Day Tripping in Toronto Two

Near Queen & Broadview there’s a funeral home for sale but it’s been for sale a long, long time. Meanwhile, seems they’ve rented out a slice of the space to a bicycle shop called “Bike Sauce,” who directs business around the back. It’s a curious thing to me: funeral parlours going bankrupt. But the interesting juxtaposing of cyclists catches my imagination and images of strong, healthy limbs peddling across the Don Valley bridge half a block west of this spot are welcome in my mind.

It reminds me of a funeral home on Spadina Avenue that’s been around for several decades and must have successfully raised at least a few generations of the proprietor’s family by now. It’s called “Wing On” funeral home and I remember walking past it when I was at the University of Toronto back in the late 1970s. I sniggered, then, but now I just marvel and walk a little bit slower.

I’m remembering details like the “Bike Sauce” but not without a cheat sheet. What I mean is: this rocket ride happened four days ago and I’m fifty-one years old. There is a segue and it has to do with dimming memory and the need to jot down notes to trigger recall. Yes, my moment-to-moment snapshots of what I see and what I do are vivid and remain etched for at least ten minutes but I can’t promise they’ll hang around in my conscious memory for much longer than that. I’m a viewer, first and foremost, but after that I’m a writer and I rely on  my props. My tools of the trade. My pens and my notebooks.

And now we’re entering into a solid new theme of this posting: notebooks. Yes, we packed nuts and fruit and newspapers but we forgot to toss in one of my several spiral bound notebooks and so I was left bereft and forced to improvise.  What I did bring along with us, thinking Heather and I might get a chance to talk about chapbook potential over a cup of coffee, was a wad of my poems–did I mention that I’m a poet as well as a blogger?

Yes, mostly unpublished and unsubmitted and rarely examined poems that I’ve written over the last, oh, twenty years or so. I’m thinking that it might be time to shine  my little light on them and so I’ve taken them out and on this particular Saturday I even took them on an adventure with me, scrunched deep inside my pocket.

It was upon this wad of secret poems (many of them my ‘observer’ poems) that I now sketched out this Saturday, so I’d be able to remember what I saw. For instance, a little bit west of the defunct funeral home establishment on Queen was a tremendously high pile of dirt beside the bridge crossing the Don River. It’s part of the West Donlands development into what will surely be a spectacular community similar in scope to the neighbouring Distillery District. Methinks they’re clearing out the polluted land or something, I don’t know, but it seems that nearly everytime we cross that bridge the dirt is reconfigured a little bit steeper, or otherwise moved along. It’s like the old joke about a makeshift project: digging a hole and then filling it in and digging it again.

As I glance back now at my cheat sheets I discover a forgotten detail from a few blocks earlier : the crazed knitters, I mean. The ones at the Purple Purl up the street from our Leslieville home. Heather and I often look in the window at at that streetfront and either remark on how beautiful the colours of wool look dripping over the shelves or we comment on how it’s some kind of a 21st century cult, this knitting thing, that has swallowed up what used to be feminism.

Women spill out of that place! Unfurling yarn and creating bloody baby sweaters. These women, we like to believe, used to spend their time making placards and taking it to the street, along with us. (And what are we doing now? Riding streetcars and writing poetry? And forgetting?) That’s it for part two of day trip. I like to leave you all with this request: Women (not ladies) of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your knitting needles.


About Nor

I'm a creative non-fiction writer, with a special interest in memoirs and obituaries--life stories, local histories with flesh & blood anecdotal details. I'm also beginning to create podcasts of people's stories and expanding their audiences. I'm a diarist, an editor, and a political activist. I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and spend days tapping keys or staining my fingers in ink.
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