• Malu Baumgarten

Pieces of Toronto Under the Sun and the Pandemic

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

Alone, I walk the streets of Toronto. I feel the pain of the city and in the city, is the pain of the world. Twenty-three years in a foreign land, a long life behind me, and I have never felt so close to her, this big, sprawling city where I live. I started to walk it at the end of winter, treading through the icy streets to kill the longing for Brazil and the summer, where I had recently been. The pandemic came with the spring when the sun was still a promise and the cold insisted on lingering. From one day to the next, with the news of the virus, the city that had started opening to the sun closed in itself. Schools, workplaces were shut down, meetings were prohibited, and we learned to fear one another, turn our faces away when we stumbled upon others in the street, wait for the next elevator to avoid going up with a neighbour.

With the ravines thawing and the temperatures above zero, I intensified my walks. For a while, I walked the cemetery trails. It was beautiful as a giant garden and populated by wild animals, raccoons, coyotes, squirrels, the most diverse birds. I marched fiercely, breathing in cold air and exhaling fog. Then the authorities began to tighten their grip on the city. They closed the cafes, the libraries, the bathrooms, and also the cemetery, to prevent people from going out to the street. In agony without parks or green areas, people continued to go out, but now creeping between narrow streets, brushing one another as they passed, fearing death in the breath of others.

I sought refuge in the ravines, which are green valleys of preserved forest in the middle of the city, and the ravines in April were still brown and bare of leaves. I discovered a whole, secret, hidden, and lonely world of interconnected ravines, forests that greened before my eyes, creeks, brooks, abandoned train tracks that run through the city, and the great Don River. In the middle of the pandemic, I found Toronto and its pains of a rich city with so many homeless poor. My steps take me each day to new and secret, rich, fabulous, scary places. I walk alone, I don't stop, I don't smile, I don't run away. I live a love affair with this city frightened by the plague, and its loneliness is mine, its sleepless nights are mine, its regrets for the dead are my regret for the ones who are dying here and also in my country, on the other side of the continent. Summer is on the way; the city has turned green and in the streets of Toronto I walk and look with wide-open eyes at the world that unfolds inside and out of me.

Texto e imagens ©Malu Baumgarten - todos os direitos reservados à autora

Words and photography ©Malu Baumgarten - all rights reserved

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