I once joked with a friend of mine who’s also from the Maritimes that if we eventually move back East, we’ll be so desperate to shake our hardened Toronto ways that we’ll drastically overcompensate by harassing poor bedraggled homeless people, begging to hear their stories and thrusting unsolicited toonies in their fists.
It’s a constant struggle, every time someone in scraggly clothes begs for spare change or even just an ear to hear their troubles. One of the first things I learned when I moved here was to avoid eye contact, but nine out of ten times I slip up. More often than not, it ends with me emptying the contents of my change purse into their hands or winding down my car window to hand them a five dollar bill.
Except for today. Today I was all Toronto.
I was walking home from the bookstore this afternoon when a girl stopped me to ask for some change. She said she lost her bus pass and needed money to get back to Mississauga.
I took one look at her slightly grubby t-shirt and baggy pants and made a mental assessment that she was probably lying. I said I had no cash on me and walked away.
But as I started to walk up the steps to my apartment, my mind started racing with all of the possibilities. What if she wasn’t lying? What if she really was stuck in Toronto for the night with no place to go?
I was still wrestling with myself as I switched the lock on my apartment door and slipped my shoes off, arguing that I can’t give into every person who bums, that I’ll just be taken advantage of. But no more than five minutes later, I found myself rummaging through my wallet for change and running out the door.
I ran back to the spot where she approached me, but she was gone. I walked up and down the street, scoured the nearby subway station in case she’d gone in there, but she wasn’t anywhere to be seen.
Maybe she was trying to take advantage of me. Maybe they can sniff me out as vulnerable.
But that won’t stop me from opening my wallet the next time someone asks for change. Because I’d rather end my day a few bucks poorer than lose sight of who I am, and most of all, where I’m from.
Raspberry Lemonade Ice Pops
Makes 4 to 6 pops.
For a minty twist, boil one sprig fresh mint with the lemon mixture, or chop three or four sprigs and stir them into the lemon-yogurt mixture before you freeze the pops.
measuring cups and spoons
2 small saucepans
4- to 6-pop ice pop molds
wooden popsicle sticks
1 pint fresh raspberries
2 1/2 tbsp sugar, divided
Juice 2 lemons
1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt, divided
1. In a small saucepan, combine raspberries, 3/4 cup water and 1 1/2 tbsp sugar. Heat on medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.
2. In a separate small saucepan, combine lemon juice, 3/4 cup water and 1 tbsp sugar. Heat on medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until reduced by half, 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Remove raspberry and lemon mixtures from heat and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to separate small bowls and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.
4. To raspberry mixture, add 1/2 cup yogurt and stir to combine. To lemon mixture, add remaining 1/2 cup yogurt and stir to combine. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
5. Layer raspberry and lemon mixture in pop molds. Insert sticks 3/4 way into pops. Freeze until hardened, about 5 hours.