Toronto in May (a teacher training exercise, post 1)
Torontonians can almost always count on May to be where spring reliably emerges, bringing with it emotional renewal and visible transformations.
May is when vegetation in Toronto makes its swiftest change in appearance and visibility. On a chilly, rainy late April afternoon, tree buds just begin to appear. Within a week into May, full green leaves emerge as though summer has arrived (see Figure 1). For those with floral blooms, the appearance and replacement with leaves happens so suddenly and at different times during the month, depending on the type of tree. High Park hosts one of the more stunning displays–Sakura Hanami or “cherry blossom viewing”–which if not attended during the best week can be a year-long wait. In fact, High Park Nature Centre suggests the peak time to see them at their 100% bloom may be during the week of May 6.1
Another refreshing transition is evidenced in the types of drinks available and ordered at coffee shops throughout the city in May. It is during these early warmer weeks that Torontonians begin ordering cold drinks, like Tim Horton’s iced cappucino. The greater volume of warm days occurring in spring may directly contribute to the greater volume of cold coffee-related drinks sold. While in May 2011 Toronto experienced 7 days above 23°C (average: 25.6°C)2, in 2012, these warmer days doubled in number (14) and average temperature (26.7°C).3 In fact, Tim Horton’s revenues in the second quarter of 2012 reported an increase of over $80 million compared to the previous year4, which in part is reflected in the strong sales of cold-drinks during this time.
A related outdoor beverage activity that May first affords in terms of frequency is consuming alcohol on patios. Patios in downtown Toronto are widespread in number5 and provide local restaurants and pubs with increased sales. Torontonians notoriously relish the opportunity to move out from their indoor confines when weather permits, even in months when normally this would seem impossible. On January 12, 2013, record temperatures of 15°C prompted “several bars and restaurants [to take] the patio furniture out of storage so customers could enjoy a drink or two in the outdoors.“6 Despite this passionate patio culture, a city-wide bylaw requires patios to close at 11PM to curb residential noise complaints. Fortunately for some, this bylaw can be circumvented by neighbourhood councillors, resulting in closing time variances between the bylaw requirement and 2AM.7
Apart from transformations in scenery and consumption, May in Toronto gives the ample number of dog-owners and their canine companions a first opportunity to spend longer periods of time outdoors. Throughout the winter months, cold temperatures, snow and salted sidewalks make it challenging for both pet owners and their dogs to enjoy for any duration. Toronto has over 30 official off-leash dog parks in the downtown core alone8, and discussion continues on whether or not to allow free run in all Toronto parks between 9PM and 9AM.9 Regardless of the final decision, it is in May, however, that warmer air and dryer outdoor spaces result in a plethora of dog communities to emerge for the summer.
Though this list of reasons is not exhaustive, one can easily argue that transformations can be seen and they have a renewing effect on Torontonian attitudes after a long winter.
1 High Park Nature Centre. (2013) “High Park Cherry Blossom Watch,” High Park Nature Centre.
2 Environment Canada. (2011) “Daily Data Report for May 2011,” Environment Canada.
3 Environment Canada. (2012) “Daily Data Report for May 2012,” Environment Canada.
4 Johnson, J. (2011) “Tim Hortons profit rises on franchise revenues and stronger sales,” Financial Post: August 9, 2012.
5 blogTO. (2012) “Toronto Patio Guide,” blogTO.
6 CityNews. (2013) “Spring-like weather hits the GTA,” CityNews: January 12, 2013.
7 Winsa, P. (2011) “No patio culture in your ‘hood? Thank your local councillor,” Toronto Star: May 20, 2011.
8 Toronto.ca. “People, Dogs and Parks Off-Leash Parks Listing,” Toronto.ca: Parks, Forestry & Recreation.
9 CBC. (2012) “City to study dogs running leash-free in parks,” CBC News: November 1, 2012.
As you read through this post, can “teacher-you” see the assignments aims*, measurable objectives* and instructions* from which this emerged? Could these questions be asked of our writing students instead?
In Post 2, I’ll take you through what they are and you can tell me if I succeeded.
*aims = global aims that you want the exercise to achieve for students
*objectives = assessable skills practiced by students doing the exercise
*instructions = what you would write on an assignment sheet given to students