There’s a new guy, lives on the corner. He spends a lot of time outdoors. He’s pretty quiet, and has this aura of peacefulness that everyone in the neighbourhood is remarking upon.

The big Buddha is located at the corner of Dufferin and Melbourne, outside a high-end furniture store called Kuda. Kuda sells a lot of imported stuff from Thailand, Morocco, etc, and they’re big on Buddha as an icon, if not as a philosophy/spiritual path (they might well be Buddhists, for all I know, not making judgements one way or the other).

For a long time this specific spot was home to a rather scruffy tree that suffered the whims of every dog in the neighbourhood on a regular basis. Earlier this summer, the guys from the store spent a week or so digging up the tree. Then a few more weeks were spent digging and pouring the concrete base.

We weren’t sure what it was going to be when they started tiling the concrete – maybe a planter of some sort, perhaps a wishing well. Buddha’s arrival was less than dignified – he had to be lowered by a crane. But they got him into place and everyone was delighted. People left incense in the burner that is built into the base, and a few people have given Buddha bouquets of wildflowers.

A couple of weeks ago the trees arrived. Buddha sat under the bodhi tree, after all. But since bodhi trees prefer a more tropical climate, the folks from Kuda gave the statue a Canadian twist and placed a red maple behind him (which also had to be lowered in place via a large crane). The evergreens beside and behind him  give him some colour and visual interest even in the winter, and although not in the shot, there are some lovely plantings at ground level, with space on the next tier up for some seasonal flowers come spring.

As I walk past Buddha four or five times a day on my travels with the dogs, I have noticed a lot of people stopping to look up at him, to take photos of (and with) him, and a number of people who become noticeably calmer as they pass by. These folks look up, slow their pace, sometimes stopping completely, and then, inevitably, smile. As they walk away, their step is lighter, they seem calmer and happier.

It’s like our own traffic calming zone – in spiritual icon form.