Category Archives: Nature

Assiniboine Park

“In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.” Kahlil Gibran

I went for a walk in Assiniboine Park with my long time friend Esther on Friday morning. We went early to avoid the heat and strolled through the English Gardens. I took a couple of photos of the dew on the flowers. Esther and I had a lovely visit and on my bike ride home I thought there was a quote by Kahlil Gibran that might describe our morning. Gibran was hugely popular in the seventies but I have given away the volumes of his poetry I once owned. I was able to find the quote above online.

As Esther and I walked down to Portage Avenue to get a coffee we saw all these little painted rocks lined up artistically down the whole length of the footbridge in Assiniboine Park.  Some enterprising children must have created a sort of pop up gallery of artwork. I loved this one with its cryptic message to ‘be happy.’ This sparkly bright pink one provided a lively contrast to the leaves around it. Check out this contemporary design.  This one reflects a message especially relevant for our current circumstances.

With my parents and my sister in Assiniboine Park in the 1950s

It seems that every time I go to Assiniboine Park I discover some little treasure to remember or I tuck away some new memory.  My parents got engaged in Assiniboine Park. 

Here are just a few photos from the many I have that were taken in Assiniboine Park. How grateful I am especially during this time when being indoors with people can be dangerous to have beautiful outdoor spaces like Assiniboine Park where we can meet friends and family in a safe way.

This photo was taken with good friends in Assiniboine Park 2015

I took this photo of my friend Meena with the Winnie the Pooh statue in Assiniboine Park in 2014

Our grandson checks out the polar bears swimming at the Assiniboine Park Zoo in 2018

Clouds reflected in the water in a pond in the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden in Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park. I took this photo in 2016

Posing with Lady With the Book statue in the Assiniboine Park English Gardens 2018

Dave and me on a bench in Assiniboine Park 2012

Posing with my friend Beena by a statue of Moses in the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden in 2014

Other posts…….

Go to the Park

A Quick Visit to Assiniboine Park

The Qualico Family Centre- Assiniboine Park

 

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Filed under Art, COVID-19 Diary, Nature, Winnipeg

Don’t Piss God Off, Red Rocks and Letters to America

Yesterday when I was walking through Steve Juba Park near my home I thought about something Shug says in the novel The Color Purple.  Shug believes God wants us to admire all the beautiful stuff in creation. It’s a sin she claims not to look for beauty and not to appreciate it.

Shug says, “it pisses God off if you walk by the colour purple somewhere….and you don’t even notice it.”   Well, I don’t think God could have been too upset with me yesterday in Steve Juba Park because I was being wowed by plenty of purple beauty.  Here are three of the photos I took. irises

little purple flowers

lilacs

I picked up a jigsaw puzzle last Wednesday when I was volunteering at the MCC Thrift Store. jigsaw red rocks crossingIt was a picture of Red Rocks Crossing in Sedona Arizona. I finished it yesterday and so today when I go to the store to volunteer I can return it and pick up a new puzzle. I chose the Sedona puzzle because I have been to Red Rocks crossing in Sedona and know just how beautiful it is in real life. Here are a couple of photos I took when I was there. red rocks crossing Sedona

sedona red rocks crossing

Macleans is running a series called Letters to America.  Submitted by prominent black Canadians each unique and beautifully written letter makes you think about why Black Lives Matter.  

Esi Edugyan the author of the bestseller Washington Black reminds us of what an important role the abolitionist movement in Great Britain had on ending slavery in the United States.  People an ocean away cared about Black people in America.

Rinaldo Walcott a University of Toronto professor says that in Ontario a Black person is 20 times more likely to die in an encounter with police officers than a white person. Canadians are too willing to abdicate responsibility for safety in our communities to the police. Better housing, health care and transportation are things that will truly make a difference. 

Andray Domise a Macleans contributing editor and historian tells us Canadians like to pat themselves on the back because they were the final stop on the Underground Railroad but we need to remember that in the 1950s and 1960s when Black Americans were trying to leave the United States and its segregationist Jim Crow laws they were turned away at the border by Canadian authorities or deported back to America if they somehow made it across the 49th parallel. 

Lawrence Hill the author of the widely acclaimed Book of Negroes lays a lot of the blame for racism in America on Donald Trump and his devotees.  Speaking through the voice of his father Hill says Trump and his enablers must be voted out of every political office in the United States. Trump has no respect for Black folks, Muslims, refugees or women. He wants to turn America into a dictatorship and he and his supporters have perverted everything good people should hold sacred. 

There are other great letters in the series. Read them for an interesting and varied Canadian perspective on the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Other posts………….

The Color Purple- God in Every Living Thing

A Strange Book But One Worth Reading

Inspiration on a Walk in Sedona

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Filed under Arizona, History, Nature, Politics

Dave Goes Birding in Winnipeg

We think our camera may have been stolen while we were posing for this photo with friends

Some of you may remember reading about how our camera disappeared after a guided wildflower hike in Arizona earlier this year. Recently my husband Dave bought a new camera and he’s been trying it out and honing his birding skills at the same time.

Dave photographing birds in Costa Rica

In recent years Dave has enjoyed photographing birds and animals on our holiday trips but when he is home in Winnipeg he is way too busy with work, sports, volunteer and social commitments to go hunting birds with his camera.  That fact that many of those activities have been cancelled because of COVID-19 has given him the opportunity to take pictures of birds in his home city.  I have been along a few times on his photo forays and it is great to observe his interest in his new hobby.

Here are a few of his Winnipeg birding photos.

Diving duck 

Red-Winged Blackbird

Baby goslings feeding

Magpie

On Thursday night we went on a birding walk with our friends in a forested area of St. Boniface and Fran who is a birder with decades of experience heard an indigo bunting. Dave managed to get a pretty good picture of the indigo bunting before it flitted away. Dave has also been going birding with his friend Les.  Les is an excellent artist.  The other day he and Dave spotted a blue jay. Dave wasn’t able to capture it with his camera so Les recorded the sighting with his artwork. 

I’m looking forward to learning more about birds as Dave explores his new hobby and perhaps I’ll even give his new camera a try myself soon.  

Other posts………..

Dave Driedger Nature Photographer in Mexico

Vote for Your Favorite Wildlife Photo by Dave

Butterfly Photographer

 

 

 

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Filed under COVID-19 Diary, Nature

Crocus Hunting on an ATV

 My husband Dave really wanted to see some Manitoba crocuses growing in the wild. During a Zoom call last week, friends who have a home in the Sandilands area suggested we come and visit them. We’d have lunch and then they would take us crocus hunting. So yesterday we did just that!  Our friends had gone to so much trouble to make our time safe and fun. We arrived to find lawn chairs that had just been cleaned, situated pandemic appropriate distances apart around a fire. I had watched British Columbia chief health officer Dr Bonny Henry give a talk about safe Victoria Day barbeques with friends and so Dave and I had followed her recommendations and brought all of our own food for a wiener roast. After our lunch and a nice visit, each couple climbed aboard one of the ATVs our friends own and we were off to hunt for crocuses. It was my first time on an ATV and what fun we had flying along the trails in the Sandilands on a gorgeous day. Our helmets had just been cleaned and sanitized and the plastic coverings that went over our faces provided excellent PPE for dust and bugs. And did we ever find crocuses! They were all over in the ditches and woods. Little bursts of pale purple peppered the grasses and trees and underbrush. We stopped to take pictures and as you can see from these photos we captured some beauties.

We remained outside during our whole visit with our friends which was something else Dr Henry had recommended.   We had such a fun day. Not only did we find crocuses but we discovered you can be safe, social distance and still have a great time!  

Note: The crocus photos in this post were taken by my husband Dave and our friend Marie

Other posts……….

Thin Places

Flowers Appear on the Earth

The Religion of Trees

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Filed under COVID-19 Diary, Nature

Wild Flowers and A Lost Camera

See our camera around Dave’s neck?

Our friend Mitch on the Merkle Trail

Dave used that camera to take some gorgeous shots of the many different wildflowers we learned about on a hike down the Merkle Trail in Usery Park  in  Arizona.  The wildflower walk was led by the legendary Ranger B who hosts lots of interesting hikes in the park. 

Dave took this photo of our hiking group with my phone.  

After the hike was over Dave put the camera on one of the tables in a picnic shelter at the end of the trail while we made post-hike plans for dinner.  We both forgot to pick it up before we headed to our car and only discovered it was missing when we got home.  We called the park and went back there to search for it, but no one had turned it in.  The camera was nearly ten years old and had a few technical problems but I am so sad to lose the beautiful pictures Dave took of the wildflowers we saw. This blog post only includes the few photos I took with my phone. Here our friend Mitch is smelling the flower of the creosote plant. When you rub it and then cup your hands to smell it you get the aroma of fresh rain. These are some of the oldest plants in the world. Ranger B told us they’ve around for 11,500 years. The trails were lined with Brittle Bush flowers that looked like daisies. The buckhorn cholla plant features these fiery red blooms. You had to look carefully for them because they were hidden on the desert floor among many other things, but it was possible to spot some woolly daises or Easter Bonnets as they are more commonly referred to. Ranger B said the chuparosa flowers were a favourite of hummingbirds. Dave also had photos of the fairy duster, the globemallow,  the sore eye poppy, the gilia, and the fiddleneck but they are in our camera which belongs to someone else now.

It was a gorgeous day for a hike!

wildflower walk arizona

Other posts………..

The Flowers of Costa Rica

Trilliums- Food For the Soul 

I’ve Got My Camera Back

 

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Filed under Arizona, Nature

Delight

Delight was the topic of a recent episode of the podcast This American Life.  It included an interview with Ross Gay.   He is the author of The Book of Delights. Every day for a year Ross wrote about something that delighted him. I was inspired and thought I’d give it a whirl and describe a recent moment of delight.

I heard them before I saw them, a riotous mayhem of chirping and tweeting and twittering filling the brisk morning air.  I was crunching my way over the snow to have breakfast at a restaurant just a block from the hundred and twenty-year-old warehouse where I live when I heard a chorus of chickadees and looking up saw them scattered all through the winter skeleton of a tall tree like little lost black and white leaves clinging to the bare branches. I rarely hear or see birds on my busy downtown street so I was surprised.  Then I noticed someone had hung a wooden bird feeder on the tree and filled it with birdseed.  The chickadees dashed down one by one to peck at the seeds and then rocket back up into the branches.  I pulled my phone out to try to capture them on my camera but they were way too fast for me and whenever I stepped close enough to get a good shot they darted away.  So I put my phone back in the pocket of my warm blue coat and just stood there enjoying their music.  On a weekday morning, my downtown street is clogged with traffic. But it was Saturday, and the neighbourhood was surprisingly quiet and peaceful, so I was able to bask in the delight of those delicate winter singers for a long time.  

Other posts………..

Living in An Art Gallery

I Kissed an Owl

Hiking the Virgin

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The Long Night Moon

We were at a banquet at the Winnipeg Convention Centre on Friday night and the moon looked lovely through the window against the backdrop of the interesting honeycomb ceiling design of the hall that was reflected outside. The actual full moon had been just the night before but this moon was pretty spectacular too.

Full Moon Before Yule illustration from the Old Farmer’s Almanac

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the December full moon is also called the Cold Moon coming as it does in one of the chillier times of the year. It is also called the Moon Before Yule because it is the last full moon before Christmas.  According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the indigenous name for the December full moon is The Long Night Moon since it happens in the month of the winter solstice when we have the longest night of the year.

This year the Moon Before Yule happened on Friday the 13th which added an air of mystery to it. I read a couple of articles by astrologers who suggest that wishing on a full moon is very effective.  I made a wish on the moon last weekend.  I’m hoping it comes true. 

Other posts……..

Blue Moon

Sedna is a Planet

Thinking About Light

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Down on the Farm

In her book, Braiding Sweetgrass botany professor Robin Kimmerer talks about how surprised she was when she first starting teaching to discover how little experience most of her university students had spending time outdoors in rural settings.  They hadn’t ever explored a farm to see where their food came from.  They hadn’t been in a garden.  They hadn’t waded in a pond or climbed a tree.  Now at the start of her university courses, she takes her students on expeditions to make sure they experience those things first hand. While looking through some old photographs I realized that unlike Robin’s students, my sons and their cousins were blessed to have a really great introduction to living close to the land thanks to their grandparents.  My Mom and Dad maintained a large hobby farm just outside of Steinbach for several decades. It afforded their grandchildren all kinds of good experiences learning about where their food came from and enjoying the great outdoors.


pond-mom-and-dads-farm.jpeg

Other posts………

My Grandparents’ Farm

My Annual Moose Lake Fix 

Trees

 

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Filed under Childhood, Family, Nature

Two Squares of Toilet Paper

When I was a child I remember playing at the home of a friend whose mother was pretty thrifty, If she saw you headed to the bathroom she would sing out, “Remember only two squares. Toilet paper is expensive.”  She wanted to remind us to limit our use of toilet paper to two squares per washroom visit to save money.  

Did you know the average North American uses almost ten squares of toilet paper for every washroom visit, not the two my friends’ mother recommended? That amounts to nearly 60 sheets of toilet paper a day, or about a 100 rolls a year.

Graphic from the Brondall website

Turns out toilet paper isn’t only expensive financially it’s expensive environmentally too. This article claims that our toilet paper use damages the environment more than driving a large SUV.  Apparently toilet paper manufacturers are using virtually no recycled material in their products and as a result, boreal forests are being clear cut to make toilet paper. And then, of course, there is all the water used to make the pulp into paper, the carbon footprint of the vehicles used to transport the trees to the factory and then to transport the toilet paper rolls to the store and don’t forget those rolls come in plastic packaging we throw away along with the empty roll. Much of the chlorine used to bleach the paper to its white colour ends up in local water sources. 

Did you know that 75% of the world’s population does not use toilet paper? There are lots of alternatives but the most practical seems to be a bidet.  They haven’t caught on here in North America but 81% of Japanese homes have them as do 97% of Italian homes.   They take care of most of the stuff you use toilet paper to cleanse away. This article in a business journal explains why bidets are cheaper in the long run, are more hygenic, and much more environmentally friendly. 

I took a photo of this bidet/toilet I used in Kyoto Japan that not only washed your bum but dried it as well. Check out the control panel on the handle for cleansing and flushing options.

We are shopping for new toilets. How can you tell?  

Other posts…………

Gender-Neutral Washrooms

The Eatons Catalogue- Toilet Paper and Shin Pads

Pop Up Toilet

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Oceans North

Last week I gave a tour of the Kent Monkman exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery to a group of scientists who were having their annual meeting here in Winnipeg.  I had never heard of their organization Oceans North before, but during our tour, they told me a bit about it, and I was so intrigued I went online later to explore their website.

Photo from Oceans North Facebook page

I learned Oceans North is a non-profit organization that works at fostering scientific and community-based conservation in the Arctic regions of Canada and Greenland. They are addressing the massive environmental change happening in Canada’s north. I looked up the profiles of the scientists who were on my tour and discovered more about the fascinating research they are doing. I was particularly impressed with the way they are working in close partnership with the indigenous communities in the north, acknowledging their experience and expertise. I spent a fair bit of time browsing the interesting articles on Floe Edge the Oceans North blog.  

Photo from Oceans North Facebook page

I read about a study being done to look at the way ship traffic impacts walrus populations and how dependent some Inuit communities still are on the walrus for food.

Photo from Oceans North Facebook page

Two of the scientists on my tour had done workshops with Inuit communities helping them learn about the alarming percentage of plastics in Arctic waters and teaching the local people how to test the water for pollution from plastics.

One of the women on my tour had written an article about how increased ocean traffic is changing the way narwhals communicate with one another.

Photo from Oceans North Facebook page

I learned about a research project to study how whale-watching boats impact beluga whale populations in the Churchill River.  

I found out that wildlife management experts are tapping into the knowledge of local hunters to ensure better management of marine wildlife in Greenland.

Coldwater coral from the Oceans North Facebook page

I loved the story of Iqaluit school children helping to produce a music video celebrating the fact that the federal government had closed more than 65,000 square kilometres of the waters off eastern Nunavut and Nunatsiavut in order to protect cold-water corals and sponges.  I had no idea there even were corals in Arctic waters. 

I am so glad I was introduced to the work of Oceans North.  Although I was sad to learn that our Arctic regions are in environmental peril I was also happy to learn that there is a large group of dedicated scientists working together with local indigenous communities to address this environmental change. I have subscribed to the Oceans North newsletter so I can keep up to date on the important work they are doing. 

One of the reasons I love my job at the art gallery is because it opens up many opportunities for learning about new things like the important work of Oceans North . 

Other posts………

What’s an Amauti? 

Swimming with the Manatees

Inuit Art Isn’t Just Soapstone Carvings

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Filed under Nature