There are two times of year I miss Canada most. In the dead of winter, when rainy Scotland offers up crisp and sunny days but seldom more than a sprinkling of snow by my standards, I remember bitterly cold Christmases in Toronto as a teenager. We didn’t have “snow days” when I was a kid, but it didn’t matter because our parents would let us ski to school. My primary school was in a valley, so without snow chains on 4x4s they couldn’t make the slide down nor the icy climb back up that hill. We always went skating on Milliken Mills Pond as soon as it was frozen solid, where there were no ramps to hold onto, only an older cousin’s mittened hand.
Mid-summer is when I miss Toronto the most. This year is the first I’ve not been home for Canada Day, and I’m more upset than I probably let on. This is the time of year I get to catch up with old friends on a patio, which is our version of a beer garden, though oh so different. There’s a special sort of feeling you get sitting on a patio in downtown Toronto, sipping a spicy Caesar. This time last year NXNE was winding down, and I’d just seen my favourite Edinburgh band perform a show in my hometown. It was one of my favourite musical moments. I do some of my best work in Toronto, because something about the city just inspires me. Every spare moment is relished. Yoga at Octopus Garden on College, where I first realised meditation and asanas weren’t just for the crunchy granola brigade. Lunch at Fresh on Spadina, with regular pig-outs of their hefty vegan bowls that even my staunch carnivore dad admitted were delicious. Trinity Bellwoods Park, Queen and Ossington where I used to work, and a wistful wander around the textile district. These are the things that remind me of home.
I never feel as good, or as good about myself, as when I am in Toronto. So here I am, raising a glass to my hometown. I love the Great White North and miss it every day.