A storm was approaching, and the rows of lit up windows in the neighbouring buildings indicated that people were hunkered down at home.
Starry lights were glowing from multiple windows across from us. A few particularly caught my eye. The cluster of pink and orange glows framed by twinkle lights. Below it, a yellow and red star luminously dangled from another window.
I wondered what went on in those apartments.
From this view, these windows looked like a marionette stage, and I was a spectator waiting to be dazzled.
Between our buildings, the howling wind and snow made its arrival.
Meanwhile, in our own amber-lit window in the sky, laptops were shut off, wine was poured and my husband was making his delicious creamy mushroom pasta. Friends was on TV, candles were lit and the snow was coming down hard.
And then, to our surprise, lightning. Followed by a roaring thunder. A thunderstorm, during a snowstorm? we said with our eyes, as we glanced at each other in awe with every passing flash that brightened our living room throughout the night.
Inside, it was calm.
There was warmth from the bowl of pasta in my hands and the blanket on my feet.
With my husband sitting next to me, my heart was also warm.
In the words of Teagan Olivia Sturmer, “there is an odd coziness in the midst of a snowstorm. An unspoken sacredness to knowing that there is no place to go, no things to attend do. There is only the now, the peaceful stillness of being out of the night, tucked in beneath quilts and held tight by good cheer”.
I couldn’t have chosen a better sentiment to describe the feeling of that stormy night.
Lessons from a toboggan hill
The next morning the coffee was sweet and creamy, and the sky was clear and blue. The storm had passed, and the city awoke to a quilt of snow laid atop it.
Bundled up, we stepped outside. Our only plan that day was to walk through the snowy parks and feel the sunshine on our faces.
The crystals from the untouched snow glistened like icy sparkles below the mid-morning sky. Dogs ran freely into the cushiony open space, snowpeople were scattered throughout the park, and kids and adults alike gathered at the top of the hill with their toboggans.
The air and sky was so tranquil and blue, you’d never think that thunder had rumbled here just hours ago. We continued on to the next park.
But first, coffee.
My senses danced with delight as I stepped into Sweetie Pie bake shop. Is there anything better than the aroma of freshly baked pie and cookies on a Wintery day?
A red velvet cookie and two Americanos later, we made our way to our favourite city park.
We haven’t been here since Spring 2021, when lockdown was a part of our lives.
This time around, families were lined up at the top of the snowy hill.
Shrieks and giggles echoed across the park as toboggans of all varieties and colours made their adventurous way down.
We found an empty bench cleared of snow and we sat with coffee in our hands and sunshine above our heads.
We parked here for a while. The black faux-fur on the collar of my coat was heated up from the sun rays and it warmed up my cold cheek.
I smiled contentedly.
As I watched the kids trek uphill for the umpteenth time clinging to their toboggans, I tried to gauge their age. I reckoned they were no more than 10 years old.
That suddenly made me realize that these kids were 7 when the pandemic started. I don’t know why that thought came to my mind. Maybe because we hadn’t been back to this park since lockdown. Maybe because this month marks the third anniversary since it all happened.
There is such huge difference between being 7 and 10 years old. Seeing these kids go happily uphill pinched my heart at how much was stolen from them.
Do they even know that?
The way they joyfully played made me believe that they probably didn’t, and I decided that was a good thing.
My mind had been distracted by worry and what if’s lately, but that day, all my heart saw was childhood hope, innocence and the eagerness to play.
This visual served an important lesson for me. No matter how many times these kids fell, tripped and toppled over, they giggly went back up and did it all over again.
They weren’t thinking about the effects of the pandemic. They just wanted to play.
They didn’t care if anyone was watching them fall. They just wanted to play.
A timely reminder to Adult Me that life goes on, time goes on, and a snowstorm is but a mere opportunity to play the next day.
Drops of Venus and Jupiter
On our way home, we noticed that we were approaching golden hour, so we made it our final mission of the day to catch the twilight by the lake.
We followed the pastel strips of corals and lilacs in the sky until they became midnight blue and the moon appeared.
Just like the sun sparkled on the snow earlier today, now it was lunar glitter reflecting on the swaying black lake.
I then spotted two glowing dots against the lavender sky. Venus and Jupiter were paying us a visit.
I considered this a poetically perfect ending to this day: everything has its time and place.
Nearing our home, the iconic Toronto skyline was lit up brightly against the dark sky. From this view, we can see a million yellow windows in the sky.
Satisfied with our day’s venture, it was time to retreat back to ours.