Friday, December 8, 2023

Dreaming of an Aurora Summer on a Frigid Winter’s Afternoon

By K. Taylor, Aurora ON. Winter has come to Aurora community and I am dreaming of an Aurora summers. The weather outside is not so much frightful as downright horrifying. It’s as if Jack Frost dug out his old Halloween costume and is terrorizing the shivering masses; reducing us to no more than huddled heaps of polyester blends. We are distinguishable only by our own distinct combination of coat, scarf and toque. Come spring when the tree leaves are only outnumbered by the muddy puddles and we shed our familiar outer layers, there is always a moment of confusion. “Have you lost weight?” we ask one another. “No, just a coat, but thanks for asking.” But that, my dears, is a long way off. And so, to warm your thoughts, if not your toes; I present, my own personal list of five favourite summer Aurora memories.

5. Eating ice cream by the curb. One can eat ice cream in many places, in many ways. But you just can’t beat the curb outside the shop; your backside gently numbing as hot cars of unlucky ice cream-less wretches lumber by. The heat of the sun on your exposed skin … (exposed skin! Did we really ever live so carefree? I’ve forgotten.) Pure bliss.

4. Fireflies. Ah, those magical creatures that I forget actually exist in the real world. And in Aurora community! They are of another dimension; of movies where people sit on creaky old porches sipping lemonade. A few summers ago we took a walk in the Aurora Arboretumafter dark; a long and languid post-dinner walk and yet all I remember is the fireflies; fleeting and ethereal. Just try standing among the waving wildflowers, the night alive with splashes of light; and tell me fairies and pixies and elves aren’t real. These guys will make you feel eight years old again; convinced that anything is possible. Heaven.

“I love the old tree in the middle that we can only reach by a secret path, and the canopy of cooling shade it creates as the kids explore and I take a reprieve from the hot sun.”

3. The Aurora’s Farmer’s Market. I have a confession to make. I don’t enjoy this one nearly as often as I would like. We get busy. However, it is January, and as such I shall add visiting the market to my list of resolutions (yes, I have a whole list of ‘em, wish me luck.) Because it is fabulous! The plump fruit, the luscious colours, the jars of soups and mouth watering loaves of bread. The music and the crowds and the paying with cash. Cash – imagine that! A stroll through the market is a throwback to what life was once like; minus the nasty bits like smallpox and outhouses. It is simply lovely to wander the stalls, the sun on your back, or the rain on your umbrella. It is sheer joy to feel the solid heft of a bag chock full of vegetables; the handles pulling on your fingers until thin red lines appear from the weight of all that deliciousness. Biting into a fresh local strawberry. What says summer better than that?

2. The Aurora Community Arboretum. I love the arboretum. Adore it. I love the open spaces, the babbling brook (a babbling brook! In our own communal backyard!) I love the green and the purple and the yellow. I love the cheers that waft in on a summer breeze from the nearby baseball diamonds and I love the crunch of gravel under foot. I love the familiar hills, where I’ve kissed scraped knees and I love the mowed paths of grass and the spaghetti trails. I love being alone and I love saying hello to the people passing with dogs. I love the old tree in the middle that we can only reach by a secret path, and the canopy of cooling shade it creates as the kids explore and I take a reprieve from the hot sun. I love the Arboretum in all seasons. It’s an Aurora community gem and I simply adore it. Oh Aurora summers!

“I love the green and the purple and the yellow.”

1. Stop and smell the lily of the valley and some roses while you’re at it. Lily of the valley is one of my favourite flowers. Stems of nodding flowers so frilly and dainty they remind me of fairy ball gowns (don’t believe in fairies? Refer to point number 3: Fireflies; and get back to me.) And despite what the neighbours might think, I make a point every year of falling to my knees, pressing my cheek to the soil and my nose against a bloom. I could pick them of course, and bring flower to nose rather than the other way around; but it feels wrong; and so I visit instead. That heady scent is well worth the small brown patches of dirt on my knees, a stray leaf in my hair. If you don’t have this particular flower in your garden the town is alive with riotous blooms, and wandering the streets and enjoying the gardens of your neighbours is a great way to work off that ice cream.

So there you have it. In no particular order, a spattering of vignettes of an Aurora summers. They all happened. They all will happen again in time; although today they seem no more than hazy, wistful wisps of air; fleeting as the puffs of my breath when I step outside. But our town will not always be white. I shouldn’t imply that I do not love the winter, I do. In a minute I will stand warmly dressed and watch as my children build forts and hurtle themselves down the small but mighty hill behind the school. Over the next months I will walk the Arboretum and enjoy it’s winter beauty – I am a hearty Canadian and I will not be bowed by cold or snow; though perhaps by ice. But just for the moment I think I’ll be having my fun by a warm fire, with a hot cup of tea, daydreaming of ice cream and fireflies.

K. Taylor
Aurora, ON


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