Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Magical Moments

Like a Mirage

I'm just home from my annual week at CAMMAC.  Every year has its magical moments whether they be those that Mother Nature produces, concert highlights or the feeling when a piece you have been working on with others comes together.  There are always surprises like a 90 something woman belting out a song complete with a few dance moves at the Tuesday evening cabaret evening or the 5 year old violinist playing in a morning concert. Age does not matter - we come together with our shared love of music.

This year the weather was brutally hot with high humidity. I wandered down to the boathouse early one morning. Looking across the lake towards an island, this house seemed to appear out of the mist as if it was a mirage.


There is definitely magic in the mist with mysteries slowly revealed.

Sunset on Lake Macdonald

Days are very busy at CAMMAC. There seems to be a constant buzz. Time spent near the lake help bring a sense of peace. What better time than the end of the day to stay in the moment, to watch the sun's last rays paint the sky and the lake.

Bach in the Woods

A number of cabins like this one are scattered in the woods. I had two classes each day in this one: Bach. Most of the cabins and studios are named after composers. There are windows on 3 sides so the woods are very present as we play music.

Wild Flowers in Phases

I try to put aside time for walks but with the soaring temperatures I only managed to walk once. The wild flowers bloom by the side of the road. I walk bathed in nature.

Violin and Baroque Flute

We get treated to 3 concerts each week with the finest early music musicians Montreal has to offer (and they are our teachers for the week). In this informal setting the musicians can try things they might not in a more formal setting and players from different ensembles mix and match in the concerts. This is a most appreciative audience. What happens is nothing short of magical.

Baroque Dance

Baroque dance with live musicians and done with a sense of humour. Marie-Natalie introduced many characters (Les Caractères de la Danse de Rebel). She worked her magic transforming herself into an old man, a young woman and many different personalities.

Evening Concert

There is no doubt in my mind that CAMMAC's Early Music Week is a special time in a special place. And now while I smile about the memories, does anyone have a magic spell to cast out the ear worms, the snippets of music that linger in my ears from the different classes I took during the week?

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

In the Countryside


I spent a weekend in rural Quebec - mainly playing and listening to music. I did manage a bit of a walk in the countryside - a welcome beginning to a day of sitting.


The auberge where I was staying had a lovely flower garden. Another bonus was it was really off in the country offering perfect night skies for viewing the stars.


This woodpecker made its presence known with its rhythmic pecking at the pole. I hope it found a source of food. I am sure the metal part provided nothing.

Typical Quebec House

The village where the music workshop was held, Saint Camille is tiny, little more than a crossroads. All around it are farms. It's good to get away sometimes, out of one's daily life, out of one's usual setting to devote time to a passion - music.


Concerts were held in a former church. All benefit. The participants enjoyed the bucolic atmosphere and shared their talent. The community enjoyed the music and joined the participants for some social activities. Win - Win

Friday, June 1, 2018

From about 10 days ago

I seem to be getting farther and farther behind on posting to my blog. But I guess each year has its own rhythm.

Egret Watching

A favourite spot of mine is Parc-des-Rapides which juts out into the St. Lawrence River beside the Lachine Rapids. This is also a favourite spot for a variety of birds. Even on a hot day there are usually cool breezes. Though once I made the mistake of going there on a cold winter day and my camera battery and my fingers did not last long!

This egret was patiently fishing, oblivious to the many gawkers who watched, some behind long lenses.


This heron was well camouflaged. It took me a while to spot it across the water from me.

Redwing Blackbird Singing

Despite the raucous cries of the red winged blackbirds, there is something very peaceful about walking amidst nature, listening not just to the birds but also the rush of the water of the rapids. The city disappears and there is a sense of really being in the moment.

Egret in the Water

Was fishing any better here? I'm not sure - but I couldn't resist one more photo.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

One Week Later in Spring

A Carpet of Trilliums

What a difference a week makes. I went back to Bois de Liesse (May 13) and was greeted by a carpet of trilliums. The dog toothed violets have mainly vanished. The red trilliums looked tired. But it was glorious in the woods with white trilliums popping up everywhere.

Stream in Spring

They, too, will not last long as the leafy canopy spreads and will soon cast shadows on the forest floor. For now all is the bright green of spring.


The ferns, which last week were slowly uncurling, are now upright and plentiful.

A Fern Among the Trilliums

Some poke their fronds above the riot of trilliums.

White Trillium

Each year I feel I need to go on this pilgrimage to pay hommage to these flowers. Their time here is short yet their presence seems to announce spring for me. Each year I aim my lens looking for the perfect shot.

Always Searching for the Perfect Trillium Shot

of the perfect trillium.

I'm Watching You

This park is home to wildlife from birds to squirrels and this raccoon who eyed me warily as I stopped to admire him. There are signs, too, warning of coyotes in the area. They are a fairly recent addition to our urban landscape.

Stopping for a Drink

He stopped for a drink after checking us out and then warily moved on. We continued our walk refreshed by just being in the forest.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Spring Comes to Gardens


The air says spring. The gardens say spring. Each day Mother Nature adds dabs of paint to her canvas, filling out the spaces. Blossoms appear where days before there were just bare branches.

Tulips with a Point

Gardens become lush with flowers. It is all so transient as spring flowers make their short appearances.


Each year the magnolias take my breath away. Stop and admire. They too, display their splendour for just a short time before the leaves take over.  Everything in its own time...

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Spring Takes Hold

Spring in Summit Park

Spring is a parade of delights as each day brings new changes. Each flower takes its turn, some lasting only days while others linger. I walked up in Summit Woods on May 5. The woods were full of dog-toothed violets (aka trout lily or erythronium americanum). Their splotchy leaves and bright yellow flowers were easy to spot.


We also spotted some sanguinaria canadensis. The trilliums were still reluctant - some leaves but no sign of flowers.

First Open Trillium

On May 6 a friend and I went to Bois-de-Liesse where the trilliums were starting to open. In most spots, it was still only and occasional flower that revealed itself.

Ferns Unfurl

Ferns were starting to unfurl.

In the Sunlight

And Sanguinaria reached for the sunlight.


Some interesting fungus was growing near a dead log. Anyone know what it is?

By the Foot of the Tree

A cluster of dogtoothed violets grew near a tree trunk.

Red Trillium

I always search out the red trilliums which open before the white ones. They are far less plentiful than their white cousins and so each one seems precious. Did you know that trilliums take 7 - 10 years to go from seed to flower?

Wildflowers Mingle

Here is a variety of flowers together. Enjoy as they won't last long.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Spring Comes and Goes and Comes and Goes...

Spring Slowly Creeps In

I started to see a few flowers on March 30. I always love to catch the first blooms - such a sign of rebirth. But spring in Montreal takes time to take hold.


There are microclimates. Just a slight rise in elevation and there were no flowers to be seen. Mont-Royal still had quite a bit of snow in the woods (April 2).

First Flowers

On April 6 I spotted these flowers growing in a fairly protected spot. These hardy snow drops and scylla are always among the first to appear. April has been quite grey and rainy. Any colour I see is a feast for the eyes.

Winter Doesn't End

This year spring has been particularly reluctant to appear with below average temperatures and some downright nasty weather. On April 16 we had ice pellets, freezing rain and eventually rain.


Each day I would think it was the last time I would wear my heavy winter coat and each day I would realize it was the best for the weather.

Snowy Remnants

Finally winter is receding. Seasonable temperatures (above 10°C / 50°F) have finally arrived. While snow is still spotted, most of the ground is free of it.

First Growth among the Dry Leaves

In the forest in Bois de Liesse, where I was walking with a friend, there is new growth beginning. This is a favourite spot for seeing trilliums, but there was no sign of even the sprouts.

Early Spring

Even without spring green, it was peaceful to be in the woods. We could hear birds, glimpsed a couple of woodpeckers and saw both grey and little red squirrels scampering in the dried leaves.

Hanging On

Soon these tenacious dry leaves will be pushed off to make way for this year's leaves.

Spring Flowers

With a few days of sun and warmer weather, spring will jump into action. Flowers seem to grow before your eyes. Each day the changes bring new delights.