Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Home Again and Home Again. . .

So I've returned to England the Green having spent nearly two weeks in Toronto for the holidays. It was my first trip back to the city since moving to Liverpool about a year and a half ago, and it resulted in a wave of differing emotions. It was so great to see family and friends again, but there was a teeny, tiny moment when I walked by my old apartment building, creeped up to peer into the window of my old flat, discovered that it was empty as if it was waiting for me to return and briefly wondered if that was a sign. 

But no.  As much as I miss the people, the city felt really claustrophobic to me. I couldn't believe the number of huge condo buildings that had gone up or were in the process of doing so, even starting to blocking iconic views of the skyline like this one looking west from the Distillery District. 

I also don't miss the weather. My visit coincided with the worst ice storm that the city has ever experienced.  We were without power for three days and ended up spending Christmas Eve in a hotel. We still had fun though, watching It's A Wonderful Life on the telly and having possibly the best hot shower of my life. I joked that even without heat, my Mum's apartment was still warmer than my house in the U.K. but one cold sponge bath was enough for me.  Kudos and huge thanks to all the hydro workers and especially those who gave up their holidays from other provinces and even the U.S. to come and help the city. Ditto for the Red Cross who were busy staffing warming centres and checking up on the sick and elderly.  I was really touched by how Canadians rallied and made the best of a bad situation including my friend JJ who I had planned to meet the morning after the ice storm. She didn't have power either, but was not in the least fazed and cooked up a lovely meal on the barbecue.  That's what Canadians do in an ice storm. 

But on the downside, there were so many broken branches strewed all over the roads and on people's lawns, and huge wounded gashes on the trees. I read an estimate that about 20% of Toronto's canopy had disappeared which is very sad and will be felt come the first summer heatwave.  This branch came down just metres from me, pulling down a powerline and just missing the oncoming car. 

Still despite all the trouble it caused, the ice was also very beautiful to look at.

Something new that had popped up in my absence was Ripley's Aquarium of Canada built at the foot of the CN Tower.  I can't remember the last time I went to an aquarium and it certainly was a feast for the eyes.  The huge shark tank which surrounds a moving walkway so that the fish are swimming above you as well as beside you, is probably the big attraction, especially for the kids. . .

. . . but I was absolutely mesmerised by this huge tank of Pacific kelp that was swaying back and forth in simulated waves, carrying all these layers of fish who bobbed along with them. It was so beautifully hypnotic.

There was just so much to see, such vibrant colours and textures and fascinating creatures. It really makes you feel like a kid again, enthusiastically open and awed by the brilliant wonder and diversity of nature.

And then just when you thought you were coming to the end, there were these gorgeous jellyfish!

I had a fantastic trip which put a lot of things into perspective for me but it was also great to return to the U.K. which is really starting to feel like home too.  It may be raining as I write this, but it's also 9 degrees above freezing and I'm itching to start hiking again. I also have a ton of knitting projects on the go and lots of lovely new wool that I brought from Toronto which I'll talk about in the next post.  Happy New Year all!

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