Last week I had a coffee – in person – at a sidewalk café. While hardly a stop-the-presses announcement, you have to understand that I hadn’t done this simple act of meeting up with a friend, including an elbow bump, in public, for close to a year and a half. To say I was out of practice in the gentle art of conversation sans Zoom is putting it mildly. But I soldiered on, and we agreed to “do this again soon.”
For so many of us, the past several months have been a trial by isolation. That’s why the little things have come to mean that much more during our personal pandemics.
Herewith my top 6, by no means exhaustive, list of Leaside places, people and things that have kept me sane during the pandemic (in no particular order):
#1. Ravines and green spaces. Leaside boasts some of the finest natural resources in the city, whether it’s Serena Gundy Park and Sunnybrook or Crothers Woods, or the many surprising smaller parks that dot Leaside north and south.
#2. Outstanding and reawakening shopping on Bayview, Millwood, Laird, and other little pockets throughout Leaside. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Leaside’s businesses for toughing out the pandemic and helping to take care of us in the face of incredible odds. Thank you!
#3. Enhanced connections to neighbours. If there’s one thing that’s come out of this mess, it’s the importance of fostering connections with Thorncliffe – and just beyond to Flemingdon. Food drives, clothing drives, vax clinics, bike-shares have all raised our awareness of the importance of neighbours helping neighbours.
#4. Local pharmacies vaccinating Leasiders. Pharmacists have honed their injection skills to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations to hundreds – thousands? – of Leasiders. We couldn’t have done it without you.
#5. Interesting new developments. The face of Leaside is changing…and that’s a good thing. While heritage must be celebrated and preserved, there’s plenty of room for new places and faces. The west side of Bayview is transforming. Laird and Millwood are evolving. As new buildings dot the landscape and new people move in, expect new vibrancy to follow.
#6. The Leaside Residents Association. No list would be complete without a shout-out to the residents’ association that works so hard to represent the interests of Leasiders. Through tireless efforts they’ve achieved incredible wins for the community. Bravo!