Tuesday, March 8, 2011


What a change of scene: temperature, light, people, oh and did I say temperature? It's COLD here in Toronto. I got back from Chiang Mai a week ago, then left for New York for three days until late Saturday night, so I feel like I'm only now getting settled back into Toronto. There was a thick beautiful coating of snow everywhere on Sunday morning when I woke up, making the light all pale and ghostly.

I had to leap to, rather than lying in, for the house needed tidying (Dom and Tashi did pretty well keeping things organised, but still, there was a little raggedness at the edges that needed dealing with). What was the rush? you wonder. Nothing heavy, but I was expecting a bunch of kids and adults to arrive around noon to celebrate E's fifth birthday. I made none of the food, just tried to organise the stage... no pressure, and it was fun: about ten kids and fifteen or more adults.

I wrote a blog entry in January about an ideal way of dealing with jetlag: read a great book (it was Wolf Hall that first book). Well now I have another coping strategy: be busy with fun things, like simple chores, undemanding parties, etc. The time goes by, I'm not tempted to fall asleep in the middle of the day, and it's all fun anyway.

The snow has melted a little in the bright noonday sun, but wind chill temperatures have been shockingly low: minus 22 yesterday morning for example. Once the wind died down the day turned beautiful, of course, warming and optimistic. But then again this morning, as I headed out on my first post-return jog, I found I was glad I had on windpants and long underwear, mittens, a headband, and a couple of layers on top too. Yikes! There were patches of glare ice in places, but mostly the sidewalks were dry. The cold wind made my eyes tear up, but that was the only difficulty I had.

I headed west to a new bakery-restaurant here called Woodlot. And then when I got there I realised I was echoing my Chiang Mai pattern. There in the early morning I often run through the old city to a woman who sells cafe buran, old-style Thai coffee, near the Chiang Mai Gate market. Here in Toronto I ended up like a homing pigeon, asking for coffee: a double espresso at Woodlot. The scene was different, bakers shaping loaves rather than the wacky traffic by Chiang Mai Gate, but there was the same black bite to the coffee, and the same pleasure at being out early in my running shoes.

It's odd this need for a destination. It comes and goes. Some mornings I am happy to make a loop, and to alter my route as I go, at whim. And other days, both here and in Chiang Mai, I am happiest having a destination and a purpose, a goal. I wonder what makes a particular day incline one way or the other. hmm... Food for thinking as I run next time.

That probably won't be tomorrow, for there's rain promised.

Instead I'll start in early on the next item on my to-do list: typing out my notes from my last weeks in Burma. I am feeling pumped, not sure why, about this Burma book. I think it's a relief to be at the stage where I am shaping the book, structuring it around stories and recipes, seeing where I still have gaps to fill. This is the fun part, for sure. I also have about twenty more recipes to figure out. Most of them shouldn't be a problem...or so it seems to me right now.

On this International Women's Day, the hundredth one, they tell us, I find myself wondering at the passing of time, and being grateful for all my freedoms. That I can sit here typing and know that this can be published and out in the e-world with a stroke of a key seems amazing. That I am uncensored, free to write what I wish, is a privilege many people don't have. And that I can vote, own property, raise my voice and be heard: now those are rights that my great-grandmother didn't have, not formally at least.

And so once again here I am counting my blessings...and waiting for spring to commit to arriving!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am excited about the Burma book. I love all your other books. Looking forward to it.