多倫多市區冬之樂園 Toronto’s Downtown Winter Wonderland

圖、文/劉力嘉
翻譯/賴彥如

 

多倫多今年二月異常暖和,天時地利,溜冰正好:氣溫夠低足以結冰,卻也不至於凍僵手指,即使不戴手套也沒關係。無庸置疑,市中心最受歡迎的溜冰場所正是菲利普斯廣場(Nathan Phillips Square)。這個偌大的市民廣場位於舊市政廳的東側、新市政廳的北邊,廣場中央的大水池(也是藝術家艾未未2013年一系列雕塑作品的場景)在冬季會變身溜冰場,成了冬之樂園。

菲利普斯廣場一直都是熱門觀光景點,2015年泛美運動會在這設置了大大的「多倫多」字樣標誌之後,讓廣場更加生氣蓬勃,很快就成為地標。觀光客和當地人都很喜歡這個大標誌,夜間燈亮時總有無數攝影者前來朝聖;字樣的顏色還會隨著都市時事變化,像在同志週時閃耀著彩虹色共襄盛舉,或在大聯盟賽季時換上藍白色為藍鳥隊加油。現在廣場噴泉邊要是少了這幾個大字,絕對會黯然失色。

我在溜冰場邊散步時,天空烏雲密布,陽光正試圖穿透雲層,給予溜冰的人一些溫暖。這是一個慵懶的週日午後,菲利浦斯廣場上各個年齡層的人都有—年輕家庭、學生、情侶,有人在玩冰上曲棍球,有人在溜花式滑冰,還有初試啼聲學溜冰的老人家。場邊的擴音器播著流行樂,等著買熱巧克力的人大排長龍。「多倫多」的標誌已經是熱門的碰面和休憩點,想自拍或觀賞人潮,這裡也是絕佳位置。

「各位,星期天好!」擴音器發出熱情洋溢的聲音,「沒錯,今天真美好,這就是正港的加拿大。歡迎來到菲利普斯!」

我站在溜冰場邊,右手邊的人扛著一台攝影機(應該是地方電視台的人),我倆一同享受著面前這幅經典的冬季場景。市政廳聳立在我們後方,照看著它的市民。雖然沒人會稱讚菲利普斯廣場美麗,但它作為公共空間展現的活力絕對有口皆碑。溜冰場免門票、免登記,人人皆可使用,是個民主的空間。假如你沒有自己的溜冰鞋,只要花幾塊錢就能租借一雙;如果不想溜冰,光是觀看他人就夠有樂趣:四歲孩子在冰上跌倒又爬起來,青少女咯咯笑,手牽著手整排人一起溜。

突然間,冰上起了一陣騷動,我把注意力移回溜冰場內,一群人在冰上圍成一圈,我歪著頸子,終於從縫隙間瞄到一個溜冰的人正將一束花遞給一個雙膝跪地的年輕男子,男子收下花束,連同黑色的戒指盒一起呈向面前的女友。這時我才發現剛才那個攝影師已經不在我旁邊了,他正站在求婚現場的中央,攝影機直直對著這對情侶。

年輕女子驚訝地掩著臉,群眾鼓譟著,「答應他!答應他!」最後她接受了花束,點點頭,男子起身親吻她,把戒指滑進她的手指,然後高舉兩人緊握的雙手,此刻一陣歡聲雷動。

所有人拍手,為歡樂的結局歡欣鼓舞,然後群眾很有默契地迅速散去,讓這對情侶好好獨處。溜冰場又恢復了熙攘,人潮順時針滑著冰,一切如常。

「有什麼比真愛更甜蜜呢?」擴音器傳來的話語語重心長,像是撥雲見日的陽光照耀在冰上。「恭喜這對戀人!在這美好的日子,謝謝你們暖了我們的心。」

攝影師又回到我身旁,肩上還背著裝備。我看向他,我們眼神交會時,他對我眨了眨眼,然後不知從哪摸出一副太陽眼鏡戴上,又混入人群,等待下一個故事。我點頭微笑,轉身離開,也繼續尋找我的故事。 

 

Toronto’s Downtown Winter Wonderland

It was an unseasonably warm February in Toronto, and all month the conditions had been perfect for skating: cold enough for the ice to remain frozen, but mild enough that your fingers won’t freeze without wearing gloves. One of the most popular spots for skating in the heart of downtown is, without a doubt, Nathan Phillips Square, a large public plaza that is anchored by the old City Hall to the east, and the present City Hall to the north. At the centre of the Square is a large water fountain (Ai Weiwei used it as a setting for a sculpture series in 2013) that turns into a skating rink in the winter, transforming the space into a Winter Wonderland.

Although Nathan Phillips Square has always been a prime tourist spot, the addition of a large “TORONTO” logo in 2015 for the Pan-Am Games greatly revitalized the space, and made the Square instantly iconic. Both tourists and locals alike have embraced the sign at once, and the allure of the brightly lit letters have drawn countless photographers to the site. The colours of the signs even change regularly to reflect the heartbeats of the city, such as rainbow colours to celebrate LGBTQ Pride week, or blue and white to cheer on Toronto’s beloved baseball team, the Blue Jays. It is now astounding to imagine a time when the signs have not stood at the foot of the Nathan Phillips fountain.

The clouds were ominously dark when I strolled by the skating rink, but the sun kept breaking through, casting warmth on the flushed cheeks of skaters. It was a lazy Sunday afternoon and Nathan Phillips Square was filled with people of all ages – young families, school-friends and lovers, hockey skaters and figure skaters and elderly folks skating for the first time. Pop music boomed out of the speakers at the edge of the rinks, and the line for hot chocolate was healthy. The “TORONTO” sign was a popular meeting place and sitting area, as well as for the usual selfies and people-watching.

“Happy Sunday, folks,” an enthusiastic voice boomed out from the speakers. “Yup, it’s a beautiful one and this is as Canadian as it gets. Welcome to Nathan Phillips!”

I stood at the side of the rink, just to the left of a guy with a large video-camera (probably from the local news station, I thought), enjoying this classic winter scene. Behind us, Toronto City Hall stood silently, watching over its citizens. Even if nobody would call the design of Nathan Phillips Square “beautiful”, its function as a vibrant public space is undeniably successful. The public skating rink is the ultimate equalizer and democratic space. There is no entry fee and no sign-up lists. If you don’t have your own skates, you can rent a pair for a few dollars. If you don’t want to skate, you can still have plenty of entertainment watching the four-year-olds take their falls on the ice and get up to try again, or the group of teenage girls all holding hands and giggling as they skate together in a row.

Suddenly, there was a commotion on the ice, and I turned my attention back to the rink. A crowd had formed a circle around something, and – cranking my neck – I caught a glimpse of a skater passing a bouquet of flowers to a young man on his knees, who presented it along with a black ring case to his girlfriend standing in front of him. With a start, I realized that the cameraman was no longer beside me, but right in the centre of the proposal, camera directly aimed at the lovers.

The young woman held her hand over her mouth in shock while the crowd shouted encouragements. “Say yes! Say yes!” They chanted. Finally, beaming, she took the flowers and nodded. A cheer erupted as the young man got up to his feet and kissed her, slid the ring on her finger, and held up their joint hands in the air.

Everyone clapped, thrilled by the happy ending; then, as if silently agreeing to let the couple have their private moment, the crowd quickly dispersed, and the rink returned to its normal clockwise frenzy.

“Ah, is there anything sweeter than true love?” the deep voice on the speakers mused, as a bright ray of sunshine broke through the clouds and onto the ice. “Congratulations, love birds! Thank you for warming our hearts on this wonderful day.”

The cameraman made his way back to my side, his equipment resting on his shoulder. I looked over at him, and as our eyes met, he winked; then, smoothly procuring a pair of sunglasses from out of nowhere and putting it on, he once again blended into the crowd, waiting for his next story. I smiled and nodded at him in acknowledgement before I turned to leave, looking for my next one.

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gladstone

劉力嘉
出生台灣,七歲移民加拿大,景觀及都市設計背景,喜歡邊旅行、邊畫畫。現居多倫多。
www.lichialiu.com


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