The idea for this new series came from two places.
Terry Tyler’s year-long photo series on what her local park looks like in each month of the year.
Once a month, I will share snapshots of one of the parks in Toronto so my readers can get a feel for what the climate is like then and what the foliage is (or isn’t) doing. I may share bonus photos of other parts of the city, too, once the weather warms up and I’m spending more time outdoors.
February used to be a colder and snowier month in Toronto than it is in this century. I didn’t grow up here, but the weather in my childhood home state of Ohio is similar enough for me to make the comparison between them.
Climate change has shifted those historical weather patterns. February now acts like March in this part of the world. By that I mean that it’s unpredictable and often stormy. One day you could have a blizzard and overnight lows of -20 C (-4 F) or colder. A day or two after that it could warm up to 10 C (50 F) and sunny.
My visit happened on a warm day when it was about 7 C (44 F) outside. The sun was shining, but there was still some snow on the ground.
The orange fence you see is the background is part of a city project to revitalize this park. It’s a heavily used area and the ground had been pretty trampled before city workers started to cordon off areas to let them rest.
A park monument covered in snow and ice.
All of the plants are dormant or dead at this time of the year. You can see a few straggling leaves from last autumn still holding on, but the trees’ branches are bare other than that.
Notice that you haven’t seen any people here yet. While I do my best to avoid taking photos of strangers, this isn’t a popular time of year for going to the park in general. I didn’t see anyone in the distance while I was there.
There is generally some snow on the ground in February. It melts on warm days, but we’ll probably continue to get more snowfall and to see patches of old snow hanging on in shady spots until April.
The photo above is of a muddy running trail that is flooded with half-melted ice and snow. Normally, it would have a flat, solid dirt surface.
One of the reasons why people don’t visit our parks as often, or at all, in February has to do with what the land is like now. The cycles of freezing and thawing creates less-than-ideal conditions in the park for many common activities like having a picnic, exercising, or otherwise straying from the sidewalk.
We get so much precipitation in Toronto that it’s hard for the ground to absorb all of it when it’s cold outside. This sort of flooding is normal and generally keeps happening until April when everything thaws out and the soil can absorb more water.
The park actually looked pretty good when I visited it. It can be much more flooded than this at the end of the winter. There have been times when the entire sidewalk was covered in ice if we’d recently had a big snowstorm that melted and then refroze overnight.
I will pick this series up again next month when we’ll see what March is like here.