Humbled again

Times when you are astounded by the beauty around you are such a joy at any age, but  to discover what is just on your doorstep after a lifetime of travel is doubly so! Hiking the Bruce trail provides so many of those moments that it could get a bit boring for those of you patiently following my blog but here it goes again.

Looking out over Niagara escarpment on an early summer day on the Cape Croker section of the Trail, is like being in a deep, dark foreign jungle.

Over Cape Crocker

Complete with giant ferns,

Early summer ferns

And just when you need to catch your breath yet another kind soul has provided a bench to rest and have your breath taken away yet again by the view!

Bench with a view

Quietly contemplating the peace around us an eagle hunts before our eyes, drifting on the thermals.

Eagle hunting

Not all is peaceful though – Cheryl and I have had the occasional dispute about whether we follow the white flashes of the Bruce or interpret the maps they provide. I am big on following the flashes although as we let them guide us into this crevice even I had a moments doubt!

Into the crevice

But then it guided us out once again.

Out of the crevice

Scrambling up the rocks we spied these sparkling wild strawberries…tempted by the fruit we remembered they were the bears favourite too and carried on climbing…a little more quickly.

Wild strawberries

The spectacular limestone cliffs of this part of the Niagara Peninsula that the Bruce Trail follows is in Cape Croker, a part of the Chippewas of Nawash First Nations. At times it felt as though we were seeing the land as it might have looked when the First Nations were the only humans in this region…humbling indeed.

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“Do we have to die first?”

Well the question did set me back on my heels a bit…Greed and corruption, the pursuit of wealth and power, self interest everywhere…there’s no doubt it can get you down sometimes. If you try however you can find the counter forces of community building, simple pleasures, selflessly helping others. That wonderful proverb about society being great when we plant trees in whose shade we’ll never sit sums it up perfectly.

Days last light

Days last light

One example of this generosity, can be found along the Bruce Trail I’m walking with my dear friend Cheryl. We’re into our second year now – clearly we’re taking our time and relishing our days!

Stairway to heaven
This is a nearly 900 kilometre trail along the Niagara escarpment and it’s maintained entirely by volunteers and has been for the 50 years of its existence. They keep the paths clear of fallen trees, build bridges, stairways, styles and even thoughtfully add an occasional dog door!

For dogs who can't climb.

For dogs who can’t climb.

There are sometimes heaven sent benches along the way – such a kindness, especially in poison ivy season! Many of them are memorial benches to people and other creatures who have enjoyed this jewel of a trail.

Dog memorial

But then there are the ones that are just there out of kindness.

Welcome seat

We have no idea who these strangers are who provide a little comfort but Cheryl and I have often discussed how we want to be one of those strangers. If I should keel over on the trail one day, she likes to say, make sure my kids know I want to donate a bench…and I ask the same of her.

Benches 2

On the last hike Cheryl wondered why we had to die before we donated a bench – good question! Maybe a bench to celebrate our completion – check back here in a couple of years…

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Hippie symbols and union meetings?

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Perfect in its three petals, most commonly white, the trillium heralds in spring on our forest floors. It’s also our Provinces official symbol. I don’t mean as the official flower of the Province – it actually is the government symbol and appears on all things official.

Sort of neat in a peaceful, hippie type way don’t you think?

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It may have changed a little in design over the years but as you can see, the flower remains – do you think someone got big bucks for these design changes?

trill

We have seen carpets of trilliums on our Bruce Trail walks and never tire of exclaiming to each other about their fragile beauty. There are several different species here although I could only recognize three – the big, erect white ones, the smaller white types  and the rarer scarlet ones.

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Patches of sweet woodruff also dot the forest floor and my hiking partner Cheryl and I look forward to a warmer spell which will release their delicate fragrance.

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There are blooming lilacs dotted across the countryside, once part of homesteads that no longer stand, they have become naturalized and tough it out easily over our often brutal winters. Romy’s 2 year old friend Aria tried these out for taste and manages to wear them in her hair…hippie symbols seem everywhere this spring.

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On an unrelated issue I saw this gathering on the pond out back and thought that it might be a union meeting of some kind. Maybe they were trying to work out a way to share the riches? Canada geese, mallard ducks, merganser diving ducks (I mentioned these here), a cormorant and a great blue heron all planning the revolution perhaps?

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It’s official!

With mud splashed on his long, muscular legs, stripped of the leather that until moments ago had clothed his golden body, his naturally streaked hair flying in the wind, … he ran with wild abandon, knowing the joy that awaited him.

Spring pasture

Yes my boy Romy is finally back grazing in the Spring pasture! Who did you think I was  talking about?!

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And for two key reasons it seems to be officially Spring. First there is the afore mentioned pasture and secondly my friend Cheryl and I have been back on the Bruce Trail for a month now.

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Song birds and naturalized daffodils dot the countryside.

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DSC00253 Waterways are still a little swollen from the rains.

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As Cheryl looks out over the countryside to Georgian Bay beyond, we both know that the long wait is over…

DSC00221 Spring at last. Spring at last! We have not been tempted to run with wild abandon or eat the grass yet though…

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Does Ikea have ‘grandmother issues’?

Taken along to amuse my 11 month old grandson while my son and daughter-in-law debated the merits of Ektorp vs Ekenas, I was having a grand old grandmother time! Not wanting to hurt anyones feelings but my little prince really is the handsomest, smartest little fellow – and he does seem to find me very amusing.

Little prince

I happily traipsed  him through the Ikea toy department which always seems to have colourful and imaginative toys…although the prices do make me wonder about child labour or at least sweatshops. They have a fairy tale line in toys…you know the stereotypes – princess, prince, red riding hood, wolf…wolf!! I couldn’t believe my eyes… there was the wolf swallowing grandmother whole:

Granny muncher!

Look more closely, this is gruesome stuff!

Poor granny!

Horrified on behalf of my granny sisterhood, I hid it from my grandson’s innocent eyes and raced over to my daughter-in-law who, while not taking it as personally as me, declared wryly “hmmm wonder what toy designer thought that was a good idea!”

I wanted to stay around and watch what types might actually buy such a violent, granny- hating thing but the debate had been decided in favour of Ektorp and we needed to move along. I didn’t notice what this toy was called but after decades of experience with Ikea names it’s probably something like ‘Kilagran’.

And I always thought Sweden was such a peace loving place…

 

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Hope flies in on the wings of a bird…

I’ll pretty much take what I can get by this point in the year! Hope it seems has flown in on the wings of a bird…or two.

It started of course with the geese, to whom I bid farewell last Autumn. Their familiar honking calls overhead pull your eyes skyward to their oh-so-welcome v-formations headed north at last.

Goose in rain

Resting along the way

The song birds, shortly after, started frequenting my bird feeders as they returned a little worse for wear.

Spring finch

Then one morning I looked out and there he was walking his perimeter and making sure all was as he’d left it – the majestic great blue heron. Even the cheeky mallard ducks came for a closer look.

Heron and ducks

On closer inspection it looks like he’s had a tough journey north. It has been a brutal winter for us all and Spring is late in coming.

GBH close

And then a new visitor – new to me since it seems he’s called the ‘common’ Merganser, a diving duck who fishes for whatever else lives in the pond.

Showing off

Soon his fair, red headed, lady joined him along with other relatives making the journey to who knows where. She proved much more difficult to photograph whether because she was shy, better camouflaged or was having a bad hair day is hard to say.

photo shy

 

 

Bad hair day

The blossoms may not be blooming nor any flowers pushing up from the earth yet but the birds are coming home and so Spring can’t be far behind…

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Fire, Earth, Air and Water

There comes a time when you have to try something new…even if it’s just once! So when my blogging friend Nancy over at TwoTrails One Road included me in her challenge on the four elements I thought it was a good time to have a go. Many philosophies have their own way of interpreting these elements but here we are given a chance to choose a photo to represent our own. It also gave me a chance to look through photos and remember interesting places I have had the good fortune to visit.

While this interpretation of FIRE may be a little predictable  it’s the shadowy figure walking by that brings me pleasure:

Fire

Fire

When I think of EARTH I always marvel at how, when we treated properly it can provide us with such riches. This photo I took of a village out collectively farming in Rwanda is the one I chose for its simple harmony:

Earth

Earth

Across a windswept veldt this windmill in South Africa represents such a benign harnessing of the energy of moving AIR…it reminds me that there are so many ways we could find power while doing less harm:

Air

Air

As the spring is starting to return to us here in the North and the snow and ice melts and the WATER once again starts to run it makes me think of renewal. How the world wakes up from the winter but also how the predictability of the seasons and our natural elements is very vulnerable unless we change our ways:

More water

Water

 

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