It’s plus four on what seems to be the nicest day of the year.
To celebrate, I decide to take a walk downtown and end up at the Forks. I almost feel like I need my sunglasses to shield the streaming sun while I sit in the food court. The warm, bright, smiling sun shines through the tall long ceilings at the Forks Market in Winnipeg on this Monday. The sun sits on my back, and I know its rays are hitting my hair perfectly. 150 days of the year, I have black hair and for the rest, when the sun is as it is today, my hair has a tint of red in it.
After basking in the sun’s warm rays, I get up and continue my walk. I resist the cinnamon buns from Tall Grass Prairie…..although the warm, intoxicating smell of butter and cinnamon is overwhelming to the point that I have to stop and stare at the cinnamon buns glazed with white sugary icing. My mouth watering, I decide a bag of candy can also satisfy my sweet tooth.
Stella Gower, owner of The Almond Tree, chats with me in a thick addictive Ukrainian accent as I pick my treats, candy corn, chocolate raisins, and sour patch kids. I ask her whether the sun being out makes a difference in the amount of business the store receives.
She tells me that it absolutely does.
“Naturally, as soon as it gets green outside, people want to come out,” she says.
Then she says what I’ve been feeling all day.
“Everyone feels a little better once it’s nice out.”
She’s right. I feel better when I see the sun. I’ve been in an edit suite desperately working through the last of my work in CreComm as this is my last week in the program. Now, I’m here at the Forks in the strong sunlight and all I can think of is how lovely it would be to stay a little longer rather then head back to the blank draining disheartening computer screen that’s calling to me back at school.
I remind myself my walk isn’t over yet and head into the second corridor of sun. The vegetable and fruit aisle. The long line of food stretches on for what seem an eternity and the colours of the vegetables and fruits are extra bright and vibrant today, what with the sun shining down on them, reds, greens, and yellows. That’s where I find myself starring at the red and yellow mangoes, my favourite fruit, ripe and ready to eat.
Suddenly a woman comes up next to me…and I’m immediately obsessed with her. Why? She has a little tiny baby attached to her stomach in one of those baby-carriers-on-the-stomach things. He’s tiny. I can’t help it, I make conversation. She tells me he’s her son, Sylar, and her name is Angela Anderson. She’s on maternity leave and she decided, with the sun being as warm as it is, to take a walk from her home downtown.
"I debated where to go and decided on the Forks because I have the option of walking inside or outside," Anderson tells me.
I say hello to her little baby boy, tiny with soft blond precious hair, we agree the cinnamon buns are to die for and then I go on my way.
I move on from the engaging health aisles into another dream food world. Ice cream. With the weather getting better, I imagine there are people getting ice cream, gelato, or frozen yogurt. And I am right. A mother and daughter sit together and chat quietly while they eat ice cream at Neon Cone and a young boy, probably around 7, grabs his dad’s hand and maneuvers him to the ice cream stand, I laugh as I watch. I feel the same way.
I turn my head and watch a couple walking outside. They’re about the same age, but the girl is very tall, with long longs and a skirt so short it’s only appropriate in the summer. I’m intrigued. I follow them outside to the benches near the river. They sit, eat candy as I do as well, and chat away, clearly on some kind of date.
A few benches away, two middle ages women, friends I assume, sit together tightly on the bench. Their words are a distant whisper to me, articulated only by the expression in their waving hands.
One brown bench closer, a young woman in her 30s I believe, sits in a green sweater, jeans, and sneakers. She shields the sun with her hands and looks out the water, the river which is still half covered in melting off-white snow.
I look out with her, following her gaze. The soft breeze in the air hits me hard, it’s sunny, but the wind is still striking, any stronger and I’d consider it cold out.
Around me, the sound of leaves softly flutter across the grass…grass which is barely visible under the mud and dirt spring has brought. The grass looks yellow actually, dried and dead. Besides the leaves which have fallen from the bare grey trees, there is little sound besides that of the wind rustling softly.
I look around. Its quiet today, but I imagine what it will look like when summer begins, perhaps on Canada Day, when there’s not a free bench to sit on for miles. When streams of people crowd in the space like tiny ants waiting for the fireworks. I wonder if I’ll be back in Winnipeg this year to watch them…
I can barely get myself to leave. I wish I could have sat in that spot and took it all in for a moment longer. But I couldn’t. I don't know when I'll be back. It could be months. But I’m already looking forward to going back and am grateful for the peaceful moment I received from this place amidst life's craziness today. Under the smiling sun.