Saturday, August 11, 2018

A Weekend in the Eastern Townships

Looking Down Towards North Hatley

Photos: August 3-5, 2018

Sometimes one just needs to get out of the city and walk among the trees. Despite the heat it was good to walk along a dirt road and enjoy the wild flowers.

Pink Flowers

The cultivated flowers were pretty too. It's always a pleasure to see the colours and, in many cases, to see bees enjoying the pollen.

Abbaye St-Benoît-du-Lac

One reason for our weekend away was a concert at l'Abbaye St-Benoît-du-Lac. Les Boréades did an all Bach concert in the heat - not the best weather for baroque instruments. While we were in the abbey, a thunder storm passed through adding a little percussion to the music.


The main chapel is fairly modern, having been completed in 1994. Exposed metal beams stand, an internal skeleton holding everything up.


I liked the rhythm of this passageway which was closed to the public.

Chapel on Lake Memphremagog

The abbey is located on Lake Memphremagog - a beautiful setting.

In Mont Orford Park

On Sunday we took a short hike in Parc Mont-Orford - the hot, humid weather really affects the energy level.

Water Lilies

Still - it was lovely to be among the trees, to see the lake and the peaceful waterlilies, to hear the birds and to smell the many forest aromas.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Sultry July

Orange Flower

It has been a hot July with humidity making it feel even hotter. There have been a number of days with temperatures over 30°C (86°F) but feeling like closer to 40° (104).  Thank goodness for air-conditioning. Though we did often enjoy suppers on our balcony. I don't know how those without AC cope.  Some rain towards the end of the month greened up the grass again. But often, it only increased the humidity.

New Duck Family

This pond is shallow. Even the ducks looked for shady spots to stay cool in the water.

Bottom's Up

Moving slowly, stopping to enjoy their antics, parking oneself on a bench in the park under a tree - all strategies to stay cool and still get outside.


Flowers, too, were a reason to stop on a walk. Just be in the moment and forget about the heat.

The View from my Walk

When the mornings were cooler I managed a few long walks up the hill in Westmount where I was rewarded with a view over part of the city out to the river.

The Sun Whose Rays

While this sunflower stood up straight...

Tired of the Heat

Others, like me, had had enough of the heat.

At the Redpath Museum

One can always cool off in a museum (though not this one! - The Redpath Museum was built in 1882 and there is no air conditioning). I went to hear Lynn Kozak, a McGill classics professor, do a one woman (with a little help) show of part of The Iliad. She has been doing a serialized performance of the complete Iliad over 30 weeks. You can see videos here.

Bees are Welcome

And so July has gone, but the hot weather remains. I will venture out to check out the ducks, linger near flowers, to run a few errands, to return home to a cold glass of water and a feeling that I have not yet let summer get the better of me.

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...