Tuesday, April 25, 2017

High Park Cherry Blossom Time



Cherry Blossoms, one thing I have learned about them is that if you want to see them, you have to do it on their schedule.  A couple of years ago I dragged Jim all the way to Washington DC to see them, not a blossom in sight and first stop was to buy toques, it was so cold.  Last year I discovered that we have lovely cherry blossoms in High Park, oops, by the time I found out they had come and gone. Next step was to open my calendar and put an entry in starting in the middle of April to start watching for cherry blossom time.  They actually have people at the park who let you know to the day when they are starting and when they are at their best.  This is the blogTO link with the schedule.

Monday morning comes, beautiful day,I had such a fun weekend hosting a wedding shower for Stephanie with Rachel that I wanted the fun to continue.  The blossoms are at their peak, the sun is shining and the temp is +12.  So off I go.  Having lived in Etobicoke/Mimico for most of my childhood, I didn't pay a ton of attention to the map and decided to take Jane down.  Everything was good until I turned right instead of left.  I finally find a place to turn around and notice I am at Park Lawn Cemetery, having had too much coffee this morning, I figure this would be a good place to find the bathroom, surely there would be a chapel.  I drive through the whole park, no chapel but come to the office.  LOL  Under the pretense of looking for a relative I ask them to look up Carl and Jean Carlson while I use their lovely bathroom.  No Carl and Jean but they did have a Carl who passed away in 1938, this may be Jim's grandfather, will have to check next time.

I do my turn around and continue on my way.  I actually read the blog and yes I read the part about don't try to park in the park.  Take the subway.  Well I presumed that was for the weekend.  WRONG.  There were cars parked all along Bloor St. and lined up to get into the park.  No worries must be some pokey drivers.  WRONG.  A steady stream of cars from the top of the park to the bottom.

Not much to do, but poke along, watching all the people.  There were group tours, school tours, musicians, very entertaining.


Having a nice feel for the park now, it seemed like a good idea to just park at Sunnyside, this way I get to see the water and have a better chance of finding my car.  :)  The first signs I see are tons for poison ivy and then this poor fellow who doesn't seem like he had a happy live, but someone is maintaining his little marker.  Don't think I would have asked for a marker in a poison ivy field (note to friends).
  


Then my first glimpse of Grenadier Pond.  So many memories.  We used to skate on the pond, before climate warming, we also used to walk along the ice shelf on Lake Ontario.

Around now I also started running into, walkers, bikers, young, and old.  2 young women approached me with 1 to 2 year olds in their strollers and knapsacks on their chest with around 2 month olds in them.  One of the moms was pushing the stroller with one hand.  As I went by I smiled and peeked at the baby.  Well the other hand was holding onto her breast as the wee baby was trying to latch on as the mom continued walking and chatting, and from my quick glance being quite successful.  Definitely not what I expected to see LOL, but caused me to pause and say WOW, now that's coordination.

 My dad or brother told me my first horror story about Grenadier Pond.  We used to bike down to High Park all the time so maybe this was his way of keeping me out of the water.  The pond was named after a group of soldiers, called the Grenadiers.  Supposedly they marched over the ice to cross the pond during the war of 1812 and the ice broke and they were swallowed by the quick sand or were caught in the weeds and on a clear moonlight night you can see their reflections in the water.  As in all good urban legends there was a wee bit of truth in it.  Well here is a little history on the pond, the story definitely kept me safe for all these years.


Every spring we would go hoping to catch a glimpse of the beautiful swans, thankfully they are making a comeback, only a couple on the pond today, the rest were taking a break from the tourists down by the lake.

 

 I start catching a glimpse of my first cherry blossom trees.  Who at this moment is being overshadowed by the bright as sun forsythia.  This one was putting on a show for all it's visitors.


 The only way to take a picture without multiple people in was to get right in under the tree and shoot up the way.  LOL.


 There must have been millions of dollars of camera equipment, phones, and tablets.  Everywhere you looked people were taking pictures.  This crowd would have been considered small after the weekend.  Wall to wall cars with wall to wall people.







Every year when we had visitors over from Britain, High Park was the place to go.  From the beautiful Grenadier restaurant to their amazing flower gardens and walking paths it almost equaled Niagara in favourite places to visit.




One of my favourite places in the world, Lake Ontario.  I should live by water all year round, not just for 5 months (lol what a whiner I am, I am so spoiled).
Btw if you are into driftwood crafts, the lakefront is full of some beautiful driftwood and yes MJ I found the odd bit of sea glass (I left it for some other lucky person).
Lots of summer memories of swimming in these waters without a care in the world.  Below is Sunnyside Pool, I was so excited when I could go there without parents or brothers.  Luckily I was a good kid :).
There are now beautiful pathways for walkers and bikers along the waterfront.  They have done a nice job of cleaning up the lakefront here and allowing access for everyone to enjoy.  
This is definitely something I have never and would never do, not even in my prime, or after a few bottles of wine.

The Mimico Skyline, how it has changed.  The tallest building along there when I grew up was probably the 2 story Humber House Pub which sat where the Palace Pier is now.



What a bonus, my walk ate up 682 calories, that should make up for my peanut butter and jam sandwich I ate on the way down.  

There are around 5 places to visit the cherry blossoms in Toronto including a new one being planted this year at Woodbine Beach Park.  


Next stop will be the apple blossoms at Pine Farms Orchards, I gather they are starting to bud.  




Monday, April 17, 2017

A Day at Woodbine watching the Horses

Our family Easter dinner was celebrated on Saturday as children were off visiting in-laws on Sunday.  It is actually a good day to do dinner with older children as they all hang around, although that does mean they drink more wine :).  All of a sudden I realize that the Leaf game is on, so I move the schedule up and dinner is served at 5 so we can be cleaned up and settled before the Leaf game.  Have to get our priorities right.

This now means for us we have a quiet Sunday and somehow again it is arranged perfectly that Fresh Princess, a beautiful horse that David owns a share off, is racing at Woodbine.  What a great way to spend the afternoon.

Fresh Princess smiles for the camera.  :).  Getting ready for the start of the race.



 The family waiting for us down by the finish line, it is a great place to watch the race from as they go thundering by.


Unfortunately Fresh Princess got boxed in and by the time she moved to the outside she was only able to claim 3rd place, but what a burst she put on at the end to almost win.   She is going to be a very exciting horse to watch this year.  


After the race we were lucky enough to be invited back to the barn to take pictures of the happy celebrity as she ate her fill of hay.

David has bought a share in 4 horses with Tony.  The other horses are Clickety Clack of which Andrew Jim and Jay are also partial owners, Kelowna Kat and Liddyup.




The curious Kelowna Kat, also making her racing debut this year.  




 This is lovely Liddyup below.


All the horses are very friendly, but Clickety Clak loved the attention and getting her picture taken.  The boys are excited about her first race which will be sometime this year.  Hopefully the next picture will have Jay here, and wouldn't it be nice if it is in the winners circle :).



Friday, April 14, 2017

Spring is here and the birds are back in Aurora

April has brought the return of so many birds to my backyard.  What fun it is to work from home with my office facing out into the backyard.  There are days when I feel like I might get whiplash as these little birds flit back and forward in front of my window, so fast that most of the time I don't even catch the type of bird it is.

The month started off with them trying to stay warm as the last major snowfall of the year coated our yards.  Lots of activity around the bird feeders.  It is amazing, it's like they have a schedule.  It is always busy around 9, 12 and 5.  I think they just travel up and down the neighbourhood eating.


These are dark eyed Juncos.



The lovely little sparrow which abounds in Ontario.  I don't know vrry much about birds so feel free to correct me.  :)

 This is the red breasted sparrow/nuthatch  I didn't know they were in the same family.  But a pretty wee thing.

The elusive cardinal.  They are so hard to get pictures of.  As soon as you move they move.  Most of these pictures were taken through my picture window so I'm surprised they turned out as good as they did.  Cardinals are a spiritual bird - "Cardinals appear when Angels are near".



How excited are we when we see the Red Red Robin bobbin along.  Spring is definitely close when they are near.
Every spring and every fall this handsome Pileated Woodpecker appears in our backyard.  It seems we have lots of dead trees to keep them happy for awhile.  Usually in June he appears at the cottage, I love thinking it is the same one following us up north, sometimes with a younger one tagging along.
Thank you birds for entertaining myself and my cats as we wait for spring to finally burst forward.