Homelessness in Elmvale

It’s the coldest night so far this year, and I can’t stop thinking about the young homeless man who lives in Elmvale. He used to sleep in the post office at night. Then we got this letter.

FullSizeRenderTonight, I chatted with him in the lobby of TD Bank. He looked pretty comfortable lying by the ATM, bundled up in his worn sleeping bag and parka, but I doubt he’ll be there long because the building has cameras.

Every time I see him, I think about how desensitized I was to extreme poverty while living in Toronto. Would I have noticed him, young as he is, if he’d been tucked into some archway at Yonge and Dundas? Probably not.

I also think about the invisibility of poverty in places like Elmvale.

Friends who work in social assistance say north Simcoe County has more than its fair share of challenges — addiction, violence, teen pregnancy and hunger. My mom, a former teacher, would come home with stories of students struggling and failing to break the cycle of poverty.

As I type in my pyjamas — with my partner, my dog/furnace, and my sleepytime tea — I am so grateful for the people and things I have. We are fortunate ones.

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30 gifts

Last January, in my usual post-holiday melancholy, I wrote a list of 29 gifts offered by the year 2013 – one for each birthday gone by. It was like sunshine on my face after days of cold and dark.

Sunshine on our faces.

Sunshine on our faces.

This January felt entirely different. After happily bouncing around Europe for a few weeks, I came home rested and excited about my engagement.

Now I’m settling into the usual winter doldrums. Brushing my car off every morning is killing my soul. My face hurts when I walk my (lovely and adorable) dog at 6:30 a.m. I’m dying of a vitamin D deficiency. Yadda yadda yadda.

This is us trying to embrace winter.

This is us trying to embrace winter.

So here it is, my cure for the murky, miserable winter blues.

In 2014 I…

  1. Played my first round of real Penetang bingo.
  2. Took on a new volunteer role with le Festival du Loup.
  3. Travelled to England to see dad and Nora get hitched.
  4. Survived the worst winter ever – barely.
  5. Bought a snowblower. We’ve christened it blowy.
  6. Tried and loved stand up paddleboarding.
  7. Hosted a few good shindigs.
  8. Met real witches in Salem on Halloween.
  9. Drywalled the kitchen ceiling and painted the attic.
  10. Sang and played in public – a bunch!
  11. Celebrated New Year’s Eve in Paris.
  12. Explored every high tea joint in Toronto, eating tiny sandwiches at every one.
  13. Started going to the gym again – kind of.
  14. Toasted my sister and her perfect partner at their wedding. 
  15. Became flexitarian.
  16. Checked out the Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival.
  17. Made the local papers a few times.
  18. Baked cookies with cousins.
  19. Kindled my passion for municipal politics by volunteering.
  20. Deepened my love of boardgames. For our wedding, we might register for Ubongo, Munchkin and Dominion.
  21. Celebrated a whole year of blogging.
  22. Was offered a fantastic permanent job.
  23. Kind of figured out the gardening thing – kind of.
  24. Got into the Elmvale groove.
  25. Went on another wine-fuelled trip with the Humber gals.
  26. Played my first round of golf and didn’t totally suck.
  27. Joined our local francophone community choir.
  28. Celebrated nine years with the world’s handsomest Franco-Ontarian.
  29. Dropped my 15-year Wal-Mart boycott and took vavo shopping.
  30. Got to know every inch of Tiny Marsh.
Maybe winter isn't so bad after all!

Maybe winter isn’t so bad after all!

Much love to all the beautiful people who made 2014 great. May you all enjoy 2015 as much as I think I will.