Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Urban Spiritual

Image via Flickr

It's difficult to describe my experience tonight other than "near spiritual".

Some context. On a whim I decided to go to an ersatz book launch as part of Pages Books' TINAR event (This Is Not A Reading Series) to hear designer/author Reif Larsen talk about his book "The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet". I was a little more mobile because I'd ridden my bike to work so I wasn't too worried about getting to the event, which was at the Steam Whistle Brewery. The brewery is housed in the old rail yard round house South of, what we all know as, the Skydome, as such it offers some remarkable views of Toronto's skyline. While I was enjoying the event, I decided to leave early as it was getting dark and I thought it was best to hit the road. Stepping out into the twilight, I was struck by Toronto's illuminated high rises standing before a big purple blue sky. All the clich├ęs were there. Ribbons of clouds, shredding through a darkening sky. Pin lights from buildings punctuated shadowy buildings that defined the city. Garish neon seemed luxuriant and the asphalt streets seemed more like murky still rivers. They don't call it the magic hour for nothing. Maybe they should call it the "insipid romanticism hour".

I shook off the awe and started my ride home. The first portion of the route is beneath the Gardiner and West bound on Queens Quay. This would be treacherous in full daylight but is even more terrifying in the fading light of early evening. Despite several lane changes and many (MANY) cars stopped or parked in the bike lane, I eventually made my way to the safer ground of the bike path. The idea being it would be so much safer to ride on a bike path without any car traffic to contend with. Of course, I didn't realize there wasn't any light at all on the path and my tiny LED wasn't really helping much. Then something special happened. My eyes adjusted and I turned a corner where for the next five kilometers I was riding only meters away from Lake Ontario on my left and Toronto's tremulous city scape on my right. One of my favourite pieces of music came through my ear buds and for the next eleven minutes I floated over black tarmac and swooped through the trees while the lake's shoreline sparkled beside me, the city lights lay out before me and the night sky's giant inky-dark sheet billowed above me.

I was probably only going 40KM/hr at the fastest downhill section but it felt like flying at 30,000 ft and for those few moments I was falling through Toronto's pavement-black night and slicing the atmosphere. By the time the song ended I had been delivered to Roncesvalles and was only a few moments from home.

That music I was listening to is from Animal Collective called Pride & Fight. Here's that song:

You can buy the song in iTunes.

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