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 weekend I went to Kortright Centre for Conservation for a walk in the woods. The day was cool and sunny—perfect weather for hiking in comfort. The woods were a vibrant green, a little deeper in hue than the first yellow green of spring.
I photographed the woods and stream in colour and when I wanted to emphasize patterns, I moved to black and white.
As always, when I am at Kortright, I felt a great sense of peacefulness to be in those welcoming woods, so close to Toronto and yet in a world so different.
Here’s a few more photos from our day at Kortright Centre earlier this month. A beautiful, memorable time in the snow.
On February 10th, the Sunday after the significant snowfall in Toronto and all of southern Ontario, my husband and I drove to Kortright Centre for Conservation to walk in the snowy woods. We belong to a car sharing company and had fortunately reserved a car for the day in the hopes of having a snowy outing. We’d missed being in the snow at Kortright the previous year when so little snow had fallen.
In the morning, we walked through deep snow. We don’t have snow shoes, so the going was strenuous but very beautiful. Our afternoon hike was on trails that had been cleared or walked on and was easier going, but no less lovely. The afternoon light was diffused and the snow seemed to shine from within as it softly covered the ground. The blue grey shadows of the trees and logs washed across the warm white. What a miracle snow is.
As I often write, the poignancy of this beauty in light of human contribution to the warming of the planet was with me. I took solace in the day: in the chickadees, woodpeckers, finches, mourning doves and cardinals we saw and heard, in the trees, the stream and frozen marsh and so much that is life-giving and calls out to be seen, heard and valued deeply.
I heard a radio interview on the CBC on Friday with David Suzuki, a well-known Canadian scientist and advocate for nature. David and another guest spoke about Ecuador, which, first of all, placed the rights of nature in its constitution in 2007. This was ratified by Ecuadorians in a referendum in 2008. I believe I had heard about the rights of nature before but not paid adequate attention to the concept. The idea that the natural world has rights that are worthy of protecting as opposed to being property is a belief alien to most North Americans. So this move by Ecuador, the first country to protect nature’s rights, is an excellent challenge to widespread, habitual ways of approaching the natural world.
In addition, Ecuador came up with the idea in 2007 to leave a huge amount of oil in the ground that lies beneath the Yasuni National Park. This park is apparently a fantastically diverse and rich area of rainforest. Ecuador, which is not a wealthy country, proposed that it be compensated half the price the oil would bring in for not extracting it. Here is another idea that likely seems impractical and outrageous to most North Americans. Yet I’ve read in The Guardian newspaper that $300 million has so far been given or pledged to Ecuador from countries, foundations, corporations and individuals–money that will be used for renewable energy projects to help finance reforestation, conservation and social projects. The money is not given directly to the Ecuadorian government but is held in trust and administered through the UN.
Though these bold ideas and actions coming out of Ecuador will not save the world in themselves, they seem entirely fitting given the serious problems we all face through global warming and the ongoing destruction of the natural world, on which we depend for life. They are inspirational paths that have the possibility of jolting us out of the usual boxes we find ourselves in and toward much needed constructive change.
A few days before Christmas, I went northwest out of Toronto to the Kortright Centre for Conservation near Kleinburg, Ontario. We had had no snow in Toronto at that point. Our first was on the night of Dec. 26th. At Kortright we found a dusting of snow in the woods.
As ever, this humble, yet beautiful, 800 acres of land lifted my spirits. We hiked through the woods to the stream noting familiar, well-loved trees and hills and my favourite old roots from a fallen tree beside a trail. I’ve photographed these roots in all seasons over the years. And I’ve also painted them from several angles, bringing the peace of the near countryside into the city as I painted.
We continued on, and I believe we saw an owl in the woods. A bird with a large wingspan flew onto a tree too far away for me to clearly see his or her details. But the silhouette seemed to me one of an owl. I have heard of daytime owl sightings at Kortright in the past, but had never before seen the bird. Earlier we’d seen a cardinal and blue jay at feeders outside the café and, as we hiked, we heard the calls of chickadees.