Do you know what’s even more annoying that people complaining about the weather? People who complain about people who complain about the weather. Over the past few days, since Toronto started its record-breaking heatwave, the number of people online and in mainstream media puffing out their chests, pointing to their own sweat-free foreheads and telling people to “enjoy the glorious weather” has increased exponentially. And to those people I say – Go Fuck Yourself.
Listen, I get that some people dig the hot weather. Good for you. You get on out there and enjoy it.
But some of us don’t like the hot weather. It makes us physically and emotionally sick. I don’t complain about it all that much, I just avoid it as much as I can.
Sadly though, some of the critics don’t get their own hypocrisy. The old “just you wait until winter” threat gets dragged out, along with their own gripes about the cold weather. These same folks who enjoy the sun seem to think it’s perfectly alright to gripe about the cold, but anyone who complains about the heat is a whiny baby.
In 2002 or so, I was tested for allergies and started immunotherapy. Mold, dust and a few other things were the culprits, and I had been having problems for years, especially in the summer. Unlike many people, immunotherapy (aka, a weekly needle) worked great for me. Except the doctor I was dealing with didn’t really explain the whole process to me. Like the fact that you do the shots for about 3 to 5 years, and then after another 3 to 5 years, the allergies usually come back.
I stopped getting the shots in 2005. I had broken my arm and it was inconvenient. And the program had worked. I thought I was cured. A couple of years ago the allergies started coming back. The first time was when the lunchlady from the daycare directly below us thought it would be a good idea to start an open pit compost system in the garden below our window. If you’re allergic to mold, rotting moldy produce is not something you want under your apartment windows.
This spring, when every person who had ever been allergic to anything experienced symptoms because of the weather, so did I. And it was bad. That whole itchy watery eyes thing became burning eyes, as if someone had thrown cayenne pepper in my face.
Due to the mild winter and early spring, we are about 3 weeks ahead of the season here in Toronto in terms of plants and gardens. I’m hearing stories of fiddleheads and asparagus showing up at farmers’ markets already, and the lilacs (which usually are in bloom for Victoria Day) are fully in flower and smelling amazing. So I grabbed the camera when I was out doing errands earlier – here’s what the neighbourhood looks like right now.
I sometimes call this time of year “confetti season” because as the winds blow the petals off the apple trees, it makes the sidewalks look as if they’re covered in confetti. This apple tree on Gwynne Avenue is particularly fragrant.
Out and about today, I saw a number of signs that winter is done and we’re moving on.
Birds – cardinals in the morning twilight as we walked the dogs, calling back and forth to one another. Mourning doves sitting on a hydro line, cooing softly. And while I was waiting for a bus, a whole swarm of chickadees (a group of chickadees is actually called a “banditry”, which is awesome, but these ones were almost swarming) were all over the pine trees in front of my building.
Flowers – no crocuses yet, but there are tiny white fritillaries in many of the yards nearby.
Spring cleaning – people are out raking leaves, picking up litter and cleaning windows. They’re also blasting the spring cleaning music – on my walk this afternoon I heard Lady Gaga, some funky jazz and Guns and Roses, all playing on radios while people worked nearby.
Drunk guys in the park by the medical centre. Here’s to a summer without setting anything on fire.
I also saw my first pair of sandals, to complement the many shorts that people were wearing.
It wasn’t an awful winter really – not a lot of snow, not especially cold. But spring sure is nicer.
We went to the Festival of Lights Solstice parade last night. Which I guess is what you do if you’re not quite sure how else to celebrate the season but want to pay homage to nature, pre-Christian traditions or just generally like the sound of hippies banging drums. Because you can be sure that all the real Pagans and Wiccans who consider this an actual religious event were probably not standing around in Kensington Market last night watching people walk around with lanterns.
However, the idea of celebrating the Solstice is much more concrete to me than the birth of Jesus. Yes, I believe Jesus existed, but I’ve always taken umbrage with the idea that early Christians moved the celebration of his birth to coincide with Saturnalia and the Solstice to lure pagans to Christianity through the temptation of a bigger and better party. Almost all of the “traditional” Christmas traditions predate Christ.
Also, as someone who is really into food, sustainability, supporting farmers and enjoying the harvest, the Solstice as the huge year-end celebration just seems to make so much more sense. On the darkest day of the year, it is just so logical and down to earth to celebrate the returning of the sun, without which we could not survive. After a long year of harvesting, the Solstice celebration is not only a way to enjoy what has been reaped in the previous year but a way to look ahead to the the year and new crops and new conquests.
Counting down the days, hours, minutes. Summer doesn’t officially end for a few weeks, but the psychological end of summer will happen tomorrow afternoon, when the CNE closes, when the last stupid air show plane buzzes the neighbourhood, and when kids head home to pack their pencils and books and return to school.
The leaves are already beginning to change on a few trees, and there’s a crispness to the air most mornings that wasn’t noticeable before I went to Halifax a few weeks ago.
Autumn is my favourite season; it’s not too hot or too cold; it’s sunny but you usually need a jacket (I like jackets); and the eating is especially good as the harvest reaches its peak. I don’t even mind winter especially – except maybe those days when there’s freezing rain, or where the sidewalks are slippery because people don’t shovel.
But I’m delighted to see the end of summer.
The lifespan of the average street tree is a mere 10 years. Those spindly things sticking up out of 3-foot square gaps in the sidewalk never have a chance. They’re not watered regularly, and so much of their root system is covered by sidewalk, it wouldn’t matter if they were. Add to that the indignities of bicycle locks, overzealous posterers and every dog that passes by and it’s no wonder the trees along Toronto’s major arteries look as if Charlie Brown is in charge of their care.
Except that a few folks along a stretch of Queen Street West have taken matters into their own hands. By pulling up the cobblestone or metal grates that usually surround a street tree and planting other greenery, such as herbs, and even rosebushes, then adding a rustic bit of fencing and a big ol’ stump for sitting on, these trees between Euclid and Claremont Street are having a fine summer.
I had this great plan that I was going to take my camera everywhere this spring and record the progress of winter into summer. The best laid plans and all that, and I seem to have missed lilacs, apple blossoms, tulips, those trees whose name I don’t know but which produce a gazillion tiny little white flowers that smell like yum, and chestnut blossoms. Oh, and the wild roses that always send me hurtling back in time to my grandmother’s house when I was little and the hedge of wild roses that surrounded her front yard.
I did manage to snag a bouquet of peonies though, and kept them on my desk where I could enjoy them all day. They are such a perfect flower for the end of June, all froofy and frothy and pink like prom dresses and wedding gowns.
Despite the only a bit of hot weather so far (a bonus for me – I hate the heat), here it is already, the first day of summer. Longest day of the year. Now we head back in the other direction towards fall. Maybe not just yet -there’s still many more summer flowers to enjoy a while longer.
We didn’t take the dogs to Woofstock, Toronto’s annual dog festival, this year, which sort of defeats the point, yes, but it was way too hot. Hours of walking on hot asphalt is not so great for fluffy black and brown pooches. And in fact, we noticed a significant decrease in the number of dogs, especially larger ones, at the event. Waiting for the streetcar home we encountered a boxer that so hot he was foaming at the mouth. Not good. However, lots of effort was made by organizers and vendors to ensure there was water to be had, plus a cool down station that consisted of a fountain and a bunch of wading pools. Most everyone seemed to be having fun, despite the weather.