Tag Archives: Spring

A Photo Essay of Toronto in March

Note: I wrote this post in early March before Toronto began shutting down businesses and public places in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. There were no restrictions on travel, spending time near other people, or park usage at the time of my visit. What April’s post in this series will be like still remains to be seen. I will do my best to visit it again if I’m still healthy and we’re allowed to walk through the park at that point. 

This is the second instalment of a monthly photography series I started back in February. Each month I will share photos from one of the parks in Toronto to show my readers what our landscape looks like throughout the year.

As I mentioned last month, this is a slushy, muddy, and unpredictable season that has only grown sloppier and more unpredictable as climate change has disrupted our traditional weather patterns.

The  interesting thing about this part of the year is that we never know in advance what to expect. Will there be a blizzard? Will we have sunny, spring-like weather? Everything can change in a day or even over the course of a few hours while winter is slowly giving way to proper spring weather.

It turns out that the temperature on March’s visit was 10 C, exactly the same as it was on the day I visited in February. That wasn’t so much as coincidence as me not wanting to do this photoshoot when it was 0 C and raining outside. Ha!

Photo of a World War I monument at a Toronto park. There are bare tree branches in the background and dry steps leading up to the monument in the foreground.

The monument I blogged about last month had a reprieve from the snow and ice of February.

A dirt running trail at a park. Part of the trail is filled with mud and a little water.

The running trail I shared earlier has changed as well. It was less muddy when I visited it this time, although this is something that will continue to fluctuate quite a bit for at least the next month.

If you look at the background, you’ll see two people using that trail! Other than the reduction of snow piles, the biggest difference between last month and this one is that there were about a dozen other people and a few friendly dogs using this park during my visit.

Bare tree branches against a blue sky.

You’ll notice no changes in the foliage this time. Everything is brown and dead or dormant now. April is the absolute soonest I’d expect to see any greenery in Toronto, and it generally remains somewhat rare for most species until closer to the end of that month. Dead leaves on the ground.

You can still see leaves on the ground from last autumn.

A tree that is still covered in brown, dead leaves.

And some trees still haven’t released their leaves from last autumn. I hope this little one survived the winter.

A bird's nest in a dormant, leafless, tree.

One of the really cool things about March is that you can see last year’s bird nests in the trees. I’ve read that some species here return to the same nest every spring to raise another brood of chicks.

Sights like this aren’t possible once the trees have leaves again. You can hear the chicks peeping sometimes if you walk right underneath their home tree, but it’s hard to spot their nests in May or June. A dirty patch of snow on a sidewalk. There is a blue glove and many leaves stuck in the snow.

Yes, we still have snow here and there. If anyone is missing a blue glove, I know where you lost it!

Toronto can get snow in April, too, although it generally melts fairly quickly.

A photo of a park in March. The trees are bare and the ground is brown. But there is no snow on it.

We definitely have less snow than my previous visit, though. Look how clear the ground is. In month or two, I’ll be able to walk on it without getting mud all over my shoes. For now, I’m sticking to the mostly-dry sidewalk.

A dead tree. The top half has been shorn off and is lying on the ground. Was it damaged in a storm?

My final photo is a sad one.

One of the trees in this park didn’t survive our winter storms. I saw a couple of other trees that had sustained minor damage, but this one is unfortunately gone for good. The last time this happened, the city cleared away the stump and debris before planting a new sapling in its place several months later.

I hope to share photos of that new sapling whenever it arrives. If this happens after the conclusion of this series, I’ll write an addendum to it.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Favourite Things to Do in the Spring

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

I’ve been looking forward to this prompt for weeks. Spring is my favourite season, and it’s the nicest time of year in Ontario in my opinion! Some of the things on this list aren’t currently an option this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic and how much Toronto has been shut down to contain the spread of it, but my hope is that I can do all of these things next spring.

But all of items on this list are either free or inexpensive. As I’ve said on this blog before, I’m a frugal, minimalistic person who is easily amused. There simply isn’t a reason for me to spend a lot on entertainment the vast majority of the time.

So what tops my list of fun stuff to do in the spring?

Parks. Yes, I gave this as an answer last year for the Favourite Things to Do in the Summer prompt. I enjoy visiting parks even more during mild spring weather for picnics, walks, outdoor exercise, and maybe even a few minutes on the swing set if there’s a swing available.

The nice thing about this time of the year is that the sun hasn’t reached its full strength yet. While I always need protect my skin and eyes for medical reasons, I can spend more time outdoors now than in July or August.

Photography.  I love walking around and looking for new subjects for my photography hobby. Mild weather makes it easy to keep wandering until I’ve taken as many pictures as I want to before heading home to sort and edit them.

Festivals. There are very few parades in the spring in Toronto, but this is the beginning of festival season. I love getting out and about after a long winter spent mostly cooped indoors. There’s nothing like feeling the warm sun on your back as you listen to music or eat a delicious meal there.

Vegan Restaurants. I’m not vegan, but I love visiting vegan restaurants because they’re some of the only places on Earth I can go and order dessert due to my milk allergy! I usually don’t order  a full meal at them. A bowl of cashew ice cream or a brownie is more than enough to satisfy me. It’s cheaper, too, to have dinner at home and only pay for dessert when I’m out and about.

Farmers’ Markets. Have you noticed the food theme of this post? I honestly hadn’t thought about how many of my favourite things involve food in some way before I started writing it. But I think it’s a good idea to buy fresh, local produce at farmers’ markets to support local farms when possible. There are also some foods like gooseberries for sale there that I rarely see at conventional grocery stores.

A duck and her three ducklings swimming in a pond.Streams, Lakes, and Ponds. If Toronto were near the ocean, I would have added that to this list, too. Whether I’m paddling on them, sitting quietly on a ferry gliding through them, or watching from the edge of a watery place as duck families swim by, I love being near water no matter what form it takes. (Swimming isn’t on this list because it’s usually too chilly to swim outdoors in Ontario until summer begins).

Doors Open Toronto. Every spring, Toronto has a weekend where all sorts of historical buildings open to the public so we can see their architecture, get a glimpse of their areas that normally only staff members can see, and learn more about their history. This is the sort of nerdy, educational event that I adore.

 

3 Things I Love About Spring Hikes

Signs of spring are popping up everywhere now here in Ontario. If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed the photos I’ve been sharing there of our first flowers of the year.

It’s still a little too muddy and chilly outside to spend much time traipsing around out in nature,  but I’m hoping the weather will become nice enough to change that soon.

In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about the joy of going on hikes or walks during this season. There are many reasons why this is the perfect time of year to do that. Today I’ll be sharing three of them with you just like I talked about my love of autumn hiking last year.

The Peace and Quiet

Toronto almost feels like an entirely different city in each of its four seasons. Things grow quieter here in the winter, especially once all of the December holidays have ended.

Summer is our busy, tourist season. There are certain parts of the city I don’t visit much at all during those months because of how crowded they are when kids are out of school and families visit Toronto. Tourists are always welcome here, but I’d rather visit familiar landmarks in the off-season than wait in long lines outdoors to see them in the never-ending heat and humidity of August.

Spring and autumn are transitional times. We don’t have as many tourists or warm weather at these parts of the year, but the weather can give us many unexpectedly beautiful days. It’s been my experience that there aren’t as many Torontonians venturing to a park or the woods in the in-between seasons for reasons I haven’t quite figured out yet.

At any rate, I like these quiet, peaceful days out in nature. Sometimes they start out cold and foggy but later turn out to have several hours of mild, comfortable weather in the afternoon. It’s always a gamble at this time of the year, but I like grabbing those few hours of decent weather when possible and using them to visit parks that haven’t yet begun to see their full stream of warm-weather visitors.

I’d also much rather go wander around outside on a day that is slightly chilly and overcast than one that may leave me sunburned or overheated by the end of it. To each their own on that topic, though.

The Outdoor Exercise

After spending the last several months exercising indoors due to a mixture of weather and health-related reasons, I can’t tell you what a relief it’s been to start doing some workouts outside.

There’s something so invigorating to me about feeling the sun and wind on my skin as I exercise. Watching all of the TV shows or exercise videos in the world can never replicate that sensation anymore than they can show what it feels like to greet a friendly neighbour you happen to run into while exercising outdoors.

Life isn’t always conducive to this, of course, especially when I had a sore foot a few months ago and needed to avoid slipping or falling while it healed.  With that being said, it’s a nice experience when possible, and I’m hoping to do it much more regularly now that I’m feeling like my old self and the sidewalks aren’t dangerously slippery for anyone who needs to be careful to avoid a fall.

The Scenery

As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, spring is my favourite season of the year. Winter is cold, snowy, drab, and long here, so it’s always a relief when the temperatures rise and I begin seeing bright splashes of colour on the landscape again after the flowers begin blooming.

I’ve already paused more than one walk with my spouse in order to snap a picture of a flower or new leaf on a tree. Every bit of colour that’s added to the landscape makes me that much happier.

It’s going to be even nicer once I’m able to visit a forest that isn’t dormant at all any more! I can’t wait to see flowers, leaves, and grasses growing no matter what direction I look.

If you’re also a fan of hiking or taking long walks, what do you like most about it at this time of the year?

Top Ten Tuesday: Rainy Day Reads

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

There are two things I really like to read on rainy days: poetry about stormy weather and humorous books. Why does my brain work this way? I have no idea, but it has strong opinions on this topic that I’m going to honour.

This week I’m going to be recommending five comedic books and five poems that somehow reference rain, storms, or similar topics.

The Books

1. Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip-Confessions of a Cynical Waiter by Steve Dublanica

Most people understand that folks who work in the service industry are fellow human beings and should be treated with the same basic level of respect and kindness you’d offer to any other stranger. The individuals who choose not to follow this social more for whatever reason provided endless fodder for a hilarious blog that eventually lead to this book, too.

It’s the perfect thing to read if you’ve ever worked in the service industry or wondered what that experience can be like on the not-so-great days. I started reading it during a thunderstorm years ago, so that may be why I associate it with rainy days so much.

2. Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern

Mr. Halpern’s dad is the sort of person who says whatever outrageous thing is on his mind without thinking about how others will react to it. I should warn you that some of the quotes in this book might be offensive to some readers due to the stereotypical things the dad says about certain groups.

With that being said, most of these quotes are simply odd statements about society shared by a man who either can’t or is purposefully refusing to understand that the world has changed a lot since he was young. (It was never clear to me which one of these explanations was most accurate, and I definitely don’t want to shame him if he has some sort of health problem that affects how he thinks or relates to others.)

As someone who has a couple of relatives who act a lot like this dad, it feels nice to know that I’m not the only one dealing with this situation. Sometimes laughter truly is the best response to things you cannot change.

3. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

I read this book several years ago. The only things I remember about it is that it was quite funny and I believe I might have read it during a very rainy weekend in my city.

4. Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

Ms. Brosh is one of the funniest cartoonists of our generation. If you haven’t checked out her work yet, you really should. Sometimes I save her latest blog posts specifically for stormy days because of how much I enjoy savouring them for a while.

5. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

This was the first book I ever read from this author, and it happened in a bookstore on a stormy day. I loved his descriptions of trying to learn French, among other adventures. I’ve been a fan of Mr. Sedaris’ work ever since then.

 

The Poems

1. April Rain Song by Langston Hughes

If you read this blog long enough, you’re going to notice me mentioning Langston Hughes a lot. He was an incredibly talented poet that I try to introduce new people to as often as possible.

2. Peasants Waiting for Rain by G.S. Sharat Chandra

It can be easy for those of us who aren’t farmers to forget just how important rain is for agriculture. This poem is a nice reminder of that.

3. Rain in the Desert by Walter Lowenfels

If you’ve never seen a downpour in the desert, this poem is an excellent description of one.

4. To the Rain by Ursula K. LeGuin

I love the cleansing imagery in this poem. The world does seem like a cleaner, brighter place after a good thunderstorm!

5. Sheep in the Rain by James Wright

The last line of this poem was what made me realize how great it is.

An Exclusive Interview with Spring

It isn’t every day that a blogger nabs a chance to interview any of the seasons, much less one as highly sought-after as spring! I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Spring: Sorry for running a few weeks late there. I lost track of time.

Lydia: Welcome! It’s nice to finally meet you. I was wondering where you’d gone. How was your trip?

Spring: Oh, traffic was backed up like it usually is.  I did take notes while reading your rain review, so I wanted to make a few last-minute changes to this year’s itinerary.  I hope you’ll like those extra thunderstorms I squeezed into Ontario’s schedule this month. They’re fussier recipes than regular rainstorms, but I wanted to give you something special this time.

Lydia: Thank you. They look perfect. So let’s talk about your role as spring. What’s it like to awaken the northern hemisphere again every year?

Spring: Well, every season needs to prepare for transitional periods. You can’t exactly switch from winter to spring in one afternoon! My work is especially interesting because it involves waking up all of the plants and animals that slept their way through the cold season, and that’s not something any of the other seasons need to think about. Winter and I have had to learn how to coordinate that process so that no one wakes up too early or too late. It’s a balancing act, and every year I learn a little bit more about what does and doesn’t work in various climates.

Lydia: Speaking of winter, what is your relationship with them like?

Spring: Frosty. Yes, I’m totally joking there. We have a good working relationship. The world wouldn’t be the same place without a period of rest, and I appreciate all that winter does while the rest of us are asleep. The plants sure do appreciate it, and the insects are learning to see the bright side of it as well. Honestly, sometimes I wish my hibernation period lasted longer than it does.

Lydia: A hibernation period? Interesting! I was just about to ask what the seasons do when they’re not currently in use. What is that process like?

Spring: It’s like flopping into a warm, soft bed after a hard day’s work. Occasionally, I might wake up to take over for winter or summer for an afternoon, but I generally like to sleep through my full rest period if possible. Of course, that hasn’t been happening as often as it used to these days.

Lydia: I hear you there. On a somewhat related note, what are your relationships like with summer and autumn?

Spring: Summer and I get along really well. We have such similar goals that sometimes it’s hard to tell where their work ends and mine begins. We’re not technically supposed to have favourite months, but this is why I like June so much. The busiest weeks of my assignment are finished by then and the humans have started to harvest a few early crops like asparagus and strawberries.  I’ve heard nothing but good things about autumn’s work, but I can’t remember the last time we actually met. Our schedules are simply too different from each other for either of us to stay awake long enough to collaborate. I’d love to see what they do with leaves someday, though.

Lydia: Oh, autumn leaves are beautiful. Have you really never seen them change colour?

Spring: No, I fall asleep long before that happens.

Lydia: What a shame. I know you’re currently in your busiest time of the year, so I won’t keep you much longer. One final question before you go – what are your plans for this year? Is there anything special we should be looking forward to other than those thunderstorms you whipped up for me?

Spring: I was feeling extra creative this year, so you’ll probably see cherry trees blooming earlier than usual. I hope you like them.

Lydia: That’s wonderful. Well, thank you for stopping by, and good luck.

Spring: Thank you!

 

 

Spring Worlds I’d Like to Visit

Happy spring to everyone in the northern hemisphere! I’m beyond relieved to see it finally arrive as far as the calendar goes. Here’s hoping Ontario will soon see lots of warm weather and the first little green shoots popping out of the soil as well. In the last couple of years, I’ve written about the… Read More

My First Outdoor Walk This Spring

My first outdoor walk this spring happened this past weekend. Since it isn’t possible to magically transport one’s readers to Toronto to experience this for themselves for half an hour, I’ll tell you exactly what it was like. The wind had a slight cold snap to it, and I shuddered a little bit every time… Read More