Art, Tools, and Ice Cream

On Saturday, I biked the 4.5 km downtown to do three things:  go to the farmers’ market, enjoy ‘Art on the Street’, and drop a few small things off at the new tool library.

Our market is a year-round market, rare in Ontario, but it’s been a fixture of this city for over 180 years, and it has its own building.  In the summer it expands to the outdoors; in the winter, it shrinks.  Fair enough; there’s very little food grown here in the winter, outside of the greenhouse industry, but the baked goods and meats and cheeses remain.  I dropped in only to buy kamut wraps and toss coins into the guitar cases of the buskers, who never fail to make me hum along on a Saturday morning.

Then it was off to the tool library, a few streets over.  While not a new concept, this is a new initiative for our city. If you’re not familiar with the concept, it’s pretty simple:  if you need a tool, from rice cookers to cement chisels, from stock pots to a screwdriver, you can borrow it from the tool library. I’d first discovered them when I was looking for a place to donate my garden tools from the old house.  A volunteer had come to pick up that load – there were quite a few tools – but now I had a few more things to give them, things that fit in the panniers of my bike.

The space was functional but effective, and all the tools are being catalogued and bar-coded for inventory control.  In a city with a lot of students, its share of low income families, and a strong community ethic towards sustainable and cooperative living, the tool library is a logical addition.  I’m eyeing the tile-cutter in my basement now: I kept it as we consider what to do with the backsplash in the kitchen…but I could always borrow it back.

I left my bike and helmet locked to the rack outside the tool library, and walked over to Art on the Street.  One street had been closed off to house this annual, tented art display and sale, and the place was crowded, cheerful and noisy.  I wandered among the art for the best part of an hour, coveting but not buying a set of glass coasters from one artist,  a mug and vase from another.  Both ‘covets’ had a raven theme, which calls to me strongly.  I’m always torn at art shows:  I am trying not to buy things, to add to the items we own because we really don’t need anything.  I have a dozen coasters and more than a dozen mugs.  But on the other hand, as an independent artist myself…we need people to buy things.  Even when there isn’t financial need, there’s the need for people to appreciate and value the art we make, whether visual or written or aural.  I’m regretting the coasters, just a bit.

I finished off with a small cone of what might be the best chocolate ice cream I’ve ever had, from a small creamery that makes ‘small-batch’ ice cream from mostly-local, in-season product, before biking the longer-but-flatter river path route home.  In retrospect, I should have had the raspberry-rhubarb ice cream….but it’s Wednesday today, the summer Wednesday market will be on downtown; we’re biking down for an afternoon showing at the little rep cinema…and the creamery will be at the market, steps from the cinema.  What better way to fuel up before the ride home?





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