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

Parallel Worlds

The Don Valley Parkway running through green spaces in Toronto, Canada, 2012

I went for more walks on the weekend and mid week to the Brick Works in Toronto, Canada to be in a natural setting.  Each time, I took the usual route down a hill, then beside railway tracks.  This part of town is very close to the Don Valley Parkway, a busy expressway.  Yet there are natural settings all around: trees, parkland and shrubs.

Dried thistles and shrubs by train tracks near the Don Valley Expressway, Toronto, Canada, 2012

I love seeing the flowers and grasses that grow wild along the edges of railway tracks–those discarded places reclaimed by nature.  The wildflowers here were profuse, with the yellows and whites now joined by purples.  I could hear birds singing above the din of cars and the buzzing of cicadas.  I was struck by what seemed to be the parallel worlds I was walking through: the thundering traffic where we are insulated in cars and trucks and the natural setting of plants, birds and insects.  This is not a new observation; many people must feel this.  However, it struck me more dramatically than it had before.  I felt I was walking in a corridor between two worlds.

Wildflowers by the side of train tracks in Toronto, Canada, 2012

Milkweed growing near train tracks in Toronto, Canada, 2012

At the Brick Works

Brick Works in Toronto, Canada

The Brick Works in Toronto, Canada, early fall 2010.

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.

Brick Works in Toronto, Canada

Brick Works Pond, Early Fall 2010