we left the apartment just after noon). There were a few other people out but surprisingly few and quite well-mannered, especially those with dogs, for the most part. Even once we reached the valley floor I felt like I might have been overdressed with my Zoo hoody and baseball jacket on. We have had some warm Januaries in the past around Toronto but it was over-the-top today, to say the least. You can see some snow and slushy ice around the stairs in this picture and there were still patches of both along the pathway, but in the park behind our building I would say about 99% of the snow has disappeared in the past thirty-six hours. I know plenty of people around here who rejoice at that idea; the problem, though, is that we are almost certainly not done receiving snow for this winter and it's really frustrating (I feel) to have to deal with the traffic jams and digging out during each snowfall if it's not going to stick around and actually make it look like winter for more than a week at a time. This is one ugly winter city to live in. However, griping aside, it was nice to get out for a walk with Sarah today as most of my meanderings recently have been at the Zoo and, more often than not, solo jaunts.

The water was flowing quickly down the hill from Stan Wadlow park in myriad tiny rivulets, which ran under the ice and frothed up to the surface wherever it could:

...up from the ground came a bubblin' crude...
Nah, no such luck...

In Taylor Creek itself, the water level and the speed of the current suggested a date far later in the year—say, the end of March, at least:

From this close-up you'd never guess the date

This path seems to be floating on air!
We took, more or less, the same route we always do: into the park behind the school next to our building, down the long set of stairs (seen in the first photo) to the valley floor and the pathway there, then a left turn to head towards (and under) the O'Connor bridge in the general direction of Serena Gundy Park and the Don Valley. The bridge we stopped and played "Poohsticks" on in the second blog piece I linked to in the opening paragraph has been replaced and looks fantastic. The next bridge along the path ought to be next, as it felt very saggy and weakened as we crossed it. Just on the other side of that bridge we noticed, high up on the hill, what appeared to be a boardwalk leading to nowhere (and appearing, similarly, out of thin air) so we decided to climb up the narrow, muddy pathway and take a closer look. We discovered that it was clearly the work of some amateur(s)—parts of it were fairly consistent and "regular" but others, such as in this photo, looked like a random collection of boards with no visible means of support or connection to each other—but just as clearly a labour of love....or, at least, necessity. It very nicely bridged a particularly difficult portion of the footway, a section that might otherwise have been virtually impassable. When the boardwalk ended the path reappeared and led up to the top of the hill and the neighbourhood there (Parkview Hills). A side note: as I was focusing to take this picture I heard from somewhere off to my left the sound of what I believed to be a blue jay or similar bird. Immediately after I snapped the photo the sound was repeated, only much more clearly, and I realized it was a hawk. We looked up just in time to watch it climb up out of the trees on the hillside and soar off into the sky behind Sarah. Magnificent!

Why would anyone deliberately build on a slant like this?
For those of you unfamiliar with this area of Toronto, Parkview Hills is considered to be the "right side of the tracks" around here. Of course, the figurative "tracks" are O'Connor Drive, as no railroad actually goes through this area. In any event, it's a moderately-secluded neighbourhood which is aided in its seclusion by a sign at the corner of St. Clair and O'Connor warning potential cross-city travelers that "St. Clair Avenue is Not a Through Street". This causes most traffic to veer left along O'Connor and proceed that way to the Don Valley and beyond. The lots are fairly large and some of the property that backs onto the ravine in particular is quite fabulous. However, paying a lot for your home is never a guarantee that it will be put together perfectly. Have a look at the slant of the garage roof in the above picture. The driveway seems, from the vantage point of the road, to be quite level. The house does not appear to be listing, nor is the lawn particularly undulating. It looks for all the world as if whoever was creating this structure ran out of bricks on one side; or, perhaps, they had spent so much on materials that they couldn't afford a carpenter's level. You can see that the two garage doors appear to meet the ground flush; when you look at the tops of them it makes you want to lean slightly over to one side to compensate. The home appears perfectly lovely in all other respects, but I don't think I could live here at gunpoint. Maybe the owner is a pirate with a peg leg?

Looking down from the O'Connor bridge

We walked through the rest of the neighbourhood and out onto O'Connor, crossing the bridge back over the valley we had just been walking in and heading back home. We paused a few times to just admire the day from that vantage point, being in no real hurry to get back. Even though we live on the twentieth floor of our building where the view is spectacular, I can never get too much of a good thing and the bird's-eye view offered by the O'Connor bridge is pretty great as well. I was especially struck by the bright orange shirt of the lone jogger in this picture; I wish I had noticed him sooner and taken the picture just a second or two earlier but the splash of colour still really stands out in this shot. For a point of reference to the earlier sections of this post, that jogger is about to reach the first bridge, the one that has been very recently replaced (you can just make it out on the extreme left edge of the photo about 1/3 of the way down).

It ultimately reached a ridiculous fifteen degrees in Toronto today and it's supposed to be just as warm tomorrow. They're calling for rain all day, though, which means we'll likely spend it shopping, playing my Christmas present (Lego Lord of the Rings for Wii) and chillin' with Addie. Which, now that I'm rereading it here, seems....positively blissful. Hope your weekend is going just as well as ours.

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