The time of harvest

It’s disconcerting to live in a Toronto neighbourhood — though I live a spit away from downtown, Roncesvalles, like many other neighbourhoods in this city, is very much a small village. So much so, today the entire street was closed off for our “Harvest Festival”. It’s an odd twist to a country fair, for though it boasts the same small midway rides, and the same games of skill and chance, the traditional harvest produce is replaced with end-of-season merchandise — endless rows of tables, burdened with deeply discounted and slightly dusty wares (no tax all weekend!), on display outside each and every store. Crowds gather around to watch and laugh at the antics of various buskers, and police officers sporting yellow windbreakers, perched on mountain bikes, stand watch over the beer garden set up right in front of the big Roman Catholic church. The vestiges of Roncesvalles’ once-predominant Polish population stream out of the church tonight after Saturday night mass, right into the large marquis tent out in the middle of the road where cold beer and the oompah stylings of a live band playing polkas await them.  Neighbours meet and greet, just like any small village. I pass a local drunk standing half-way up a driveway, marvelling at the length of time it was taking him to finish a very public pee against a hedge.

It’s cool tonight — the first time all summer that I’ve needed a sweater to stay warm. I’m glad I brought most of my houseplants back indoors a few days ago, for though the hurricane was a dud, it’s too cold for them now anyway.

Still, I’m enjoying my own continuing harvest of herbs, tomatoes, peppers, and soon, my one lonely and undersized eggplant — the fruits of my own modest and pot-bound agriculture labours this summer.