I step out into the cold, feeling the damp air brush against my skin like tiny fibres, soft but firm they pass by as I wait for the cross light to change. The clouds fluff out, primped and ready to show off their pillowy form to the slow waking city. Cars rush past, tick, tick, tick I watch, hypnotized by the count down of the cross light, holding me still until the walk symbol grants me passage.
Up ahead I see the bus in the distance, mentally and instinctively I begin to pick up speed. I look back and forth, from side to side- safety first- but like a lioness, I stalk my prey with my eyes, beginning to prepare my body to catch my moving target. Once inside, I sit in the seat with the best vantage point, where the sky and streets are clear ahead and I can take in the suburban view.
I love going out into the city in the early morning during the week. Even in winter, I can walk at my leisure, not jostled by people rushing to get to their “whatever” on time. The school bell has already rung, while I, not a part of the salmon going upstream, can get lost in the old parts of the city and take the streets and city sounds all in.
Today I wandered back into the Distillery District, my last visit had been during the Christmas Market in December. This time the streets were quiet, all the affectation of the holiday long removed. The stark red brick now naked, contrasted against glass buildings and dustings of stale fallen snow. I found myself walking to my favourite little shop to grab a coffee and smoked toffee chocolate chip cookies (a mouthful of smoked heaven- I do not exaggerate) and sat on some near by green steps, wrapping my hands around the cup for warmth as I savoured the simplicity of the moment. I played back in my head a similar instance, sitting there, lights and christmas tunes over head; streets busy with children, couples, barely any wiggle room and this here and now where I could lay on the ground and maybe not a soul would bother me until closing time.
I check my watch: 10:55 am flashes at me and fades, while my mind wanders, time feels as if it stood still. I brush the crumbs from my cookie sampling off my fingers and rise, the chill finally seeping into my jeans. Up a head a man waits for someone- I assume, or he is just resting with his two dogs, trying to enjoy the view. I admit I have a bias toward the boxer breed, as I can’t seem to recall what the other dog type was, but that mug got my attention and when those boxer eyes locked with mine, we shared a moment of head scratches and cold hands. The owner graciously allowed me this little whimsy and after a while I waved goodbye to them as the creak of old wooden doors and movement signalled to me that it was nearly 11 o’clock.
I am astounded the difference that 5 minutes can make; people started to pepper in, the brief moment of solitude began to dissipate as I watched a few teens, phones raised high at the ready, trying to catch that “insta” shot. Sounds began to litter the space while I continued my walk. I thought to myself as I passed them, if they actually saw the beauty in the quiet stillness around them, but then I realized that I often suffer from that same affliction. Its become far too easy to forget to live in the moment these days and more through the filters on my phone. When I come here though, the old history and architecture captivates me and I’m more interested in taking in my surroundings, playing with a 1 year old boxer and watching the restaurants ready for the dinner crowd. I’ll admit, I can’t help myself, I see a great moment worth capturing- mostly because it’s so rare to see this place, usually busy and crowded, devoid of bustle.
When I get home with my favourite treats from the Distillery, I look back at the photo and once again the memory rushes in. It’s now become a reminder to me when I mentally complain about the muck and the rush, the push and the shove of people as we all flood into to the city centre during the weekday. Of the hoods and scarves tucked high, everything forgotten in the drive to get inside and out of the cold that the beauty of a place remains, regardless of if it is hidden by the frost and snow blankets and to remember the wonder of all those little silences in between.