Sunday, March 14, 2010


The ides of March and the long shadow of Julius Caesar welcome us to spring... Here in Toronto, after some lovely sun, we’ve had three days of rain and drizzle and wind and more rain. The ground is sodden and the first dark-red-edged green tulip leaves are an inch or two above the ground, as are the pale pointed leaves of the clumps of iris in the back garden.

My friend Cassandra is here from Vancouver, staying over tonight. I made her a quick diabetic-friendly late supper (meaning low-carb): chopped fennel and radicchio stir-fried in olive oil flavoured with mustard seed and dried chile and ginger, topped with a fried egg. The egg is from Potz at the market, pale green-blue and fresh, almost too beautiful to crack open. There was some Bleubry, a Quebec cheese new to me, to follow. Cassandra manages her pre-diabetic state with diligence and care and real discipline. I so feel lucky to be able to be casual and unplanned about my eating.

Cassandra is heading to the Maldives tomorrow with her daughter to go diving, a big treat for them both. (She and I long ago took a diving course together, then went diving in Cozumel and in the Red Sea. I've let it drop, but she's kept her certification..) Her fins are packed! So as I sit here writing this, she is busy doing advanced check-in: Toronto-DC-Doha-Male on Qatar Airways. It all feels very exotic to me, a lovely escape from chores such as taxes, the next entry on my “to-do” list.

I’ve been slowly gathering myself together this last week, unpacking not just my bags but also my head, from my long weeks in Chiang Mai and Burma. There was the first brilliant red tender Ontario rhubarb at the market the other day, so I used it to top a skillet cake. The colour was just glorious and the cake vanished. I’ve also done some banking, amended the immersethrough website to show the dates for next year, done my laundry, and seen a few friends, but I have still not managed to find my Canadian SIM card. And that pattern, of some things achieved and others very much NOT done, is somehow a familiar one from other times of travel and change.

Misplacing the SIM card reminds me that loss and finding seem to have been themes of my days this last while. I wrote earlier here about dropping my money-purse at Muang Mai market and having it returned to me before I had even realised it was gone. Well the next loss was more worrisome: I got to Canadian immigration in Toronto, after my flight from Bangkok via Tokyo, and when I reached into my zip pocket for my passport it wasn’t there. Nor was it anywhere else in my handcarry.

The Immigration guy was fabulous, as I started to get flustered: “Don’t worry, he said, we have to let you in if we’re satisfied you’re a citizen, even if you don’t have a passport.” That felt good. “Just go straight dowstairs and talk to the Air Canada people. They can check if you left it on the plane.” I did, and they did, again very kindly and without condescension (for which I was grateful; I felt so stupid!!). And by the time my checked bag had arrived, they’d run back to the plane, retrieved my passport, and had it waiting for me.

The kindness of strangers is a wonderful thing. Time to pass it on!

Meantime the pot of daffodils a friend brought by a week ago is still in bloom, yellow and optimistic, and the almost garishly intense pink-red cyclamen brought by another friend is still a hot spot in the kitchen. All we need now is more spring warmth and sunshine outside too.

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