Monday, October 04, 2004

Sunday's a trip

Yesterday was pretty cool. I went down to pick up P-Doug at his place, brought my camera. He took some great shots of our drive down to the Distillery District (I promised them to a friend in Dublin). When we got there, we ate at the sandwich shop again. I had the same thing as last time... turkey chili, Diet Coke, organic bread, and a couple of scones (though I didn't eat the second one till suppertime). P-Doug had a chicken terragon pie. We picked up a free copy of the Star and read about that woman in California who's doing the 30-second bunny versions of popular movies... This time, no gripers from New York plagued us.

About noon we wandered into the jazz compound, but the taps weren't open and the band wasn't there. The doormen told us the management had decided to move beer and music indoors, even though it was still fine weather. P-Doug and I wandered in, saw Kevin Clark and his dudes up there on balcony, but the song ended and they went on break, so we decided to split. We wandered around a little first, took pictures of the Mill St. brewery, some wacky, over-priced artwork, and a little book store with hilarious poseable action figures, and took off for the Beaver and Furkin.

When we got there, we sat outside. We were alone. The waitress even joked about us making her come outside to "freeze", but the fact is, it was in the mid-teens and even with the breeze, it wasn't what I'd call uncomfortable. It was fresh. One of the last few sandals weekends, I expect, if not the last. We split a pitcher of Keith's and just talked. I remarked that it reminded me of weekends when I was a kid... more like spring than autumn... the glistening cars in the parking lot reminding me of places I got dragged to when I would rather have been at home vegging over cartoons.

It was great, except for this guy who kept coming out to smoke. You can't smoke in bars around here anymore, so he had to come outside. There were only two tables in the sunlight, and evidently this guy also felt uncomfortably cold because he sat at one of them. We were at the other. Naturally, his table was upwind, so we got to smoke too. An entire world for him to smoke in, but he's got to be eight feet from us. The cold drove him in pretty quickly... what a wimp... but he was back about 45 minutes later. At one point, though, and I hate to admit it, I nearly enjoyed it. The second-hand smoke that was a part of my life till the day that I moved out still sort of lingers with me, I guess. First time I ever felt that way, though.

I dropped P-Doug off at the subway just down the street at 2:30... he had to get downtown for a tafelmusik concert at 3:30. After that, I drove up to the park at German Mills where P-Doug and I went last November. It's at the nub end of Leslie Street where, for some reason, it seems they never bridged the creek, and the road is discontinuous. The weather is still nice, the trees haven't started to turn yet in earnest, so things still look pretty summery. I brought the camera and decided to take some shots. After crossing the bridge, I took some shots of the gazebo, and then left the path to go out on the little finger of land carved by the creek. It's an extreme oxbow in the making... the creek hasn't quite carved its new channel through. I went right out to the end, where the elbow forms a broad pool. And there was a beaver, and honest to God beaver, swimming around in it. I could hardly have been more surprised. Aside from the zoo, I don't think I've ever seen one before in my life. Certainly not in the wild, and especially not in the city. But there he was. Or she. Calm as you please. I must have taken two dozen pictures of him. I climbed down the point and waded over to the little gravel island at the edge of the pool, and took more shots.

The opposite bank looked like it presented the easiest way back, but getting up the bank was a stone bitch. I grabbed onto a sapling and started to climb, but the bank just gave way under me and my toes were just carving huge grooves in mud and clay. It took me a few seconds to make it, with the sound of preciously snapping wood leaving me wondering if I weren't about to take a mudbath all the while. The forest on this side turned out to be thick, and it took me about fifteen minutes to bull my way through. It was thick underbrush, with no footpaths, which surprised me because I would have imagined kids would be all over the place in the summer... I sure would have been, but then, I didn't have XBox. There were stinging nettles that left itchy little welts on the backs of my hands and tops of my feet. But, I braved on and reached the bank again. That's when it occurred to me that, convoluted course notwithstanding, I wasn't on the side of the creek I wanted to be. I'd only crossed once. That put me on the wrong side, the opposite side from the path. I had to cross again. I found a likely spot to ford and did, this time getting my rolled-up cuffs wet into the bargain. I climbed up the steep opposite bank just as this elderly couple went by. I must have looked interesting... guy in denim jeans, jacket, and cap, scrambling up a riverbank and stumbling out of the forest, pant cuffs wet above filthy bare feet, clutching a camera and sandals. One of them tree-huggers! The old guy said, "I thought I heard something!" I threw my sandals down and stepped into them, saying, "There's a beaver building a dam. Never saw one before..." We spoke for a few moments and he told me there were actually a couple, a brown one (which I guess I saw) and a black one. Agreed that next year should see the little finger of land cut across by the creek... then he wished me a good hike and headed off with the woman he was with. I followed the path a little while, then headed back to the car and headed home. That was about four o'clock. I actually raced a guy down Leslie from Finch to Van Horne (where I needed to turn), and I beat him, too. Yay me! :)

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