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.
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.
Last week, black locust trees were in bloom in Toronto. Their sweet perfume filled the air at Todmorden Mills where I’d walked. I love their profuse, cascading blossoms.
I saw what I believe are ostrich ferns on a recent walk in the Wildflower Preserve at Todmorden Mills. If I’ve misidentified the ferns, do let me know. The day was moderate–around 18 degrees Celsius, with a mixture of sun and cloud. The ferns seem very much at home in this moist forested area in the Don Valley in Toronto. I find their shapes very beautiful.
I went to Todmorden Mills in Toronto in the early evening yesterday. It was cool and sunny and my preoccupations of the day left me as I got closer to the trees, freshly mown grass, birds and flowers in this bit of preserved nature. The irony of its being so close to the Don Valley Expressway is never far from consciousness.
There’s a wildflower preserve at the site—a short trail through forest by ponds. There I saw yellow and violet irises growing by the water, plus many wild phlox. I came upon a man and his beloved dog having a walk as well as a jogger. Many robins, sparrows, red winged blackbirds and cardinals were with me.
In that short hour my mood went from preoccupied and low to extremely peaceful.
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.
Last Friday I went to Todmorden Mills, a heritage site in Toronto adjacent to a wildflower preserve. Todmorden Mills is off Pottery Road, near Bayview Avenue and the Don Valley Parkway, so this visually beautiful place has a backdrop of rushing traffic. Often I cannot shut out the distressing sound of the cars, but was able to accept them this day and focus on the physical scene. Indeed, a disturbing part of living in the city is the necessity of shutting down senses at times as a form of self-preservation.
However, last week as I walked around the grounds I did enjoy the snow that hadn’t fully melted in the valley, the trees, shrubs, stream and old buildings. I imagined what the land this city sits on might have looked like in the late 1700s when a sawmill and grist mill were built here. The strangeness of roaring cars and trucks adjacent to the remains of this old community brought forth feelings I’ve had before about being in two worlds. And, at the same time, I felt refreshed by spending an hour or so in this bit of preserved nature and history in the midst of the city.