Tag Archives: Autumn

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?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Give Off Autumn Vibes

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

This is one of those topics that I’m guessing a lot of us will choose the same answers for. Only time will tell if I’m right about that.

Most of these tales are set in the autumn, so that’s by far my biggest reason for choosing them.

I’ve written a similar post to this one recently. Due to that, I’m going to keep this list short and sweet to avoid duplicates.

1. Dead Poets Society by N.H. Kleinbaum

Why:  If you haven’t seen the 1980s adaptation of this book, go find a copy of it. It was incredibly well done, especially later on in the plot once one of the main characters who was depressed feels like all hope is lost. My own struggles with depression were often the worst around the time that autumn turned to winter, so this character’s experiences at the same time of the year make this something I’ll always associate with autumn.

2. The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings #1) byJ.R.R. Tolkien

Why: The Lord of the Rings series also had a lot of themes related to death and the endings of various eras or kingdoms. There’s something about watching the natural world die for the season or go into hibernation that makes me ponder these topics, too.

3. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Why: Most of the events of this tale were not set during the autumn, but the themes in it were heavily related to death, loss, change, and other things I associate with this season.There was also a twist at the end that oddly reminded me of spring! Saying anything else would give away spoilers, though.

4. Autumn Days: Let’s Look at the Seasons by Ann Schweninger

Why: This picture book about autumn is self-explanatory, I think.

5. The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot

Why: It was autumn the first time I read this poem. The subject matter of it has a lot of autumn themes related to things ending, so that only cements it further as something that belongs to this season.

An Exclusive Interview with Autumn

About six months ago, I sat down with spring to discuss what it feels like to be that season of the year. Today, I’ll be chatting with autumn, and I hope to eventually get ahold of winter and summer, too!

Lydia: Welcome, autumn. I’m glad you were able to make it.

Autumn: Thank you. Was I on time this year? What has spring been saying about me?

Lydia: You showed up exactly when I expected you would. Spring was curious about your work, but she mentioned that your opposite schedules make it impossible for you to meet.  When, exactly, did you wake up this year?

Autumn: It’s hard to say. Summer and I like to trade duties in September, so I had a few short naps while we were in that transitional phase.

Lydia: How is your relationship with Summer in general?

Autumn: Excellent. We both have serious personalities and strong work ethics, so I always enjoy taking over their last few projects of the year. Usually, I need sprinkle some rain and sunlight in that general direction and allow the plants to do the rest.

Lydia: That sounds easy.

Autumn: Well, not so much easy as it is predictable. As long as all of the other seasons have done their part, the process is fairly simple, but it does still require close attention to make sure everything ripens the way it should and everyone is set for the winter. That season can be a harsh one, so I try to make this transition as gentle as possible.

Lydia: I understand. How often do you run into problems with your line of work?

Autumn: Lately, it’s been growing more difficult. My department has noticed warmer temperatures and an increase in violent storms over the last century. We do have some tricks up our sleeves for dealing with unexpected weather, but problems in one season can bleed into the next if we’re not careful.

Lydia: What sort of problems? Also, I didn’t realize each season had their own department! How does that work?

Autumn: Well, too much or too little rain in one season can make it difficult for the plants to grow properly. An unseasonably warm autumn or winter might sound like a nice idea if you live in a cold climate, but those mild temperatures can lead to a higher percentage of insects surviving the winter. Those insects and their descendants may then eat more plants than be replaced that next summer or drain the life out of caribou. It’s a real mess.

As far as our departments go, I have several people on staff who keep track of things while we’re asleep. Summer has about the same number that I do. Winter and spring mostly work alone as far as I know.  My support staff have their own hibernation cycles, so sometimes I do see new faces when I wake up. But they all help us communicate with the seasons we spend little to no time with, and that’s always appreciated.

Lydia: Wow, that is so interesting. I didn’t realize that at least some of the seasons were run by multiple folks.

Autumn: Yes, I’m very lucky. I have no idea how winter does it alone!

Lydia: Not to change the subject, but I do have a few questions about the holidays that are celebrated while you’re in charge. What do you think of them? Do you have any favourites?

Autumn: I hadn’t really thought about that! Most of the time, that stuff is managed by the Department of Human Affairs. It varies so much from one culture to the next that my work only occasionally brushes up against that topic. I will say that I appreciate any human festivity that involves going out into nature and enjoying the change of seasons.

Lydia: That’s wonderful to hear. Would you like to leave my readers with any parting words?

Autumn: Yes, watch out for winter. He’ll be here before you know it, and he might have a few tricks up his sleeves!

 

 

Autumn Worlds I’d Like to Visit

I’ve written about the winterspring, 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 post to decide I’d somehow be protected while I was there.  Let’s say I had a protection spell on me to ward off anyone or anything that had bad intentions.

Hill House

Anyone who has read The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson or seen the Netflix series based on it knows why I needed that protection spell. This property was filled with malevolent spirits!

The architecture of the house would be what I’d like to see, though. I’ve loved old, stately homes for as long as I can remember, especially the ones that were built during or close to the nineteenth century.

Unlike the clean, sleek styles of most modern architecture, large homes from this era are filled with small details that are easy to miss. There might be carvings around a door frame or a gothic-like spire reaching for the heavens.

Yes, meeting the friendly ghosts would be cool, too, but discovering all of the hidden details of this mansion would be even more interesting.

St. Cloud’s Orphanage

This orphanage was where the main character of The Cider House Rules by John Irving was born and raised in the first half of the twentieth century. Life was hard for many folks then, but it was especially rough for children who didn’t have parents.

There was never enough money, time, or attention to go around…and yet the doctor who ran this orphanage did an excellent job of looking after the children in his care given the standards of his time.

He was passionate about finding homes for his charges as soon as he possibly could. When a home couldn’t be found for a child, he made their lives as comfortable as he could. I’d love to take a tour of this orphanage and see how things were run in that fictional universe a century ago.

Hundreds Hall

If you haven’t already noticed the pattern in this post, that is about to change. Hundreds Hall was the crumbling mansion that the main character in The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters visited in order to provide medical care for the people who lived there. Click here to read my review of the film based on it.

The cool thing about Hundreds Hall was that people were still living there. Yes, it was in need of a lot of repair work, but anyone who visited there would have heat, water, and even some basic food if they went into the kitchen and asked nicely for a snack.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have access to those things while on a ghost hunt than go somewhere that doesn’t have them. My goal while visiting this estate would not only involve admiring the architecture but hopefully catching a glimpse of the ghost that may have lived there, too.

Somehow seeing one ghost who may or may not even exist is a million more times exciting than seeing dozens of them hanging around everywhere like one would at Hill House.

Plumfield

There’s something about this boys school in Little Men by Louisa May Alcott that appeals to me quite a bit. Despite being set in a time and place when women and LGBT+ people had far fewer rights than we tend to have today, it would also probably be the safest place on this list for me to visit.

My fingers would be crossed that Jo would be an accepting host. I’d like to think we could bond over our shared love of writing and literature.

It would be amazing to see what life was really like in her home. Her school was not always the most structured learning environment, but her students did have a great deal of fun between – and sometimes right dab in the middle of – their chores and lessons.

So many of my favourite memories of this book happened during the autumn, so I can’t help but to think of it as an autumn story.

If there were a way to tell her about the future without disrupting the natural unfolding of historical events, I’d also love to give Jo a glimpse of what life was like nearly 200 years after her time.

What autumn worlds would you like to visit?

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

4 Things I Want to Accomplish This Autumn

There’s something about the autumn season that makes me want to write out lists and accomplish things. Maybe it’s because of how much I generally looked forward to school beginning again when I was a student. A blank notebook can hold an endless number of possibilities. Several months from now they’ll be full of lecture… Read More