We went to the Brick Works on Sunday after a wet snow on Saturday. We started out under a cloudy sky that gave way to blue patches, then to bright sun. We were among other walkers, a cross country skier and many frolicking dogs.
A week ago Sunday we went to the Brick Works which has been flooded twice this year from torrential rains. A little over a week after the last flood and a clean-up effort, the site had recovered quite a bit. On the way over, the wildflowers by the railroad were dense leaving only the tiniest of paths to stumble through.
Shortly after arriving at the Brick Works, we saw this black-crowned night heron in one of the ponds. He or she stood hunched and still for long periods, except when catching a meal. It is heartening to see wildlife in Toronto in this place where nature is being restored so close to a major highway.
Several days ago and today, Victoria Day in Canada, I went to one of my favourite haunts–the Evergreen Brick Works. Sometimes the textures and shapes of the landscape call out to me to be photographed in black and white. These were from wooded paths around the perimeter of the Brick Works, some of which lead to ravines that wind through the city.
We’ve had a week of sunshine and warm weather in Toronto–like a dream of love. This has given way to rain and cooler temperatures which will make the plants quite happy.
The gardens have been bursting with flowers. Magnolias, redbud trees, flowering plums, tulips, daffodils, grape hyacinths, forget me nots, periwinkles and violets have greeted me throughout the neighbourhood. Two days ago, the yellow green maple flowers began dusting the sidewalks and lawns. And at the Brick Works and Todmorden Mills, the sun and leaves of budding trees have formed canopies of light.
These have been joyful days to be alive amidst birdsong and the return of vibrant colour.
A week ago Saturday, on a beautiful sunny day in Toronto, we decided to walk to a favourite haunt—Evergreen Brick Works. There, I saw the first colt’s foot flowers I’ve ever seen. Either I’ve been unobservant or they haven’t been that plentiful in the past. Another possibility is that I haven’t been in the right location at the right time. I also saw two large pussy willow trees which I have loved since childhood.
The call of the red winged blackbirds was a welcome sound as was the sight of two Canada geese. Though they are a plentiful bird whom many regard as nuisances, there they were by a pond, looking quite fine to me.
Since then, crocuses have been adorning early gardens and I’ve been hearing the lovely song of the robin.
Yesterday and the night before we got 25 – 30 cm of snow in Toronto. This was the most significant snowfall we’ve had this year, and the most we’ve had in the past five. Last year we shockingly had only a dusting here and there.
I went out walking in the storm yesterday. I loved seeing the fresh snow and felt a sudden sense of loss because snows like this used to be regular occurrences and not the big deal this one seemed. I was then glad I could feel love for snow, something that I didn’t realize I strongly felt. And glad I could feel this before snow becomes even more rare than it is now, as it seems it will.
Today my husband and I went to the Evergreen Brick Works to take advantage of the beautiful sights I felt awaited us at this former industrial site turned into a sanctuary of sorts. We weren’t disappointed. Here are some of the photos I took.
This past Sunday, Remembrance Day, was an unseasonably warm day of 18 degrees Celsius in Toronto–a record breaker. To take advantage of the warmth, in the afternoon we went to The Evergreen Brick Works. We walked along the railroad tracks, past milkweed and thistles and a disheartening array of tires dumped there.
At the Brick Works, we found that many people had the same idea as us and were strolling around the grounds and enjoying the day. The colours are now soft—mostly muted browns, beiges, yellows and greens.
At the North Slope of this once quarry was a Toronto Parks and Recreation sign noting the geology of the slope that reveals evidence of several ages of ice alternating with warm periods. The sign reads as follows:
-The North Slope is a geological feature of international significance.
-Professor A. P. Coleman, a world-renowned Toronto geologist, first identified the significance of this slope in 1894.
-This site was one of the first in the world to reveal a rare sequence of climate change. The deposits here indicate a glacial episode, followed by a period of climate slightly warmer than today’s, followed by another glacial episode, and lastly the climate of today.
There’s also a drawing on the sign indicating the age of the deposits that make up the North Slope. These range from the bedrock which is 448 million years old, to deposits over 135,000 years old and lastly to the most recent ones in the top layer which accumulated 13,000 – 50,000 years ago. I like to contemplate life from this other perspective—it certainly helps with a feeling a humility.
I’ll be adding many more posts about my time in the Canadian Rockies. I think of the mountains every day and miss them. Meanwhile, in Toronto it’s autumn. The turning leaves are beautiful and bring me solace as I travel around the city.
Today, it was very warm and sunny. I returned to the Brick Works—passing milkweed in luminous seed by the railway tracks. Other people strolled about on this lovely day and I spoke to a woman who had seen eastern bluebirds at the Brick Works yesterday.
I saw and heard red winged blackbirds, chickadees and mallards. Also, I heard what I believe were finches or warblers of some sort.
And at the Brick Works, I read a sign about the geology of the land here. It was good to relate my new found interest to the land close to home. And to contemplate, as I had in the west, that we live off of life much older than ourselves.
The sign reads:
The rock of this west quarry wall is shale with harder layers of silty limestone. It originated in a tropical sea around 448 million years ago. If you look closely you may see some fossils…The presence of easily accessible shale made this site valuable as a brick making operation.
In Toronto, Canada, there’s a green space we love to visit on the site of an old brick works quarry and factory. This place has developed, through a national charity called Evergreen and the work of people in the community, into a life giving area that attracts many visitors. There’s a farmer’s market every Saturday, a restaurant, gift shops, a garden centre, places for workshops and, most importantly, trees, shrubs, grasses, flowers, ponds and wildlife.
Yesterday, we went for an afternoon ramble on a holiday Monday in Ontario. We walked down the hill and onto a path by a seldom used railroad track alongside Queen Anne’s Lace, hearty yellow wildflowers whose name I forget and the husks of thistles. At the Brick Works, we walked around the ponds, seeing a small turtle, reeds and many water lily pads with white flowers, then up onto a shady path along the edge of a wooded ravine. Here we looked down on the ponds we’d just passed and stopped to see a goldfinch and hummingbird on nearby trees and a chipmunk on fallen logs. Other walkers passed us. We came to a willow tree overhanging the path and stood under its tresses in a protected cave-like enclosure. This was a restorative humanature afternoon.
The photos I’ve posted here are from a previous year in the early autumn. Often I take my camera and binoculars along, but I wanted to be free to be in the setting without these filters. I do love photographing nature, but have to be careful that the process doesn’t take me away from the actual experience of being there. I’ve taken to stopping and being still after I take a photograph and this helps me be present.