Ever since the provincial government allowed cleaning services to resume, my husband Peter and I have been avoiding Lucy. She comes in the front door to clean the house, and we go out the back to…basically keep ourselves occupied for 5 hours.
This is not easy during a pandemic. There are no seating areas in shopping centres where you can have a coffee and read. Few museums or art galleries are open and only then with advanced bookings. Movie theatres are shuttered. We are reduced to walking but, since March 13, we figure we have walked at least twice the distance around Lake Ontario. We are running out of walking enthusiasm, and ideas.
But last week I had one. I have been taking an architecture course online where the focus is on Toronto neighbourhoods. One day we were discussing Lawrence Park, and the Alexander Muir Gardens came up. Muir was that patriotic Canadian poet, teacher and musician who wrote The Maple Leaf Forever back in 1867 to celebrate Canadian confederation. I knew of several schools that are named after him, but I didn’t know about his garden.
Peter and I covered ourselves in sun screen and packed a lunch with lots of water so we could handle the 33-degree temperature that was forecast. We drove across town and easily found the entrance. We followed a shady trail leading to stairs into the garden. At the bottom of the stairs we turned around and saw that the stairs were supporting a monument to Muir, etched with a description of his life’s work.
The garden itself was an oasis. Although the grass was a little brown in spots, the flowers were in full bloom. Begonias, marigolds, astilbe, and petunias adorned the sunny areas, while hostas and various hues of pink and white coleus filled the shady borders. Then we noticed the wooded path ahead. It called out to us. We followed it as it wound through the trees beside a stream – Burke Brook.
We were not alone. There were several families with little kids, who had escaped from the confinement of their homes. And there were dogs, plenty of dogs, heading to an off-leash dog park. One dog walker had even trained her 2-year-old to hold a leash. And there were plaques; to Willy and other prized family pets.
Further along the path we came to Sherwood Park and a splash pad full of kids. It was so hot that we wanted to jump in too. In the background stood a building housing the public washrooms. The outside wall was decorated with a painting, The West Wind, by (Group of Seven) artist A.J. Casson. I don’t know if Casson gave his permission to have his iconic work adorning washrooms or not.
We found an empty picnic table near the splash pad, and set out our lunch. We were not too far away from a group of little campers and a counsellor, taking a break while the park maintenance crew gave the splash pad its hourly cleaning. The kids were getting a little restless and they began climbing onto the picnic tables and giving each other “massages” aka play fighting. The counsellor was clearly losing his patience as he waited for the splash pad to re-open.
It was time for us to go home. After a lifetime of sorting out kids’ squabbles, as parents and as teachers, we were ready to leave the counsellor to his job, and saunter back down the leafy trail of tranquility. Besides, Lucy would be finished cleaning by now.
PS In future summer posts I will be writing about other outdoor pathways that provide a respite from the heat and the stress of living with Covid 19. If you have suggestions, pass them on!
5 thoughts on “Avoiding Lucy”
Love your posts, Sue!
All the best,
Sent from my iPhone
Thank you for telling us about this escape. So close for me. I was thinking of looking up some places for garden tours in the city. You have given me a nudge. Thank you. Heard Allen’s Garden is opened for Phase 3. Not sure though, cause it is in the city.
Hi Sue. I remember the Muir Park well. As a lad, I recallit being constructed. Never did know until later in life who this Muir fellow was. You have given me the impulse to revisit the gardens again. Revisit childhood.
Avoiding Lucy has brought you to new discoveries and through your post I’m going now to find more information on Muir. Thank you. Love your posts.
I loved your blog, Sue! And I guess Toronto is in my heart more than I ever thought. My feet knew it the way your feet are knowing it. Every inch of High Park, for example. I think of you lots. You, who have returned after tasting the country life. I don’t think I could. Surrounded by 300 wilderness acres, I have grown unaccustomed to people traffic, and even the fulminating highway noise of years is cause for resentment. Lottery fantasy: occasional weekends at the Royal York. Rooftop…if they have such. 🙂
Wishing you adventures around town, and looking very much forward to future blogs and photos. A happy hug to you, D.