Friday, May 27, 2016

Among Trees

I am at home among trees.
~J.R.R. Tolkien

Spring is such an enchanting season. The sun is warm. The grass is green. Flowers are blooming. And the trees have both blossoms and leaves. Let's visit some of those trees, shall we?

otonabee river
In a tree by the brook, there's a songbird who sings,
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven.
~ Jimmy Page, Robert Plant
This wonderful view of the Otonabee River is just a few minutes on foot from my place. At the time of this photo, its trees were just beginning to fill out with that lovely early verdant hue which I often refer to as "virgin green." It's a short-lived period of time, but when that early or late-day sunshine hits the leaves, the colourful sight is magical.

camera club
A tree is beautiful, but what's more, it has a right to life; like water, the sun and the stars, it is essential. Life on earth is inconceivable without trees.
~ Anton Chekhov
See what I mean? We were getting close to sundown one evening, last week. There were a large number of photographers out by Little Lake and I soon learned that a camera club had selected this location for their outing. They chose a good place and time as lots was happening in and around the waters but that will appear in another post.

my tree
In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they're still beautiful.
~ Alice Walker
Back in April, I headed back to my old haunts in Mississauga for a few days. While visiting with my past neighbours Caroline and Lloyd, we took a walk around the lake which yielded so many of my photo subjects back in the day. This tree has always been a favourite of mine. Over the years it has changed considerably as it has lost its branches but it still provides shelter for small creatures. Many a bird have dined on insects from its bark.

hazy sun and dock willow
And see the peaceful trees extend
their myriad leaves in leisured dance-
they bear the weight of sky and cloud
upon the fountain of their veins.
~ Kathleen Raine
Another favourite is the weeping willow which towers over the dock. It lost a lot of its branches in an ice storm a couple of winters back but it persists as a beautiful landmark on Lake Wabukayne. It was a hazy day and the sun was having difficulty breaking through.

hazy sun and willow
If what I say resonates with you, it is merely because we are both branches on the same tree.
~ W. B. Yeats
The newly-emerging leaves framed the hazy sun quite nicely.

stripped by squirrels
On pavements and the bark of trees I have found whole worlds.
~ Mark Tobey
One last tree from that walk. This squirrels had begun shredding the bark when I lived here. They have clearly made good work of it since I've been gone. I imagine that the bark makes for good nesting material.

I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.
~ Willa Cather
Back in Peterborough, a few weeks ago, this flash of red caught my eye from a distance. I can't say that I've ever noticed the Christmas bow up in the tree before, and now that the tree is in full leaf, it's unlikely that I will again.

new growth
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
~ Albert Einstein
Although the bright bow caught my eye, the soft colours of new life caught my breath.

tree - first try
Trees are as close to immortality as the rest of us ever come.
~ Karen Joy Fowler
A couple of weeks back, I saw this guy inching his way along a less-than-sturdy branch which reaches out over the water and directly above some large, jagged rocks. I could hear the branch creaking with his every movement and my heart mimicked his progression by edging its way toward my throat.

tree - no go
All our wisdom is stored in the trees.
~ Santosh Kalwar
Thankfully, he decided to abandon his mission.

tree - second try
To be without trees would, in the most literal way, to be without our roots.
~ Richard Mabey
But then his buddy took up the cause. He didn't get quite as far as the other guy before he realized it was too risky. What was their quest?

tree -  lure cure

The story of the tree is written on every leaf.
~ Marty Rubin
All I could see was this but they said that there was also a forty dollar fishing lure toward the end of the branch which would have never held their weight. I'm glad they determined that their safety was worth more than the lure.

in bloom
Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.
~ Kahlil Gibran
So many blossoms in bloom. The colours are both soft and vibrant. What season could possibly beat spring for beauty? Well, maybe summer. Perhaps autumn. Nah.. let's just enjoy the spring.

"Listen to the trees talking in their sleep," she whispered, as he lifted her to the ground. "What nice dreams they must have!"
~ L.M. Montgomery
The brief blushing blossoms of the striking magnolia tree.

A tree against the sky possesses the same interest, the same character, the same expression as the figure of a human.
~ Georges Rouault
No matter how early or late our spring season begins, the lilacs always manage to be in full bloom on May 21st. I have noted this every year since 1988 on the approaching occasion of my late in-laws, June and Ken's golden anniversary. June fondly recalled how there were freshly cut lilacs on the tables at her wedding on that date, fifty years earlier. They thought we were just going out to dinner to celebrate that night but we threw a surprise party in their honour at our home. I made sure there were plenty of lilacs from our tree on the table. To this day, I think of them when those lilacs are in bloom.

red maple evening sun
When the time has come, every leaf turns to face the sun!
~ Akilnathan Logeswaran
These are the russet leaves of the red maple trees as they make their first appearance in spring. The foliage will show off its true scarlet brilliance in autumn. These backlit beauties were wind-dancing for me in the early evening.

More photos coming up before too long.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Hands-free Mobile Device

There are a series of interconnecting parks about 20 minutes away on foot. I was sitting by the water in one of the parks, just watching people come and go along the pathway.

I hope to be a 90 year old guy who rides his unicycle to the store for whiskey and condoms. ~ J.D. Miller
Out of the corner of my eye, I caught the somewhat awkward movement of this girl trying to say atop of her unicycle.

Unicyclists can ride longer than bicyclists because bicyclists are always two tired. ~ Unknown
I decided to walk ahead of her and snap some photos. Her name is Rachel.

On a unicycle, my tire will tire before I do. I ride for charity. I'm trying to raise enough money to buy a bicycle. ~ Jarod Kintz
By the time I got there, she had covered a bit of ground but had since lost her balance and was having a hard time finding her groove again. Still, it looked like she was about to get it back.

Unicyclists aren't crazy, just slightly unbalanced. - Unknown
Hang on, Rachel!

Q: Whats the difference between a hobo on a unicycle and a man in a suit on a bike?    A: Attire.
Can she regain her balance and momentum?

I live on the edge. Sometimes I fall off. - Steve Winterburn
Not this time. But she never lost her sense of humour.

Instead of a motorcycle gang, I'm thinking of starting up a unicycle gang. We'll be hell on wheel. ~ Jarod Kintz
Atta girl!

Where There's a Wheel, There's a Way ~ Unknown
This time, I think she's got it.

I can. I will. End of story. ~ Unknown
A sweet smile of success!

It's impossible to ride a unicycle, some of us have just figured out how to take a long time before we fall off. ~ Charlie Dancey
She soon left me in her wake.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

At the Zoo

Someone told me it's all happening at the zoo. ~ Paul Simon

When it comes to zoos, my feelings are ambivalent.

Some locations have poor reputations when it comes to animal welfare. Those are obviously avoided. Others are considered to be far more competent. The fifty-five acre Riverview Park in Peterborough is regarded as one of the two most ethical zoos in Canada and touches on the positive aspects of zoos (research and education, captive breeding for endangered species). Still, I felt a significant degree of discomfort seeing these magnificent creatures in captivity. Part of me was thrilled just to see them up close-ish, knowing that for the vast majority of the visitors to this admission-free zoo, it would be the closest we'd ever get to seeing these beauties in person. The other part of me feels deeply for these animals who will never know how they were intended to live in their natural existence.

All that having been said, I still opted to have a wander around this small but versatile park, one day last month. I enjoyed the day - especially the always-fine company of my good friend, Carol Anne. Aside from one lynx which was showing signs of stress by pacing, the animals seemed to be content and well cared for. Still, with a lot of thought between then and now, I have hopped off of the fence. I suspect that I won't be returning to a zoo, anytime soon.

For what it's worth, the following photos are from that day.

barbary sheep
Day two was heavy for those short of sleep,
then Janice gave voice to her Kosmic Blues,
and the crowd bawled wild as Barbary sheep.
~ Le Moxie Mox
Handsome creatures - these Barbary sheep.

barbary sheep4
Fell into a deeper sleep
Where I started counting Barbary sheep
~ Justin Khaleel Jennings
But those horns look rather sharp.

Sicillian Donkey
A worthy man is still worthy even penniless. A donkey is a donkey even if he is finely saddled.
~ Turkish Proverb
This little Sicilian donkey was both shy and curious.

Don't Worry. Be Capy.
This is a Capybara. You wouldn't think that the world's largest rodent would be such a sweet-looking animal.

Of course there is a monkey. There is always a monkey.
~ Doug Dorst
The Squirrel monkeys were numerous and amusing.

MONKEY, n. An arboreal animal which makes itself at home in genealogical trees.
~ Ambrose Bierce
And active.

Squirrel Monkey and friends
I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's
~ Mark Twain
And cheeky!
(The young women were allowed admittance into the monkeys' environment. They were behind glass for the rest of us.)

moulting caribou

Santa knows Physics: Of all colors, Red Light penetrates fog best. That's why Benny the Blue-nosed reindeer never got the gig.
~ Neil deGrasse Tyson
Being followed by a turkey, the caribou/reindeer was not looking its noble best as it was deep into moulting season. 

Sloth Fact: These sluggish tree-dwellers move so slowly that algae can grow on their coats.
 ~ National Geographic
The sloth has to be one of the strangest, cutest and slowest mammals on the face of the planet.

In the morning I woke like a sloth in the fog.
~ Leslie Connor
Did I mention cute?

kangaroos and joey
Envy the kangaroo. That pouch setup is extraordinary; the baby crawls out of the womb when it is about two inches long, gets into the pouch, and proceeds to mature. I'd have a baby if it would develop in my handbag.
~ Rita Rudner
A small mob of kangaroos, a fair distance from my camera's lens. The upright one has a tangled mess of joey limbs in her pouch.

Scarlet Ibis
Through the purple corridors
The screaming scarlet Ibis flew
~ Oscar Wilde
This eye-catching creature is the Scarlet Ibis. Its colour comes from pigment in the crustaceans it eats.

meerkat babies
There is a strange animal in our zoo called a meerkat
That makes me laugh every time I look at
Although "kat" is in its name
It's no feline just the same
So you can say the meerkat is no mere cat.
~ Joe Flach
A litter of adorable meerkat pups - too sleepy to be in their classic upright position.

Bactrian Camel female
Camels are wonderful animals. Witty, intelligent and sensitive. ~ Robyn Davidson
This lovely lady is a Bactrian camel.

Bactrian Camel female smile
I distrust camels, and anyone else who can go a week without a drink. ~ Joe E. Lewis
Her coy smile is for the male which she knows is on the other side of the fence. She patiently awaits their reunion...

Bactrian Camel male2
On horseback you feel as if you're moving in time to classical music; a camel seems to progress to the beat of a drum played by a drunk.
~ Walter Moers
Though I suspect her smile will fade somewhat when she sees what a boorish slob he has become.

More photos from around town coming up before too long.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


I had already been out for a stroll on Friday. I'd seen and photographed a number of eye-catchers which will appear in future blog posts. As the day wore on, I felt restless and very much in the mood for another walk so I headed back toward the park with camera in tow.

goose family5
As I approached the water, I saw a pair of Canada geese with a jumbled bunch of fluff in between them, navigating the modest waves of Little Lake.

goose family3
Introducing Father and Mother Goose and their six little Goosebumps. They began to swim the short distance to shore, a little beyond where I was standing.

goose family10
I moved a bit further along than that and sat quietly while they made their way up onto the grass.

goose family11
The little ones pecked around while the parents stood sentry.

goose family9
Satisfied with their snack, four of the six wee ones settled down into a downy cushion of contentment.

abandoned goose egg
Last summer, I was still living up north on the lake. A lone goose egg sat abandoned on the shore. No geese stayed back to attend to it in any way, and after a day or so, it became obvious that the egg was not viable. I had assumed that some animal (raccoon or squirrels, if nothing else) would devour it in no time but that never happened.

abandoned goose egg underwater
A short while later, I spotted it in the water where it stayed for several weeks.

gosling twins
This maturing family wandered by on the same day - a small number indeed. I suppose surviving the surrounding wildlife is not easy for these guys.

gosling cuties
Their adult markings are just beginning to show as they grow into that awkward yet still lovely adolescent stage.

hiding by mama
This one has learned the skill of staying safe by camouflaging itself beside mama.

goose family at dusk2
It's a gift and honour to see new life and to be allowed the privilege of watching them grow.

More photos coming up soon.