Tag Archives: Autumn

A Photo Essay of Toronto in December

A bare tree branch with a nest in it. 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 eleventh instalment of this series.

Click on February, MarchAprilMayJune, July, August, September, October, and November to read the earlier posts.

Other than the amount of snow on the ground, the scenery in December remains almost exactly the same from the beginning to the end of the month. You will probably notice a few differences between the photos in this post and the ones to come in January, but it won’t be as dramatic as it is in the autumn and spring.

It was a balmy 8 Celsius (46 Fahrenheit) and somewhat cloudy when I visited. Typical days during this month generally don’t rise above 2 Celsius (35 Fahrenheit). Snow is common now, but most of it generally melts before the next batch arrives.  This is not the case in January, so my final instalment of this series might need to get a little creative depending on how slippery the sidewalks are then!

Let’s begin our virtual visit.

Landscape portrait of a World War II monument at a park in December. All of the trees are bare.

The first thing I noticed was how washed out everything looked there. It was the sort of day that was dark and cloudy one moment and weakly sunny at the next. I thought this photo captured that in an interesting manner.

A closeup of a World War I monument in a park. It's surrounded by scraggly evergreen bushes.

A closer and clearer look at this entrance to the park. The evergreen bushes in front of the monument have gone dormant now.

A muddy running trail at a park in December.

Mud has returned to the running trail.  I did see two brave souls continuing to jog there and sometimes running onto the sidewalk or to dryer bits of grass when they encountered the biggest puddles. (There would generally be dozens of joggers and walkers politely using the same space in the autumn and spring. I expect to see none at all next month).

Salt scattered on a sidewalk.

The sidewalks are now covered in salt alongside all of the leaves that have decorated them these past few months. They are almost always wet now, so the salt helps to keep them walkable for most pedestrians before the big storms of January make this a much slipperier place for a stroll.

A patch of dirty snow on a sidewalk.

However, anyone who has mobility issues should be cautious here in real life. Even relatively warm and dry days now include patches of snow and half-melted ice scattered here and there. The salt can only do so much, and it will only grow slicker over the next couple of months.

Skyward shot of tree branches against a cloudy sky

The canopy of rustling leaves is 90% gone now and the park is quiet. Last summer we couldn’t see the sky from this perspective. The clouds moved so fast that these photos also might look like they were taken on separate days instead of only a few moments apart.

A tree filled with dead autumn leaves

This sapling was one of a handful of trees that still held onto most of its leaves. A few of them generally retain at least some of their leaves until the end of winter.

A bird's nest in bare tree branches.

With that being said, this is what the majority of trees look like now. Yes, that includes the bird’s nest. Not all of them have old nests, but many of them do.

Two bird nests in the bare branches of a dormant tree.

Some of the largest ones even have two or more nests visible now. No wonder I heard birds chirping everywhere last spring and summer! I think it’s marvellous to see where the birds decided to make their homes eight or nine months ago.

Earlier this year I talked about how wet, spongy, and muddy the ground was as it thawed. You saw a photo of this on the running trail, but it’s something found throughout the park. I couldn’t walk on most of it without caking my shoes in mud.

 

A tree that lost half of its branches and a big chunk of its trunk in an early 2020 winter storm. It's dormant now.

Luckily, our tree friend that lost half of its branches was in a drier section of the park. It seems to have survived our first few snowstorms just fine.

 

A landscape photo of a tree that lost a third of its branches in an early 2020 winter storm.

The zoom lens on my camera helped me get this shot of our tree friend that lost a third of its branches. It still has a wet trunk and drooping branches. I’ve avoided walking underneath them for months now for safety reasons. Soon we will see how they will fare under the heavy ice and snow that coats everything in January.

Do you want to know two of the best things about visiting the park in December? I’ll give you a few hints.

A squirrel climbing up a sapling that has gone dormant for the winter.

This one might be a little tricky to see. Look at the sapling in the centre of the photo if you need help. Yes, that’s a squirrel! It was climbing so vigorously the whole tree was shaking a bit.

A black squirrel sitting on top of a knot of a tree.

There’s something about this time of year that makes squirrels slightly easier to photograph. This little black squirrel is sitting on top of a knot on the right hand side of this tree. I’d just seen it climb out of a hole in the knot. That must be where he or she lives.

My other favourite part of visiting the park now is something I tend to overlook the rest of the year.

A small patch of evergreen trees in a park.

Evergreen trees are one of the few splashes of colour between now and April. I sure appreciate their green addition to the landscape when everything else is drab and various shades of brown, black, and grey for months on end.

A landscape shot of trees in a park who have all lost their leaves and gone dormant.

Here’s another shot of the more typical deciduous areas of the park for reference.

A sidewalk in a park flanked by dormant, bare trees. The grass next to the sidewalk is covered in a thick layer of brown leaves.

Finally, this is what the famous walkway looks like after nearly all of the leaves have fallen.

The plan is to blog about this park again in the icy, snowy depths of January so that every month will have been accounted for. Then I hope to do one final post in the spring to see how our two damaged tree friends fared over the winter.

Take care until next month, readers!

A Photo Essay of Toronto in November

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 tenth instalment of this series and will be a bit longer than usual.an autumn tree covered in bright yellow leaves

Click on February, MarchAprilMayJune July, August, September, and October to read the earlier posts.

Welcome to November in Toronto! It was between 16 Celsius (60 Fahrenheit) and 20 Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) on my visits this month. Temperatures are traditionally supposed to reach highs of 7 Celsius (45 Fahrenheit) at most now, so these numbers are quite out of the ordinary for us. Climate change is quickly altering our seasonal weather patterns.

This month is generally one of our rainiest ones. Nearly half of the days in the average November are rainy ones here. Sometimes it snows, too, although such early snow melts within a day or two.

The sunshine you’ll see in most of these photos is unusual, too. Our more typically overcast days were also pretty stormy this month, or I would have included examples of them as well.

Landscape photograph of a World War I memorial at an urban park.

It was raining heavily when the leaves were at their peak, but the rain luckily stopped in time for me to get some nice shots of the autumn foliage.

Close-up photo of World War I monument at a park. the monument is on a series of stone steps and surrounded by evergreen bushes.

The evergreen bushes are still looking good. They must not go dormant until December or January. I’ll check back again with them then.

Snapshot of a yellow autumn tree next to a dirt running trail at a park.

The running trail always shows signs of recent rainfall now, but it’s still firm enough to jog or walk on. This particular tree has such a nice rustle of leaves when you pass it. I wish I could stand there all day and listen to it’s melodic little song.

A canopy of autumn leaves still clinging to their trees.

We saw the canopy of leaves thin last month, and that pattern continues this month. There are still green leaves to see if you look closely.

A friendly hole in the trunk of a tree.

Who will nestle up here this winter, I wonder? It looks cozy.

A mostly green autumn tree a reddish yellow autumn tree, and a bare tree.

These are the three faces of November. Some trees are mostly to partially still green. Most trees are at or just past their peak of colour. Some trees have lost most to all of their leaves and are prepared for winter.

Lower half of a person standing in a pile of autumn leaves. Their shoes are totally covered with leaves.

And these are the two legs of November.

It’s a marvellous feeling to walk through so many leaves that you can no longer see your feet. Every step makes delightful crunching noises. I always have to fight the urge to dive into the leaves and do whatever the equivalent to swimming in them might be.

A tree who had lost half of its branches and part of its trunk during a winter storm. It is now covered in autumn leaves.

Our tree friend who lost half of its branches in that storm last winter is quickly shedding leaves.

A photo of a tree that lost a third of its branches in a storm last winter. It's leaves are quickly turning colours and falling off.

As is our tree friend who lost about a third of its branches and has been droopy and strangely damp in its trunk this autumn.

The trunk of this one looks a little less damp now, but I see no other obvious changes in it for better or for worse. May both of these trees do well this winter.

A tree filled with yellow autumn leaves that are glowing in the sunlight as they slowly drop to the ground.

It’s hard to know when to stop sharing photos with you. The landscape is filled with beauty now in every direction you look. This tree looked like it was glowing when I snapped a photo of it.

Trees filled with gorgeous red autumn leaves.

Don’t you want to go run into the centre of the park and twirl around with joy? I sure do.

There’s something remarkable about being surrounded by so many picturesque scenes.

A large, bare autumn tree flanked by trees that still have some leaves attached to them.

As hinted above, November is one of those months that changes rapidly. Some trees are bare while the ones next to them still have some to most of their leaves attached.

A shot of a plaza in a park that is lined by trees who have lost about half of their leaves.

I don’t know about all of you, but I still find beauty in trees that are past their peak autumn colours.

There’s something marvellous about watching autumn leaves dance on the ground when a stiff breeze hits them, too. I tried to film them to share on social media, but they stopped every time I hit the record button on my phone.

Mostly bare autumn tree with three birds nests in it

We’re also just begun to reach the time of year when the trees reveal their secrets.

I hope to share more photos like this next month. It’s fascinating to see where the bird nests were last summer when you couldn’t directly see the nests for yourself.

If we were walking through this park together, I’d stop and show you many nests like these. I think we should admire the birds’ hard work over the summer. The park, and the ecosystem in general, wouldn’t be the same without them. My ears sure appreciate their songs as well.

A cobbled path in a park that is lined by bright yellow trees in their full autumn splendour.

As always, I’ll end this post with the famous bench-lined walkway in the park. Isn’t it beautiful in autumn?

Stay safe, friends. Winter is right around the corner.

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.

A Photo Essay of Toronto in September

A red leaf lying on the ground. 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 eighth instalment of this series.

Click on February, MarchAprilMayJune, July, and August to read the earlier posts. It was  13 Celsius (55 Fahrenheit) and slightly cloudy during this month’s visit.

September is a wildcard month like March. This was one of the cooler days in it so far, but we’ve also had days that were about 30 C (86 F). Last year, our September was just as hot and humid as August was.

If you ever visit southern Ontario in this time of year, remember to pack for both extremes of temperature. You might shiver one day and perspire the next. Even locals can’t assume anything about next week’s weather based on what we’re wearing today which is why my wardrobe currently includes everything I own other than my thickest winter sweaters in it. Ha!

Two things make September look and feel different from August other than the unpredictable temperatures swings that happen as the seasons change. One, the humidity generally goes down. Two, a few trees begin to change colour before the dramatic shift that will come in October.

But before we talk about that, I sadly must show you our Covid-19 protests. This shot was taken at a distance so you can also see the greenery at the park.

Landscape portrait of a park in September. There is a road in the foreground and green trees in the background.

Are they protesting for better wages for the doctors, nurses, and other hospital workers saving lives? More personal protective equipment for frontline workers? A stronger social safety net for everyone who has suffered financially during this pandemic? Free counselling for anyone who needs it?

Shot of World War I memorial at a park. Sign on the memorial says "Covid-19 survival rate 99.8%"
The sign said: “Covid-19 survival rate: 99.8%.”

No, they’re protesting because they don’t want to wear masks, prevent the spread of disease, or listen to the experts on public health, epidemiology, and medicine. I respect everyone’s right to protest, but please note that most of us are taking this pandemic seriously and are embarrassed and annoyed by the small percentage of Canadians represented here.

This shot was taken from a distance in order to protect the identities of the protestors. May they and their loved ones stay healthy and never learn the hard way just how dangerous this virus is.

In more cheerful news, look how green the trees remain!

A tree-lined running path in a park.

You could almost think it’s still August here. The running path remains as busy and dusty as always for this time of year.

A park filled with green, lush trees.

Many portions of the park look as green and lush as ever.

A thick, green canopy of leaves under a blue sky

The canopy of leaves is nearly as thick as it was last month. Have you noticed any of the subtle changes yet?

A humongous tree whose leaves have just begun to turn yellow.

Maybe this will help. Most trees are still 100% green, but some of them are showing the first signs of their autumn colours. It can be fairly subtle like this tree…

A sapling whose leaves are 70% green, 30% red.

Or a bit more advanced like this sapling whose leaves seem to be about 30% red…

A tree that is more than 50% turned into its autumn colours

Or well ahead of the curve with about half of its leaves changing….

 

A tree with one-third bare branches, one-third red branches, and one-third green leaves still on it.

Or even like this oddity that is simultaneously bare, covered in red leaves, and still hanging on to the green ones. My spouse and I wonder if this is normal for large, towering trees in a forest. Maybe they get the lion’s share of strong winds that rip off their leaves as soon as they’re the tiniest bit loose?

A tree that had half of its leaves shorn off in last winters storm now growing strong in september

Our tree friend that lost half its branches last winter seems to be thriving. All of its leaves are still green, and its trunk looks as solid as can be expected given the damage it sustained last winter.

A tree that lost a third of its branches. It's remaining branches are drooping, and the trunk looks like it will split in half

But the tree friend that lost about a third of its branches doesn’t seem to be doing well. Many of its branches are bent over now, and the crack in its trunk seems to be widening and creating new, smaller cracks in its wake.

I’ve avoided walking underneath its branches for some time now. Many of them are large and quite heavy looking.

Close-up shot of a badly damaged trunk of tree with deep cracks in it.

This was as close as I dared get. As I’ve said before, I’m not an arborist, but this tree really doesn’t look healthy to me. I hope I’m wrong about that and it wakes up stronger than ever next spring.

A bare tree against a green one

On a lighter note, this is the time of year when you can see a tree that has lost all of its leaves right next to one that’s still green. That juxtaposition always makes me smile.

A bush whose leaves have begun to turn red.

Do you remember how I told you all to look at the ground six months ago when seeking out the first signs of spring? That rule doesn’t really apply in the autumn.

Bushes and trees alike are showing the first hints of their autumn colours. Whether you look up, down, or all around, you’ll find them with a little bit of patience.

A shaded stone path through a park.

The famous stone walkway remains more or less the same shady, green spot its been since May for the time being.

Ontario seems to have entered our second wave of Covid-19 infections, but I don’t expect that to interrupt this series.  Our parks always remained opened for socially-distanced walkers and joggers even when the first wave of cases was as its highest and all other park amenities were closed (including benches for a brief time last spring!) If I get sick or if Toronto’s bylaws unexpectedly change in ways that require this series to be paused, I will let you all know about it as soon as possible.

Next month will bring dramatic and, in my opinion, breathtaking changes for our foliage. I can’t wait to share it with you all! Stay safe, friends. I cherish these virtual walks with all of you.

Why I’m Starting My Light Therapy Sessions Earlier This Year

A hand reaching up to touch a bright lightbulbI am not a doctor, and this post is not intended to be taken as medical advice. Please talk to your healthcare provider to see if light therapy lamps are right for you.

Last winter I talked about how much light therapy helps me with my winter blues.

When I stopped using it during our sunniest months here in Ontario, I wondered when I should start up again but decided to defer that decision until autumn.

This spring and summer were filled with the glorious light that lifts my mood every year. Like life for almost everyone else on Earth, they were also filled with the cancellation of many long-anticipated events thanks to Covid-19.

I smiled and made the best of the outdoor, physically-distanced activities that were still safe to do, but with autumn coming up I wondered how my mental health would fare once it was cold and dark here once again.

This isn’t meant to sound like a complaint, by the way. Cancelling all of those festivals, parades, and events was absolutely the right thing to do from a public health perspective. I’m also grateful for my good physical health, safe home, and all of the other advantages I have that so many others do not.

And yet there is also something sad about missing out on almost everything you love about spring and summer only to begin the plunge into another long, dark cold season. This became even more true as I read about the cancellation of Halloween on Church and our mayor discussing the possibility of cancelling trick-or-treating as well. My favourite holiday will either be cancelled altogether or is going to be nothing at all like it was in the past.

At this point, I suspect every upcoming holiday will be celebrated virtually, within the same household (or small social bubble), or not at all until enough people have been vaccinated against this disease to stop it in its tracks.

There’s nothing I can do to change things like these. What I could do was start using my light therapy lamp earlier this month as soon as the first faint whispers of autumn appeared in the form of dark, cloudy days.

A blue lamp that is turned on and releasing light against a plain white wall. I’d forgotten how bright it was. That one little lamp fills the whole room with light and still has some left over to spare.It doesn’t emit heat the way the sun does when you’re outside on a bright summer day, but it otherwise feels something similar to that experience.

(Yes, I purposefully picked photos of dimmer lights for this post. I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s eyes).

It’s still a little too early for me to feel the effects of it, but that also means it should start working long before November arrives and we start seeing sunsets before 5 pm.

What creative ways are you planning to celebrate upcoming holidays?  If you also have a light therapy lamp, when did or will you begin using it this year?

Autumn Worlds I’d Like to Visit

I’ve written about the winter, spring, and summer worlds I’d like to visit, so today I’ll wrap up this series by talking about the autumn worlds I’d spend some time exploring if I could. Some of these settings weren’t necessarily the safest places to visit, but I’m going to use my authority as the author of this… Read More

Update on Autumn Goals

Last autumn I blogged about four goals I wanted to accomplish. Originally, I was planning to revisit it in the winter, but it turned out I needed more time than I originally thought for a wide variety of reasons. So much has happened in my life since last year. I’ve finally had the chance to… Read More

3 Things I Love About Autumn Hikes

This autumn has been an odd one so far here in Ontario as climate change continues to disrupt our normal weather patterns. Early September is often still hot here, but the heat continued on through October this year. I was actually still wearing shorts and other summer gear as recently as a week ago! Now… Read More