Happy First Day of Spring

Monday (April 7th) felt like the first day of spring in Toronto. After the longest, coldest, most miserable winter in recent memory, spring is finally here… nearly three weeks late. At 7:00 in the morning, the sun was shining, the air warm, the birds singing, there was no wind and it just felt like spring. So much so that, for the first time in months, I actually left my car at home and walked through Little Italy to the Y. Ah, the joy of walking again in the early morning. I saw my first robin, and the crocuses are coming out in the community garden at the corner. A mother rode by on her tandem bicycle with her child peddling along behind. My comment: “Great pace.” Her reply: “Feeling great.”

At the Y, everyone felt the same way. Dana, our noted aquafit instructor, put us through our routines, did our stretching exercises, and then bid us enjoy “the first day of spring.” In the change room, one woman mentioned that she had given up the T.T.C. and come on her bicycle for the first time since last fall. Another was wearing long dangling Spanish-style earrings. When I admired them, she said that since it was now really spring, she could give up her hat and wear her earrings instead. We all had a spring in our step (I know, a terrible cliché), a smile on our faces, and were inexplicably friendly one with the other. How we have all longed for spring to come.

Walking home, I had a chance to rediscover the neighbourhood after its long winter hibernation. There seem many more stores with windows covered in paper, a sign of shops come and gone. But there are many new pop-ups as fifth- or sixth-floor additions to the older buildings on the blocks. These have large windows and big balconies and must be new luxury condos or rentals, built to take advantage of the downtown location and the great views. I knew there were such new residences built over the medical-dental building at the corner of Euclid and College, but I hadn’t before noticed the equally large dwellings built above the popular Chiado restaurant further west. They add to the residential densification which city planners are so anxious to promote. When luxury properties sell for many million dollars, and rents are several thousand dollars per month, is it any wonder that landlords along College Street are looking to capitalize on the value of the air rights above their properties?

Further signs of spring were everywhere. The corner of Clinton and College was once rated by Utne Reader as one of the hippest corners on the continent. In the winter, you wouldn’t notice the difference. In the spring, it resumes its status as the pace-setter for the neighbourhood. Sure enough, there was music from speakers nearby, and the Café Diplomatico and Red Sauce across the street had set out their tables and chairs in the hopes of attracting a patio crowd. The forecast may have been for rain in the afternoon, but hope springs eternal (ouch!!!). And children in the Clinton school playground were blowing bubbles. What better harbinger of spring is there? 

By the afternoon, it had clouded over, the winds picked up, a heavy rain warning posted. And the temperature was dropping to a low of 4 degrees. As they say in Vancouver, at least we don’t have to shovel it. And maybe by the time this post goes public, spring will last all day. Hope springs… etc.

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  1. Fred

    I always liked April in Toronto. After what was normally both statistically and in my experience not spring in March; spring came on like gangbusters, normally after the first week in April. Now that I know where all the cool people in Toronto hang out (Clinton and College, apparently), I can hardly wait to go there: I want to BE in that hoi polloi.

  2. Marlene

    It’s also spring, at last, in Ottawa! We have had a few warm, double-digit days (albeit not as warm as Toronto’s 20 degrees, one day). Almost all the snow has melted from our front lawn, although some remains on the back lawn and on our neighbour’s front lawn. We’ve had our bikes out all week – such a pleasure, after such a long, bitterly cold winter. A little disappointing to realize that the nights will drop below zero again next week.

  3. Fred

    Thinking about Marion’s posting about spring…and about…what was stated to be the coolest intersection in Toronto, which according to the linked source is Clinton and College. I clicked the source, which gave the ten coolest places in North America. Commercial Drive was listed number seven (coolest in Vancouver) with Mount Pleasant as an up-and-coming artist area to watch.

    I thought that cannot be right in the here and now and it was not. The article was published in late 1997. What is posted on the Web stays on the Web…I told Marion that the site was out-of-date. As for Vancouver, Mount Pleasant is now the coolest area. But I also got a Block Watch crime report showing that Mount Pleasant ends at Sixteenth Avenue. After that, if one is on Main Street, the neighbourhood is called Riley Park. We decided to go on foot and see for ourselves.

    Well guess what: Riley Park (on Main Street at least) appears to be cooler than what is north of Sixteenth Avenue (and thus in Mount Pleasant). We…refine(d) our search to find what appears to be the coolest area in Vancouver to six blocks, and decided that the coolest area was Eighteenth to Twenty-fourth Avenue on Main Street – chock-a-block full of young urban bohemians, cool bistros, brew pubs, and local-design fashion-stores (along with the compulsory vinyl and CD store); and all sorts of other cool things.

    It was a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon in Vancouver in April and the temperature was 18 degrees Celsius. …there were lots of people either out on the street or in the cafe brew-pubs or patios. So it was a good day for cool-hunting. We went looking for cool people and we found them. And yes we enjoyed being in that hoi poloi: a Facebook friend… described it at “hipster land”; a phrase I would avoid. It reminded us a bit of Huron Street in Toronto around 1974 and 1975, where we then lived, when the Annex was an area in transition, from drug dens and rooming houses to urban bohemian to what it now is.

  4. Fred

    It snowed and was below zero Celsius in Toronto today. I well remember such things having happened before: an April 24, 1976 snowfall made it impossible for my friend to ride a bike; around April 15, 1979 about 10 centimetres of snow fell before we went to visit in Ottawa where it had not snowed. But I heard on CBC, The National, that it has snowed in Toronto in all but two years out of the last seventy-six. So, Torontonians did not luck out this year; they just did not hit the jackpot by not having snow in April. And yes; it does sometimes snow in Vancouver in April. The last time I can remember was in either 1983 or 1984. It was 8 degrees Celsius in the afternoon and all the snow was gone by noon or shortly thereafter.

    When we lived in France we heard the song April in Paris so often at this time of the year that I was tempted to turn off the radio or listen exclusively to the BBC foreign service on shortwave. Have you ever wondered why there is no song, April in Toronto or something like Oh to be in Toronto now that April is here? I know why.


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