My first Toronto winter was harsh. I had moved from Vancouver where the climate (much like London) was often rainy and drab. But then, like the secretary taking off her glasses and letting down her hair, the sun would appear and illuminate the most glorious natural beauty.
I loved Vancouver. And if you have been to BC, and seen the incredible conflation of mountains, ocean, forest - you will forgive me if I say it makes you believe in God or Gods that tower over our humble, worshipful minuteness.
Ontario by comparison, was flat and jaded. It took me a few years, but I now appreciate the older, subtler nature of this side of the prairies. The hills and stubby pines, the lakes and systems of rivers veining the landscape. The thunderstorms in summer that grab your heart.
But back to that first, harsh, Ontario winter, which brought me my first real Spring. See, in rainy Vancouver it was always green and rareley snowed. But Toronto encased you in ice, slowly thawed, then suddenly, brilliantly, exploded with life.
After months of wind that tore through meagre denim and numbed my extremities, I noticed buds on trees, as though for the first time in my life. And they were Hope writ large. I remember walking home through the annex, looking up at the branches, completely besotted, and nearly walking into a woman who smiled at me, looked up, and nodded in complicity.
In full teen-hormone rages, I would tear my bike through parks under wet, low branches, bury my face in lilacs, tuck lilies of the valley behind my ear, and my skin felt so awake, I could not believe that I was not sparking. You remember that feeling? Crushes became everything but they were really about spring.