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.