Fall Colours

Saturday October 19th marked our return to Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Today was also the one-year anniversary of my first walk with Toronto Power Walkers! This morning’s walk was cool and crisp, but sunny. Hats, gloves and winter jackets were worn by the eight who turned out to enjoy the fall colours.

As usual, the conversation bounced from topic to topic: travels, moves, careers, hobbies, food, and family. It’s always interesting and informative.

When the walk was over, a fellow TPW member and I noticed a tree full of black berries. We studied the signage and found out it was an Amur cork tree. A google search revealed that the oil extracted from the fruit can be used as a cold remedy and the bark is an important herbal medicine in China. Who knows what we’ll discover on our walk next week….

Falling for Fall

The scenery, walking in the Cemetery,  rendered me speechless, so I called on my friend Jane.

“Her pleasure in the walk must arise from the exercise and the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn — that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness — that season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.” — Jane Austen

Loss and joy…

Fall is a bittersweet season. There is both beauty and death in its eye-delighting colours and monochromatic landscapes.

A dear friend died this week, after a long and awful illness. I am glad she is at peace and I grieve her absence.

I have been here before and know that my feelings will vacillate between all-consuming leaden blue sorrow and sparks of uninvited joy at being alive. It is glorious to breath in the crisp autumn air, to feel the swing of my arms, to hear the life-affirming murmur of my friends talking as we walk.

I choose to treat this joy as a celebration of the people, here and gone, that I love and care about.

I will end by sharing some of my friend’s final wise advice to us all:
• Be kind to each other.
• Look after those who can’t look after themselves.
• Be generous.
• Love yourself.
• Eat ice cream.

Keep walking the distance (either actually or metaphorically for those with injuries), my friends, and give yourselves a big hug from me.

A reminder that next week is the last week at High Park and then we move back to our beloved cemetery.

From Summer to Fall – walking the Lakeshore

Five of us braved the possibility of rain yesterday morning to walk west to Humber Bay, but we were lucky and made it back to High Park just as it started to drizzle again. I will miss the Lakeshore walks when we switch back to Mount Pleasant, especially the lake birds – swans, egrets, cormorants, geese and ducks all swim and fly along that trail, and they make the walk seem shorter, somehow, as if we might fly too. Two weeks ago, we saw clouds of Monarch butterflies swirling around the newly planted gardens on our way east, and those too inspire us to walk just a little bit more quickly and lightly.

According to some new scientific studies, there are nearly 3 billion fewer birds in North America than there were in 1970. That means that fully a third of all species, both common and rare birds, have disappeared, mostly through habitat loss. There is some hope though, since some waterfowl species, including many of the kinds we see along the Lakeshore, such as mallard ducks and Canada Geese, are increasing in numbers due to targeted conservation efforts. Monarch butterflies are another species that has benefited from targeted conservation efforts that show us that we can help to preserve species in decline. Monarchs were considered to be a species of “special concern” in Ontario, and their numbers were declining for two decades before a resurgence this winter. The reason for this recovery is partly because people in Ontario have been planting more milkweed – the primary food for Monarch caterpillars.

Part of walking is experiencing the outdoors in all weathers, and the beauty of our city’s green spaces. We are very lucky to live in an area that offers so much diversity, and that our access to it is just a short walk away.

 

Whew!!

Did you get out to walk this weekend? By all accounts it was great walking weather. Two TPWers participated in the Zoo Run and report a beautiful day. Somewhat cooler conditions are really ideal for getting out there. You may don a jacket to start out, but it isn’t long before it’s tied around your waist.

Meanwhile, further to the northeast in Ottawa, Phyllis and I took part in the Canadian Army Run, doing the half-marathon. Saturday afternoon, when we picked up our kit, it was very hot – about 27 degrees. Fortunately (or so we thought) the forecast called for cooler and cloudy for Sunday. And so Sunday came and as we lined up things were looking mostly good, with even the hint of rain as the odd raindrop fell. But it was humid. Very humid. And then the sun started to come out. And runners started going down from the heat. So much so that towards the end of the race, the course was shortened.

Now I must say that the race is very scenic. It starts by going through the centre of Ottawa, past the parliament buildings, etc. Shortly after we were going past the Governor-General’s residence – through one gate and out the other, with a military band in dress red uniforms providing music. Then through a lovely cemetery and out into a country-side park along the Ottawa River. Across the bridge to Hull and we were in Quebec! Then back across to the finish. Lovely.

Funny how I still have the competitive edge in me during the race, but I’m learning to accept the vagaries of race conditions (and how much I have or haven’t trained) with a growing modicum of grace. I’m going to put it down to growing wisdom rather than anything chronological.

A Glorious September Morning

September is a great month, especially when the monarchs are clustering for their trip across the lake.  Let’s hear it from Helen Hunt Jackson, my favourite nineteenth century activist.

The golden-rod is yellow;
The corn is turning brown;
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down.
The gentian’s bluest fringes
Are curling in the sun;
In dusty pods the milkweed
Its hidden silk has spun.
The sedges flaunt their harvest,

In every meadow nook;
And asters by the brook-side
Make asters in the brook,
From dewy lanes at morning
The grapes’ sweet odors rise;

At noon the roads all flutter
With yellow butterflies.
By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather,

And autumn’s best of cheer.
But none of all this beauty
Which floods the earth and air
Is unto me the secret
Which makes September fair.

‘T is a thing which I remember;
To name it thrills me yet:

One day of one September

I never can forget.

Loving The Lake

I love walking by the lake , you never know what is going on from week to week, and whether they will close off part of our route, heading east what excitement is along the Lakeshore. I also love the peace and quiet, and green.

Saturday was no exception. So nice to be welcomed back to High Park by the unnamed ‘green goddess’.

   


A CHALLENGE IS AS GOOD AS A REST, SOME SAY

  And boy, were we challenged; four senior Canadian women who decided it would be so much fun(???) to hike around Mont Blanc in the Alps. To be fair, the Tour de Mont Blanc is absolutely staggeringly beautiful with snow capped mountains, glaciers, mountain meadows full of wild flowers and scattered with cows whose bells were ringing as they wandered, beautiful alpine villages nestled amongst the valleys, waterfalls gushing down mountain sides, spectacular viewpoints everywhere you looked. At any moment we expected Julie Andrews to appear before us singing…(and I haven’t even mentioned the wonderful Swiss/French/Italian food, wine, pastries that we enjoyed every day)
To be brutally honest, the hikes were 6-8 hours long a day, 16km-20km in length a day, hiking up steep inclines and down steep descents, along dirt trails, switchbacks, over rocks, boulders, scree, tree roots, balcony ledges (you know the type, mountain to one side, 2,000 foot drop to the other) and occasionally inching across rock faces and up/down ladders screwed into rock faces and, oh yes, carrying heavy packs on our backs. Ten (10!) days of it with no break. I consider it a miracle that I survived intact to return home. I’m not sure my legs or knees will ever forgive me.
But all of that said, it was a fantastic trip that I will never do again (my new motto is: if you’ve seen one mountain you’ve seen them all), a challenge that I would never have been able to accomplish without all the wisdom, training and endurance I have gained by being a Power Walker and a reminder to us all that we are capable of what seems to be impossible.

CHITTERING AND CHATTERING

As we walk, we chitter and chatter in the beautiful surroundings.

We chitter and chatter with friends

while we walk.

.

We chitter and

chatter

at

a poolside gathering.

I love this chitter and

chatter.

           

I have questions

Did anyone turn up at Sunnyside Beach to walk this Saturday morning?  If so, which way did you go?  How wet did you get?  What did you wear?

I’m always dithering on a rainy Saturday.  Should I go or get back into bed? What does “light rain” feel like?   Can I stand to perspire in a raincoat or is it better to just get wet from the rain?  You’d think, after all these years, I’d have decided where I stand!

Three of us arrived in the rain at the door of the café at 8 this morning.  One of us remembered we were to meet at Sunnyside so we headed down the hill, hoping to catch others.  Half-way down the hill, the rain intensified and it thundered so we returned to the café and had breakfast and a great conversation, sparked, of course, by some tough questions.