I love traditions, and the residents of Toronto Island have a doozy. Last night, they hauled dozens of Christmas trees to Ward’s Beach and had a bonfire. I went last year and no doubt wrote about it in WordPress but my memory of such writing is tucked away in some inaccessible spot. It’s time for now.
I took the ferry across as the sun was setting. When what to my wondering eyes should appear but smoke rising above the trees. “They started without me!” And indeed they had.
I followed the path of humanity across parkland and through the brush … and there was the fire, licking high into the darkening sky. Maybe 200 people stood at a respectful distance. The local costume-clad band pounded out a rhythm on their drums and horns. I was in the presence of a community.
A family emerged out of the black, carrying a large Christmas tree. Mom, dad, son and daughter. With a ho heave ho and a “One … two … three!” the evergreen lofted and plopped into the blaze. The crackling sound burst upon us, along with a light that illuminated all. And the blast of heat! Yes. The heat without clearly inspired the heat within, as smiles broke open faces and cheers danced with applause.
Some ploppers waltzed around the flames before depositing their treasure. Gifts ranged from gigantic spruces to the tiniest of boughs. Givers from 70-somethings to wee kids. One train of five children launched a long pile of wood shavings upward. There were endless crackles and glows for ninety minutes or more. Sparks flew upwards against the crescent moon and sometimes sideways towards faces. I felt some pricks of fire and brushed them off. All part of the astonishing energy.
Two women hooped around the fire. How someone can keep a hula hoop going just above her knees is beyond me, but she did it. Later she reappeared rotating a hoop alive with fire. The glow circled up and circled down, much to the joy of kids young and old. The second woman hooped with ecstasy lighting her face. Her body moved sensuously and the vibrancy of her soul added to the erotica. A young girl tried to keep a hoop aloft with little success but frequent visits to the ground wouldn’t stop her smile.
Many a time I looked around to wonder at the togetherness, the relationship, the community feeling. The water lapped softly on the beach. All was dark save for the blaze and a few far off lights. The intensity of the city was worlds away. All was well.