A Photo Essay of Toronto in October

A tree bursting with bright yellow leaves in October. Each month I share photos from one of the parks in Toronto to show my readers what our landscape looks like throughout the year. This is the ninth instalment of this series.

Click on February, MarchAprilMayJune, July, August, and September  to read the earlier posts. October’s photos were taken on multiple visits to the park this time for two reasons:

Reason #1: Climate change has brought about season creep in temperate climates like this one. Among many other changes, this means that plants here tend to bud earlier and hang onto their leaves longer than they used to. Not every species changes colour at the same time, either!

Reason #2: October can be quite rainy in southern Ontario. This isn’t a good time for making firm outdoors plans weeks or even days in advance. Instead, we take advantage of nice, sunny weather whenever it happens.

The temperature was generally between 10 and 15 Celsius (50 to 60 Fahrenheit) on my visits this month. I wore pants (or trousers if you’re from the U.K.), a t-shirt, sneakers, and a light to medium jacket depending on how cold and sharp the wind was. It’s almost always windy now, and my curls would like you all to know they formally disapprove of that hairstyle-mussing nonsense.

There will come a time when it will be too cold, wet, and icy to enjoy a leisurely visit to park. Luckily, that is still a few months away yet. For now such things are still possible on most days. Landscape photo of a World War I monument behind a crosswalk and in front of several trees that are changing from green to yellow as autumn deepens.

Some trees are still mostly green. Others are well into the process of changing into their autumn colours.

close-up shot of a World War I monument in a park whose trees have begun turning colours in October.

The  bushes by the monument are still green. If memory serves, they may remain this way until December. Let’s see if I’m right!

A somewhat damp running trail at a park. It is flanked by trees whose leaves are just beginning to turn from green to yellow

But I don’t want to give you a false impression of what the park is like. There are still many (mostly) green trees in it, although if you look carefully at their leaves you’ll see  hints of the colours they’ll fully reveal in the near future.

The other difference between the running trail between now and last month is that it’s softening up again. There’s little dust to be found there now. All of that autumn rain has to soak into somewhere, and it will eventually make this trail too muddy and slippery to use as winter approaches and we begin getting snow and ice, too.

Fewer people are using it now than at the peak, but I still see joggers and walkers doing their laps every time I visit.

A tree whose leaves are red on the topmost branches and still green on the bottom ones.

This is a striking season of change. We’re inching closer and closer to the time when our trees will be at their peak of autumn beauty, but we’re not quite there yet.

The average person wouldn’t notice many differences in the landscape from the end of May to the beginning of September, but now you can find differences from one day to the next!

A maple tree filled with bright red leaves on a cloudless October day.

You can often see trees that are nearly at their peak of colour next to ones that have only barely begun to change. The juxtaposition between the two is striking. (Yes, that is my shadow in the photo).

A canopy of leaves. Some are still green, while others have begun turning yellow or orange in the autumn season.

The famous canopy remains. It rustles even more now than ever before, and there are bright splashes of colour almost everywhere you look.

Dozens of leaves lying on a grassy patch of land.

The ground is changing, too. Not only is it beginning to be covered by fallen leaves, you can also feel and see acorns, twigs, and sticks on it. I walk a bit more slowly on it now than I did in the spring and summer.

Since the land can be bumpy and uneven in places, spraining an ankle or tripping is easier now than it was in the summer (although still much less likely than on an icy or snowy day).

My hope for November is to show you all photos of what the forest floor looks like when most of the leaves have fallen. It can be several inches or more of debris to wade through. I often can’t see my shoes at all when I walk through it the deepest parts!

A branch filled with red berries. Here are some plump red berries in the park. I hope the squirrels and other wildlife are enjoying them as we settle into what will soon be the depths of autumn.

Speaking of the squirrels, this is the time of year when they are very busy gathering up food for the winter. A park where several black squirrels are collecting nuts off of the forest floor.

You’ll see them everywhere you look. Sometimes they even chase each other up and down the trunks of their favourite trees.

A tree that lost half of its branches and some of its trunk in a 2020 storm has begun to change from green to yellow autumn leaves.

How are our tree friends doing?

The one that lost about half of its branches is well on the way to reaching peak autumn colour. I look forward to seeing how it does over the winter. It’s really seemed to have grown well this year.

A tree that lost a third of its branches in a 2020 winter storm has begun to turn orange for the autumn 2020 season.

And I continue to worry about our friend who lost about a third of its branches. The remaining branches continue to droop, and the gash in its trunk is filled with wood that looks oddly wet. Is this part of the healing process, or is the wood rotting? Only time will tell.

A tree-lined path in a park. Most of the leaves are still green, but a few are turning yellow.

But there are still green portions of the park. If you don’t peer at individual leaves too closely and ignore the chill in the air, one can almost pretend its still summer on a sunny day.

I look forward to sharing more striking autumn photos next month. Perhaps I’ll mix them in with later photos of the trees as they lose most of their leaves. (Some brown, dead leaves hang on well into winter). As you’ve all noticed, we still have a ways to go before we reach peak colour.

This series will conclude in January, but I’m thinking about providing a spring update once we know the winter fates of these two unlucky trees if you’re all interested in that.

10 Responses to A Photo Essay of Toronto in October

  1. Wherever black squirrels live you will not find the gray squirrels. The black ones while striking to look at with their sleek black appearance are fierce and chase away other non-black squirrels, driving them away. The small town of Archbold Ohio used to have large gray and big bushy tailed reddish colored squirrels but once someone released several black squirrels into the city limits all terror broke loose and within a few short years they had completely taken over.

    Also, a very hard first frost of the season will produce the best/brightest leaf colors for the year. If it barely reaches the freezing temperatures the colors will be muted in comparison.

  2. As a New Yorker in Los Angeles, I appreciate any photos I can get of the northeast this time of year, Lydia! Well done!

    I am not merely a nature lover; I’m a climate activist. I truly believe ’21 will be the year the United States finally takes meaningful action on climate change, and we need blogs like this to remind folks of the “everyday” wonders of nature. Kudos to you on this series!

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