Sunday, 9 June 2013

All But The End.

One of the most important skills one can master is the art of understanding the power of change. I have known a change is needed for a while now but have not summoned the courage to bring it into fruition.

Until now. 

My engagement to writing is, like most others, unstable. It is constantly teetering on a thin line between finding joy and self-esteem, and bored disillusionment at the material I create - a relationship indicative of artist and art; the all too self-conscious maker of things. Lately I've been stuck in a rut where I don't find the things I produce interesting, nor do I have investment in the process of its creation. Lost and Found was the product of many other failures in blogging and a stubborn keenness to get it right. When I finally landed on something solid that made sense to me, I began to stretch it to its limitations....Which is where I am now. On the crux of something old and expired, screaming at me to change direction.

I must listen, but first I must break if I am to listen intently. Lost and Found, as successful as it has been to me personally, is at a point where its horizons have been met and further expansion is impossible. My decision to retire this blog rests not on being fed up, but predetermining its decay and giving it a respectable funeral.
The Wilds of Canada - Where I Belong.
Thus I shall take a temporary hiatus from blogging, three weeks in length, to focus on my new venture, "Aaron UnCanadian" - set to launch on July 1st - Canada Day itself. I am dedicating myself to the form of writing I feel best suited for and find the most passion in - story writing and capturing. Themed on an ambitious 16 month endeavor to save, organize and embark on a journey across Canada, "Aaron UnCanadian" is promised to rearrange everything we think we know about The True North - both good and bad. This is not a blog about igloos and maple syrup, but a pushing of authentic Canadian people, stories, things and events into the fore of our county's people....and the rest of the world.

So, for one last time on Lost and Found.....

Safe Travels,

Aaron Turpin

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Breakfast, Redoux at The Whippoorwill

What? The Whippoorwill – a new brunch/dinner joint at Lansdowne and Bloor. Sandwiched in between the gadabout shops and mismatched cafes is the classically redesigned restaurant, formerly known as the Bloordale Pantry. The Whippoorwill specializes in taking ordinary brunch fare and transforming it into whimsically extraordinary dishes. While the seating selection isn’t superior, the service and food surpasses par.
Whippoorwill's version of an eggs benedict. Giggity! 
My first experience here was on my last birthday; the Whippoorwill is a short walk from my new apartment, which is either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at a fairly overweight yet satisfied Aaron. We had poached eggs on a buttery biscuit (soooo buttery) with hollandaise and asparagus. The biscuit took this meal into the realm of taste-bud euphoria, but it was the second half of the meal that became a highlight. Referenced as the ‘breakfast bruschetta of the day’, an unbelievable combination of sweet and savoury atop a slice of toasted French stick etched a memory on my taste buds. Ours had apricot, cream cheese, dandelion, roasted pine nuts, and a bunch of other things I can’t remember because this was three weeks ago. Bottom line: get the breakfast bruschetta.

Oh, I also had a mimosa. Cause it was my birthday. So what?

Where? The Whippoorwill is another perfect example of gentrification on this stretch of Bloor. As development from either end encroaches, small indicators of a changing neighbourhood pop up; the Whippoorwill is no exception. No longer considered a ‘seedy’ part of Toronto, ‘Blansdowne’ is now clustered with hipster-esque establishments and old Portuguese bakeries. For a community in transition, it’s a great stretch to go at any time of day or night as a non-destination area…(yet).

Go Again? Yes – as one of the few joints in the area that specializes in breakfast, this place is a must go. I would try their dinner menu, but wouldn’t hold it to the awesomeness bestowed upon me during the meal earlier in the day. Although brunch doesn’t start until 11am, I would make sure I get there early as the venue is small and packs up easily. For a meal that defies normalcy, the Whippoorwill has made its mark on breakfast cuisine in an area that screams for something different. 

Sunday, 2 June 2013

4 Bush-Inspired Activities for the City

It is a proven and accepted fact that long term isolation in rural areas can easily lead to mental instability, depression and severe anxiety. I’ve written about my first hand experiences with the cognitive effects of my own journeys into the bush, recalling moments of moroseness and temporary insanity while I slip into the state slanged as ‘bushed’, but what of the opposite? Can one experience similar consequences after prolonged periods of time away from nature?

While cities offer access to many important facets of life - education, healthcare and social support, etc., what they sometimes lack is a close relationship to the big wide world beyond the hinterlands. Just as we tend to go a little crazy when separated from the comfort of our devices and the luxuries of the modern world, it is also true that a lack of wild places can lead to major stress. Balancing urban life with nature can be tough, and I’ve responded with a list of scenic reprieves easy accessible within Canada’s largest city, so that in between shopping sprees and fine dining you can:

1)   Hike the Humber River
Humber River in Fall
Hiking is the perfect outdoorsy activity. Fully accessible and friendly to all ages, there’s no better way to experience a little nature than on foot. Henry David Thoreau, the forefather of modern environmentalism and wilderness romantic, quotes on his work Walking‘We should go fourth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return’. So, if HDT said it, you better go for a damn walk.

And what better place than the Humber River? With a variety of trails to enjoy, including paved for bikes and families or off-path for the more adventurous, the Humber accommodates all, with the added bonus of being freakin’ huge. From its summit in Toronto’s North End at Steeles and Islington the river and surrounding parkland runs south to lakeshore, yielding a plethora of options for trailheads and access points. If hiking is your game, Humber River is the name.

2)   Tree Plant in Rouge Park

Achieving oneness with nature doesn’t always have to involve doing yoga on a mountaintop. Trade in your spandex pants and smelly roll mat for a garden shovel and pair of gloves and get ready to get dirty. The Rouge Valley in Toronto’s East End is a perfect place to escape and offers plenty to recreational activities. Did I mention this is Canada’s LARGEST urban park?

The Rouge Valley River
Planting programs are abundant in the area and include the 10,000 Trees Project, Natural Heritage Projects and other park-based planting programs. They are easy to get involved in and help keep Toronto’s urban wild areas sustained. While you’re taking advantage of parkland, why not contribute?

3)   Take in the View from the Scarborough Bluffs

Looking up to the Bluffs from Bluffer's Park Beach
Looking for a little romantic getaway but not interested in leaving the city? Or perhaps you want a workout beside the perfect beachfront scene? Welcome to the Scarborough Bluffs – a naturally eroded carving in Toronto’s lakeshore landscape that borders Scarborough along Lake Ontario. A network of trails and parks can be found near the water, both above and below the gorge, each offering unique activities. Places like Guildwood Park and Gardens inject a little history into Toronto’s East Lakeshore where a well-manicured setting surrounds hundreds of displaced artifacts, all significant to the establishment of the area.

Further West is Bluffer’s Park, complete with a wharf and beach boardwalk that winds all the way to Ashbridges Bay. Climb the Bluffs for a wonderful panorama of Lake Ontario or discover the unique ecosystems and tide pools at the water’s edge – the Bluffs are a ‘something for everyone’ activity.

4)   Get Schooled in High Park

Nature has a crapload of things to teach us, and at an environmental education hub at High Park, there’s no end to what we can learn. Close to downtown and just off the trendy Bloor West area, High Park reaches from Bloor Street to the Gardiner Expressway and can be accessed via subway. While you’re visiting, drop into the High Park Nature Centre for a nature walk or see what’s growing at the High Park Children’s Garden.

Other great on-site locations are the High Park Zoo and Colbourne Lodge Museum. Take a walk around Grenadier Pond or check out the amazing Cherry Blossoms – only in bloom a few days during each spring!

The elusive spring cherry blossoms in High Park.

Although this short list does not nearly encompass all things nature-related in Toronto, it is meant to acknowledge the wilder parts of the city; and the places we go to distress. Next time you’re bogged down by city life, take some time to reconnect with Mother Nature. The results might surprise you.