Q. Any seasonal suggestions about how to help the planet?
A. Even after a mild winter, spring is like nature's Prozac. I mean, who knew watching buds grow could make you so damn happy? (No, not those kinds of buds, although the warmer weather does make normally rigid Torontonians smile goofily at strangers on the street).
Of course, the bubble kind of bursts when you head out for a hike and bits of trash mar the way. Nothing like romantic walks on a condom- and tampon-strewn beach. This is why earth-loving citizens from across the city gather dressed in rubber boots and thick gloves to clean up their most beloved local spots. Start with your 'hood, then branch out.
Friends of the Don East's eighth annual spring fling kicks off with a cleanup of Todmorden Mills, then rewards you with a BBQ and walk through the wildflower preserve (April 15, 10 am, 416-657-2800). Or hit the shores of scenic Ward's Island with Pitch-In Canada (April 30, 9:30 am, at the ferry docks, 416-598-2277).
Mayor Miller gets his broom on at Donora Park as part of his Community Cleanup Day (which also happens to be Earth Day, April 22), but you can join in by enlisting friends, family and neigbours to clean up a back alley or park near you. 416-657-2800.
Even partying can be good for the planet. Take Sierra Club's first annual Earth Day Spring Festival, for example. It starts with a waterfront cleanup that heads west toward a tented eco fair complete with music, vendors, free workshops on organic gardening, bike maintenance and the like.
Plus, you stay refreshed with local fair-trade, organic food and drinks (10:30 am to 4 pm, 416-960-9606).
If your idea of celebrating involves bands, a dark club and alcoholic beverages (how else are you supposed to toast Mother Earth?), then check out the Blue Sky Revival at the Opera House (April 22, 7 pm, 416-870-8000).
And how better to nurse a Gaia-given hangover than with a little shrub-planting? Bright and early Sunday morning (April 23, 10 am, 416-598-2277), head down to the Toronto Island ferry gates and head out to stoically restore the Gibraltar Point sand dune ecosystem.
Or if you're an east-ender, trek over to the Taylor Massey Creek tree-planting event to help naturalize this grassy area (April 23, noon-2 pm, www.web.ca/~fode/calendar.htm).
Need a breather from all that hard work? Take a moment to get in the mood (for spring, that is) by watching birds do it. Yes, 'tis the season for the return of songbirds to their breeding grounds. And Tommy Thompson Park is prime shack-up turf. Early-bird hike (hey, I didn't invent the pun) starts at 7 am on May 13. Bring binoculars (416-661-6600 ext 5660).
Or join the cormorant welcome party. Indeed, the Leslie Spit is home to all sorts of waterbird colonies, including double-crested cormorants, ring-billed gulls and black-crowned night- herons.
Watch 'em from just across the water on Ward's Island as they get their nests ready (April 23, 11 am-4 pm, meet at the Rectory Café, Ward's Island, 416-785-8636).
Like a little more action in your nature? Bring your canoe or kayak to E.T. Seton Park to leisurely paddle down the Don River and watch the valley come to life.
What, you don't have your own canoe? Well, strap on your hiking boots and trek through the valley instead (both May 7, 9 am; register at 416-661-6600 ext 5397).
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