AT LONG LASt, CAnada
It's not until you venture out into the world and tiptoe across a border that you realize how isolating the past two years have been. The sensory overload that hovers from being in another country is both exhilarating and daunting. Sitting at a table elbow-to-elbow with the people you've missed most is somewhat surreal.
Canada returns to normalcy at a slower, more guarded pace than we do in the states. There's a learning curve to mask wearing; sometimes I forget to put one on, most times I forget to remove it. Waiting in line is not uncommon for highly coveted ice cream or coffee or baked goods. Many businesses limit customer capacity to a mere two at a time; this feels somewhat strange but certainly gives you a huge appreciation for the folks working in retail. The level of politeness and patience I've encountered from shopkeepers (as well as the occasional shopper) constantly surprises me. With the return to school, streets are somewhat busy but not quite in full swing. Crossing guards take their jobs very seriously, warning pedestrians to step back, avoiding on-coming bicycles and mostly empty streetcars. Spending time in open spaces punctuates summer's transition into fall; the last hurrah of roses in one garden, the earliest Cinderella pumpkins in another. Having a faithful pup in tow is a gentle reminder to pay attention to the smallest of things underfoot, overhead, and in the distance. I suspect travel will remain a luxury, not a necessity, for quite some time. Which means the little things, such as stepping up to the front of the line at one of your favorite ice cream haunts, is truly the sprinkle mix on top of the créme glacée that is Toronto.
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