I sit here, serenaded by our neighbourrhood nice crazy (as opposed to the many very irritating ones. CAMH is just across the road). He’s probably 3 blocks away and his plaintiff tenor wafts through the air. I saw him singing fortissimo a few days ago, as he skateboarded over the college st trolley tracks in the busy traffic, his head high, dressed for modest but tasteful street living, the spitting image of Jake Angeli, the Siegmund parody among the jan6 invaders of the capitol.

We are so lucky to have with some beautiful music on oxford, however random. After finally getting wacky neighbour Gitte’s son to take away her yappy mongrel, a new dog howls for hours now, mercifully another floor and generally a sad, abandoned moan. Much better than bullet-like yapping. 

5 hrs door to door (as it turned out). Brilliant sun, no agenda, happy with my Presstv interview. US-Israel is good cop-bad cop in the middle east. Biden can’t actually do anything. He’s lucky Trump left him a deal in Afghanistan, for which he extended the deadline but followed through on. He had no use for Afghanistan by the time Obama got strong-armed into his build-up, which he knew wouldn’t work, but would keep the boys busy while he struck a deal with Castro. Obama is a chameleon. And his anointed successor was happy to undo one of the few good things Obama did.

So, ‘feed the birds’ and bamos to finch west, bits of the finch corridor trail, hailed by some friendly workers directing me out of the construction site, under the ribbon of death #127, down weston and right. Bingo! Trail, but suspect. Too easy. Looking at my puzzled map reading, a squat, wiry gray-haired, grizzled old Jamaican axed me where i was going. (luv Jamaican English)

‘Not right. Don’t worry, I'll take you to the path entrance.' Off we set, with my new friend drinking a beer and peddling in low gear to help him keep balance, the seat set for a child just in case. It was cool to be a guest of the 'hood'.

My first of many blacks walking and cycling. This is close to jane and finch, a desolate suburb of 30 story monstrosities and very high crime. Glad to see the peaceful denizens out enjoying nature. And sooo nice to see people's faces again! not a mask in sight. I explored the trails going up to finch where the path under finch was securely wired ‘off limits.’ 

Oh well. I retraced my steps, sat to take in the visual highlight of a very visual day. The bend on the Humber, both shores aflame with rushes gone to seed. Hard to beat that, I thought, as i headed on. Unexpectedly, my first gracious ‘hello, from a dignified old man, walking towards me. 

Feeling upbeat, i ended up following a Chinese cyclist who didn’t understand ‘Humber river’ but had me following, glad for company, till i asked again. ‘Not right. This way Brampton. Go back where we met and before hilly turn .. well i figured I’d ax later. 

More bad following of bad directions, several detours later, one hispanic jock ‘can i help you?’ and Jose whips out his cell phone and quickly shows me my route, involving left/ right/ left/ right to the dreaded eglinton, which looks like a blast scene. Fortunately, lots of cyclists so I couldn’t get too lost.

A Chinese couple very friendly. The woman ‘you are so smart, looking at the map.’ ‘The blind leading the blind,’ I laughed. I took their picture in the dazzling fall colours. They had done much the same as me: subway to pioneer village (waste of time) and managed to hook in to the trail going south. Not easy. I bet they had much the same 'fun' getting to the trail as I did.

Heartened by all the friendliness, I decided to switch on bike-tour mode and go right down to Lake Ontario and then across and back home. South of bloor was magnificent, some well-graded sections where you could fly. I love the ‘stick-shift feeling of shifting to 3rd, 4th and then overdrive for the long downhills. Fortunately, not many people there. And as i tootled along, suddenly a deer with antlers at the roadside. Like a postcard. It looked indifferently at me and slowly crossed and disappeared. 

Then farther south on a short suburbia path-detour, as I paused to coast through a green space and gather strength, my third beautiful smile, unprovoked, a 40ish lady stepping daintily in the deep grass, trying to cross, waited till i passed and I did my best to dazzle-smile back. Better than a protein drink, as I coasted downhill and through grassy parkland, I happened on a man, woman, sitting playing with their dog. I stopped to put on my jacked and secure my map, which kept trying to escape and peaked at their quiet intimacy. What a beautiful ensemble, the women clearly in love, oblivious to me in the distance.

Suddenly nonstop crowds. And my legs!

I would gladly have hopped on a subway, but too late. Suddenly the thought of the crowds down on the lakefront and the long uphill haul home lost all appeal. But as i flagged, I saw the sign for the queensway. Oh ya. Boring quasi-expressway but with a bike path. It would save a halfhour off my final leg. 

Streets are confusing and the nasty railway snaking up dundas made to kill cyclists. I remembered brock has an underpass, so under the rails and presto! A bike path east. Freshly painted, shepherding cyclists up one-way streets, left, right, left, to Trinity Bellwoods park. Toronto really is becoming a biking city. I stopped to rest. 

Many couples sitting on the grass in the dusk. One woman balanced her knees on her mate’s feet as he lay on the ground. She kneeled upright, the delicate balancing act suddenly fraught with danger. She reached down but couldn’t touch his outstretched hands, and finally fell, trusting him to catch her.

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here http://www.claritypress.com/WalbergIV.html