Skerwink Trail, Newfoundland

Skerwink Trail

At the start of the Skerwink Trail in Newfoundland, August 2013

Another very beautiful and dramatic trail in Newfoundland is the Skerwink Trail. Skerwink is a local name for a Shearwater, a type of bird that lives in open sea–a pelagic seabird. The 5.3 km trail is near the town of Trinity.  We hiked the trail in August, often near the edge of cliffs overlooking the ocean. We took our time walking, stopping to photograph the land and sea, and to catch our breath as we climbed ever higher.

The trail is maintained wonderfully well with many stairs to help you in the ascent.  I was exhausted at the end of the trail, but did not regret taking it.

Skerwink Trail

Skerwink Trail along the Atlantic Ocean, August 2013

Skerwink Trail

A view from the Skerwink Trail, August 2013

Skerwink Trail

On the Skerwink Trail, August 2013

Skerwink Trail

Climbing the Skerwink Trail, August, 2013

Northern Pitcher Plant

Pitcher Plant

Pitcher Plant Flower, Dorcas Bay Fen at Singing Sands, Ontario, June 2013

Pitcher Plant

Pitcher Plant with view of the leaves from which plant gets its name, Dorcas Bay Fen, Ontario, June 2013

When I was on the Bruce Peninsula in June, we went to Singing Sands, part of Bruce Peninsula National Park.  The Sands are on the Lake Huron side of the peninsula with an expanse of beach and waters that remain very shallow far out.  Bordering the Sands are a woodland and fen where I took a short walk on a raised boardwalk and photographed some of the plants growing there.  

The National Park signs say that a fen is a wetland with some drainage, often a stream.  The Dorcas Bay Fen has much calcium in it, but is low in nitrogen.  This makes it a good habitat for plants that get their nitrogen from insects.  The pitcher plant is one of those.  Insects that are attracted to their flowers may fall into their pitcher shaped leaves or they may be attracted to the coloured lips of the leaves. There, among downward pointing hairs, they are trapped,  fall into collected water and drown.  Their nutrients are then absorbed by the plant, both by enzymes it secretes and by bacteria breaking down the animal.  Adventures of life and death at all levels in nature!

The Northern Pitcher Plant’s Latin name is Sarracenia purpurea.  Its sci-fi looking flowers are around 2″ wide and the pitcher leaves can be 4 – 12″ long.  The plant ranges in height from 8 – 24″.  (Thanks again for these details to my copy of the Audubon Wildflower Field Guide.)

Dorcas Bay Fen

Dorcas Bay Fen in Bruce Peninsula National Park, June 2013

While in Charlottesville


Woods and stream in Charlottesville, Virginia, April 2013

Last week when I was in Virginia, I stopped in Charlottesville.  Off the main roads, we walked in a wooded area accompanied by the melodies of song birds.  The trees and plants had put forth spring yellow-green foliage.  This was wonderful to see after travelling south from Toronto where only the first buds had begun to show.  Not that those hadn’t been welcome too, just that spring was at a more abundant stage in Virginia.


Dwarf irises in the woods, Charlottesville, Virginia, April 2013

 In the woods, I came upon wild violets and pale lavender dwarf irises arising through last autumn’s leaves.   A small stream flowed nearby and the temperature was in the upper 70s.


Redbud tree in Charlottesville, Virginia, April 2013

 To and from the woods, we walked across landscaped ground.  Redbud trees were in bloom with tulips and azaleas in a garden plus another pale green flower I have not identified. The dogwood in flower is from a nearby location.


Dogwood tree in Charlottesville, Virginia, April, 2013

To and From Virginia

Last week I travelled to central Virginia where redbuds and dogwoods were in bloom. I’ll post some of my recollections and images soon.  Meanwhile, here’s some of the cloudscapes I saw on the flights I took.


Clouds on a flight to Virginia, April 2013


Clouds on the return flight from Virginia, April 2013

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

The Limits of Language

Old Roots at Kortright Conservation Centre, Ontario

Old tree roots by a hiking trail at Kortright Conservation Centre in southern Ontario, May 2010

I’ve started this blog to make our links to nature more conscious.  We arise from nature, after all.  However, many of us feel severed from nature as we increasingly live in cities and are focused on electronic devices. We often don’t see a place for ourselves in the world that we more readily see as natural—the world of trees, plants, other animals, mountain ranges, prairies, deserts, oceans….

The English language doesn’t help with this.  Perhaps there are languages in the world that do better at noting or suggesting our bond with nature.  In English, we separate the human and the natural as we assign different words to each.  I believe we need new words for what it’s imperative that we consider.  Perhaps something like humanature would be a start.  I don’t mean to suggest that a few new words would magically reunite us with who we are, but they might be pointers that help us.