Weather: sunny, about 10C with a bit of a chilly breeze
With the sun out on a spring day, a walk was definitely in the cards. I hadn’t walked through Cedervale since mid-winter so I thought I’d see what spring looks like so far.
The grass has started to green up with all the rain we’ve had, and over the past few days I’ve also noticed more and more buds on trees – one good warm stretch and things will pop. There are crocuses, daffodils, tulips, and bluebells out in bloom, and deep in the ravine where the trees capture the mid-day sun, the willows have started to come out in leaf.
It won’t be more than a few weeks and Cedervale will look like this:
It was great to see so many families out – kids playing football and baseball, cyclists, runners, dog walkers, grandparents with grandkids. You could tell everyone was itching for more warmth – there were some hardy types out in shorts along with winter coats and gloves – and the sun pouring down in the ravine was glorious. There are park benches scattered along the trail, and I passed a woman who was sitting with her face turned up the sun, her eyes closed, and a blissful expression as she soaked up rays and listened to the red-winged blackbirds.
Coming out of the ravine at Heath Street, I decided to walk up Spadina through Forest Hill village on my way home. The streets were full of energy – shoppers, strollers, seniors. There were flowers out for sale, and many houses had flower-filled planters on doorsteps. The flower theme continued as I walked along Old Forest Hill Road and then up Russell Hill Road. Gardners were out digging and raking, and many of the planting beds had been turned over and mulched in preparation for more flowers. We aren’t past the threat of frost yet – it was actually down to about 2 C overnight – so it’s early yet for bedding plants.
But it’s close, and that’s what you could feel in the air, anticipation and an antsy for spring type of feeling.
Location: Toronto – Forest Hill, Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Chaplin Estates
Duration: about 2.5 hours, around 12 km
Weather: Clear and cold, -15 C with a -28 C wind chill
Today’s walk was a chilly one, and a workout. We had some snow last night and today the temperatures were well down into negative numbers, with a brisk north wind to help cool things further. Even so, the sun was out and it was a winter scene that wanted a good walk, so off we went. We started out going west on Roselawn to Latimer and then south across Eglinton onto Russell Hill Road. We took that south, crossing the Beltline as we went.
We kept going south on Russell Hill Road, through Forest Hill to Heath Street. Then we turned east and headed to Avenue Road, crossed it, went south on Oriole, and east on St. Clair to Yonge. There we popped into Zelden’s Diner for a proper winter brunch, and then back out into the cold. We headed north up Yonge with the wind in our faces, and at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, I went in and headed east while my wife headed home.
I did the full loop around the cemetery, crossing Mount Pleasant Road and looping around the eastern half over to Bayview and then back west across Mount Pleasant Road again, through the cemetery west to the northwest corner to connect to the Beltline. I took that over Yonge to Oriole Park, and then headed north through the Park and into the Chaplin Estates neighbourhood along Lascelles Boulevard all the way north to Eglinton, where I crossed into Eglinton Park and kept onwards north to Roselawn where I turned west and slogged up the hill to Avenue Road and home.
Walking on a day like today, with hard crunchy snow underfoot, is a lot more tiring than walking on bare, dry roads. Your feet slip a little and so you shorten your stride and walk a bit flat-footed so that you keep more of the sole of your boots on the ground. That change in gait is less efficient that a full, free stride, and you work muscles you didn’t know you had – my hips are sore and so is my knee.
On top of that, with the cold and the wind, you need to be careful to manage your temperature. I wore 3 layers of clothing under my coat plus two layers on my legs, so at first I was warm but not overly warm. As I went on, however, my face was getting blasted and I could feel my cheeks freezing so I had to cover up to avoid frostbite. When I did that I started to overheat a bit. The last couple of km home were a grind, alternately too hot and too cold, with dragging feet and heavy legs, especially up the hill at Roselawn. I’m pretty gassed even now, a couple of hours later.
Still, walking in winter is always interesting. You could tell it was cold just by the crunchy sound of the snow when you walk on it, and with bright sunshine you needed sunglasses – I have a bit of a wind/sun burn on my face except around my eyes as a result.
Some folks are diligent about shovelling and some aren’t so there’s navigation challenges avoiding slippery bits. Others chuck salt about like it’s free so you feel like you’re walking on pebbles. Then there are the homes with heated driveways which melt the snow and cause the runoff to freeze into ice patches on the sidewalks and roads.
As you walk you pass others out, walking dogs or just walking, and you nod to each other acknowledging the cold and the challenge of being out in it. Numbskull drivers without winter tires spin wheels and slide about, making crossing streets a near contact sport for the pedestrians. Snow plows leave curbside snow ridges to be jumped, and snow blowers with unobservant operators make snowstorms to pass through.
Our winters, in truth, are not that long or severe compared to other parts of Canada. Usually it’s cold for about 3-4 months and there will be warm spells in there too, so when we get a cold snap and a bit of snow it’s more of a taste of real winter than a meal. Torontonians whine about winter, but we know deep down that we’re wimps compared to our fellow Canadians in Edmonton, Winnipeg, or Montreal. Walking on a day like today is a chance to pat ourselves on our red flannel backs while we sip our Tim Hortons double-doubles and dream of spring.