About Me

Until the past few months, I've thought of myself as an explorer and adventurer.  A bit presumptuous I know, but I’m allowed my own fantasies.  The adventures might be very simple, a walk around the yard or the garden hunting for things to photograph, a walk in the nearest woods to see what’s reflected in the current season, or a venture further afield exploring Bruce Trail properties or the trail itself in the valley.  Sometimes we venture further to visit interesting places around southern Ontario or I go off with my buddies to ski or canoe.

Unfortunately, this and the paragraphs below are now out-of-date as I am paralyzed due to complications during surgery.  I've only been back home 5 weeks, so you'll have to wait to hear more about my life now.  In the meantime, the following still tells you about the person I've been.

The woods along the trail in spring.

Beyond this local exploring, there have been three big groups of adventures in our lives.  In the early years with young children, we travelled across Canada for as long as 7 weeks, 3 times west and twice east, camping in a tent-trailer.  We saw the mountains and the prairies, the Pacific and the Atlantic, moose, bear and salmon, icebergs and glaciers, and more scenery that we can possibly remember.  Those trips were perhaps the best investment of time and money that we ever made.  And they provide great memories.  I’ll undoubtedly share some of those stories.

I’ve canoed since I was young, but in mid-life I started going on some bigger canoe trips.  One of those big birthdays was approaching and someone said “If you turn 50 and there’s anything you haven’t done in life that you want to, you’d better do it!”  So I called up a friend who I knew was an avid canoeist, going on annual adventures down northern rivers with a group of friends.  Even though I was only an ordinary paddler, I bravely asked if I could go on a trip with his group.  I did and there followed 9 wonderful adventures, as far afield as the Burnside River in the Arctic.  I learned a lot about white water canoeing along the way!  Watch for future stories about some of those great trips. 

Canoeing on the French River.

The final group of adventures my wife and I have had together is our trips to Europe over the past two decades, mainly to visit gardens in England, but a few elsewhere, including a spectacular ‘adventure cruise’ around the outer isles of Scotland.  We went 17 years without leaving the house overnight when the children were young, and then we started spending their inheritance!  I will definitely be telling you more about some of these trips!  I now give life long learning lectures on the landscape and history of Scotland, and I’m planning a series on the gardens of England and Europe.

The famour 'Red Borders' at Hidcote Garden, England.

The 'Street of the Dead' and Iona Abbey, Scotland.
Burial place of the ancient kings of Scotland on Iona.

At the moment though, life is quite ordinary and the adventures are small and local.  For 18 years we built and then lived in a house (partly a log cabin that one of my sons and I built) near the edge of the Beaver Valley  Now we live 30 minutes to the north in Meaford on Georgian Bay, in southern Ontario.  It’s in the snowbelt, so we get real winters.  The Bruce Trail and the Niagara Escarpment are nearby, and thousands of acres of forest and hundreds of miles of trails to explore.  We had an interesting garden that became more than I could cope with, so now I'm going to have to find other subjects for my camera.

Part of the Hosta collection in our former garden.

Our three children are grown and living elsewhere, (and no longer asking for money).  Our married daughter and our son-in-law have our only grandchildren, and we had some great adventures when they visited. Now they have moved to B.C. where they are loving it, and we visit when we can.  Lots of outdoor adventures available there.  One of our sons and his wife lived in the great white north of Ontario, in an old silver-mining town for 5 years, but they have recently moved back down about an hour and a half away, over on Lake Huron.  Our older son William was a pilot who flies water bombers to fight forest fires, based in B.C.  His story in told in the next page.

Before retiring and moving north, I taught university at the Ontario Agricultural College, part of the University of Guelph.  It was a wonderful and challenging career.  My favourite part of the job was taking students on field excursions where they could learn environmental science out there in the real world.  That’s how we ended up retiring to the Beaver Valley here, after bringing students here for 20 years.  I still lead walks for the local Bruce Trail Club helping people learn about things like trees, ferns and geology.

Hogg's Falls in the Beaver Valley.

Besides my little explorations and adventures, I think of myself as a photographer (still near the beginning of the learning curve!), a writer, and a teacher.  I like to write about non-fiction topics, as reflected in my blog, that help readers appreciate their own natural world a little better.  And if you count life long learning lectures, I guess I still teach a little, or at least I share my knowledge on a couple of topics.

Retirement here has brought my wife and I closer together, if that’s possible after 42+ years.  We are together most of 24/7 on many days, at least in the same house – though we might not see each other for hours on end!  Luckily, we have a house where we each have our own space, once we get unpacked!  She’ll have her sewing studio where she can design brilliant fabric art, while I’ll have my ‘office’ where I can dream up changes I’d like to make to my blog or plan my next photography expedition.  Most, if not all of our big adventures, the travels beyond the valley, are undertaken together.

One of my wife's fabric art dolls.

Our lives were shattered however, when our oldest son William died, flying his water bomber while fighting a forest fire in northern Alberta.  It's taken me 9 months to update this to reflect that, and to add a tab about him and his life, featuring the posts I've written about him, and our trip to the memorial services out west.  I just cannot express how deeply we miss him, but we love him and are proud of him as well.  Sometimes I think the grief is just a deeper love, a love so deep it's painful.

William followed his dream to be come a water bomber pilot successfully, and for him every day was an adventure.  I like to think that we have instilled a little bit of our own adventurous spirit in all three of our children.

I started my blog simply because I feel compelled to take photographs, share them, and write about what I’m seeing.  I hope to convert others to noticing the incredible natural world around us, and appreciating both that landscape and the beauty of the seasons.  I’m fascinated with the changes over the seasons, and with the rural landscape in all its moods, especially right here in the valley – so that’s what ‘Seasonsinthevalley’ is all about.  Continuing to write this after Will's death is my own personal therapy.



  1. Very well written and illustrated 'about me'. Your wife is quite the talented fabric artist.

  2. I'm so glad to learn more about you and your world, Furry. Or should I call you Mr. Gnome? I absolutely adore your pictures. The waterfall is magical, and the doll is filled with personality. :-)

  3. It's good to learn more about you, one of my favorite bloggers. Like me, it sounds like you've had a great life and don't have many "If only I could have ..."s in the back of your mind.

  4. This is what blogging is all about, and your words tell so much more, about you, the quilt-maker, your seasons, and more, and I do so send all good wishes for 2015 and more. My very best regards for the New Year, Jean .p.s. the same to Mrs F.G. too.

  5. Very nice addition to your bog. I feel I know you better.

  6. Very nice getting to know you better :)

  7. Very well said. Look forward to reading your blog. I also retired and enjoy photography. A little warmer here and we live on the James River in VA

  8. Don't remember how I found your blog today but so happy that I did. Wonderful photography and information. I'm looking forward to your future offerings.

  9. We have been dipping in and out of one another's blogs for a little while. I've just come across a comment from you on another blog that turned me over. I suppose it has to be true. Assuming it is, I can't imagine what you are going through. There are no words, Except that it is a privilege that those we love come into our lives, and stay awhile. Our thoughts are with you.

    1. Thanks Mike. I've told the story now in today's post.

  10. We have been dipping in and out of one another's blogs for a little while. I've just come across a comment from you on another blog that turned me over. I suppose it has to be true. Assuming it is, I can't imagine what you are going through. There are no words, Except that it is a privilege that those we love come into our lives, and stay awhile. Our thoughts are with you.

  11. It's a pleasure to know more about you, you lead such a diverse and full life...
    Your many adventures sound magical !
    Lovely that you are kind enough to share them with your readers, not only in words, but in stunning pictures.
    Thank You.

  12. I'm in Canada too .... Calgary. And.... tell your wife I make dolls ... and bears..and do other stitching... have her stop by my blog sometime....does she have a blog or Flicker site or Picturetrail with more fabric arts? ...

  13. I paint landscapes and cows and flowers, whatever comes to me. I like some of your photos and might want to use a few to paint from. If you send me your email address, I will ask permission. diannedeanmail@yahoo.ca.

  14. I'm currently house-sitting near Trout Hollow and plan to hike the trail this weekend, weather permitting. I hear the beginning of the trail at Beautiful Joe Park has been washed away by the Spring flood. But I'm sure I'll find a way in. Hoping to find Robert Burcher to gain more info. I've enjoyed reading your blog and I'd like to pass on my condolences for the death of your son. Such a tragedy. I like what you said about grief being a form of very deep love, so deep that it's painful.

  15. I just popped over to view your blog from Linda's blog. Sad to read that your son William died while doing what he wanted to do in life. I'm a photographer too and that's why I'm blogging and sharing life. Keep on going.