Tag Archives: Canada

A Photo Essay In Memoriam of a Tree

A tree with a damaged trunk. It’s branches are straight and covered with green leaves. From February of 2020 to January of 2021, I published a series of posts showing what one of Toronto’s parks looked like in every month of the year. Click on February, MarchAprilMayJune, July, August, September, October, NovemberDecember and January to read those posts.

Two of the trees in that park had been badly damaged in an ice storm in late 2019 or early 2020, and I chronicled their response to losing branches and having their trunks damaged in my early posts. In May of 2021, I shared an update on them. One seemed to recover pretty nicely while the other was deteriorating.

I am both sorry and relieved to tell you all that as of the end of July 2022, the tree that never recovered was cut down by the city.

Here is a photo of that tree in June of 2020. Even from some distance away you can see the massive wound on it’s trunk from where at least one large branch was torn away. I am not a botanist or an arborist, but it otherwise looked good in 2020. It still had most of its branches, and they stood up straight and firm.

For the sake of comparison, here is a photo from May of 2020 that shows many branches it lost. I’d guess it was about a third of them.

A large tree that has a massive branch lying on the ground. It’s probably about a third of the size of the tree’s other branches.

In retrospect, I wonder if the tree was sick before this storm. You often see small branches torn off during storms, but generally not such large ones in healthy specimens.

A large tree that has huge cracks in it’s damaged trunk.

In August of 2020, a large crack began to form in the trunk.

A tree with a large hole in its trunk. The branches have begun to bend downwards. it looks very unhealthy.

 

A month later, the remaining branches began to bend. I no longer felt safe walking underneath it and took all of my future photos by zooming in from a safe distance. Many of those branches were big enough to kill you if they fell on you.

A tree that has a large, dangerous hole in the trunk and drooping branches. the leaves have begun to change colour for the autumn.

 

It’s hard to see in this photo, but by October of 2020 the damaged portion of the trunk began to look wet and like something stringy was growing in it. Maybe it was some sort of mould or moss? I quietly observed from a distance, but things were not looking good.

Zoomed-in photo of a deeply cracked and mossy trunk.

Here’s a zoomed-in photo of it from 2021. It’s hard to see, but it looked pretty bad in person.

The  deterioration continued from there slowly but steadily each month.

A sickly, large tree with many drooping branches.

The tree did sprout new leaves in 2021, but they were noticeably more sparse than they had been in previous years. The branches began drooping more heavily as well.

An arm-sized branch that has fallen from a tree.

2021 was the year when branches began falling from the tree over and over again. I’d held out hope that it would recover in 2020, but by last year I was seeing more and more signs that it may not.

A tree stump covered in sawdust.

As of late last month, a stump and some sawdust is all that remains of that beautiful tree.

Yes, this was a good decision. The danger it posed to visitors to the park was growing stronger with each passing month, especially for anyone walking near it on a windy day.

With that being said, I will still miss hearing the wind rustle its branches and the shade it provided on hot days. When it was healthy, its branches were so large they even provided shade for the picnic table you can see in the distance of one of the above photos which is kind of amazing when you consider how small trees are at the beginning of their lives.

I wish it could have survived. May it Rest In Peace.

 

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Describe a Perfect Weekend Getaway

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.

This is a trip I’ve been dreaming about ever since I first read the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery.  Maybe someday a version of it will actually happen!

A lighthouse on Prince Edward Island. You can see the famous red sandy beaches between the lighthouse and the sea. The sky is a dusky rose colour. It may be dusk or dawn in this photo. My perfect weekend getaway would happen on Prince Edward Island.

My spouse* and I would fly there on a Friday and fly home on a Monday so we’d have two full days of adventure on the island.

Our first stop would be to visit the birthplace of L.M. Montgomery. It’s a lovely farmhouse that’s been turned into a museum. Historical stuff like that appeals to me!

I’d visit some of the Anne of Green Gables tourist destinations nearby, too, like the little museum dedicated to this series and the gift shop that has all sorts of Anne memorabilia.

The rest of the weekend would be spend exploring other things the island has to offer. I’d want to visit their red beaches for sure, but I’d play the rest by ear based on what the locals recommended and what the weather was like that weekend.

It’s been my experience that the best restaurants, parks, shops, and other adventures in a new area are often hidden gems. I’d rather take advice from someone who lives there and has insider information than follow the advice of a random Internet article that may or may not actually be knowledgeable on the topic.

My spouse* and I might:

  • Take a carriage ride
  • Explore a gorgeous, half-forgotten graveyard in a small town
  • Eat at a restaurant that looks fairly ordinary from the outside but quietly serves the best food on the whole island
  • Join a last-minute ghost or historical tour
  • Stumble upon a cool local festival or event we knew nothing about previously
  • Find a marvellous sweets or ice cream shop
  • Make a new friend with an extroverted local or fellow tourist
  • Build sand castles on the beach
  • Hike somewhere achingly wonderful, or
  • Discover unique architecture in a beautiful historical church or other building

Red rocks, dirt, and sand on a Prince Edward Island beach. The possibilities are endless, and I’d relish any of them.

I’ll end this post with one more Prince Edward Island stock photo I found.

Seriously, wouldn’t it be amazing to see such sights in person?

*If they didn’t want to go, I’d take a friend instead. I do not believe in compulsory travel. Hehe.

 

Sensing Something Wrong: A Review of The Wendigo

The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood book cover. Image on cover is a drawing of a horned, hairy creature standing on it’s back feet. It looks like a large goat. Title: The Wendigo

Author: Algernon Blackwood

Publisher: Eveleigh Nash

Publication Date: 1910 (and republished on April 21, 2022)

Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Historical

Length: 74 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb:

Algernon Blackwood’s “The Wendigo” tells the story of a camping trip in the Canadian wilderness that goes horribly wrong when the hunters become the hunted. Drawing on the mythical creature known as the Wendigo, this story is regarded by many critics to be one of the best horror tales of all time.

Review:

Content Warning: Racism. I will discuss it in depth in my review.

Forests aren’t friendly to everyone.

Some of my favourite scenes were the ones that explored the various reactions people can have to being in the middle of the woods. What is peaceful and wholesome to one person could be mildly unsettling or even downright terrifying to another based on their previous experiences with nature and how much they know about all of the sounds that occur when one is in the middle of nowhere and can see nothing byt trees stretching out in every direction.

Horror doesn’t have to be gory or gross. There wasn’t single drop of blood in this tale, and yet it made me shudder all the same. I appreciated the slow buildup as the characters walked deeper into the woods and further away from anyone who might help them. That methodical pacing gave me plenty of opportunities to imagine what might happen next and to chew on the clues I’d already discovered. The slower and quieter scenes were exactly what the storyline needed in order to flourish. Some things are much scarier when they’ve been given time to marinate in your thoughts, and this is one of them.

I wanted to make note of the racism mentioned in the content warning. This story was written in 1910, and the author had some truly odd ideas about First Nations people and their mystical connection to nature that many white people of his era believed. In no way am I trying to excuse the offensive nature of those passages or his bizarre beliefs about how one’s race should influence what one does in the woods, only to say that the world has changed for the better since it was written and I think the author was trying to be complimentary with those descriptions based on the historical time in which he lived. While I am generally able to shake my head and ignore ridiculous stuff like this in old books, I did want to let my readers know about them in advance so you can come to your own conclusions about whether this is something you want to read.

With that being said, I loved what Mr. Blackwood did with his characters, especially Punk, a First Nations cook and guide for the group, later on in the storyline. Their character arcs were memorable and made a great deal of sense given what they found in the woods and how everyone reacted to that experience. It made me wonder what would have happened if Dr. Cathcart, the protagonist, had been more interested in cultures outside of his own. This was one of those cases where a little communication would have gone a long way, but certain cultural assumptions made that difficult. I found myself wondering how the storyline might have changed if it were instead told from the perspective of Punk after he realized that the white people he was accompanying through the woods had accidentally discovered something horrific.

The Wendigo was a delightfully chilling tale.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: What Mythological Animal You’d Want as a Pet

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.

My first response to this prompt was, “none at all!”

I think I’ve read too many speculative stories about people who try to capture faeries or other magical creatures only to discover just how dangerous and foolish it is to mess with forces you don’t understand. For the sake of playing along, though, I’ll assume that any animal or creature I choose would be docile enough to make a half-decent companion, could look after itself, and wouldn’t mind if a human wanted to be near it sometimes.

An Ogopogo statue in British Columbia. It is green and grey and has parts of its body poking up from a blue stream.
An Ogopogo statue in British Columbia. Photo credit: Hamedog at the English-language Wikipedia

An Ogopogo (which is something like Canada’s version of the Loch Ness Monster) seems like a good match for these criteria.

Yes, I’d need to move to Okanagan Lake in British Columbia, but I can only assume that the Powers That Be ™ would somehow ensure that all of the details for that move would taken care of and that my new magical friend would be made aware of it. (Calling it my pet somehow doesn’t seem quite right).

Ogopogos generally leave humans alone, especially in contemporary stories about them. Mostly, they just swim around and occasionally startle tourists who weren’t expecting to see such an enormous and ancient creature calmly existing near them.

The only exception to this rule involves people who intend to harm the Ogopogo and/or the valley it protects. I would post signs warning visitors about the possibility of an Ogopogo attack if they had dishonourable intentions, but anyone who simply wanted to have a picnic or something by the lake with me shouldn’t have any trouble at all with them.

Honestly, I like the idea of a protective entity.

That’s something that many lakes and other natural places need nowadays, so I’d leave my Ogopogo do it’s sacred duty without any interruptions. If it wanted to swim up and say hello while I was enjoying the shore, so be it.

A Review of This Time Around – A Canadian Werewolf Story 

This Time Around - A Canadian Werewolf Story by Mark Leslie book cover. Image on cover shows a city skyline at night. Superimposed on that photo is a photo of a wolf's head that's superimposed on a maple leaf in front of a full moon.Title: This Time Around – A Canadian Werewolf Story

Author: Mark Leslie

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: February 16, 2013

Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary

Length: 70 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author 

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Blurb:

Caught Between the Moon and New York City 

Being a werewolf isn’t all about howling at the moon.

Or running carelessly through boundless fields feeling the wind in your fur.

Not when you live in the most populous city in the US.

For Michael Andrews, a Canadian living in Manhattan and afflicted with lycanthropy, there are odd side effects to being a werewolf in the middle of a bustling metropolis.

Such as waking up naked in Battery Park with absolutely no memory of the night before as a wolf and trying to figure out why there is a bullet hole in his leg.

Just another day in the life of a man living with the odd side effect of his werewolf affliction.

(This 10,000 word short story is the original short story written by Mark Leslie that eventually inspired the full length Mark Leslie Novel: A Canadian Werewolf in New York)

Review:

Content warning: blood and brief violence. I will briefly mention the former in my review.

If you think you know what it’s like to be a werewolf, think again. 

Humour wasn’t necessarily something I was expecting to find when I began reading about Michael’s adventures here, but it was exactly what he and I both needed. Some of the scenes were subtly humorous in ways that nodded at Canadian culture. While they certainly had universal appeal as well, it was nice to see the author acknowledge his character’s background like that. 

The only thing that held this story back from a much higher rating were the typos in it. I can ignore the occasional grammatical or punctuation error, but they happened so often here that I felt compelled to mention them. With another round of editing, this would have easily been a five-star read for me. I loved everything else about it. 

This was such a unique take on werewolves. The plot showed how Michael coped after waking up naked and covered in blood in a park after spending his night in his wolf form. Obviously, that’s not the ideal way to start anyone’s day, and somehow things only became more complicated for him from that point. I was immediately sucked into his quest for clothing and, eventually, answers about what happened to him the night before. The author went into the perfect amount of detail about what this sort of experience is like for a shifter and how many different things they must consider as soon as they revert to their human form. 

If you enjoy lycanthropy fiction, definitely do check out This Time Around – A Canadian Werewolf Story.

A Photo Essay Update on Damaged Toronto Trees

Last year I shared photos from one of the parks in Toronto once a month to show my readers what our landscape looks like throughout the year. This is an update to two trees in that series that were badly damaged in a winter storm in early 2020. Click on February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October,… Read More

What Bears Do in the Woods: A Review of The Ursus Verses

Title: The Ursus Versus Author: Nathan Waddell Publisher: Self-Published Publication Date: October 29, 2020 Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult Length: 66 pages Source: I purchased it. Rating: 5 Stars Blurb: Do you like bears and black holes and squid monsters and dragons and cowboy dragon slayers and riding your bike all around town looking… Read More

6 Toronto Urban Legends for Halloween

Since most of the people who read this site don’t live in Toronto and Halloween is my favourite holiday of the year by far, this seemed like the perfect time to share some of our spooky local urban legends. The Lady in Red Lower Bay subway station was built in 1966 and shut down six… Read More

A Summer Without Tourists

There are a few things about Canadian and, more specifically, Torontonian culture that I should explain here for anyone who isn’t already familiar with them before diving into the meat of this post. I am speaking in broad generalities here and this is a large, diverse country, so please make friendly allowances for that if… Read More