Tag Archives: Photo Essay

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, MarchAprilMayJune, July, August, September, October, November, and December, and January to read the earlier posts and see what the park is like throughout the year.

Welcome back to this photo essay series! This post will be shorter than previous instalments in it since I’m only focusing on the two damaged trees that some readers requested an update on after the winter of 2020-2021 ended.

Photo of a damaged tree whose branches are curving downward.

Let’s begin with the tree that lost a third of its leaves in that storm last year.

Look at how nearly all of its branches continue to bend down. You rarely see anything like that here.

 

A large branch that has fallen off of a sick tree.

A week or two ago, I noticed a branch that was taller than me lying on the ground next to it. I suspect that it fell off during a recent storm due to the lack of cut marks on it and the way the bark was peeled off, but I can’t say for certain.

A large bare tree branch lying on the ground.

On a more recent visit, I saw this. I thought it was the same branch but also couldn’t confirm it.

A possibly rotting trunk of a tree.

The trunk looks like it’s beginning to split open, and something appears to be growing inside of it. Maybe it’s mould or a fungus of some sort?

I worry about the survival of this tree as well as the possibility of someone getting hurt if a large branch falls on them while they’re standing near it.

Closeup of a tree that lost half of it's branches.

In happier news, the tree that originally lost half of its branches and a good chunk of its trunk is not showing any signs of mould (or whatever that stringy stuff was) growing in it. The wound on its drunk appears to be dry. There are no deep cracks in the wood, and all of it’s branches are as straight as the branches on healthy trees nearby. Landscape shot of a tree that lost half of it's branches in a storm in 2020. It's just beginning to bud again.

And to think I originally assumed this tree had been killed in that storm! Nature is full of surprises.

Side view of tree that lost half of it's branches in a 2020 storm. The branches that still remain are just beginning to sprout many new leaves.

 

May it stick around for many years to come.

I’ll continue to keep an eye on these trees and will provide another update in this series if either one of them experiences a dramatic change in health for the better or the worse. My hope is that any future update in this series will only contain good news, but we’ll have to see what happens.

If you’ve ever seen trees in your area go through similar injuries, I’d love to hear about your experiences there.

My reduction in blogging time will continue on for now. As much as I miss interacting with all of you more often, I’m enjoying the quieter schedule and using that writing time to focus on my speculative fiction.

A Photo Essay of Toronto in January

A weak January sun shining through bare tree leaves in a park. There is snow on the ground and an empty bench in the foreground. 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 twelfth instalment of this series.

Due to reader demand, it will not be the final one! Keep an eye out for another update on our two damaged tree friends a few months from now once we know how they fared throughout the winter.

Click on February, MarchAprilMayJune, July, August, September, October, November, and December to read the earlier posts.

It was 3 Celsius (37 Fahrenheit) but felt like 0 Celsius (32 Fahrenheit) on this month’s visit. Once again, this temperature was warmer than we’d usually expect for this time of the year thanks to climate change. Typical January temperatures here generally remain below freezing all month long even before windchill is factored in. The somewhat sunny sky on this visit was also a bit out of the ordinary.

If you do decide to visit Toronto in January, pack warm clothing that you can easily wear as multiple layers and bring a pair of slip-resistant boots along with the usual hat, gloves, scarf, and a warm winter coat. Frostbite is a real risk here on much chillier days than this one, and it can happen quickly on the coldest days.

The weather was decent at the park this time. We really got lucky this year.

Shot of a World War I statute in an urban park. The skies are partly cloudy and the ground is mostly dry.

There is beauty to be found at the park now when everything is dead or dormant if you have a poetic mind. For example, such blue skies are a rare, precious gift in January!

A muddy, half-frozen running trail in a park in January.

The running and walking trail is once again unusable. This was one of the driest sections, and even it was muddy and filled with patches of slowly-melting ice.

A dirt running trail covered in ice.

This is a more accurate representation of the state of the trail in general. It’s icy, slippery, and muddy in the few places where the ice has begun to melt. Even people who don’t have any mobility issues must take care when walking on it. Running on it is nearly impossible now. The few joggers I noticed had switched to running on the sidewalks instead.

A landscape photograph of an urban park in January. Snow covers part, but not all, of the grass.

Some days are much snowier and slipperier than this one was! It’s common to see layers of snow and ice on all surfaces now. We were lucky to have mostly dry sidewalks on this particular day.

The snow is gorgeous when it sparkles in the winter sunlight in those moments, but anyone could easily slip and fall on the ice that is often hidden beneath all of that enticing snow.

There are other dangers in January park visits as well. We saw dozens of other visitors this time due to the nice weather, but this area can be isolated on colder, wetter days. Speaking as a woman here, I wouldn’t feel comfortable visiting the park alone then. This is a very safe area of the city in general, but it’s far enough away from busier streets that finding help could be a little tricky if I slipped on the ice and got injured or if a stranger tried to harm me.

Do keep these things in mind and be cautious if you’re ever in southern Ontario in the dead of winter and decide to visit any of our lovely parks. The chances of anyone getting hurt are low, but it’s always best to be prepared.

A black squirrel running on a patch of dead grass in January.

In happier news, the squirrels were running around doing cheerful rodent things on this warm winter day.

A mostly melted snowman in a park.

And I wonder if this hunk of melting snow was once a snow person?

Snow lying on the grass in an urban park.

There certainly would have been enough snow for that before it started melting.

A skyward shot of bare tree branches against an overcast but somewhat blue sky

This scene is virtually identical to the one from last month.

A sapling that is still holding onto its brown, crunchy leaves in January

This one also seems to be the same as it was last month. It’s interesting to see leaves, brown and dead as they may be, in the middle of winter.

A petite woman bundled up for winter and standing next to a large tree
Yours truly all bundled up for winter. Tree for scale.

 

Another big change from our last visit had to do with how many layers I needed to be comfortable outside. I wore everything recommended at the beginning of this post other than the boots. I run a little cold in general, but boots would have been a bit much for the dry sidewalks I knew I’d be sticking to for the most part. People whose bodies run hot and who love winter might have been able to do without the scarf and gloves on this particular day if they don’t linger too long.

Face masks aren’t mandatory outdoors in Toronto, but they do help keep you a little warmer when that icy cold wind blows. I also find it easier to keep my mask on than to fiddle with it before going indoors again. The Covid-19 numbers have skyrocketed here this winter, so that’s yet another reason to be cautious and leave the mask on until I’m safe at home again.

A tree that lost half of its branches in a 2020 winter storm. It is now dormant for the winter of 2021.

Here is our tree friend who lost half of its branches in a storm from last winter.

A tree that lost a third of its branches in a winter storm last year.

Here is our tree friend who lost a third of its branches in a storm from last winter. This part of the park has many massive trees in it and therefore seems to hold onto snow a little better than other sections.

It’s still too soon to say how either of them are faring this winter. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

A stone walkway in a park. there is one evergreen and multiple deciduous trees lining it.

Finally, here is what the walkway looks like on a warm January day when most of the ice has had a chance to melt. The evergreen trees that provides such nice shade in the summer can keep this area slippery for quite a while after big winter storms, but it was pretty walkable when I visited this time.

Thank you all for taking these virtual walks with me over the last eleven months! You’ve now seen the park during every month of the year.

We will visit it one final time this spring when I check in on how those two damaged trees survived this winter after being so terribly damaged last winter.

Be well, friends.

A Photo Essay of Toronto in December

A bare tree branch with a nest in it. 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 eleventh instalment of this series.

Click on February, MarchAprilMayJune, July, August, September, October, and November to read the earlier posts.

Other than the amount of snow on the ground, the scenery in December remains almost exactly the same from the beginning to the end of the month. You will probably notice a few differences between the photos in this post and the ones to come in January, but it won’t be as dramatic as it is in the autumn and spring.

It was a balmy 8 Celsius (46 Fahrenheit) and somewhat cloudy when I visited. Typical days during this month generally don’t rise above 2 Celsius (35 Fahrenheit). Snow is common now, but most of it generally melts before the next batch arrives.  This is not the case in January, so my final instalment of this series might need to get a little creative depending on how slippery the sidewalks are then!

Let’s begin our virtual visit.

Landscape portrait of a World War II monument at a park in December. All of the trees are bare.

The first thing I noticed was how washed out everything looked there. It was the sort of day that was dark and cloudy one moment and weakly sunny at the next. I thought this photo captured that in an interesting manner.

A closeup of a World War I monument in a park. It's surrounded by scraggly evergreen bushes.

A closer and clearer look at this entrance to the park. The evergreen bushes in front of the monument have gone dormant now.

A muddy running trail at a park in December.

Mud has returned to the running trail.  I did see two brave souls continuing to jog there and sometimes running onto the sidewalk or to dryer bits of grass when they encountered the biggest puddles. (There would generally be dozens of joggers and walkers politely using the same space in the autumn and spring. I expect to see none at all next month).

Salt scattered on a sidewalk.

The sidewalks are now covered in salt alongside all of the leaves that have decorated them these past few months. They are almost always wet now, so the salt helps to keep them walkable for most pedestrians before the big storms of January make this a much slipperier place for a stroll.

A patch of dirty snow on a sidewalk.

However, anyone who has mobility issues should be cautious here in real life. Even relatively warm and dry days now include patches of snow and half-melted ice scattered here and there. The salt can only do so much, and it will only grow slicker over the next couple of months.

Skyward shot of tree branches against a cloudy sky

The canopy of rustling leaves is 90% gone now and the park is quiet. Last summer we couldn’t see the sky from this perspective. The clouds moved so fast that these photos also might look like they were taken on separate days instead of only a few moments apart.

A tree filled with dead autumn leaves

This sapling was one of a handful of trees that still held onto most of its leaves. A few of them generally retain at least some of their leaves until the end of winter.

A bird's nest in bare tree branches.

With that being said, this is what the majority of trees look like now. Yes, that includes the bird’s nest. Not all of them have old nests, but many of them do.

Two bird nests in the bare branches of a dormant tree.

Some of the largest ones even have two or more nests visible now. No wonder I heard birds chirping everywhere last spring and summer! I think it’s marvellous to see where the birds decided to make their homes eight or nine months ago.

Earlier this year I talked about how wet, spongy, and muddy the ground was as it thawed. You saw a photo of this on the running trail, but it’s something found throughout the park. I couldn’t walk on most of it without caking my shoes in mud.

 

A tree that lost half of its branches and a big chunk of its trunk in an early 2020 winter storm. It's dormant now.

Luckily, our tree friend that lost half of its branches was in a drier section of the park. It seems to have survived our first few snowstorms just fine.

 

A landscape photo of a tree that lost a third of its branches in an early 2020 winter storm.

The zoom lens on my camera helped me get this shot of our tree friend that lost a third of its branches. It still has a wet trunk and drooping branches. I’ve avoided walking underneath them for months now for safety reasons. Soon we will see how they will fare under the heavy ice and snow that coats everything in January.

Do you want to know two of the best things about visiting the park in December? I’ll give you a few hints.

A squirrel climbing up a sapling that has gone dormant for the winter.

This one might be a little tricky to see. Look at the sapling in the centre of the photo if you need help. Yes, that’s a squirrel! It was climbing so vigorously the whole tree was shaking a bit.

A black squirrel sitting on top of a knot of a tree.

There’s something about this time of year that makes squirrels slightly easier to photograph. This little black squirrel is sitting on top of a knot on the right hand side of this tree. I’d just seen it climb out of a hole in the knot. That must be where he or she lives.

My other favourite part of visiting the park now is something I tend to overlook the rest of the year.

A small patch of evergreen trees in a park.

Evergreen trees are one of the few splashes of colour between now and April. I sure appreciate their green addition to the landscape when everything else is drab and various shades of brown, black, and grey for months on end.

A landscape shot of trees in a park who have all lost their leaves and gone dormant.

Here’s another shot of the more typical deciduous areas of the park for reference.

A sidewalk in a park flanked by dormant, bare trees. The grass next to the sidewalk is covered in a thick layer of brown leaves.

Finally, this is what the famous walkway looks like after nearly all of the leaves have fallen.

The plan is to blog about this park again in the icy, snowy depths of January so that every month will have been accounted for. Then I hope to do one final post in the spring to see how our two damaged tree friends fared over the winter.

Take care until next month, readers!

A Photo Essay of Toronto in November

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 tenth instalment of this series and will be a bit longer than usual.an autumn tree covered in bright yellow leaves

Click on February, MarchAprilMayJune July, August, September, and October to read the earlier posts.

Welcome to November in Toronto! It was between 16 Celsius (60 Fahrenheit) and 20 Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) on my visits this month. Temperatures are traditionally supposed to reach highs of 7 Celsius (45 Fahrenheit) at most now, so these numbers are quite out of the ordinary for us. Climate change is quickly altering our seasonal weather patterns.

This month is generally one of our rainiest ones. Nearly half of the days in the average November are rainy ones here. Sometimes it snows, too, although such early snow melts within a day or two.

The sunshine you’ll see in most of these photos is unusual, too. Our more typically overcast days were also pretty stormy this month, or I would have included examples of them as well.

Landscape photograph of a World War I memorial at an urban park.

It was raining heavily when the leaves were at their peak, but the rain luckily stopped in time for me to get some nice shots of the autumn foliage.

Close-up photo of World War I monument at a park. the monument is on a series of stone steps and surrounded by evergreen bushes.

The evergreen bushes are still looking good. They must not go dormant until December or January. I’ll check back again with them then.

Snapshot of a yellow autumn tree next to a dirt running trail at a park.

The running trail always shows signs of recent rainfall now, but it’s still firm enough to jog or walk on. This particular tree has such a nice rustle of leaves when you pass it. I wish I could stand there all day and listen to it’s melodic little song.

A canopy of autumn leaves still clinging to their trees.

We saw the canopy of leaves thin last month, and that pattern continues this month. There are still green leaves to see if you look closely.

A friendly hole in the trunk of a tree.

Who will nestle up here this winter, I wonder? It looks cozy.

A mostly green autumn tree a reddish yellow autumn tree, and a bare tree.

These are the three faces of November. Some trees are mostly to partially still green. Most trees are at or just past their peak of colour. Some trees have lost most to all of their leaves and are prepared for winter.

Lower half of a person standing in a pile of autumn leaves. Their shoes are totally covered with leaves.

And these are the two legs of November.

It’s a marvellous feeling to walk through so many leaves that you can no longer see your feet. Every step makes delightful crunching noises. I always have to fight the urge to dive into the leaves and do whatever the equivalent to swimming in them might be.

A tree who had lost half of its branches and part of its trunk during a winter storm. It is now covered in autumn leaves.

Our tree friend who lost half of its branches in that storm last winter is quickly shedding leaves.

A photo of a tree that lost a third of its branches in a storm last winter. It's leaves are quickly turning colours and falling off.

As is our tree friend who lost about a third of its branches and has been droopy and strangely damp in its trunk this autumn.

The trunk of this one looks a little less damp now, but I see no other obvious changes in it for better or for worse. May both of these trees do well this winter.

A tree filled with yellow autumn leaves that are glowing in the sunlight as they slowly drop to the ground.

It’s hard to know when to stop sharing photos with you. The landscape is filled with beauty now in every direction you look. This tree looked like it was glowing when I snapped a photo of it.

Trees filled with gorgeous red autumn leaves.

Don’t you want to go run into the centre of the park and twirl around with joy? I sure do.

There’s something remarkable about being surrounded by so many picturesque scenes.

A large, bare autumn tree flanked by trees that still have some leaves attached to them.

As hinted above, November is one of those months that changes rapidly. Some trees are bare while the ones next to them still have some to most of their leaves attached.

A shot of a plaza in a park that is lined by trees who have lost about half of their leaves.

I don’t know about all of you, but I still find beauty in trees that are past their peak autumn colours.

There’s something marvellous about watching autumn leaves dance on the ground when a stiff breeze hits them, too. I tried to film them to share on social media, but they stopped every time I hit the record button on my phone.

Mostly bare autumn tree with three birds nests in it

We’re also just begun to reach the time of year when the trees reveal their secrets.

I hope to share more photos like this next month. It’s fascinating to see where the bird nests were last summer when you couldn’t directly see the nests for yourself.

If we were walking through this park together, I’d stop and show you many nests like these. I think we should admire the birds’ hard work over the summer. The park, and the ecosystem in general, wouldn’t be the same without them. My ears sure appreciate their songs as well.

A cobbled path in a park that is lined by bright yellow trees in their full autumn splendour.

As always, I’ll end this post with the famous bench-lined walkway in the park. Isn’t it beautiful in autumn?

Stay safe, friends. Winter is right around the corner.

A Photo Essay of Toronto in October

A tree bursting with bright yellow leaves in October. 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 ninth instalment of this series.

Click on February, MarchAprilMayJune, July, August, and September  to read the earlier posts. October’s photos were taken on multiple visits to the park this time for two reasons:

Reason #1: Climate change has brought about season creep in temperate climates like this one. Among many other changes, this means that plants here tend to bud earlier and hang onto their leaves longer than they used to. Not every species changes colour at the same time, either!

Reason #2: October can be quite rainy in southern Ontario. This isn’t a good time for making firm outdoors plans weeks or even days in advance. Instead, we take advantage of nice, sunny weather whenever it happens.

The temperature was generally between 10 and 15 Celsius (50 to 60 Fahrenheit) on my visits this month. I wore pants (or trousers if you’re from the U.K.), a t-shirt, sneakers, and a light to medium jacket depending on how cold and sharp the wind was. It’s almost always windy now, and my curls would like you all to know they formally disapprove of that hairstyle-mussing nonsense.

There will come a time when it will be too cold, wet, and icy to enjoy a leisurely visit to park. Luckily, that is still a few months away yet. For now such things are still possible on most days. Landscape photo of a World War I monument behind a crosswalk and in front of several trees that are changing from green to yellow as autumn deepens.

Some trees are still mostly green. Others are well into the process of changing into their autumn colours.

close-up shot of a World War I monument in a park whose trees have begun turning colours in October.

The  bushes by the monument are still green. If memory serves, they may remain this way until December. Let’s see if I’m right!

A somewhat damp running trail at a park. It is flanked by trees whose leaves are just beginning to turn from green to yellow

But I don’t want to give you a false impression of what the park is like. There are still many (mostly) green trees in it, although if you look carefully at their leaves you’ll see  hints of the colours they’ll fully reveal in the near future.

The other difference between the running trail between now and last month is that it’s softening up again. There’s little dust to be found there now. All of that autumn rain has to soak into somewhere, and it will eventually make this trail too muddy and slippery to use as winter approaches and we begin getting snow and ice, too.

Fewer people are using it now than at the peak, but I still see joggers and walkers doing their laps every time I visit.

A tree whose leaves are red on the topmost branches and still green on the bottom ones.

This is a striking season of change. We’re inching closer and closer to the time when our trees will be at their peak of autumn beauty, but we’re not quite there yet.

The average person wouldn’t notice many differences in the landscape from the end of May to the beginning of September, but now you can find differences from one day to the next!

A maple tree filled with bright red leaves on a cloudless October day.

You can often see trees that are nearly at their peak of colour next to ones that have only barely begun to change. The juxtaposition between the two is striking. (Yes, that is my shadow in the photo).

A canopy of leaves. Some are still green, while others have begun turning yellow or orange in the autumn season.

The famous canopy remains. It rustles even more now than ever before, and there are bright splashes of colour almost everywhere you look.

Dozens of leaves lying on a grassy patch of land.

The ground is changing, too. Not only is it beginning to be covered by fallen leaves, you can also feel and see acorns, twigs, and sticks on it. I walk a bit more slowly on it now than I did in the spring and summer.

Since the land can be bumpy and uneven in places, spraining an ankle or tripping is easier now than it was in the summer (although still much less likely than on an icy or snowy day).

My hope for November is to show you all photos of what the forest floor looks like when most of the leaves have fallen. It can be several inches or more of debris to wade through. I often can’t see my shoes at all when I walk through it the deepest parts!

A branch filled with red berries. Here are some plump red berries in the park. I hope the squirrels and other wildlife are enjoying them as we settle into what will soon be the depths of autumn.

Speaking of the squirrels, this is the time of year when they are very busy gathering up food for the winter. A park where several black squirrels are collecting nuts off of the forest floor.

You’ll see them everywhere you look. Sometimes they even chase each other up and down the trunks of their favourite trees.

A tree that lost half of its branches and some of its trunk in a 2020 storm has begun to change from green to yellow autumn leaves.

How are our tree friends doing?

The one that lost about half of its branches is well on the way to reaching peak autumn colour. I look forward to seeing how it does over the winter. It’s really seemed to have grown well this year.

A tree that lost a third of its branches in a 2020 winter storm has begun to turn orange for the autumn 2020 season.

And I continue to worry about our friend who lost about a third of its branches. The remaining branches continue to droop, and the gash in its trunk is filled with wood that looks oddly wet. Is this part of the healing process, or is the wood rotting? Only time will tell.

A tree-lined path in a park. Most of the leaves are still green, but a few are turning yellow.

But there are still green portions of the park. If you don’t peer at individual leaves too closely and ignore the chill in the air, one can almost pretend its still summer on a sunny day.

I look forward to sharing more striking autumn photos next month. Perhaps I’ll mix them in with later photos of the trees as they lose most of their leaves. (Some brown, dead leaves hang on well into winter). As you’ve all noticed, we still have a ways to go before we reach peak colour.

This series will conclude in January, but I’m thinking about providing a spring update once we know the winter fates of these two unlucky trees if you’re all interested in that.

A Photo Essay of Toronto in September

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, March, April, May, June, July, and August to read the earlier posts. It was  13 Celsius (55 Fahrenheit) and slightly cloudy during this… 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

A Photo Essay of Toronto in June

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… Read More