Friday, March 31, 2023

Heading Home

After leaving the Women`s Institute Monument just south of Kemble, we drove down and east through Owen Sound then headed home.  You can tell by the lighting it was a bright glaring sunny day, but there was lots to aim my camera at.

You may not even understand this photo, but it's a spot I've been trying to get a photo of for 2 or 3 years.  It's just a black hole in the ground, and it's always into the sun, but this is about as clear as it's going to get.  This is a sinkhole, a hole in the limestone where water drains down and disappears.  You can probably see the small depression and black hole that marks the low point.  It then flows underground to the east and comes out at some point into Keefer Creek, which is half a mile away from here.

And this is Keefer Creek valley, where the water from that sinkhole emerges, off in the woods to the south.  The creek crosses just at the low point of the valley.

Another spot of several, where the water is overflowing the tiny streams that in weeks will be back to being tiny streams!

And more escarpment limestone along the highway as we come up out of Keefer Creek valley.

Sometime after that we encounter another rock cut, the tallest along this roadf, as we pass the village of Woodford, located on a tiny curing sideroad to our left.

And after a few more miles we crest the hill at the now disappeared village of Bayview (wonder where it got that name!) and we get a stunning view over Georgian Bay.

Past more overflowing tiny streams.

And bright yellow weeping willows.

And an older style but very well pruned orchard.

Finally when we get home I spot these Daffodil and Dwarf iris leaves poking out of the ground.  Those Iris (the last picture) are in bloom today, 5 days later.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

More Rural Countryside

After leaving the marsh we drove east and then north, passing through both Copper Kettle and Wolseley, before we got to Kemble.  It was a nice drive through a mix of country past pastures, woodlots and wetlands and a few crop fields. 

Woodlots have a special appearance to them at this point in the season, just half the snow melted - this is the woodlot of maple syrup season!

Another small rural church now converted to a residence by the looks of it.

And a creek now overflowing slightly with the spring runoff, and charging along fast!

We got to the village of Kemble, headquarters of the maple syrup festival this weekend, and turned south to stop at the Kemble Women's Institute Lookout.  A sapling interrupted the view, but still it was amazing as always on a sunny day.

Mrs. F.G. kindly got out of the van and took a few shots for me.  This is the monument to celebrate the local Women's Institute, the oldest continuously operating such group in the world.  Quite appropriately it's a table set for tea.

She liked the juxtaposition of the cedar rail fence on top of the line of boulders, and she thought this strange shape in one of the rocks looked like lips.

Can you see that thin sliver of an island on the horizon?  That is Christian Island, 55 miles away!  The atmosphere is certainly clear today!  And as you can tell in these pictures, the late March light is glaring.

And right across the road, the big manure pile is still there.

Monday, March 27, 2023

A Spring Sunday Afternoon Drive - Camera Success!

Yesterday was a glorious sunny day so we got out for a long Sunday afternoon drive, heading west on Hwy. 26 through Owen Sound to Shallow Lake.  After that we hit the back roads up through the marsh and eventually back to Owen Sound.  

But the challenge for me was taking my larger, heavier Nikon camera which I was unable to even hold after arriving home from the hospital five years ago.  I wanted to try and see if I could manage to use it for taking pictures from the car rather than using my cell phone camera.

We first drove the highway to Owen Sound, down and back up through the valley of Keefer Creek and then down into Owen Sound itself.

It was very much an early spring landscape, with the snow melting, the creeks overflowing and the willows looking bright yellow.

After stopping at our favourite Tim`s in Owen Sound to pick up lunch, we soon found the marsh.  It proved to be still mostly frozen, so not many waterfowl to be seen.

The edges were shrubby and had more open water.  We spotted what looked like a Beaver lodge of chewed sticks.

We did spot one pair of Canada Geese, checking out the marsh for possible nesting sites.  Canada Geese are normally paired off by now, and you see them on scattered still frozen ponds or wetlands well before nesting is possible.  It`s quite fun to see them fly in and skid across the ice as they try to stop!

Leaving the marsh behind, we wandered north and then east.  This is an old small church, still in operation I believe as the Shouldice United Church.

Regular patterns of tree trunk shadows across the road as we drove east.

I`ve judged my camera challenge as a success.  I was able to hold it and shoot pictures from the moving car quite easily.  The zoom function is SO much easier to use than with my cellphone.  And the big advantage, I can later crop the pictures much more effectively.  I have found that my current Samsung phone has an amazing zoom, but if you then try to crop any pictures, they are blurry..  Cropping yields much better results with my Nikon.  We shall do some more testing over the coming months.  This is a big step forward in photography for me.

This being said, I find that the light in late March is very bright, providing a lot of glare and giving your pictures a slightly over-exposed feeling, even after editing.

And when we got home, what had appeared but the first green shoots of our tiny Iris and a few Daffodils!  Yea! Spring is here!

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Freezing Rain

We had a brief bout of freezing rain today, but the temperature was rising rather than falling so it wasn't too serious.  Thin ice on branches and a few inch-long icicles have all melted now, 4 hours later.  Another illustration of our fickle up-and-down spring weather.

On the Redbud right outside the window, and ...

on a distant Sugar Maple.  Never know when it's spring weather we're talking about!

Friday, March 24, 2023

Spring is fickle!

Weather in this early spring is definitely fickle!  It is sunny and warm one day and we get snow the next, sometimes lots of snow.  Looking back through old photos I came across this pair of pictures I really like that says it exactly.  These are taken at our old house, on the first day of spring and the day after that year.  They are both panoramas, which distorts the perspective slightly toward the outside edges.

The two photos are less than 24 hours apart.  We thought the snow had all gone, and then there it was, back again.  And that light snowfall was followed by a good deal more later that week!  Spring is always like that, coming in fits and starts.  You can see the shed I built to the right, and the pines I planted on the left.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

The Four Springs We Enjoy Here

Monday was the first 'official' day of spring and I wondered what to write.  But here it seems far too artificial a date to choose for spring 'arriving'.  If you look it up, Mar. 20th or 21st of March is astronomical spring, when the March equinox occurs, though there aren't many (any?) signs of green outside yet.  Weather forecasters, who always want to be different, pick March 1st as meteorological spring, which I understand, but can't see the value in.

So I started back through some of my blog posts over the past 10 years to see what and when I had written about spring.  And here's what I think.

Late March and April is sort of hydrological spring, or snowmelt spring.  And I found lots of evidence of snowmelt, temporary ponds and roaring waterfalls for evidence.

Eugenia Falls the year of severe early spring floods in the valley.  The water rose so high in Lake Eugenia that they opened the gates of the dam and let a deluge out over the falls and down the valley, flooding several homes and closing roads.

That flood covered the golf course at the old Talisman ski club.  This is where the local municipality wants to approve a new subdivision!  How short the memories!

And in our own back yard at the previous house we had a small pond that year.  Never before or after did we see water accumulating like this.  There's a path I used to mow right through the middle of that water!

So late March and early April are certainly the months when the snow melts, the streams refill, the groundwater is replenished and the waterfalls roar - sounds like 'hydrological' spring to me.  As for greenery, that's still a long way off, though a few early spring flowers like Snowdrops, Aconite and Skunk Cabbage do show up to provide advance promises of what's to come.  It's in May that the world turns green here, quite suddenly it always seems to me.

Early May in the woods, when there's a sheen of green across the ground but the tree leaves are still in hiding.  The beginning of that magical ephemeral spring wildflower season, in three weeks the woods will be a very different place.

And here it is three weeks later, the woods looks green and the shade is beginning to fill in.

Accompanied by Trilliums galore - if you know where to look.  At the end of May the risk of frost is over here on the southern shores of Georgian Bay and tomatoes can be planted.  May is truly our biological spring.  Right now that's just a promise in the future, but the snow is melting fast today, so that's encouraging.

So there you have it, my musings on the arrival of spring.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

The Cheerio Disaster!

It happened after breakfast, when I thought I might try and be helpful.  We had almost finished the box of Cheerios so I thought I'd get the next one open and ready for tomorrow.  Little did I think I'd make a mess of it.  I got the box open ok, but then the box tipped forward and half the Cheerios spilled out onto the floor!  What a mess, and I was helpless.

I had to call Mrs. F.G. who laughed, took a picture or two for posterity, and then went to get a broom.  We were still digging individual Cheerios out from under my feet at physio after lunch!

Here I am amidst the mess, hanging my head in shame.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Sunny Warm Day

It was an astonishingly warm sunny day here yesterday, just enough to remind me that spring is indeed coming - though today it is raining.  I got outside pronto and rode up and down our street 3 times, and even went around another block once.  Then I sat in the sun and enjoyed the warmth, can you believe it!  It reached 9°C!

Returning toward the house on one of those loops I opened my eyes enough to see the spectacular sky!  Mind you it was really difficult to get a decent picture with my phone.

Today I'm watching the green area in our front yard steadily grow and hoping it will grow even faster.  I can't wait for those warm dry spring days to get here so I can go riding about.  'Official' spring will arrive next Tuesday, and after that daytime highs look like they will remain above freezing, or even get warm again, but we have to live through a couple of cold days this weekend first.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

I'm Fascinated with How Snow Actually Melts

Perhaps it's just that I have lots of time to stare out the window, but I'm fascinated by how snow disappears around here without my seeing much of a 'melt'.  It's a partly sunny day here, and 6°C, but I don't see any snow melting into water and running down the edge of the road.  And yet the patches of green in our front yard keep getting bigger, so the snow is going somewhere.

The first place that snow goes is probably down into the soil.  Snow in our front yard is 'melting' from the top down.  Surface crystals melt and the structure of the snow changes, the water trickling down inside the snowpack until it reaches the soil.  The snowpack thus becomes thinner and denser.  Of course freezing temperatures at night refreeze the snowpack, leaving it crunchy underfoot the next morning.

At least some of the melting snow that goes straight down into the soil will recharge the groundwater, and I can be sure that at least a few molecules of that water will seep sideways and recharge the stream that flows 200 yards away.  In fact much of the higher stream level that we see in the spring may come from groundwater seepage rather than surface run-off.

But snow is disappearing the opposite direction as well, 'sublimating' directly into the air.

(Credit to the Science Facts website)

This is one of the few diagrams of the water cycle I've found that actually shows 'sublimation'.  It's the change of solids into a gas directly, such as the change of snow crystals into water vapour directly.  You can see it on an early morning drive in the right atmospheric conditions, in the form of water vapour or fog hovering over the fields.

Scientists have not found an easy way to measure sublimation, and it's invisible so that's why you probably don't think of it much.  One place you can see it is in chinook winds on the prairies.  Chinook winds come in off the Pacific, dump all their moisture on the west side of the coast mountains and then descend onto the prairies (think Calgary) hungry for moisture.  They just sunk up the snow as fast as they can go.

Scientists don't actually know how much sublimation contributes to snow disappearance, but by my own observations and reading during a typical spring at least half the snow 'melting' will be due to sublimation rather than the typical 'melt'.  So this spring watch for those days when the snow just seems to vanish and see if you don't agree with me.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

The Ides of March

We're in the middle of four important dates in the spring calendar.  Today is the Ides of March, yesterday was Pi Day, tomorrow is St. Urho's Day, and Friday is green beer day!  It's a worth a moment to remember what these days are all about.

Ides of March

The Ideas of March (a beautiful peaceful sunny day here) is best known from the ancient Roman calendar, when the first day of March marked the new year.  The middle of the month in that calendar marked the full moon, so March 15th was the first full moon.  In four months of the year the full moon was on the 15th day; in the other months it was on the 13th day.  Nothing foreboding about all that.

But in 44 BC Julius Caesar had just been elected Emperor for life, and the upper classes were a little peeved.  When Caesar showed up for the Roman Senate meeting he was stabbed repeatedly.  According to myth a soothsayer had warned him with the words 'Beware the Idea of March'.  Thus the 'Ides of March' has held a certain ominous meaning.

But it's really due to Shakespeare that we remember the phrase.  After all few of us know much ancient Roman history, but almost all of us studied Shakespeare's plays (for better or worse).  In his play 'Julius Caesar' Shakespeare has the soothsayer utter those words, and the rest is history.  Shakespeare wasn't too much hung up on facts, twisting the details to suit his fancy here (just as he did in the play 'MacBeth'), but we all remember the phrase 'Beware the Ides of March'.

Then of course the weather folks got into the game, citing major storms that have occurred on March 15th (often simply during the month of March seems enough).  Thus March in general and the Ides of March in particular hold the reputation of marking bad weather.  Certainly not here today, though winter is dragging on.

Pi Day

Yesterday was Pi Day.  If you remember your math, 'Pi' (3.14 or the ratio of the diameter of a circle to the circumference) is a mathematical constant.  And it's not surprising that the 14th day of the 3rd month is Pi Day.  Besides, it can be celebrated with a slice of pie!  I found reference to Pi Day in no fewer than 3 blogs yesterday, DJan-ity has the best discussion and points out that it's also Einstein's Birthday.

St. Urho's Day

St.  Urho is a fictional Finnish Saint, invented by Finnish Americans in Northern Minnesota in 1956, when Urho Kekkonen was elected President of Finland.  The conspirators who invented it wanted to have a day to celebrate their culture as the Irish did on St. Paddy's Day.  Then they picked March 16th as St. Urho's Day so they could start drinking their green beer before the Irish.  Of course Far Side of Fifty is the blog that celebrates St. Urho's Day - check it out.

Green Beer Day or St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick is the patron Saint of Ireland, known for bringing Christianity to much of northern Ireland in the 5th century.  Though there is debate over both when and where he was born, I think the dates 385-461 mark his life well enough.  I think the legend of his birth in southwest Scotland is reasonable, but we do know that he was captured by Irish pirates as a teenager and enslaved as a shepherd in Ireland for 6 years.  He escaped and made his way back to home where he trained to become a cleric.  It was then that he moved to Ireland and began his great life preaching Christianity.

St. Patrick's Day was recognized as a Christian feast day in the early 1600s, and has grown ever since.  Some would say that it's celebrated more among the Irish of North America than in Ireland itself.  It's not just green beer that's associated with the day, it's almost anything green, especially any clothing and shamrocks.  The day falls within Lent of course, but historically the church has lifted the restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol for the day, enabling the consumption of gallons of green beer!

So enjoy whatever day you want to celebrate, but beware the Ides of March!

Sunday, March 12, 2023


In the meantime it has reminded me of many happy memories of great times together, though I have many other trips to still work on.  Now that we're almost completely tied to life here in Meaford I realize how important those travels have been.

So I'll just end with one of my favourite picture of the entire two trips, and leave it that.  Now I just have to come up with some new topics to post about!

Friday, March 10, 2023

Salisbury Palisades and Good-bye to Scotland

Our second day in Edinburgh we planned to visit some geological features.  You may have heard of  Arthur's Seat, a major landmark in Edinburgh, but you probably haven't heard of the Salisbury Crags just a little lower down the ancient  volcano.  Here we headed for a walk up the hill, practically out the back door of our B$B.

Arthur's Seat is one of the most noticeable landmarks in Edinburgh, and easy to walk up.  Not for us though, we contented ourselves with hiking up to the top of Salisbury Crags, the line of cliffs in the foreground.

In fact this was the view just a block behind our B&B, so it wasn't far to go.  but it was certainly uphill!

Before we got there, we stopped to see this geological feature at the base of the hill.  Looking quite simple, this is one of the most famous sites in the world in the early history of the science of geology.  Known as Hutton's Section, it features an observation made by the famous geologist James Hutton,  (1726-1797) father of modern geology. 

You can see that the lower part of the rock here is sedimentary, composed of thin layers of ancient sediments.  The upper rock is a uniform slightly pinkish volcanic flow.  Hutton used this and other evidence to support the theory of uniformitarianism, the idea that land was created slowly over a long time through erosion, deposition and volcanism, rather than in one ancient event.  This underlies Darwin's theory of evolution among other scientific ideas. and contradicted the Christian belief that the world was created in 4004 B.C.

Part of this other geological evidence comes from sites like this, just nearby, vertical hexagonal columns known as Samson's Ribs, formed by a lava flow.

In any case we had a great time hiking up the cliffs where you get a magnificent view over Edinburgh.

Here you're looking along Edinburgh's High Street, from the castle on the left downslope past the rounded steeple of St' Giles' Cathedral almost to the end of the street.

And right below you you're looking down over Holyrood Palace, the grey building on the right at the bottom of the street.  The new Scottish Parliament buildings (in white) are right below us.

We did take time to walk up the high street later, passing St. Giles' Cathedral.  This is where the Queen lay in state before being taken to London for her recent funeral.
The entrance to Edinburgh Castle itself, and the view back to Arthurs Seat.

Of course we had to walk down Candlemaker Row to see Greyfriars Bobby, the memorial to a loyal dog in the mid-1800s  who guarded his master's grave for 14 years.  And with that we said good-bye to Scotland and headed home.  Thanks for coming along!