We had a surprising and humorous encounter with a cormorant on a recent visit to the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario. Shortly after pulling out of a parking spot in the town of Lion’s Head, we heard a loud sound coming from the back of the car. We couldn’t figure out what this was and thought that perhaps something was rolling around in the trunk. However, when the sound returned 2 or 3 more times, I turned around in the passenger seat to see if the trunk was unlatched. There, looking back at me from the rear of the car, was a cormorant. We quickly pulled over to the side of the street and got out, hoping the bird wasn’t injured in some way. S/he seemed fine–no wings held at odd angles or other obvious problems that might explain why s/he had landed on the car. So this remains a mystery to us. After looking at us for a few seconds, the cormorant hopped onto the side of the road. A man heading the other way stopped to tell us he’d been amazed to see the bird land on our car. Thankfully, Lion’s Head is a small place where other vehicles had a chance to slow down or stop to make sure they didn’t hit the bird.
Last weekend I went to the exhibition of students’ art work at OCAD, The Ontario College of Art and Design, in Toronto. I was impressed by the number of students whose work addressed their concerns about the health of the natural world.
One fibre artist, Cassidy Tam, exhibited a large work she’d created along with her idea for a children’s camp called Camp Be a Bee. I didn’t get a chance to meet Cassidy, but loved her art work and camp idea.
On her flyer, she writes:
Have you ever get scared by a furry Bumblebee? Do you know why they like to hang around in the backyard? Get ready for a two-week adventure to explore and learn about pollination and local plants that live in Toronto. From art exploration to scientific experiment, you will interact with other camp members to build a beautiful meadow just like a hard working little bee!
I was drawn to her ideas because of my concern for the health of bees. I’m also heartened when I see people working to bridge the gap of disconnection between humans and the natural world. Helping city children appreciate nature is an important part of changing our attitudes toward the larger world that sustains our lives.
Good luck, Cassidy, with your camp and your art work. Here’s Cassidy’s website. Her card, below, shows her email.
I went to the Brickworks last Sunday. The air was awash with the calls of red-wing blackbirds and soaring and diving swallows. I came upon mallards and cormorants in the ponds, plus a mournful and patient dog awaiting the return of his human companions.
Last June, as I was walking through the wild flowers beside the railroad tracks to go to the Brickworks in Toronto, I came upon this rabbit or hare late in the afternoon. If anyone can identify this animal, I’d be happy to know which creature it is.
On Sunday, I went again to Todmorden Mills in Toronto. It was sunny and relatively mild–around 8 or 9 Celsius. I walked on the little wildflower path through trees and by a pond and streams. On the way, I’d seen a cardinal atop a naked tree–pointed out to me by a young couple passing by. In the woods, I heard chickadees and a red winged blackbird. And a woman walking her dogs pointed out a woodpecker–I think it was a downy–on a nearby tree that she was photographing. I searched the ground for tiny green shoots, leaves and moss, looked in the trees and shrubs for buds and came upon a squirrel looking down at me while munching a nut.
I was thinking about the latest climate change report that came out several days earlier warning again about the changes to the climate that are already here and that will be coming. I thought about what we gain and lose when nature is protected or harmed. When I am in a natural setting, urban or more wild, I feel a link to something larger than myself. I am a living being among others in nature. I know my experience is not unique and that the companionship of humans and non is vitally important for my, and others, well-being.
You’ve likely heard that bees are dying in alarming numbers. Much of this has been traced to Neonicitinoid pesticides. Here’s a satirical look at a very serious problem that affects not only the bees but all animals who eat. Put out yesterday by the Sierra Club of Canada: Finally! Some good news for the bees… | Sierra Club Canada
It’s been a hard season for waterfowl. The extreme cold has frozen most of the Great Lakes for the first time in around 20 years. Around Toronto and north of here, there are reports of many swans and ducks being found dead because of the lack of open water that they can land on and find food in.
So on a warm day (10° C) last week when I took a long walk, I looked out over Riverdale Park off of Broadview Avenue onto melting snow. I soon realized that the specks on a sizable flooded area were actually ducks. And I wondered if they have come here because they are having trouble finding open water on Lake Ontario.
When I was a child, I loved collecting seashells along the New Jersey coast. I’d walk the beach, small bucket in hand, and find tiny rainbow coloured clam shells, the occasional little conch, scallop and mussel shells. There was also a round snail-like shell whose name I forget. I had a book, written in 1955, that I’ve kept to this day. I read it many times, pouring over the line drawings and photos.
This love of shells has remained with me throughout my life. They’ve travelled with me to the various apartments I’ve lived in. The majority of shells and bits of coral in the glass jar in this post are ones I found on beaches in the Caribbean during the 1970s and early ’80s when I used to visit relatives there. There’s also the odd shell from other wanderings plus 4 or 5 interspersed that I bought in the ’70s while travelling in Florida.
Last week we had some warmer days and on a sunny afternoon, Wednesday the 19th, I walked to Todmorden Mills Heritage Site just off the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto. I knew it was my chance to see the wooded wildflower preserve while the snow was still on the ground, ahead of predicted above-freezing temperatures and rain. As always, my mood improved greatly walking in this beautiful setting. I heard chickadees and, I believe, a cardinal above the traffic. And I loved seeing the late sunlight on the snow, trees and rail fences. Here’s some photos from that day.
Here’s a photograph I took in 2009 of birds, trees and the houses across a laneway. I think I’ve mentioned before that in winter when colours are more muted I look to the shapes of bare branches for beauty in the city.