Look at them sammiches

Life's a Picnic in Trinity-Bellwoods

We've decided to fight the inexorable passage of summer with a weeknight getaway. The Toronto Islands is my preferred place to get away from the city within the city, but tonight our destination is Trinity-Bellwoods Park.

Gingerly loading my bike to the teetering brink of collapse, it's time to hit the road and enjoy the great outdoors. I'm living on the edge with a cooler full of hand-made cucumber tea-sandwiches precariously balanced on my rear bike rack--only a bungee cord holds it fast.

Biking around the streets of Toronto is an experience considerably changed when any bump could spell disaster. In my mind I've got a box full of nitro-glycerine, and any mistake will trigger an explosion of de-crusted bread and cucumbers all over the road as my helmet bounces across the ground in slow-motion (am I thinking of that CP railway heritage minute?).

Upon arrival, I'm surprised at how busy the park is on a Wednesday night. I've sat on southern benches (near the gate) for an afternoon snack before, but I've never wandered into the heart of the park for a prolonged engagement in the evening. Eventually we settle on a spot that seems relatively quiet.

Minutes after I unpack and arrange my dainty cucumber tea-sandwiches, a black-haired poodle reconnoitres our camp. Without sparing us a moment for parley, it consumes a handful of my delicious sandwiches. We shoo it away, and though the owner apologizes for the dog's pillaging behaviour, I'm annoyed by the number of off-leash dogs outside of the dog bowl. To make things worse, another dog comes within meters of our picnic and pinches out a loaf of crap in plain view. The owners, oblivious to their dog's doings, are chatting and fail to pick up the doggy-doo landmine.

(Aside: Come on people, there's a very specific spot within the park for leash-free dogs, and everywhere else is the domain of people who do not wish to be harassed by dogs nor step on dog crap.)

"night stick" by blogTO flickr pool contributor jpjd

Eventually I put the dogs behind me, and the picnic takes on a life of its own. We have a smorgasbord of foods: tea sandwiches, spinach-artichoke dip, quiche, fresh fruits, whoopie pies, and more. Gorging ourselves, our eyes take in so many slices of life around us: a toddler vaingloriously tries to uproot a sapling, an old man collects empty bottles and cans but we give him a whoopie pie instead. Most of all, the sheer amount of athletic activity is remarkable. A soccer game sprouts up right next to us, and we watch some spirited competition for a while. A slight pang of guilt strikes me as people in spandex run circles around the park. Unperturbed, I stuff another cucumber sandwich into my mouth (hey, they're dainty). There are hundreds of stories waiting to be told here, and I can't catch them all.

Alas, night begins to fall and our picnic comes to an end. Aside from the omnipresent CN tower and the occasional Queen streetcar off in the distance, we forgot about our work and responsibilities for a few hours and enjoyed life as it gushed by.

Second photo, "night stick" by blogTO flickr pool contributor jpjd

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