I had the afternoon off today. It was a glorious summer day – sunny with a cool breeze, fluffy clouds drifting lazily across a turquoise sky – and I wanted to prolong the enjoyment of it.
I decided to take the streetcar home, so I could sit and look out the window and watch the city go by. From the glass and steel towers of the financial district, through the funky shops and cafes just west of it, then into Little Italy. A familiar intersection made me perk up and look closely at a stretch of street I had known well over 40 years ago.
Almost all the buildings were still there, but with different businesses and stores and owners. The tiny church I had once attended with my family was still a church. The café restaurant at the corner had the same name, though probably a different proprietor. In some ways, the neighbourhood had not changed all that much.
One thing was different and I really liked it. The trees were bigger. I looked down every street we passed, all residential, with modest homes once owned by working class immigrants. Solidly built, clean and well kept, but plain and simple. Saplings had matured and every street boasted a leafy green border of maples, oaks and elms. They could have been boulevards in some European city, serene, inviting. And I wondered about the people who lived in them now.
The streetcar route ended in a large park that I have loved since I was a child. Some 400 acres large, High Park was deeded to the city by its owner, J.G. Howard, on the proviso that it remain a public park. One-third of it remains wild. There is a large pond, landscaped gardens, a zoo, playgrounds, a swimming pool and tennis courts, a Nature camp, an outdoor theatre, a dog park. It is a green oasis that is enjoyed by many.
Photos: courtesy of wikipedia
As I disembarked, I hiked through the park, meandering along natures trails, following the smaller ones through the leafy undergrowth. It felt like I was the only person in the world – so peaceful.
I explored the streets around the park, admiring gracious older homes as well as newer ones, and a condominium building with glass-walled suites jutting among leafy trees. Such a lovely residential area.
Then, the bus ride home. Pleasant since it was earlier than the usual rush-hour madness. I was able to enjoy a simple meal on my balcony, reading, rocking and sipping some wine. I felt drowsy so I took a nap. Then felt inspired to write.
But all I could do was reminisce about that streetcar ride, and the walk through the green oasis that nourishes my soul, and the return to my answer to prayer of four years ago – my quiet little riverside condo. My sanctuary. Home.