Kortright Centre–Early Winter

Kortright Boardwalk

Boardwalk at Kortright Centre for Conservation, Dec. 2012

A few days before Christmas, I went northwest out of Toronto to the Kortright Centre for Conservation near Kleinburg, Ontario.  We had had no snow in Toronto at that point.  Our first was on the night of Dec. 26th.  At Kortright we found a dusting of snow in the woods. 

Kortright Boardwalk

Another view of the Boardwalk at Kortright Centre, Ontario, Dec. 2012

Kortright Stream

Stream at Kortright Centre, Ontario, Dec. 2012

As ever, this humble, yet beautiful, 800 acres of land lifted my spirits.  We hiked through the woods to the stream noting familiar, well-loved trees and hills and my favourite old roots from a fallen tree beside a trail.  I’ve photographed these roots in all seasons over the years.  And I’ve also painted them from several angles, bringing the peace of the near countryside into the city as I painted.

Old Roots Kortright

Old Roots at Kortright, Ontario, Dec. 2012

Old Roots Painting

Painting of Old Roots at Kortright by Lily S. May, 2008

We continued on, and I believe we saw an owl in the woods.  A bird with a large wingspan flew onto a tree too far away for me to clearly see his or her details.  But the silhouette seemed to me one of an owl.  I have heard of daytime owl sightings at Kortright in the past, but had never before seen the bird.  Earlier we’d seen a cardinal and blue jay at feeders outside the café and, as we hiked, we heard the calls of chickadees.

Winter Solstice in Toronto

Winter Solstice Crowd

The crowd in Alexandra Park for Winter Solstice, Toronto, 2012

Tonight I went with friends to the Kensington Market Winter Solstice Parade.  This year, because of the rain and drizzle, there ended up being no parade that we could see.  There were people wandering about with wonderful handmade lanterns wondering what was happening until word spread to head over to Alexandra Park.  There, we came upon a lively band and were in time to see a huge bonfire and, perhaps, acrobats twirling flames.  I say perhaps, because all three of us ranged from very short—me—to moderately so and could barely see over the throngs of people.  However, I caught glimpses of the roaring fire and sparks and had a fine unobstructed view of nearby trees lit from below by the intense orange light.  Though soggy, this was an enjoyable, abbreviated celebration marking the longest night of the year and ushering in the return of light.

Tree lit by bonfire

Tree lit by bonfire in Alexandra Park, Toronto, Dec. 21, 2012

Athabasca Falls

Athabasca Falls

Athabasca Falls, September 2012

On this, another day of grey skies in Toronto, I have returned to memories of the Rocky Mountains in September.  One of my favourite places was 30 kms south of Jasper, Alberta, off the Icefields Parkway—Athabasca Falls.  We went there twice, the second time on a day when we were not exhausted by beauty and could take leisurely time there.

Athabasca Falls

Athabasca Falls, September 2012

Here’s a few photos of the rocks and the water that has shaped them over time.  A wonderful and healing tonic!

Athabasca Falls

At Athabasca Falls, Sept. 2012

Through the Train Window

Grasses by the Tracks

Grasses by the GO Railway Tracks, east of Toronto, December 2012

I took the GO Train out of Toronto this past weekend, heading a little east.  As always, I enjoy the wild, overgrown places you can often see by railroad tracks.  I focus on them in the sterile-looking parts of the journey.  In the same way, I look for trees and bushes interspersed among uniform suburban developments, bleak factories and storage bunkers.

Gulls in a parking lot

Gulls in a parking lot at a GO station east of Toronto, December 2012

Through the train’s window, I saw these plus ring billed gulls resting in a station’s empty parking lot and views of Lake Ontario with waves rolling in on the wind.

Near Lake Ontario

Through the GO train window near the Rouge Hill Station, Dec. 2012

I’ve taken to photographing trees and shrubs at times while the train is moving.  I enjoy the resulting blurred images that are often surprising.

As the train starts up

As the train pulls out of the Rouge Hill Station, a photograph of trees near Lake Ontario, Dec. 2012

The photos here show the cloudy day it was, filled with the muted colours often associated with melancholy, while softly holding the season.

Tree near Lake Ontario

Trees and bushes near Lake Ontario, Dec. 2012