It had been awhile since I thought about Andrew Bird, and awhile is always too long to not think about Andrew Bird’s whimsical whistling. Here is “Tables and Chairs” (there will be snacks, there will!):
On the last day of November, I woke up antsy because of a bad dream I had early that morning (thanks, overactive and naturally morbid imagination!). I wandered southward with the intention of taking photos, but it was chilly and my hands quickly grew numb. A few snowflakes swirled around me ominously. And then – unwelcome but not unexpected, late in the year as it was – the mid-morning blizzard began in earnest.
I trudged on resolutely, hatless and mittenless because I am kind of an idiot about predicting the weather, and with no idea where to take shelter. Suddenly, I looked up and saw COFFEE, its font bold and inviting, shining out at me like a beacon in the dull grey light of midmorning winter. (Which is quite distinctive from the dull grey light of late afternoon slipping into evening, am I right, fellow Canadians?)
The tiny corner coffee shop was almost empty, save for an older couple asking about directions to northern Ontario towns and two girls discussing alterations that had to be made to the coat they had stretched across their table. Andrew Bird was playing softly in the background, which is always a good sign. An Americano and a croissant later, I was warm and pleased with my random café choice.
(I keep seeing people I think I recognize, even though they are all strangers. It is a small-town syndrome that inevitably takes a while to fade when I move to a new city, and it’s probably not going to help matters that I am going back to said small town for Christmas in less than three weeks. The older couple and the two girls and the barista all looked strangely familiar.)
The café is called Ezra’s Pound, which is very punny – I think old Ezra himself would be proud to be the eponym. (And I know of a great research paper by the famous L. Murr on his crazy self and crazy wordplay.)
Dude was mad for sure – you can’t fake the crazy in those eyes. But I can’t help but think of the stark image in his poem, “In a Station of the Metro,” whenever I am immersed in the five o’clock post-work rush on the subway:
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
Things picked up at Ezra’s Pound in the early afternoon, and I left once the blizzard had stopped. And most traces of snow had disappeared by the end of the day, like it was never here. Toronto doesn’t know blizzards like Montreal. Or New Brunswick. Or Winnipeg. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t quite seem like the Christmas season is looming its shiny, red-and-green-bedazzled head…