On the Beat

Summerhill trek a cure for suburban homesickness

People would think I was a lush, standing outside the Scrivener Square LCBO at 10 a.m.

But that’s far from the case. Besides, I still have ample beer in my fridge leftover from a recent move and no offers from others to drink them.

My suds surplus is not what I’m here to solve.

I am at the former CP rail station, with its large clock tower, because it’s the most obvious landmark in my new neighbourhood.

I’ve dug up my firm Whitby roots and transplanted them to Summerhill. So, to quell suburban homesickness I shall acquaint myself with my new stomping grounds.

With Seal singing about “punching tickets for the minute if you fall out of line,” I follow the neighbourhood tracks.

I’ve picked a hot day to do it. The air is saturated with moisture, the mugginess casting a hazy veil over the CN Tower.

I feel the first bit of dampness sprout on my neck as I watch pigeons strut like armless Egyptians by a water fountain.

I leave them to stay cool by the water and amble down Yonge St. I smile at the sight of a toddler chain gang dressed in matching Gilligan hats on the opposite side of the street.

The comical procession becomes periphery as I hang a left onto Price St. I figure I can make my way to Mt. Pleasant Rd. from here.

I am sadly mistaken.

No matter. I turn on my heel to Yes’s “Roundabout” and cut through a parking lot onto Rowanwood Ave.

The houses are spectacular. Edwardian homes smothered in ivy with an Audi in each lot, save for a handful. A Porsche passes me by but I pay no heed. I’ve grown immune to their presence.

An old Citroën does catch my eye, one akin to the car driven by Richard Dreyfuss in American Graffiti.

I direct my attention to Cluny Dr. and then Pricefield Rd. where every other home is under renovation.

Then one yard creeps into sight. Instead of grass, there’s ivy resting on a bed of wood chips.

Neighbouring yards are abundant with hydrangeas, roses, day lilies, cowslips and bluebells.

I move toward Roxborough Ave. East. The ornate houses floor me. In a window of one three-storey home, a model clipper ship sits dry docked, basking in the sunlight that percolates through the thick tree canopy.

The riffs of Ritchie Blackmore’s “Smoke on the Water” lead me along the path to David A. Balfour Park from Mt. Pleasant Rd.

It rained a torrent last night. I slide through a mess of mud. There’s water everywhere, so I detour to higher ground, following the ravine and scanning homes perched precariously on 45-degree slopes.

It’s a nature path I’m on, blanketed by a dense copse. It’s hard to imagine thick vegetation smack in midtown Toronto, yet here it is.

Tom Petty starts musing about not living like a refugee.

I find my way up a set of stairs bringing me to Mathersfield Dr.

I thought I moved away from the uniformity of suburbia but I discover a new subdivision atop the steps. Here, the lavender bushes are taller than the trees — a stark contrast from Roxborough Ave.

I find my way back to the LCBO. My MP3 player acts on the train theme again: “Don’t lean on me man, ’cause you can’t afford the ticket …” David Bowie sings.

The air is still thick with heat, and the moisture in my body boils to the surface like a hot spring.

Turns out that cold beer would probably do wonders right about now.

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