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.
On our second day at Bruce Peninsula National Park, we hiked 5.2 km around Cyprus Lake. We went through woods by the water and I photographed many wild flowers that I’ll be posting soon. The walking was easy and the day cool, great for a hike.
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.
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.
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.
Last week when I was in Virginia, I stopped in Charlottesville. Off the main roads, we walked in a wooded area accompanied by the melodies of song birds. The trees and plants had put forth spring yellow-green foliage. This was wonderful to see after travelling south from Toronto where only the first buds had begun to show. Not that those hadn’t been welcome too, just that spring was at a more abundant stage in Virginia.
In the woods, I came upon wild violets and pale lavender dwarf irises arising through last autumn’s leaves. A small stream flowed nearby and the temperature was in the upper 70s.
To and from the woods, we walked across landscaped ground. Redbud trees were in bloom with tulips and azaleas in a garden plus another pale green flower I have not identified. The dogwood in flower is from a nearby location.
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.
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.