Katherine and I first crossed paths years ago, in the academic world. I had just finished off my PhD and she was starting a post-doctoral placement with my former supervisor at the University of Toronto.
We’ve kept in touch, but always digitally, mostly over Facebook.
In June, I finally got to meet her clan: her husband Geoff, her daughter, and their three feline companions.
When I walk in to their apartment, tucked away on a quiet street just North of High Park in Toronto, I immediately feel at home. The palette is earthy greens and yellows and wood tones. Natural light bathes the place, and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves line the back wall. Metal tubs of colour-sorted markers sit on the dining table, and Katherine’s daughter begins to draw.
Katherine used to be an artist in her former career, I learn. A large acrylic painting of hers hangs facing the dining room, giving purple mountains gorgeous light and life. Two of her cats mill around; the third is shy, I hear.
We shortly set off for the shore. (Katherine had told me that if it should rain on the day of our session, we'd be heading to sing in High Park. the shore was the sunny-day contingency plan). A subway ride, and then a street-car ride, and then we cross a bridge over the Lakeshore. Geoff kindly lends me fare, as I've forgotten that you ought to pay to ride the transit.
The beach is bustling with people sunbathing and children playing, cyclists and pedestrians on the boardwalk. Summer dance hits are on full blast from a nearby boombox and we make our way to the water.
I photograph this cozy, sunny afternoon spent throwing rocks and drawing in the sand, and ice-cream stops, and swings, and climbs and falls.
It makes me miss the city. The scent of shawarma wafting through the summer air, the hum of traffic, the hiss and chimes of street-cars rounding corners, opening, and closing. Children somewhere, yelling, planes overhead, the pavement hot and the air - sticky.
At last, we retrace our steps, back on the street-car, then the subway, and we are home.
Before I pack up, Katherine’s daughter plays accordion by the window, a melancholy mix of Moonlight Sonata and other soulful melodies.
I have a three hour drive ahead of me, and this has been the second photo-session of the day (here was the first), but I feel energized as I wave goodbye and walk to my car.
I am so happy to have met this family and to have been allowed to photograph a glimpse into their perfectly urban, quietly magic life.