Toronto got its first heavy snow fall just 3 days before our flight back to Amsterdam. I remember standing (kneeling, actually) by the glass door that looked out to my parents’ backyard with my four-year old niece standing to my left and her older sister to my right, watching the snowflakes sparkle as they drifted down from the evening sky. All three of us were giddy with excitement—each one with a plan on what to do with all the fine white powder accumulating outside. That same night, my nieces managed to convince their dad to go outside and “help” him shovel snow from the driveway, although my brother will attest that there were more snow angels made and snow balls thrown than snow actually being shovelled. The girls were still fast asleep the following morning when I headed out to get my own playtime in the snow—armed with my new Nikon D600 that I got for Christmas, I headed out to High Park: my favourite spot in all of Toronto.
I ♥ HIGH PARK
High Park is the biggest public park in Toronto. I lived but a few steps from it for five of the eight years I lived in Canada — three years at the north end of the park in an apartment building by the subway, and two years at the southern tip by the lake. It’s hard not to fall in love with the park: In the Spring, tourists and locals flock to it when the many cherry blossom trees bloom so thick with flowers that with every gentle breeze, pink and white petals rain down on people strolling by. During the long days of Summer , the park is filled with a flurry of runners, bikers, picnic mats, baseball leagues and even the thespian types catching an outdoor performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Come Autumn, the park lights up ablaze as the leaves turn to bright yellow, fiery orange and deep red—a scene I really miss now that I’m living in Amsterdam. And finally Winter comes and the park dons its most beautiful skin as it gets covered in powder white snow.
We entered High Park from a pedestrian entrance at Bloor Street West, and we were immediately greeted by snow-covered park benches, fences and pathways that lead into the park—inviting us to enter a pocket of Winter Wonderland in the city:
Once inside, we were greeted by the wide open space which is a real luxury in a congested city such as Toronto. The tall trees looked so serene standing silent against the bright white ground and the soft blue skies. Their bare branches reach up to the skies and create this eerie yet beautiful canopy of crooked lines:
PLAYTIME IN THE SNOW
Walking further inside, we started to see people carrying out their own playtime agenda: Families attempting to build snowmen, runners doing their loop around the park and couples enjoying a quiet stroll:
Deeper in the park we came across branches hanging so low from weight of the snow. The image of pine needles piercing through the white is just so beautiful.
Hearing high pitched shrieks and laughter told us that we were getting closer to the park’s secret playground in the winter: A 45-degree slope that’s oh so perfect for ski doos, sleds and toboggans. I could not count how many little pink puffy cheeks and big smiles were going up and down the slope, but the giggles that rang around the park suggest that beautiful memories were being made in the even more beautiful High Park:
Eight years ago back in 2004, my siblings and I made our very own fond memory in High Park. We were strolling around the park when we came across a couple of broken, discarded ski doos. Without any hesitation, my brothers jumped on them and slid down the slope. On our second round, the ski doos started to fall apart. A few bruises and mouthfulls of snow after, we left Winter Wonderland bodies hurting, as well as our bellies from all the laughter:
If you’re ever in Toronto, I recommend stopping by High Park. Whatever the season is, it will have something to give you. And if you’re lucky, you’ll be create a fond memory or two.