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I heart Toronto in springtime

Toronto is gorgeous, and that’s not something I say very often. I’ve come back into the heart of another springtime, trees flowering pink, white, yellow, forsythia, lilac, the magnolia about to burst – gladness, the only word, the whole city radiates gladness. Luckily, yesterday was grey and overcast, and today too – first because my tired eyes would hurt in sunlight, and second, because if it had been sunny I might just have collapsed with the loveliness of it all.

Yesterday, at 7.15 a.m., I ran to the bakery next to the apartment to buy croissants to take back and some fresh bread, a heavenly, just-baked baguette, for our travel sandwich, Lynn’s and mine. Left the flat at ten to eight after a last hug with my dear friend, who was leaving a bit later; walked to the Port Royal stop to get the metro direct to Charles de Gaulle. By 9, I was standing in the Air Canada line-up. Now, that’s an efficient transit system. I bought some tinned patés and a luscious Chanel lipstick at duty free, but was worried about the long flight because I didn’t have a book with me; the latest “Elle” wasn’t going to get me from Paris to Toronto. But “Wolf Hall” by Hillary Mantel was on sale in paperback in English. My trip was saved.
And utterly painless, good old Air Canada – it left right on time, it landed right on time, the food was terrible but it was there, and the friendly, efficient head flight attendant had the most mellifluous voice. He was eloquently apologetic about the audio-visual system, which was broken in my part of the economy cabin; no music or movies but I didn’t care, with “Wolf Hall,” which is stunning, and, for comic relief, “Elle.” When we landed, his voice flowed out over the sound system: “Welcome to Canada,” and it sounded like the best place in the world. Leaving the plane, I told him, “You’re worth your weight in gold.”
“Thank you. My mother thinks so too,” he replied.
In the baggage claim area, the drug dogs were out, sniffing the air, and I was afraid they’d smell my big bag of cheese and arrest me. But I managed to skulk through. And when from the cab window I saw an elderly woman on King Street in a bright red and blue track suit with big white sneakers, I knew I was home. This time, I noticed all the gas stations. Where are the gas stations in Paris? Invisible, at least in the centre of the city, whereas here they’re everywhere. But no matter, all the trees not flowering are that bright, fresh green, flashing like neon, new new new. The forsythia in my front yard was flaming gold, and the carpet of lilies of the valley are just about in bloom. I thought of Paris, where that morning, all the Roma were out on the streets selling bunches of lilies – a May 1 tradition.
And here’s my house, spotless – tenant Mary-Fay kept things in perfect order and it could not have looked better. Here’s the crabby cat, utterly uninterested in my return. And here, best of all, is the garden. Even untouched, with no work done since winter, it’s a joy. It looks huge. By European standards, it’s a park. My house comes with its own park.
Of course, when I strolled in it later, all I could see was the amount of work to be done. The other side of having your own park.
Anna came by and she and Mary-Fay devoured a croissant fresh from Paris and some Poilane bread with a ton of cheese. And then some Lindt chocolate and a Laduree macaroon, which are as good as predicted.
I had dinner at the Pearl Court with my beloved W*yson before he left for a month in Stratford, his own writing retreat. He’d heard a well-known writer speak at a writer’s conference, who said, “The first lesson of writing is to actually write. Most people who talk about being writers don’t write. And the second one is: keep writing. A carpenter doesn’t build a table by perfecting one leg before moving on to the other three. Keep going. Finish.”
Easy for you to say!
It’s Sunday morning; I’ve been listening to CBC, drinking coffee from my favourite mug, looking out at my own green park, the lilac tree, the sparrows at the bird-feeder. Only a few weeks ago, I might have spent days stuck at the airport. How grateful I am that my way here was so easy. How grateful I am to be home.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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