On a small IKEA table in our sun room sits an inexpensive frame with a couple of family photos taken at our niece’s wedding a few years ago. Etched on the glass is a corny saying, “family shares your past, shapes your future, and loves you for who you are”.
The essence of this sentiment is core to my own story.
Who I am today and who I will be tomorrow is heavily influenced by the company I keep and the communities I belong.
I’m shaped by my family and my urban roots.
For me, hanging out with my core family in a city that I’ve lived and loved all my life is soul-soothing.
I was fortunate enough to marry a man who values family and who is committed as I am to putting that family first in all we do. Together, we raised two daughters who appreciate family time. Whether it’s a gathering of our immediate siblings, nieces/nephews at our suburban home or visits with extended cousins once or twice removed, our girls will always make time for those special people in our life who we call family, whether they’re related by blood or not.
This past weekend, as many Canadians marked Family Day across the country, it was just the four of us hanging out at home and exploring some of the allure of this great city we live in – Toronto.
Our eldest daughter recently left the family nest and moved into her own place. We spent some of the weekend exploring her new ‘hood in St. Clair West. With the dog in tow, we hiked west through the micro hoods of Wychwood Park, Oakwood and Hillcrest. A brief respite at the Artscape Wychwood Barns allowed us to catch our breath and take in some of the beautiful sunny rays as kids frolicked in the playscape. We enjoyed watching one little boy as he splashed in the puddles with his knee-high rain boots assuring his father that his socks were dry. Later we recharged our energy stores with an assortment of scones from the nearby Baker and Scone. Lemon-currant is my personal favourite.
Day 2 of our 3-day family weekend was spent closer to home. We used the time to explore the ravine behind our house, our own personal playground. While we don’t live in Don Mills proper, Canada’s first planned community, we live on the periphery just east of the Don Valley in Victoria Village.
This part of the Don Valley is my happy place. It’s where I explored as a kid and where I go when I want to be one with nature. I can hike through the remains of an old farmer’s orchard, watch the salmon swim in the icy river and forget that I’m literally in the heart of the city. Once, on a quiet winter morning, I came across a deer as it sauntered through the hilly woods. We often have fox and coyote venture up into the street and neighbours will knock on my door to make sure I don’t leave our dog tied up alone outside.
On this Family Day weekend, the ravine is busy with other families navigating the narrow trails or resting on the clay beach by the water’s edge. The paths were slick with melting ice so it was a muddy and messy sojourn. Our 12-year old Westie loved running off leash and managed to burnish his underbelly with grime from the boggy ground.
The third day of Family Day weekend was another beautiful and unseasonably warm and sunny day. We joined thousands of other families at the Evergreen Brick Works out to enjoy the annual Winter Village. This urban oasis was once an old quarry and abandoned brick-making factory. Now it’s a study in reinvention and repurpose, something I can relate to.
In the summer, I come to the Brick Works to watch the turtles swim in the pond and listen as the wind blows through the tall grasses that border the walking trails.
On Family Day 2017, the pond is frozen and a few daring kids are walking on the ice and we worry whether it’s thick enough to hold their weight. We run into three large wolf hounds who appear as gentle as they are big.
As the seasonal Winter Village begins to pack up for the day and the crowds begin to thin, we head back to our home in Vic Vill for a dinner of hearty stew.
The weekend is over but the memories will stay with us. Our oldest heads back to the house that she shares with a few of her crew and our youngest gets ready for a busy study week ahead. And I set out to capture my heart-enriching experiences from my 2017 Family Day weekend in narrative and photographs.
If you’re interested in following the personal reflections of a family gal who considers herself a small town storyteller living in a big urban city, please click Like or Share below or Follow my blog in the sidebar. I’m also interested in hearing your stories about family life in the big city so send me a comment or reach out to me on social.