Friday afternoons are sketching class – the best day of the week.
Each week we go to a different location, a park somewhere close by, in the ‘hood, and set up to draw whatever presents itself.
This week was the Scarborough Bluffs.
Such an amazing place – I’d never been this far east and south before, and wow, what a fascinating, strange place, almost like being at the ocean with the strong winds, the sound of waves on the beach, the gulls and kingfishers diving for fish –
A place to come back to when the sun is low on the horizon and the skies glow orange and magenta.
But it was interesting too how harsh and desolate the cliff faces looked in the bright afternoon light, the ravages of time and water on the shapes of the rocks –
My drawing companions tease me that no matter what I draw – a rock, a tree, an animal – it ends up looking vaguely like the human figure.
A drawing of a cliff face also seems to hold a variety of human faces, snouts and orifices –
Another rock drawing suggest reclining figures, hairy crevices and the folds of flesh –
A drawing of tree hints at perhaps a headless torso, arms, a belly-button –
Another tree could be an underarm, or a knee –
That is my hand, my mark, apparently.
Out in the sun and wind, facing these cliffs, blown away by the sheer force of the place, it’s hard to even put pencil to paper, the desire to simply soak in the splendour of the day is so overpowering.
Yes, this too is Toronto…
Weekly Photo Challenge – Broken
Threshold of the subway doors, humans and hints of animal beyond – Threshold of a slinky bus, during a morning commute, he studies his phone, bathed in light – Threshold of a cliff, of the lake, of the edge of the city, of the transition from urban neighbourhoods to the wild beyond –
Threshold of a smile, of the beginning of life, of nascent love…Weekly Photo Challenge – Threshold
My morning ritual has gotten more and more elaborate over the years.
It begins hors champ, out of frame, in my bed with scribbles in a dream journal à la Robert Moss – you can’t move too much or the dreams get lost, as if it is the body that holds them, not the mind, so this must be done while still in bed, searching inside the positions of the body for the secrets of the night.
Then journal and pen get dragged groggily downstairs to the kitchen table where writing continues, a kind of morning pages thing à la Julia Cameron, but with candles, I’m not sure why, just for fun.
Ideally this is all happening before first light, cause next up is the Sunrise Ceremony à la Diane Longboat, with a little more fire to make a smudge of dried lavender and sage – it’s supposed to be tobacco, but tobacco is kind of pricey around here and doesn’t burn so easily and I’m not so fond of the smell, and seems like the main idea is prayer and gratitude for the day, giving thanks for being alive and being able to see the sun rise yet again, the smoke rising to wherever prayers are heard.
This is done facing east, of course, though as a Canadian the changing arc of the sun becomes quite evident if you are doing this daily, and right now the sun is a little further south each morning.
If the day is not too wet, and sometimes even when it is, I stand barefoot out in the dewy grass and damp soil of the back yard, out where the morning glories and other plants reside.
And somewhere in this greeting of the sun a glass of water will be consumed, the first drink of the day blessed by the light of the sun, re-hydrating the body after sleep.But I must confess, each morning is a struggle between the timing of the glass of water with the sunrise, and the feeling that I want, I crave, I shouldn’t, but I just can’t hold off on my one deep intractable addiction, my true love, the one I lie in bed the night before fantasizing about…
Oh how I love my coffee, can’t wait for some coffee, am sad each time my allotted 2 cups are done and I’m not allowed anymore.
But I’m not the only one. As I move through my morning routines, often as not sneaking one coffee in before the glass of water, or even before the morning pages and the first lighting of the smudge, I have to be careful not to set my cup down. Someone else here, bizarre little thing that she is, will lick my coffee cup if I’m not looking –
We call her the Italian cat cause she likes coffee and pizza, will steal a piece of pizza from your plate if you’re not careful. As a kitten she was found in the alleyway here in Little Italy – seems it might be genetic…
For a good morning bonus, here’s a nice little article on creativity and morning habits.
(Weekly Photo Challenge – good morning!)
Biking home late from work, a route different from my usual as I’d stopped to pick up another drawing pad, some conté, a few more colours of paint, and launching off with bags dangling from the handlebars I saw a man I used to know.
Oh, it was a complicated story, an early education in some of the crueler ways of men, the contradictions a man can have, being not at all a good man and yet not quite evil – in other words, definite trouble.
But we are still friends, friends from a distance, so we embrace, each leaning towards the other with bikes balanced underneath, he holding the cell phone aloft momentarily, Dejame saludar, he says to the person on the other end.
To me he says, Call me, Write me, Let’s get together, and I grin and nod, knowing I never will, that I see him now as a symbolic figure in my world who appears out of the blue like a highly personalised superstition. Years ago I nicknamed him Eleggua – trickster, guardian of pathways. When he appears like this, mercurial, on a street corner, it strikes me like a message, an apparition, a reminder to look for crossroads, choices, pathways that may show up leading in different directions.
Pushing off into the evening, I wonder about his appearance, put on alert for what may lie ahead.
Rounding the corner on my bike from College heading up Manning, my attention is caught by a woman’s laugh.
She is a young woman – I see her pulling herself up from where she is leaning over with the force of the laugh at a small table outside Greg’s Ice Cream. And so…, she says, prompting the young man at the table with her to continue with his story, the story that has made her laugh so.
He has a baseball cap sitting smartly on his head, and something about the cap and his very upright eager posture suggests an earnestness, a sincerity, an openness, an undefiled quality.
And I feel their young courtship, such a pure feeling as I imagine it, because of the full-bodied way in which she let herself laugh in the summer night, giving herself over to his story, and because of the way he sits so fastidious and attentive to her. Coming from the chance meeting with the tricky, mercurial Eleggua, I allow their fresh, young, sweet spirits to wash over me in the night, and carry the feeling home with me, wondering what is next on the path.
A long walk home from work after some 12 hours in front of the computer and it’s a hot heavy summer night and the downtown is busy and congested with crowds and throngs of people all moving in different directions at different speeds.
In a square with a fountain, kids play in and out of the water, drenching themselves fully dressed in that way kids will do without a thought, without a care, letting themselves go, free and open into the sensation of it all, the wet, the surprise of it, the cooling down of the body. One boy rides a scooter between the shoots of water. I suddenly long for freedom and energy and optimism of childhood, for the hot summer nights when I’d play loose-limbed and happy with my friends with just this kind of abandon.
Rounding a corner I happen upon an old payphone – a relic from the past so hard to come by these days, the graffiti and garbage collecting on and around it suggesting a sad and lonely disuse, the discarding of quaint technologies, already forgotten.
Heading up Spadina the crowds thin out and the colours of Chinatown remind me of other years lived in other cities and other apartments, that one on the edge of Chinatown in Montreal, and the boyfriend I had at the time, and the first night we hung out and he walked along the ledge of a garden, balancing, showing off, both of us giddy with the newness of something, something we didn’t yet know would be so mismatched and dismal.
So much colour and small works of art there is everywhere on this route! A parking lot with a string of bare lightbulbs hanging in front reminds me of quinceañera parties in Mexico with strings of lights and little fold up chairs and tables with table cloths where everybody sits between drinking and dancing late into the night.
How many little glimpses of lives we can have within one lifetime…
Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic
Early mornings at my house include a sleeping teenager and a tiny runt of a cat who believes she’s a lion –
The chaotic traffic-jostling bike ride to work usually involves various moments of stopping to look at interesting occurrences of political street art –
And this is the building where I work, disappearing today, on the longest day of the year, into the blue of the blue sky, making it almost possible to believe this is a Greek island somewhere and not the stinking metal and cement downtown of a big city…
Weekly Photo Challenge – The World Through Your Eyes
Leaving the garden behind this morning, my feet muddy from the wet soil, heading out along College on the streetcar for the first time in weeks, after a few blocks the driver leaned deep into his horn and the brakes but too late, too fast, nothing could stop him and he rear-ended a taxi, totally crumpling the back half of the car.
All of us passengers fled the scene, the streetcar driver slumped depressed over his steering wheel, the taxi driver strangely indifferent.
Ahhh, the city…
Now walking to work, I run into an old friend, a friend I haven’t seen for maybe 5 years and we kiss each other and hug again and again – it has been so long, too long… I am suddenly grateful for the streetcar driver’s misfortune.
Now rushing to work, the day is beautiful and the city vibrant, so wonderful to be in it, feeling the heart of it, not thinking about the absurd, if entertaining dramatic spectacle that has gripped city governance for the past weeks.
Opportunities for photos abound, and indeed there are signs everywhere, too many signs, the city is rife with signs.
Others are attractively bilingually cryptic in a way that is repeated again and again in different languages all over the city –
And others just seem to have been very badly located –
But now very very late for work on my first day back, I run up the stairs and face the door with the sign leading to the floor that will be my daytime abode for the next couple of months…
The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge can be found here.