Saturday, February 29, 2020

Snow, Snow and More Snow!

The storm hit us full on, starting Wednesday morning.  It was late Friday by the time it stopped.  It's hard to say how much we got, but roads and schools were closed, and much of our downtown was shut down.  This storm was accompanied by high winds, so it drifted, piling deep in some places and only reaching about 18" in others.

The snowblowers and shovels have been busy.  This snowbank beside our driveway is over 3 feet deep.  The first foot of that pile was bare grass on Tuesday!  If I was 8 again, I'd be digging a snowfort!

It's hard to get a photo that shows how deep the snow is, but I thought I'd share a few photos of our Heron/Stork/Ostrich in the garden to try and capture the deepening white stuff.  This is our Ostrich today.

 Back on Jan. 16th, winter had been quite moderate and its head was still above ground.

Then in early February the snow started to accumulate and winter started to look almost normal as its head disappeared.

 After Wednesday's snow it looked like this, only a small tuft of the grass showing above the snow.  Our Ostrich is entirely buried; hope it's ok under there!  Compare this to the third picture above.

Then today I looked out and there was no trace even of that top shred of the grass stem.  I'll let you know how it survived once the snow disappears.  I seems that will happen soon; we have a week of above-freezing daytime temperatures coming up.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Old Durham Road Cemetery

The other and much more local site that honours early black settlers in Grey County is the tiny Old Durham Road Cemetery.  This is a very old pioneer cemetery near the hamlet of Priceville.  In our years coming up from Guelph to our former home, the cabin in the valley, we drove past this spot on every trip.  I actually have a geocache hidden there.

I have no pictures of my own though, so I've had to borrow these from the internet; apologies if they're a little blurry, but the story is worth remembering.

Black settlers were the first non-aboriginal people to move into this area, starting in 1849.  By the 1861 census there was a flourishing community of 100 settlers and their families.  But the community dispersed in later years as settlement grew, many moving to Owen Sound, where the memorial I featured yesterday is found.  

The cemetery was lost, grown over, and ultimately ploughed over to grow potatoes!  Starting in 1989 a local volunteer committee began work to restore the cemetery  This is the memorial I remember seeing first, 21 years ago, when I started my regular trips to the valley, coming up on weekends to build the cabin..  It was showing signs of age then, and consisted of only four broken tombstones under a plexiglass cover.
It had been dedicated by Lieut. Governor Lincoln Alexander in 1990, who I posted about a few weeks back, with a large boulder engraved to mark the occasion.

Later the volunteers added these crosses to remember the individual settlers buried here.

More recently the volunteers ran a campaign to build a better shelter for the remaining 4 gravestones.  This was dedicated in 2015.  It's a highlight of exhibits for the small local museum in Flesherton.  


Thursday, February 27, 2020

Black History Month

I can't let February go by without acknowledging Black History Month in Canada, a month in which we recognize the contributions that black members of our communities have made.  The situation is very different in Canada compared to the U.S., with a relatively small black population here.  But at an early stage in our history there were some black slaves here.

The symbol of black history locally is this memorial in Harrison Park in Owen Sound, site of the annual Emancipation Festival.  Thought to be the oldest in North America, it started in 1862 and is still going strong.

I think this is one of the nicest memorials for any reason that I've seen.  It's simple but symbolic and I think very meaningful.  It is of course meant to resemble a ruined pioneer church, and it was built with stones donated from several American states.

And the front is paved with flagstone, nine of which have embedded quilt patterns.

Just one of the big donated stones.

And a selection of the quilt patterns, with sayings from the times.  Owen Sound was said to be the terminus of the Underground Railway, and had a small but thriving black community in the late 1800s as a result.

There are several plaques that are very informative.  It's a nice place to stop when we visit the park.    

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Thanks Texas!

Thanx to Texans for sending us this big 'Texas low', which is turning out to be the biggest storm of the winter!  The forecast said 20-30 cm. (8-12").  And on this occasion it seems they were right.  We shal see what we wake up to.  Still waiting to see if our caregiver shows up!  But at least we're getting one proper snowfall.

A couple of you commented on the Polar Bear artwork in the background of yesterday's Tulips.  It's a Robert Bateman print which we bought must have been 40 years ago.  I actually knew Bob back then, but couldn't afford one of his originals!  The two paintings on either side, by my high scool biology teacher, were wedding gifts.  We got to choose which ones we wanted!  Only one of you mentioned the four quilts by Mrs.F.G., folded over the back of the couch and the quilt rack.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020


Of course these Tulips are forced, to provide an early taste of spring.  A local blog reader (you know who you are - thanks!) brought these when they visited on Saturday.  With news of an upcoming winter storm tomorrow, followed by 2 or 3 days of lake-effect snow, I'm keeping my mind on these Tulips and ignoring what's going to be out the window!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

An Early Gift of Spring!

It's been a stunningly beautiful and warm winter's day for late February!  The sun is shining and it's up to nearly 10°C here, unheard of for this season.  On the way to church we saw a Robin, and at home we heard a Cardinal calling loudly.  We noticed a few signs of early spring and headed out to get a few pictures (after we spent awhile sweeping out the worst of the muck in the garage).

Yesterday a local blog reader dropped in for tea, and as soon as she walked into the living room she said 'Oh, I've seen this view so many times!'  So I thought I owed you a sunny picture different from the view out our back window and this is the best I could come up with.

It started when I noticed the enormous buds on our Magnolia.  They seem to have appeared overnight!

The snow was melted off the southwest side of the shed, and the garden out front looked ready for spring, especially as it was accompanied by the sound of water trickling down the downspout around the corner as the snow on the roof melted.

Out back the Forsythia buds were also swollen,

as were the buds on the birch tree out front.

The bud on the   was enormous.

Melted snow wells were obvious around the trees.

Mrs. F.G. thought she heard buzzing from our bee hotel.

And out front there were green leaves on our Creeping Thyme.  The best was the smell of these tiny leaves when you crushed a few in your fingers; they are ready for spring!

I know there will be more cold days and nights, and more snow, but we've tasted a wonderful early gift of spring, and it will see us through!

Saturday, February 22, 2020


Will was born 43 years ago today, our first son.  He pursued his dream, but lost his life five years ago when his water bomber went down while fighting a forest fire in northern Alberta, knocked out of the sky by a fire tornado.

This my favourite picture from his early years flying as a bush pilot in the north.  We were blessed by his love for 38 too short years.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Sunnier Skies

Here in this part of southern Ontario we're steadily getting more and more sunnier skies as we edge toward the end of winter.  Not only do we get a few sunny days, there are also more and more days when the sun battles through the clouds to bless us with its light for at least a few hours in a day.  Skies change not only seasonally and daily, but hourly. .

We've had a number of days like this.

Yesterday afternoon I watched as blue sky showed up in patches and the sun shone weakly through the remaining clouds.

 At times the sun was shining through mostly blue skies from the other side of our house even though I was watching dull grey clouds to the north.

Then the sun would be shining half-brightly through the wispy clouds and blue patches of sky.  Behind the webworks of branches the sky was a light blue.

Finally, by late afternoon - 4.30 no less! - the sun was shining brighter than ever, casting long shadows, as the wispy clouds dispersed in the colder air.  Two months ago today the sun had set at this time and it was rapidly getting dark.

As dusk fell, the setting sun cast its shadows on on the gentle undulations of the golf course, my favourite view out back, in all seasons.
Compare it to this beautiful view from last May.  Only 3 months to go!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Sun, Clouds and Snow

The weather continues to vary here in the north country, from sun to clouds to snow again.  A nice sunrise earlier in the week, and this morning a really nice gentle snowfall, of which we've gotten too few this winter.

We had at least one nice sunrise, although the spot on the horizon at which the sun rises these days makes it hard to get a nice shot when Mrs. F.G. steps put on our front porch.  Still, the sun is rising further north than it has since mid-October, so that's a good sign.

We've had some brilliant sunny days which are soul-nourishing,

but lots of those dull grey dark days too, that just seem to put things on hold again for a few more days.

And this morning the snow was coming down quite heavily for awhile.  But the forecast for the weekend is hard to believe for February - well above the freezing mark for the weekend.  Yay!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Townhouses for Skiers

Blue Mountain has been the skiers' destination in Ontario for decades.  It's small potatoes compared to the mountainous west, but it's nearby.  All but one of the ski hills are now private (and usually quite prestigious) clubs.  You wonder how many go for the skiing and how many go for the apres-ski 'see-and-be-seen'.  Initiation fees are now up to $50,000.00, and that's before you can buy a membership.

I think if it was summer we could quite enjoy sitting here at the end of the spit, communing with Georgian Bay.  There's an accessible trail all around the point beyond the parking spaces.

Osler Bluffs is the largest of the private clubs, in terms of the number of runs.  It looms up some distance to the south.

Blue Mountain occupies the biggest part of the mountain, and it is the club that has stayed public.  With the closing of Talisman several years ago it is now the only large public ski hill in the region.  From left to right through the two photos you're looking at all of 'Blue'. from Scenic Caves Road on the left to just the beginning of the Toronto Ski Club on the right of the second photo.  We only skied here once many years ago, since I had a friend at Beaver Valley Ski Club where we could go as guests.

There were a handful of ducks sitting on the ice, with two geese, all lef by a solitary gull.

And you got a good view of the Nottawasaga Island lighthouse, located on a small island some distance northwest of the harbour.  It was one of 6 lighthouses built in the mid-1850s in the Imperial Tower style, the first lighthouses around Lake Huron and Georgian Bay.  It was decommissioned in 2003, but the Nottawasaga Lighthouse Preservation Society is working hard to raise funds to restore it.

Back in the harbour this line of townhouse condos is under construction overlooking the westerly side of the two ship-building slips, now tidied up quite well compared to the weeds on the other side.  At prices not far under $1million, I'm of two minds about this.  It will certainly revitalize Collingwood's downtown waterfront, and there are lots of trails through a large park just to the west, so it might be a great place to live.  But it's such a big symbol of economic change from industry to a tourist and retirement town. 

Collingwood already has such a major crisis of high home and rental costs that all the young people hired to run the restaurants, stores and ski hills have an almost impossible time finding a place to live.  These townhouses and others nearer the mountain are at the other end of the spectrum, often owned simply as weekend places while locals can't find homes they can afford.

Just for fun, here's another of the identical Imperial Tower lighthouses, this one on Chantry Island off Southampton, which we visited a few years back.