Being from Winnipeg, I'm usually that asshole who smirks as my friends in Toronto complain about the winter: -5? Bah, that's picnic weather! -10? At least your car doesn't need to be plugged in at night! -15? Yeah, yeah, at least skin can still be exposed for more than 30 seconds before becoming frostbitten! -20? Yesterday Winnipeg was colder than MARS! But this winter, this cold, dry, grey, windy, icy winter has sucked the life from me. I'm to the point where I'm wearing inadequate winter clothing – unbuttoned coat, sneakers, no gloves – as a defiant protest against the tyrannical supremacy of winter. I'm broken, guys.Warmer times are ahead, however implausible that seems. And with warmer weather we get some serious perks. Here's the ABCs what I'm most looking forward to this summer:
A is for All the boys in tank tops and bucket hats and who ride their bikes with no hands.
B is for Baseball. I'm talking beers and hot dogs at Jays games, tacos and beer at Maple Leafs' games, and beers and beers at your softball league games.
D is for Day drinks. Having a few drinks in the park or on a patio mid-afternoon has long been one of my favourite pastimes both because of the luxury and because I can have a disco nap after dinner, snooze away my buzz, and be ready to go again by 9.
E is for El Asador's tacos. Cheap, fast and crawling distance from Christie Pitts.
F is for Festivals. Aside from the ones who get their own fancy entries, we've got Field Trip, Afrofest, Digital Dreams, Veld Music Festival, Taste of the Danforth, Beaches International Jazz Festival, Summerworks, Fringe, Luminato, Summerlicious, and Festival of Beers to name a few.
G is for Getting too drunk on hubris (and orange Bacardi Breezers) and trying to pee without taking my romper off. Feeling like a goddamn king if I pull it off without peeing on myself.
H is for Hiking and doing other nature-y shit. There are so many amazing wilderness spots both in and super close to Toronto. High Park, Toronto Island, Algoniquin, The Bruce Trail, Kortwright Centre, Crothers' Woods, Rouge Park (just make sure you don't take a wrong turn and end up on an isolated nude beach filled with masturbating men because that has happened to me 100% of the times I've tried to go to Rouge Park).
I is for the Island. BEACH DAYZ.
J is for Just making it to the LCBO before their archaic closing time of 9 pm. In Winnipeg the beer vendors are open until 2 am (with a couple being open till 3). Should we all just move to Winnipeg? Or just try to remember that the Bellwoods Bottle Shop is open until 11?
K is for Keeping toilet paper in your bag. Nothing worse than being at Trinity Bellwoods and either the bathrooms are locked or all the toilet paper rolls are totally unfurled into the surprisingly deep puddles surrounding the toilets. Always be prepared. Extra soap would also be good if you're into hygiene.
L is for Lilacs and cherry blossoms and magnolias.
M is for More drunken antics from Rob Ford. Every time RoFo takes a sloppy pic with a hot lady, take a shot.
N is for NXNE – Something to look forward to every summer but this year marks the fesitval's 20th anniversary so instead of 5 wild days/nights we get 10. Performers announced so far include Danny Brown, Metz, St Vincent, Juicy J, Run the Jewels, Spoon, Le1f, Low, tUnE-YaRdS, Kelela, Swans, Sleigh Bells, Ryan Hemsworth, Mac DeMarco, and A$AP Ferg. Don't cry for me, I'm already dead.
O is for Ovo Fest – Outkast are headlining Caribana's biggest event, Drake's Ovo Fest. OUTKAST. There will be other great artists, too, I'm sure. And Drake's going to be there but what's really important is that OUTKAST ARE HEADLINING. Also Caribana! I'm preparing by eating as much rice and peas as my body will allow.
P is for Praying that Trinity Bellwoods sandwich guy will come around soon. Oh man those sweet pickles! Although maybe this summer he could develop a better alternative to literally giving a handful of chips.
Q is for Questioning whether it's a good idea to go pool jumping. (The answer is always yes.)
R is for Road trips. I'll make the perfect mix-tape if you drive.
S is for Supporting the local economy by drinking tall cans in the park and giving the empties to the collectors. Also: Suntans, sandals and slutty cut-offs.
T is for Taking a dip. There is nothing I love more than being in water. Goes for the rain, baths, pools, the ocean but I especially adore just floating in fresh-water lakes.
V is for Victoria Day. Ah, May 2-4! You sneaky little minx! Seducing me with your unseasonably hot temperatures and tempting me to dive into still-freezing lakes. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me every year, shame on me : (((
WorldPride. I have missed the big parade every year since I moved here 9 years ago (the pains of working retail) but this is the year I'm going to hit all three parades, catch some of the shows and just get a little rowdy with the millions of visitors who are going to flood our city to celebrate.
X is for the (E)X. Here y'all call it the CNE but back in Manitoba it's the Red River Ex. Taking in the bright lights, people watching and gorging on outrageous deep-fried "food" is a pretty great way to finish off the summer. Oh and there's rides, too.
Y is for Y ISN'T IT SUMMER YET.
Z is for Zero reason to stay inside. Rain or shine I'm gonna eat outside, nap outside, run outside and make up for the all the winter hibernation. Come on vitamin D overdose!
Photos by Rebekah Hakkenberg