I have two blogs–this one that I now rarely post on and an art blog that I post on more frequently. Being in nature in and out of the city is a large part of what sustains me in life and allows me to create. So I’ve decided to merge both blogs by creating a nature photography section in my art blog. I’m not removing Of Humans and Nature, just not adding to it.
If you’d like to see additional nature photos of mine, do go to Arts of May. And many thanks to those of you who’ve dropped by Of Humans and Nature and who have followed me. All the best to you.
The gold and orange leaves are vivid in the ravines and streets of Toronto right now. They led me to these photos I took in 2012 at Arrowhead Provincial Park near Huntsville, Ontario. It’s a small park, but that didn’t dim its beauty when we were there a few Octobers ago.
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.
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.
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 year, in February, I photographed the fresh snow on this walkway at the Kortright Centre for Conservation, around an hour north of Toronto.
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.
After a snowfall, I took this photo at Todmorden Mills on New Year’s Day 2008. It was a day of extreme beauty.
For the past few years, we’ve had relatively mild winters in Toronto without regular snow. Not so this winter. Here’s a couple of photos I’ve taken after the last snowfall on Wednesday.