Thursday, December 31, 2020

Reflecting on 2020

 It seems conventional on blogs to produce a year-end review, often consisting of your best photos.  I do not have any photos from 2020 that leap to mind, and I expect that our year has been a little different from  many of you,  so I am just going to offer you a few thoughts.  

Determination vs Acceptance

At some point last summer we both reflected independently that we were getting frustrated because of unfulfilled expectations and were no longer really enjoying life.  Our physiotherapist and occupational therapist were trying to get me to stand up (in a. machine), and get me into a manual chair, almost it seemed, determined to get me walking again.  But I was not making much progress.  We were getting increasingly frustrated and realizing that there were limits to how far I could recover my former life.  

Instead we thought it would be most effective if we focussed on adapting to this new life, and making the best of our situation.  The biggest example of this was switching our attention to our own backyard, putting in that nice patio that will allow me more mobility, at least in the summer months.  Between that and the planters on the deck We have a whole new set of opportunities, at least for half the year.

The Pandemic

We are all going to say it, we will be glad when this is all over and we can get back to normal.  But for me and many others, this is normal.  We are not able to just up and go visit friends; often going out to events means making special arrangements.  True, our life has closed in on us much more than usual, but we have a pretty closed life as it is.  Other than stores that offer essential services, there are few that I can get into or maneuvre around easily.  And parking is always an issue.

And that is only talking about the warmer 6 months of the year.  There are very few days warm enough  or streets clean and dry enough that I could get out for a ride in the winter!  As for the virus we are very lucky to live in a corner of southern Ontario that has not been heavily affected - no deaths yet and only a few hospitalizations since the very beginning of this.  We do miss getting together with our family; that has been the biggest impact for us.  But we stay in touch by phone and Facetime as much as we can.

American Politics

I have to say, that because of the U.S. presidential election and all that came before it, as well as after it, I feel I learned more about the American political system than I ever did in 71 previous years!  For someone observing from outside, it has been  really mesmerizing!   I now understand (at least superficially) the three branches (or is it four) of the U.S. government, the Congress and Senate, the Supreme Court, and over all this, the President.  I even have a vague understanding of how the Electoral College works.  Sometimes I think I understand the American system better than our own.

Two things surprise me.  One is the individual personal power of the President, who seems to be able to run the country any way he wants, regardless of which side you may be on.  The other is the awesome stability of the politicians.  Here it is not uncommon for one party to get almost wiped out in the polls, and one election cycle later to come roaring back to claim a majority.  There are actual policies that get debated and make a big difference in elections.  American politicians seem to stay in office for decades, and parties control the voting to such an extent that the party in power never changes.  I can only put this down to gerrymandering, a phenomenon I still do not understand.

But certainly I will remember 2020 as the year I learned all about American politics.

Best wishes for a great 2021!


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

XC Skiing - Here we Go!

Most of my cross-country skiing is at Glenelg Nordic.  There are 400 acres plus two more properties owned by avid cross-country skiers themselves, all interlaced with miles of ski trails. A lot of variety, ups and down, and almost all in the woods.  Wonderful!

We enter the trails and immediately drop down through some coniferous forest, up the hill and onward, an invigorating start to our ski.

The trail takes us around a curve, on across the snowmobile trail, down a steep drop through this dense stand of cedars and around a pond.  

Then we are into mature deciduous forest which continues with lots of ups and downs for a time.

About half way around the big loop we go down a long trail with a bend to the left at the end.

Here I am catching up to my buddy if I try hard!

Past some snow-plastered trees.

Up a hill, sharp turn to the right, and down around a blind curve, we are reaching the end.  There are other trails I will share sometime later this winter.  Just writing about it gets my mind back out there!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Winter Memories

Once I saw the Boxing Day snowfall, a foot or more of light fluffy snow, I immediately thought of the winter walks in the woods I've enjoyed over recent years.  I can mentally transport myself back to those days and enjoy a snowshoe tromp through deep snow.  Here are a few photos of one of those walks.

This is the woods near our former home here in the valley.  I must have enjoyed this walk in the winter woods dozens of times.  We enter off the end of the cul-de-sac, and find two big old maples guarding the entrance to the old tractor trail.

One big branch has fallen, laden with new snow.

This is a day for the big old bear paw snowshoes, 4 feet long, originals from about 50 years ago.  They still work the best for deep powdery snow.

It is a nice trail through the woods, mature trees with lots of undergrowth, and easy walking.

Snow lies heavily on the bows of the little spruce trees at the edge of the swamp.

And the branches of the dogwood in the undergrowth catch huge amounts of snow on their thin stems.

My snowshoes tracks across a corner of the field in the flat late afternoon light.

A few Beech saplings hang on to their dry leaves.  Altogether a wonderful walk through the deep snow of the wintry woods.  Tomorrow may be we will go skiing!

Friday, December 25, 2020

The Christmas Storm that Wasn't

Merry Christmas to all this bright snowy day!  We're sitting here watching the snow fall, the presents are opened and coffee's been enjoyed.  I'm now wide awake!  We both enjoyed our gifts, three new sweaters for me and a blank cheque for buying plants for the garden next summer.  A gift postponed, but it will allow Christmas to continue all next season.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas!!!

Do you remember this?  It's from 5 years ago when I experimented with light painting while photographing our Christmas tree.  Perhaps it's a memorable enough image to stick in your mind as we move toward living out this memorable year!

Have a merry but peaceful Christmas and may Christmas be a symbol of hope for the future.
Onward and upward!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

More Christmas Lights

 We left the downtown and headed for Harrison Park location for the Festival of Northern Lights.  We always enjoy driving through Harrison Park in any case.  Here you go!

We followed the little green Christmas trees down 2nd Ave.

To the entrance for the park.

There was a volunteer taking donations as you entered the display.

The tunnel of light as you start.

A gaggle of geese.

A few dinosaurs off in the distance.

I think this is supposed to be a boat.

Fish by the river.

And more (blurry) geese.  We drove around a second time to get more pictures.

The Winter Solstice was yesterday, so the days are getting longer.  Three cheers!  But for the next month a lockdown has been declared here in Ontario so we won't be going anywhere soon!

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Festival of Northern Lights

 Every year at this time of year, for over 30 years, Owen Sound has featured its Festival of Northern Lights, an outdoor display of Christmas lights that people can drive or walk past.  Because it's outdoors, and most people view it while driving, it went on in conformity with the pandemic rules.  The other day we were in Owen Sound late and went to see them.

We started by picking up a sandwich and hot chocolate for early dinner and drove downtown (more on that hot chocolate later).  It made it a lot easier that the new bridge on 10th Street (immediately beyond the crosswalk) had just opened.  The city chose to name it the Gitche Namewikwedong Bridge.

    To quote the Sun Times, the local newspaper, "City officials say the name, which means Great Sturgeon Bay in Anishinaabemowin, will acknowledge Owen Sound’s Indigenous history – the city is within traditional Saugeen Ojibway Territory and was named Gitche Namewikwedong before contact by European settlers – but will also be an important gesture towards nation-to-nation reconciliation and restoring a relationship of respect and friendship with Indigenous people."

The oldest part of the light display extends along the river for two blocks downtown, and it's very popular with locals.

There are a large number of figures, of which some are painted on boards and floodlit.  There are also two Christmas trees; 

Some are small and some are big and complex.

The second Christmas tree.

And a happy dragon.  More to come.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

A Grey Day on the Bay

We stopped by the bay the other day, and other than all the rocks scattered over the former grass, we saw more neat icicles.  Always amazes me how these form.

It certainly was a grey day on the bay.

I sat and waited to get a splash shot.  It's about 5:1 chances, and the bay wasn't really rough today.

Meanwhile there are plenty of icicles!

Friday, December 18, 2020

Snow Flurry

A couple of days ago we had another snow flurry which accounts for the white view we are still seeing outside.  And the freezing temperatures are keeping it there.  A few photos from the middle of the snowfall.

You could see the snow coming across the golf course.

A distant view shows how thick it is.

But a picture taken against the spruce tree out back, 

or even better against the two distant pine, shows the snowflakes best.

Today though is totally different, a bright sunny day with totally blue skies overhead!  Great winter day.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Winter Shadows

I've always liked winter shadows, and have a number of interesting shots from the past.  But now I must be satisfied with the same shadows of the same trees out my window.  Still it's interesting to watch them day by day and hour by hour.

A day after the big storm 10 days ago we had some nice sunny spells, and the shadows were clear cast across the snow.

They moved steadily through the day as the sun swept across the sky behind me.

By late afternoon they were pointing almost east.

Almost our entire backyard is in shadow from our house itself as we near the winter solstice, but you can still see the lines of these drifts in the shadow.  See how deeply the chair is buried?

A few days later we had completely blue skies one day; the shadows were clear.

At noon it was beginning to cloud over, but I noticed that our house obviously does not face due north or south.  If it did those shadows would be leading straight out beyond the trees.  My view here must be slightly to the northwest.

Not a shadow, but this is an interesting shot of a sunrise.  Mrs. F.G. asked for my camera early one morning after crawling out of bed, and shot this.  It's an outlier of the escarpment a couple of miles north of us, which sits quite a bit higher.  For a few brief moments the morning sun shines on the slope, outlining it clearly.