Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Long Walk Home in a Great Blizzard

This what walking home last night in T.O. looked like.
Sidestreets looked like this.
Here is a smart approach to moving the groceries in inclement weather. All photos from Toronto Flickr Pool.

Twenty centimetres of the white fluff known locally as "snow" floated down upon our heads yesterday, adding nicely to the collected crust on the city's surface. It blew horizontally by the east winds, it piled lightly on sidewalks and swirled off roofs of buildings. My boss advised me twice during the day to leave my bike at the office and take the subway. And for once, I more or less listened as the daylight disappeared while the blowing snow took over. It had been snowing since 9:20am. He, on the other hand rode home, but that is a different matter of course.

Myself, I elected to walk. After a hard day's mindless surfing the 'net and doing the occasional middling office task I wanted to experience the storm in all its glory and on foot is the way to go. It was of course do-able by bike, but then you have to focus on all the wrong things - the car just behind, the stoplight up ahead, tell-tale signs of ice in the curb lane about to spill you over in a heap.

So I walked across Mortimer through the whiteness of East York, down Broadview (briefly contemplating a real snow-hike through the Don Valley at Pottery Road), and finally west again over the Viaduct where the red eyes of a thousand brake lights shined in the bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Parkway and on Bayview Avenue. Thoughts of the lunacy of a society based around daily commuting by automobile from city to city drifted through my giggling brain - everyone at a standstill 10% of their way home to northern suburbs at 6:30pm would be back at it at 7am the very next day.

What's the point? Why not just sleep in the office, order a pizza and have a pyjama party right there in the workplace for once? But no, the religious devotion to the norm had prevail no matter what. Drive man, drive till it kills you, me and everyone we know. It's only natural.

At Bloor and Mt Pleasant the story was the same - bumper to bumper to the east and west and northbound on Mt P - of course. What did I care, I was walking along faster than car traffic. By Bay street, I knew the crush of rush hour was past its peak, and I was feeling just slightly shivery so with mental apologies to generations of failed Arctic explorers gamely freezing while dying of scurvy and still man-hauling 800 lb sledges over frozen hummocks of ice, I nipped into the station and caught a not-too-packed train to Dufferin street, and a full bus home.

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