Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Time Rift

aestas canadensis (Canadian Summer)

I always have this nostalgic vision of summer: lazy, sunny mornings, padding around the house barefoot, where I linger over coffee, pastries and seasonal fruit. Reading in the shade while listening to new music or podcasts. Countless swims and bike rides and plentiful stops for ice cream. Restaurant hangs with friends. Movies in cooled theatres. Music in parks. Slow shopping in markets to get ingredients for a great meal made over a grill under a salmon coloured evening sky. None of that is exceptional or difficult but you need time such that none of it is rushed. You need a special kind of time. You need summertime.

Yet, what is a summertime? It's really just a dozen weekends, and if you really think about how many weekends others ask you to join them in their summer endeavours or that you have to use for all the chores and errands you were leaving for a warm, dry day, that number is probably closer to half of that. You also need summer weather. We now have summers of crushing, searing heat, oppressive humidity, raging forest fires, overwhelming droughts or deadly flooding and mudslides. Not a time for simple pleasures.

This summer started with death. Julia's mother, a friend's mother, then my own all passed within weeks of each other. Suddenly, the world had lost three mothers. Not a great start. Yet, that led to time spent with family, until illness kept us apart. Part of COVID's cruelty is the necessary quarantining that separates us. In a strange sense our isolation felt restorative to me after the intense emotional period of losing our mother and the chaos of travel and a funeral during a pandemic. It provided some needed "alone time". To me, this summer was a disjointed, stuttering season. Instead of late night movies in theatres, there were streaming shows at home. Instead of lounging in the shade, we were laid low in air conditioning. In some ways, I did do the things I normally enjoy in a summer, but they were singular moments rather than a steady flow of them. A trip to the Toronto Islands and a couple of rides to the Leslie Spit rather than hundreds of kilometres in the saddle. A couple of days at the water's edge rather than the thousands of metres of lane swims. As the Canadian National Exhibition (the CNE) wound down, Toronto's unofficial end of summer, it felt as though I was rushing to check off a to-do list of follies. Grill a steak: check. Make a burger on the grill: check. See a movie in the park: check.

Seeing a single film on the last evening of The Toronto International Film Festival became my end of the summer. For me, the final weekend of TIFF is my version of the CNE closing and having missed it for the last two years, it seemed even more significant and also reminded me of the memorable moments we did have. A stroll on a pebble beach, striking sunsets over the water, a weekend at a log cabin, an intimate display of David Blackwood prints after his death, a fine meal on my deck, a lost bike reborn and ridden with abandon. Maybe having fewer moments will make them more memorable? Or, maybe I need to let go of "nostalgic visions", and just make the most of what life throws at us and have more lazy mornings, more swims, more bike rides and more ice cream regardless of the season.

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