I remember a Canada Day spent on a rooftop party hosted by a friend of a friend. The view was spectacular.
I remember a Canada Day when I felt asleep early only to be awoken by fireworks being set off nearby.
I remember a Canada Day where I took a long nap and relished that precious day off from work after several big changes there.
I remember a Canada Day that commemorated my country’s 150th birthday. It was my favourite one so far. There were massive celebrations everywhere. I spent hours listening to the live music, soaking up the happy energy of the crowds, and eating delicious treats like beaver tails (that is, the pastry and not the rodent) and seasoned french fries. That particular celebration lasted for several days instead of only one.
This Canada Day can’t be like the others for reasons all of us already know far too well.
Our government is setting up virtual celebrations for everyone so we can share joy, not germs. I hope there will be some good music to listen to and a fireworks display if possible. And I reserve the right to get a Beaver Tail later on this summer once the Canada Day lines for it are long gone.
It’s tricky enough to predict next week or next month, so who knows what will or won’t be possible next year depending on if there’s a vaccine for Covid-19 by that point. What I do know is that this year is going to be a unique one regardless of what happens in the future.
My plan is to pay attention and remember as much as I possibly can about the similarities and differences between 2020 and the years that came before it. Just like I always have a million questions about what it was like to live through any number of historical events that still remain in living memory, I suspect that future generations will have the same questions for us.
May all of their questions be answered one day. In the meantime, Happy Canada Day to all of my fellow Canadians! I hope we all find new, creative ways to enjoy this holiday 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. This is the fifth instalment of this series.
Click on February, March, April, and May to read the earlier posts. It was 20 Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) and sunny this time which I think is the perfect weather for a park visit.
June is a transitional month that includes large temperature swings. The early part of it can see high temperature of 10 to 15 Celsius (55 to 60 Fahrenheit), while a few days to weeks later the hottest point of the day could leap to 35 to 40 Celsius (95 to 104 Fahrenheit).
That is to say, keep your shorts and sandals handy in June….but don’t put warmer clothing into storage quite yet! The nights can still be chilly, and this can be a stormy time of year as well.
Let’s take a look at the park from a distance. Isn’t it green and vibrant? Every tree that survived the winter has sprouted its full complement of leaves now. The effects of all of that greenery is stunning.
All of the bushes, trees, and other plants around the statue at the front of the park are green and vibrant.
There was a time when you could see through to other parts of the park from this vantage point. That time has passed for now.
The running trail is dustier now then it was in May. See also: my new shoes that got covered in dust while I was exercising there the other day. Luckily, they wiped clean again easily.
This trail is otherwise about the same as last month. Barring thunderstorms, I expect it to remain firm and dry until the rainy autumn begins. This is even more true this year due to the fact that the longterm prediction for Ontario’s summer weather is calling for less rain than usual.
I think you all knew this shot was coming. There’s nothing like standing underneath a canopy of thick, healthy leaves and hearing them rustle in the wind.
And another sun-dappled sidewalk. I’m so grateful for the massive trees that provide all of this shade. The rest of my summer visits will probably happen early or late in the day to avoid the full brunt of the midday heat and humidity, but even then standing in the shade makes things much more comfortable outdoors.
Sadly, not every tree survived the winter. One huge change I noticed between May and June is that city workers have finally cut down the dead trees and carted away all of the broken branches I shared in previous posts in this series. That was a welcome surprise!
But our two tree friends who were badly damaged last winter are doing incredibly well.
Seeing all of the healthy leaves they’ve sprouted this season gives me a lot of hope for their longterm survival.
The park has been quite busy this month in general. While restrictions on what people can do continue to be lifted, folks seem to be spending more time outdoors this year due to all of the news reports we’ve heard about it being safer to spend time outdoors than in stores or other places where everyone is constantly breathing the same air.
I do expect park activity to slow down as it gets hotter and more humid outside, but it’s quite possible that won’t happen. So much depends on if the rate of new Covid-19 cases continues to drop in Ontario and which entertainment venues, if any, will be deemed safe to reopen before autumn arrives.
Stay safe, friends! I look forward to showing you Toronto in July next month.
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, March, and April to read the earlier posts.
May is by far the most beautiful time of the year in Toronto in my opinion. It was a balmy 17 degrees Celsius (63 Fahrenheit) according to my weather app when I visited this month. The sky was bright blue and there was a warm, gentle breeze in the air.
The restrictions on park usage are slowly beginning to be lifted here. We are now allowed to use picnic tables, basketball courts, tennis courts, and soccer fields so long as everyone you use them with belongs to the same household and you maintain at least six feet of distance from other folks. Going to the park to walk, jog, or sit on a bench is still permitted as well.
It was quite busy there during my visit this month, so you’ll see some strangers in the distance in a few photos. Keeping all of them out of my shots simply wasn’t possible.
This is the time of year when you don’t have to look closely for signs of spring. They’re everywhere. While not every tree is obviously green yet, I’ll get into that later on in this post.
Look! The bushes in front of the monument are turning green now. There are also plenty of wild plants like dandelions growing between them.
The jogging trail is firm and dry once again. (It tends to become muddy after spring and summer thunderstorms, although generally not at much as it is in late winter and early spring). This summer it will be a dusty place to exercise if we go through long dry spells, but the trees lining it will provide some relief from the hot sun for determined joggers.
This trail was once again in heavy use due to the gorgeous weather and the fact that the majority of our stores and other destinations are still closed to help contain the spread of Covid-19. I’m glad I was able to get a clear shot of this area of the park for all of you.
As I hinted at earlier, about ten percent of the trees don’t have leaves yet. This isn’t due to sickness or injury. If you look closely at them you’ll see the buds of their future flowers and leaves.
I’ve often wondered if these are the same trees that hold onto their leaves in November when most other trees are bare. Let’s see if that’s true in six months!
Every winter I yearn for moments like this. There’s nothing like standing underneath a thick canopy of leaves from multiple tree species and hearing them rustle in the breeze.
I’ll indulge all of us with a similar shot. If there’s anything more peaceful than moments like these, I couldn’t tell you what they are.
One thing I haven’t covered yet in this series is the size of the trees we’re talking about. Some of them are saplings that have roughly the same circumference I do as a slim, petite adult woman.
But we also have trees that are much larger than that. It’s amazing to feel the difference in the air temperature immediately below the biggest trees in the park when compared to standing in direct sunlight on a warm day. I’d bet it makes the temperature feel ten degrees cooler on warm days…and more than that on the hottest ones!
There were two marvellous surprises at the park this month. Do you remember those two trees I blogged earlier about that were severely damaged in a winter storm? They’re somehow still alive.
This is the tree I photographed over the last few months. About half of its branches were ripped off in that storm, and its trunk was badly damaged as well.
Here’s another shot of it so you can see just how serious that damage was. I have no idea what its longterm chances of survival might be, but I was thrilled to see it growing leaves again. May it live to see many more springs.
There was another, much larger tree that suffered a similar injury in that storm as well. I’d estimate that it lost about a third of its branches.
It’s looking quite healthy…
…especially when you consider just how badly it was damaged. This photo captures most, but not all, of the dead branches from it. If any arborists read this, I’d love to get your opinions on the chances of these trees healing from their injuries.
And, yes, it’s odd for gigantic branches like these to remain in the park months after a violent storm. As I mentioned back in February, branches this large and potentially dangerous for folks who may climb on them would typically be cleared away within days in non-pandemic conditions.
I’ll end this post with a lovely shot of a sun-dappled sidewalk. A month or so from now we’ll all be quite grateful for the shade these trees provide on hot, humid summer days!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Squirrels and red-breasted robins are everywhere in the park now. You can hear many other birds chirping in the trees, too.
There are other splashes of colour now, too. Soon the trees will be as eye-catching as these bushes.
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.
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.
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!
The monument I blogged about last month had a reprieve from the snow and ice of February.
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.
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.
You can still see leaves on the ground from last autumn.
And some trees still haven’t released their leaves from last autumn. I hope this little one survived the winter.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last spring I blogged about my plans to walk to Mordor. I updated my progress at the end of August when I was a third of the way through with it and again in November when I was about two-thirds finished. For anyone who needs a refresher or wasn’t following me when this series began, Walk… Read More
A few days ago, Toronto learned that someone who was diagnosed with COVID-19 had taken several trips on the TTC, our public transportation system, after they began coughing and showing other symptoms of that disease. Our local media has been publishing many stories on the Coronavirus outbreak these winter alongside their regular winter features on… Read More