Monday, April 14, 2008

What a lark! What a plunge

"And then, thought Clarissa Dalloway, what a morning--fresh as if issued to children on a beach. What a lark! What a plunge!" - Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf

The end of Heath St. is to me what the threshold of the front door (about to be freshly painted), verging onto noisy London, is to Clarissa Dalloway, and what the front stoop, the boundary between cool bourgeoisie and vibrant, disreputable New York City, is to Clarissa Vaughan. It's a portal between my world and another world that exists in pockets inside of it. Or maybe it's my world that exists within it. Either way, it is as though, stepping from the sidewalk at the end of the street onto the boards that make up the stairs down into the ravine, I have stepped into another city; another time. I've stepped into a world full of fresh air, of life that doesn't happen on crowded sidewalks and inside noisy coffee shops. It is fresh and clean, like plunging into a sea of quick green life.

It always surprises me that I can so effortlessly step from a world of panhandlers and streetcars into this:

In as many ways as I feel like Mrs. Dalloway, I also feel like Alice down the rabbit hole. I went for a long tramp through Toronto's hidden wildernesses yesterday, and for much of the time, I felt, like Alice, that I was in some alternate reality that only slightly resembled the one I knew. In front of me were trees and streams, trails and mossy logs: where was the city? Every once in awhile, I would be reminded that I was in fact in Canada's largest metropolis, and the contrast was one of the loveliest things about my tramp. How can you begrudge the encroachment of civilization into the leafy loveliness of David Balfour Park and the Moore Park Ravine when it looks like this?

Needless to say, I had a lovely hike, and I can't wait to go back again when the trees are greening and the birds are out. There wasn't much green this time around, but what there was was vibrant. Just wait until it's really spring!


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