A Photo Essay of Toronto in April

Green plants growing in a concrete planter. This is the third instalment of a photography series I started earlier this year.

Each month I share photos from one of the parks in Toronto to show my readers what our landscape looks like throughout the year. Click on February and March to read my earlier posts.

Shortly after my March post went live, a long list of restrictions were also placed on what Torontonians are allowed to do in our parks.

No one is currently allowed to use any of their facilities including dog parks, playground equipment, pools, sports fields or courts, zoos, and similar places.

The use of park benches has also been curtailed. You could sit on them for a brief rest if necessary when I visited, but people received fines for lingering or sitting too close to strangers on them last week. (Those fines seem to have ended now).

We are still allowed to walk or run through the park as long as we adhered to the six foot physical distancing rule that has been put into place to reduce the transmission of Covid-19. I have always respected the law when writing these posts and will continue to do so.

The temperature on the day of my visit in April was 11 C, one degree warmer than it was in February and March. We’ve had some cold days this April, but I do expect the average daily temperature to rise by five to ten degrees by the end of May.A photo of a statue in a park. There are steps leading up to the statue and the bushes around it are still dormant from the winter.

Upon first glance, the park honestly didn’t look that much different now than it did last month. Anyone who looks closely at this photo might see a few green weeds growing next to the dormant bushes, but that’s about it so far.

A flat, dry running trail at a park.

But the running and walking trail is completely dry and firm now! I’ve seen multiple people using it while (mostly) following the physical distancing protocols. Getting this picture took some patience so I could show you the trail without taking photographs of strangers.

A photo of a bare tree in April. There is a bird's nest in the uppermost branches.

Some of you might be surprised to hear that many of the trees in southern Ontario don’t have leaves on them yet at all. The ones that do have only just begin to show their first hints of green which you will see later on in this post.

Spring is a slow process here that requires patience, but there are many signs that things are changing if you look down instead of up.

 

Buds on a small tree.

Before you have leaves, you must have buds! And the majority of the trees and bushes here are budding now.

You’ll also notice some little blue flowers in the grass. I think they were Blue-Eyed Grass, and they make my heart sing. Winter is finally over in ways that are more tangible than a date on a calendar.Blue flowers growing in a park.

Here’s a closer shot of the flowers. They only bloom for a few weeks in April from what I recall from previous years.

It’s interesting to see last autumn’s leaves interspersed among them.

A red breasted robin sitting on a green lawn.

Squirrels and red-breasted robins are everywhere in the park now. You can hear many other birds chirping in the trees, too.

Bushes covered in green leaves and yellow flowers.

There are other splashes of colour now, too. Soon the trees will be as eye-catching as these bushes.

A city park landscape. The grass is green and covered in blue flowers. The bushes are just beginning to turn green, and the trees still look bare.

Here’s a shot from another part of the city that shows the ground-up transformation of Toronto in spring so you can put it all into perspective. The grass and flowers are vibrant, the bushes are just beginning to turn green, and the trees still look dormant unless you’re standing right next to them.

Other than the obvious changes in human behaviour, there was one sign of Covid-19 at the park that I found interesting. A dead tree. The top half has been shorn off and is lying on the ground. Was it damaged in a storm?

 

City workers have not been able to clear away any of the fallen branches or the dead trees from the park. (I noticed a second dead tree on this visit but couldn’t get a clear shot of it). This stump and all of those branches are still covered in caution tape.  I’m reusing last month’s photo since it looked exactly the same.

Normally, this would have all been cleared away weeks ago. Toronto is a tidy and punctual city when we’re not in the middle of a pandemic. I totally understand why that isn’t possible right now, but it’s a reminder of how much this virus has interrupted everyone’s routines.

My hope is that everyone will respect the physical distancing rules so that parks will at least remain open to walk through. We will see what happens over the next several weeks.

Stay safe, everyone!

5 Responses to A Photo Essay of Toronto in April

  1. Lydia,

    Nice to see that you continue to fare well!

    I found your photo essay very moving. When I take my walk through our much smaller park, I am always startled to see the Caution tape around the playground, as if it were the scene of an unsolved crime. We have the same restrictions here that you have, but I am grateful that our government entities are not merely allowing us to go out, but encouraging us to do so. There seems to be particular concerns that dogs get walked.

    I especially liked your photos of the tree in silhouette — very graceful and dramatic — and of the city-scape of Toronto with the interplay of light and shadow. But the pictures and comments about the signs of life really touched me. Even the robin seemed to be practicing social distancing. The blue-eyed grass, the buds on the tree, the forsythia, and your description of people using the jogging path: all signs of the persistence of life that were hopeful and poignant.

    And I loved this line:
    “Spring is a slow process here that requires patience, but there are many signs that things are changing if you look down instead of up.”
    It should be part of a poem to the spring in general and maybe to this spring in particular. It has a lovely cadence, and the conceit that spring is a process that requires participation from humans — the passive participation of patience — simultaneously carries the reminder that we bear some responsibility for making sure the planet can produce seasonal changes while also reminding us that the changes of the seasons have nothing to do with us and will go on at their own pace, no matter how much we want to speed up the process or to make a season linger.

    Please don’t wait too long to show us what progress spring makes in Toronto.

    Ruth

    P.S. I seem to be getting only occasional notifications of your postings. I used to two every time you added to your blog, but now I see several posts that I missed completely!

    • It’s so great to hear from you again, Ruth. I don’t know why you’re only getting some of the notifications about my new posts. I’ll look into it and see if I can figure out what’s going on there.

      Thank you for your kind words about my post and how I wrote it. You truly made my day. If you want to write a poem about that particular line, go for it! I’ll see if I can come up with anything poetic about it, too.

      And, yes, the caution tape does feel like the scene of a crime. Hopefully, it will be able to come down soon.

      How are you doing during this pandemic?

  2. I do like your Toronto photoessays and would encourage you to do more of them. I wish the embedded images were larger, but at least they do enlarge when I open them in a new tab. 🙂

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