The January Blahs

The parties are over, our friends and family have gone back to their regular lives, and the Christmas tree has been packed up, replaced by the leafless bougainvillea that usually blooms in the window. Here we sit, as sad as our naked plant, hiding under the comfy throw we got for Christmas…

NO! Let’s get out and Do something!

Living in the city, we have lots of choices. High Park has marvelous snowshoe trails winding through the woods. And sometimes a deer peeks out from behind the trees. But right now there is very little snow for such an adventure. City Hall has a large skating rink with wobbly skaters like me. But I haven’t tried my skates on in years and the leather is likely stiff from lack of use. There are several places to walk in the city, on sidewalks or paths, including cemeteries. Or maybe not. Maybe something a little cheerier. An indoor garden perhaps?

We decide to visit the Centennial Conservatory. We get into the car and Peter programs the address into our GPS. She is named Shirley because Shirley/Surely she will get us where we want to go. Well, Peter thinks so anyway. I am a little skeptical because Shirley is a woman of few words. Sometimes we get very close to a corner before Shirley tells us to turn.

After a few near misses, we arrive at our destination, a greenhouse in the middle of a brown field which is a park in the summer. We hurry through the biting winds into the entrance, and are greeted by the sweet fragrance of hyacinths, pots and pots of them. Around the corner are tell-tale signs of Christmas: poinsettias in varying hues of reds and pinks. A few lighted deer and some bright red amaryllis carry on the season.

The greenhouse has several visitors. Little children run around aimlessly, delighted to be free from snowsuits and boots. Parents follow along with their coffee, equally delighted to have found some winter indoor activity. An older adult sits on a bench in a corner, engrossed in a book. A couple smiles for a photographer, possibly practising for a wedding in their future.

The centre of the greenhouse is a tropical jungle with huge palm trees and birds of paradise. We see a tangerine tree, a reminder of sunny Florida where we sometimes escape to in winter. As we wander along, we spot a pond with large orange koi, some with white heads, some with spots, all of them swimming around contentedly. Occasionally they bob up to the surface with open mouths, hoping a visitor will throw a crumb of food their way.

In a room on the right we find ourselves in a desert surrounded by cacti – more varieties than we can count. They are spikey, fluffy, fuzzy, round, tall, flowery, succulent, even phallic. The greens range from jade to sage, to olive, even lime. The plants have ingenious names like “candelabra tree” or “felt bush,” and little signs for little kids, saying “Don’t touch! Painful!”

In the section on the left we come across more poinsettias, a whole field of them, bright and cheery. We notice some electric candles on poles, which suggest that an evening visit here might be fun. In the centre are a couple of red-bowed deer, created entirely with oak leaves. A sign informs us that the Christmas displays will change next week. It seems that Spring will come early to the greenhouse.

After an hour or two we have seen everything and our senses have had their fill. We head back to the car, hoping that Shirley can help us find our way home. But our spirits have been lifted and we are ready to face more of January. Maybe we’ll even help out our bougainvillea with a shot of fertilizer.

If you have an idea on how or where to beat the January blahs, post a comment.


2 thoughts on “The January Blahs

  1. Sue
    Thank you for reminding me about the greenhouse at Centennial Park.
    In a previous life, when the kids were still kids, our winter Sundays very frequently involved either Centennial Park Greenhouse or the Toronto Zoo.

    Our last visit was 25 years ago, so I’m assuming it’s still great or even better than my memories, which follow.
    – Most of the zoo’s critters are housed in natural settings inside huge climate controlled pavilions.
    – There’s even picnic tables inside some of the pavilions overlooking the exhibits.
    – The pavilions are summer warm with no snow.
    – Although it’s the other side of the city you can get there by public transport if you elect not to take the scenic 401 route by car.


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