This summer has been unbearably hot and humid in Toronto, but I was going stir-crazy without my weekly walk. So, throwing caution to the (complete lack of) wind, I grabbed my camera and hit the boardwalk and some nearby wooded areas.
Although I was in Austin to attend the amazing screenwriters’ conference attached to the Austin Film Festival, I did manage to make my way around town with my camera (and cell phone).
Sadly, it was not until the day I left that I discovered the amazing trail around Lady Bird Lake (formerly Town Lake). Next year, I will be back with a vengeance to record the trail and its astounding diversity of flora and fauna.
Ron Scubadiver‘s Town Lake photos
Pierce Wanderings Town Lake Kayak photos
Living Outside the Box Town Lake photos
Kelly Phillips‘ Town Lake in January photos
Last week, I spent the day on the eastern edge of Toronto in a large conservation area called the Rouge Valley, which basically extends from the north end of Toronto (near the Metro Zoo) down to the shores of Lake Ontario.
And yet, for the 6 or 7 hours I wandered, I can only really say I explored maybe 10 percent of the region. Perhaps, I’ll get back before the snow flies…I know I’ll be back in the Spring.
So as I checked the mail earlier today, I noticed that our entire front porch has been taken over by a huge spider web…perfectly timed for Hallowe’en, it would seem. Even better, the spider was still in the web, wrapping up it’s lunch.
Honestly, I only planned to take one photo…and an hour or so later, I had several one-photos.
I am a troglodyte…a knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing dinosaur who will shortly find myself extinct for my inability to evolve with the world in which I live. You see, I like to read books.
So, what’s wrong with that, you may ask, lots of people read books. I have several dozen on my e-reader.
There’s the rub. I did not say novels, plays, short stories, historical or scientific treatises—all of which I do enjoy. Rather I said “books”. Those folded paper constructions across which are scribbled black serif or sans serif typefaces and maybe a few photos or illustrations.
This past week in Toronto, yet another bookstore (brick & morter, not Xena warrior princess type) met its demise. The self-described World’s Biggest Bookstore was a staple in downtown Toronto, a place to visit when you were trying to kill some time or perhaps even to purchase books, magazines, school supplies or those kitschy little items that no one ever thought they wanted but can’t seem to live without.
This past spring, about a dozen blocks away from the WBB, another bookstore met its demise and is in the process of becoming a craft store (because what erudite urbanite doesn’t want more Styrofoam cones and sewing notions?).
The reasons for these closures are many and varied, although the loudest one in downtown Toronto is the cost of renting or owning the space. Why house 10,000 hard and soft copies of books when you can house just as many Torontonians in roughly the same space?
I know there are other bookstores in Toronto. My concern is for how much longer.
They came for the mom’n’pop shops, and I said nothing.
They came for the specialty stores, and I looked the other way.
Then they came for the big box stores, and I was forced to buy an e-reader.
Despite the number of items I have purchased from e-tailers like Amazon and Indigo, there is still nothing better to me than the tangible feel of a book in my hands. There is a vibe in books that I cannot get electronically, unless I wet my fingers first, but that’s more of a shock than a vibe.
I am a junkie for second-hand bookstores.
I love that musty smell that I am confident is a mould infection waiting to take root in my olfactory or pulmonary system. The crick of a book spine as you fold it back for the first time (my own spine makes a similar noise in the morning).
And the gentle signs of previous love, whether a notation from giver to receiver, random dog-ears suggesting the previous owner had ADHD or the odd tacky material sticking several pages together that we are all best not to think too much about.
As a side note: I find it ironic that I will pay $20 to $50 for a book in an antiquarian bookstore that I wouldn’t spend more than $3 on in a second-hand store. Apparently, signage works.
I watch people in airports and on buses scrolling through their e-readers and wonder, where is the fun in that?
Don’t you miss the excitement of flipping ahead to determine whether you can stay awake long enough to reach the next chapter break? Or anxiously getting to the bottom of the page only to realize that the sentence finishes on the next page (don’t judge me, I live alone)?
Or knowing that in the coming apocalypse, you’ll be able to keep a fire going for several days? You try cooking squirrel over a burning e-reader and see how far that gets you.
(Note to self: Buy extra reading glasses. Learn the lessons Burgess Meredith did not.)
But alas, I am a vanishing breed and like the thunder lizards that came before me, I will have to make way for those annoying little rodents that scurry around under desks and floors and through the walls…yes, the guys from I.T.
But until that day comes, I shall continue to hunker in my apartment, surrounded by my beloved paper friends and learn a bit more about modern squirrel trapping techniques.
Taking a mini-vacation and so started with a slow wander through a wooded ravine near home.