Saturday, December 10, 2011

the tree man is here

Very cold, at last - it really feels like a Canadian December. I was bundled to the eyeballs today when I rode my bike along Spruce Street, passing the Christmas tree man who has been setting up his tree lot on the corner of Spruce and Parliament for 58 years - living in a little trailer for a month, surrounded by evergreens, as if he's camping in a tiny forest of his own making. Every year, his arrival was a source of great excitement to my kids - "Here's here!" That meant Santa would soon be here too. These days, every corner store also sells trees, so I'm always afraid he's going to give up. But there he was, for the 58th time. And as I pedalled stiffly by, who did I see buying their tree from him, supporting tradition in the best way, but my neighbours Michael Ondaatje and Linda Spalding.

Speaking of Mr. O., apparently his new book "The Cat's Table" is marvellous. Eleanor Wachtel says so, and she knows her good reads. She was over for lunch this week, telling me how much she enjoyed taping tomorrow's show with Claire Tomalin talking about Dickens; how much that's new there is to learn about this famous novelist and personality. She also thought I'd enjoy her interview with Wim Wenders about his Pina Bausch film next Thursday, so I wrote it dutifully in my calendar, and won't miss it. We've been friends since 1975, and it's great to see her thrive.

That's a poem.

CBC radio, 99,1, Sunday at 3 for Dickens; Tuesday Dec. 20 at 9 p.m. for Wenders.

Speaking of German filmmakers, Mr. Ghomeshi interviewed Werner Herzog last week about his latest documentary. "We are looking, not for facts, but for illumination," Herzog said. "I try to bring something to the audience that illuminates them - the ecstasy of truth."

The ecstasy of truth! Love it.

Speaking of something completely different, you will be happy to hear that my house is rented. It's rented, in fact, a bit more than I'd planned - three young engineering students from Belgium are arriving mid-February and departing 13 weeks later in mid-May, whereas I'm only away for six weeks. That leaves quite a few weeks when I may be camping in my office - or maybe in St. James park, like the Occupy protestors. Hey, can't complain. The Belgians are paying to live in Toronto in the bitterness of March and April, when I will be swanning around the south of France, England, and Paris.

Nice work if you can get it.


  1. I remember that Christmas Tree man well. I always bought my tree from him if I didn't go out to Drysdale's and cut one down. Ah, Cabbagetown. Ah Kaplan. How I miss thee.

  2. Come on up, Tom! Cabbagetown misses thee too! Nobody puts seven hundred twinkly Christmas lights all over their place like you did, the stingy creeps.