How Sweet It Is

Here’s a post after a long hiatus. I went to the Brickworks on this sunny day in Toronto. There, the light on the snow, the dried grasses, the trees were a boost to my spirit.


Be a Bee

Bee on Flower

Image courtesy of Tina Phillips /

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.


Camp Be a Bee Flyer by Cassidy Tam


Cassidy's Card


Spring is Coming to Todmorden Mills

Buds on tree

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.

Fern and moss


Woods at Todmorden Mills

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.

Buds on trees

Todmorden Mills in Winter

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.

Todmorden Mills Feb. 2014

Todmorden Mills Feb. 2014

Todmorden Mills Feb. 2014

Todmorden Mills Feb. 2014

Todmorden Mills Feb. 2014

Dreaming of Larkwhistle

Larkwhistle Garden

Larkwhistle Garden, June 2012, Bruce Peninsula, Ontario

I’m taking a break from the cold and going to Larkwhistle Garden in my mind. Larkwhistle is a terrific garden on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario that has been created and gardened by Patrick Lima and John Scanlan. For decades, they have opened the garden to visitors in the summer. But last year, they decided to end those public visiting days. 

Larkwhistle Garden

Kniphofia at Larkwhistle Garden, 2010

Larkwhistle Garden

Larkwhistle Garden, September 2010, Ontario

We have gone to this place of beauty for years since travelling to the peninsula and it remains with me in memories of flowers, birds and grace.  And with thanks to Patrick and John for what they have created and generously shared.

Larkwhistle Garden

Larkwhistle Garden’s resident cat, 2010.

Signs of the Donkey Sanctuary

Donkey Sign

Sign at The Donkey Sanctuary, with quote by Alice Walker, that I photographed in 2010

In my last post I mentioned that there are inspiring signs at the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada in Guelph, Ontario. I’ve photographed some of these over time.  Here’s several images I took between 2008 and 2013.  The charter feels like one we humans could benefit from ourselves!

Donkey Sign

Donkey Sanctuary’s Charter, photographed 2010, Lily S. May

Donkey Sign

Donkey Sanctuary sign with quote by James Herriot, photographed 2010, Lily S. May

Donkey Sign

Donkey Sanctuary sign with another quote by Alice Walker, taken in 2008.

Donkey Sanctuary of Canada

Donkeys at the Sanctuary

Donkeys at the Sanctuary, Guelph, Ontario, Sept. 2013

I thought I’d take a break from the cold and show you photos from the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada in Guelph, Ontario. I first learned about the Donkey Sanctuary from a friend a few years ago and have been visiting the Sanctuary ever since.  There, donkeys, mules and hinnies that are neglected, abused or unable to be looked after are cared for. Meeting the animals on this beautiful farmland has been a wonderful experience. It has taken me away from my own initial ignorance that donkeys might need a sanctuary.

Young Donkey

Ruby, a young donkey at the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada, Sept. 2013

At the Sanctuary are a number of signs with inspiring quotes about humans’ relationships with other animals. I’ve included a photo of one here, in addition to a pair of donkeys, plus the young Ruby who was just a few months old when we saw her in September.


Jane Goodall quotation–sign at the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada, Sept. 2013

At the Butterfly Conservatory

May 2014 bring us positive transformation!


At the Butterfly Conservatory, December 2011, Niagara Falls, Ontario

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

On the weekend, we went to see a documentary about Tokyo and its huge crow population. Before it was aired, a short documentary was shown that we hadn’t realized we’d be seeing.  It was The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom.  This was an extremely moving film about the terrifying tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, 2011. There was footage of the water coming in and wiping out a town below as people stood helpless on a hill looking down at the disaster.

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms, Image courtesy of Simon Howden/

Survivors spoke about their tremendous grief and shock at what they had witnessed. Because this tragedy occurred in the spring, the cherry trees, which are greatly appreciated in Japan, soon came into blossom. Some bloomed abundantly in areas that had not been touched by the tsunami.  And some managed to survive amidst wreckage. There were scenes of huge areas full of flattened houses and buildings that had collapsed on still missing people, wrecked and upside down cars, human belongings broken and strewn in chaotic jumbles with a tree here and there beginning to send forth these exquisite pink or white flowers.

The survivors spoke of taking comfort from the cherry blossoms. Their statements were not empty platitudes but seemed to be genuine expressions of being touched by the blossoms.  The trees’ beauty, their ability to send forth flowers after such a catastrophe gave some of the survivors the feeling that they too could continue living.  

Boyd’s Cove Beothuk Site, Newfoundland

Beothuk Memorial

Beothuk Memorial at Boyd’s Cove, Newfoundland, August 2013

This photo is of a memorial to the Beothuk created in part by visitors to the historic site at Boyd’s Cove.  The Beothuk were an indigenous people who lived in what is now Newfoundland.  At around the time that European settlers began arriving, it’s estimated there were fewer than 1000 Beothuk alive.  They were hunters and fishers who went extinct by the early 1800s.  From what I can make out without doing an extensive study, there were combined factors leading to the disappearance of the Beothuk.  These include violent confrontations with European settlers, the Beothuk’s dislocation by the settlers which led to starvation and the illnesses transmitted by the settlers.

The Boyd’s Cove Beothuk Interpretive Centre is on the site of a precontact village from around 1650 – 1720.  After viewing the historical displays, we went to the memorial area, adding shells or other objects provided for visitors.  I thought about forgotten people on whose lives we walk, as it were, unknowing.