Snow falls softly and silently on me as I walk home. Lost in thought, I turn the corner and see an ad for winter escapes -- or sun holidays as they call them in Europe. And that sparks my imagination.
Yes, it's splendid to travel the world -- and I've done lots of it throughout my life -- and it can be especially tempting at this time of year. But I'm also deeply attached to this particular part of the planet and have come to appreciate the splendid things in my own backyard. Things that I truly love year-round.
And I'll bet you have your own local favourites. So, let's exchange. I'll tell you the Seven Wonders of My World if you'll tell me yours.
- Toronto Islands. A short ferry ride away from the financial district, there is a wee group of islands with a boardwalk on one side and a breathtaking view of the skyline on the other. It's a great place to take a breather, winter or not.
- Toronto is an eater's city. People from all over the world now call Toronto home, so there's lots and lots and lots of great food to be had (don't let rumours of poutine or beaver tails put you off the scent of the truly great meals).
- Toronto is for les flaneurs. It's a walker's city -- endless neighborhoods to explore, cafés for when one needs a break, and decent sidewalks (yes, that counts, especially when there's snow about). It's mostly flat, but there are also ravines that loop through the city if you're in the mood for a challenge.
- Weather. Oh, it's a changeable part of the world -- we range from minus 40 to plus 40 (that's Celsius). We love to complain about it. But I wouldn't have it any other way. The storms are great, too!
- CN Tower. Once the "world's highest freestanding structure," it no longer holds that title. But it still looms magnificently over the city, and hosts a spectacular glass floor to scare out-of-town guests.
- Maple syrup. I'll never forget when my Grade Three class went to my grandfather's sugar bush. They even poured the sweet stuff onto snow for us to eat. Beat that, snow cone!
- Kayaking in the Great Lakes. OK, this is one for later in the year, when the ice melts. I love Georgian Bay -- part of Lake Huron -- best of all. It's blue, blue, blue forever. And the pink granite rocks along the shore are stunning -- and kinda like the skull of the earth peeking through (I always stop and give them a little scratch).
OK -- now it's your turn. What are the seven wonders of your world? What's splendid in your backyard at this time of year -- or any other? I know you've got some gems to share that we might know about. Do tell!