Toronto is blustery, cold and snowy. The day after a snowfall in this city always results in slushy sidewalks and salt-covered cars. Pedestrians take care with their footsteps on their slippery commutes – one of the few times you will see more people looking at what’s around them rather than the phone in their hand. Slow-moving streetcars glide their way among the rest of the traffic, picking up freezing citizens stood by the side of the road. Occasionally a horn will honk, a siren will sound, or the soft thud of a person nearby losing their footing and landing in the soft snow will reach your ears.
You wouldn’t have to look too far to find someone who will readily admit to hating this city in the winter. Oh, we’re all tired of it by now – the boots, scarves, hats, jackets, gloves, careful treading, clearing windshields, salty soles, wind-bitten noses. In the coffee shops and restaurants you will overhear patrons commiserating over the ghastly weather, reminding each other that it is nearly February which means only a few more weeks of solid winter. Only a few more weeks, yes, but to this city it feels like forever.
Skyscrapers, aptly named as their top floors often lie well above the low-lying cloud cover, line the sides of the busy streets. The winter wind worms its way into the created corridors and whirls itself around, blowing every way it can, as hard as it can, catching those who are braving the outdoors off guard. It knocks some to the side, causing their path to veer without warning. It stops others completely in their tracks. The brutal breeze is a trademark of winters in this city – an unavoidable hazard in the core.
Somehow during the winter so many things seem to slow down or disappear. It is of no surprise that the amount of fellow people you see walking are halved. The dog parks do not experience the constant pounding of paws on the turf. Traffic moves slower, a thing Toronto hardly needs. Patios hibernate along with the flora and those that you do see have traded their frappucinos for sleeved lattes. They hold them with hands which, in the spirit of the city, slowly become colder until feeling threatens to disappear.
Toronto has its beauty. It has its perks. This is a city large in size but small, somehow, in community. It would not require much searching to find someone who knows someone you know. Many go to the same bars, seek out the same restaurants, attend the same events. A city like that is not a city that takes hibernation well – we are restless.
I look forward to the day when I see the first hint of non-winter sunshine peeking behind that once tallest tower of a building so crucial to our skyline. I look forward to the day I see the first patio umbrella raised. Somehow, the snow in this city always falls the same: slowly yet surprisingly, as if we all forgot that the steadily dropping thermometers are a precursor to impending winter precipitation. And when it arrives along with as much of Lake Ontario’s damp wind it can hold we hunker down, instantaneously depressed by the fact that we never had enough time to do everything we wanted to do when the weather was warm.
Yes, only a few more weeks.