Saturday, April 30, 2011

It's Starting


It's Starting, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Some trees are wearing cloaks of delicate pale green lace. No longer bare, they begin to put on this spring-time splendour. Each day their branches sprout more as lace turns to a thicker woven canopy.

A New Project


A New Project, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Back in the days before children I was an ardent knitter - knitting afghans by the dozen. My friends each got one for one occasion or another. I never knit things that had to fit (well I did make one sweater) - but stuck with things that would look good as long as I followed the pattern. After children came along my time was used differently. But now I've decided to go back to it.

I've started yet another afghan - this one is done in strips. It should keep me going for a while - but the weather is warming up so hopefully this will be done by the autumn when it will come in handy. Psst - don't tell anyone - it's for my daughter.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Wheel


Wheel, originally uploaded by susanvg.
The sun was at its golden hour, low on the horizon. It painted surreal colours. This old wheel sits in front of my house, parked there by former owners. Long unused for its original purpose it has been beaten by the weather.

Yet it has found a new purpose, simply decorative. We live in a throwaway society wanting ever more and discarding the "old" Electronics become out of date long before they stop working, yet we think nothing of replacing them. At the time this wheel was made, belongings were precious. Old string was reused, clothing recut and remade or the fabric could be sewn into a quilt making new from old.

I am a techie - I can't say I always live by those principles, but I am trying to move more to a simpler life where less is more. It's the only way this planet will keep on rolling.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Humble Beginnings


Humble Beginnings, originally uploaded by susanvg.
My garden is slowly coming to life. A variety of shoots have pushed their way to the surface with promises of flowers. It is hard to believe these humble beginnings will lead to a bushy growth of bleeding hearts. Slowly shoots unfurl, with leafy beginnings. They need to grow quickly to complete their job of flowering so they can begin again next year.

Catching Some Rays


Catching Some Rays, originally uploaded by susanvg.
I was walking in my neighbourhood when I noticed this frog catching some rays. Perhaps he was stopping for a rest. Or was he waiting to entice a pretty young frog to join him? A frog he did a wooing go? Hmm hmm.
You can enjoy a delightful rendition of the song A Frog Went a-Courting from the National Film Board here

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Parc-des-Rapides


Parc-des-Rapides, originally uploaded by susanvg.
One of my favourite parks is beside the Lachine Rapids. It's a great place to see birds. There are always people out with very long lensed cameras. They are always willing to share photography tips or suggestions for the best places to spot the local wildlife. See photos from last week

When Europeans first settled this area, they had to portage around the rapids to travel further up the St. Lawrence River. Fur traders left from Lachine, past the rapids. Later the Lachine Canal was built and still later, the St. Lawrence Seaway which allowed large ships to bypass the rapids and through a series of locks get all the way to the Great Lakes. Some hardy souls kayak in the rapids, but I am content to simply admire them. The force of the water is impressive as it hits the underwater rocks.

Grazing Goose

Yet on land all is tranquil - a great place for birds, large and small to feel right at home. In the cove protected by this spit of land, the tranquil waters are home to many water fowl as well as mink and beaver.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Centre d'histoire de Montréal


Centre d'histoire de Montréal, originally uploaded by susanvg.

I am always pleased when old buildings take on new purposes. This former fire station has been converted into a historical museum, recounting the history of Montreal from its beginnings when Jacques Cartier first arrived until now. Told through maps, pictures and some delightful text, I learned more about my city. It was interesting to see old photographs or artwork juxtaposed with present day photographs. Cities constantly evolve.
Definitely worth the modest admission price.

Blue Carpet


Blue Carpet, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Photo April 22 (Earth Day)
One of our early spring flowers are the scylla. They spread where they please, popping up in unexpected places. Here they carpet the lawn. In other places, single flowers stand defiantly where they will. When they die off, a simple mowing of the lawn removes all traces, yet each year they grow again, reminding us of their invincibility.
Earth Day - the day to celebrate our blue planet - let's hope that it is as invincible as these blue flowers as man continues to treat it with disrespect. When will the politicians wake up to the fact that short term economic gain without thought to the environment can have devastating effects on our planet. We are selling out our children's futures.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bonsai


Bonsai II, originally uploaded by susanvg.
On the way into the greenhouse that housed the butterfly exhibit, I passed through an area with a number of bonsais. The Montreal Botanical Gardens has a large collection of bonsais, some hundreds of years old. Each pot is a world in miniature.

Bonsai III

It takes much loving care to nurture these trees into this size and these shapes. Many of the bonsais in Montreal are only available for viewing from May to October. I'll have to make another visit to see more of the collection.

Bonsai !

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spot the Butterfly


Spot the Butterfly, originally uploaded by susanvg.
A visit to "Butterflies are Free" at the Montreal Botanical Gardens kept me smiling for a long time. It's a magical experience as the butterflies flit around, stopping to feed from the riot of flowers or to rest.

Butterfly
Butterfly

So delicate, their thin legs perch while they reach into the flowers, imbibing the nectar. Some flap their wings so they seem a blur as they drink. Others seem to perch.

Butterfly

The sun was streaming into the greenhouse giving plenty of warm spots to stop and soak it in.

DSC03243

Huge moths, hatching from cocoons, spread their wings and flew off.

Moths Hatching

These and more butterfly photographs can be found here.
With much difficult news from around the world, we need to find our oases of peace and tranquility. This was certainly one of them, even with the multitude of people who were also enjoying the experience.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Flowers in Profusion


Flowers in Profusion, originally uploaded by susanvg.
I came across this lawn which had been taken over by crocuses. They brightened the neighbourhood where most lawns are still not quite green. Spring has taken its time this year. Last year's early arrival has us spoiled and wanting the same. Here's a photo taken last year at the same time.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Rain Drops at Night


Rain Drops at Night, originally uploaded by susanvg.
A blustery night, with rain, and sometimes sleet, falling steadily. Just a few sparkling raindrops hanging from these cedar branches - a glimpse of beauty on a dreary night.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Redwing Blackbird


Redwing Blackbird, originally uploaded by susanvg.
It's spring, the redwing blackbird sings in its raucous voice. The air is filled with the sounds of birds: chirps, whistles, honks, melodies. Each stakes its claim to territory and to a mate.

On the Pond

The air was crisp; fingers objecting to the constant exposure as I tried to capture the scene. Gloves are still a necessity.

The branches slowly take on colour, willows turning chartreuse and some bushes blushing red. They are getting ready to send out leaves. Some trees have flowered - not the flashy flowers yet - the modest browns and downy buds.

Robin in the Bushes

Each day new signs as the lawns begin to turn green and flowers send up shoots. But it's the birds that really let us know spring has arrived.

Ducks

New life begins as they set up nests and hunt for food in this newly thawed landscape.

Heron

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wired


Wired, originally uploaded by susanvg.

Electricity is such an important part of our lives. here in Quebec most of our power comes from hydro-electricity, from rivers that have been dammed. Although less polluting than coal-fired plants and less dangerous than nuclear plants, nothing has zero imprint on the environment. Even wind turbines have an impact, killing birds and bats. So what is the solution? We have to learn to turn off what we don't need, to rely less on electronics for our amusement. I am not suggesting giving up these things, as I type this on an electronic device and then plan to enjoy the posts of others. Just use less that's the challenge.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Another Photographer


Another Photographer, originally uploaded by susanvg.
It's always nice to get together with another photographer, to talk about the challenges of daily (or almost) photographs. Today work let Shelley's and my path cross. We talked a little technique, a little inspiration a little shop talk and a little just friendship.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sour Cherries


Sour Cherries, originally uploaded by susanvg.

Some foods mean so much more than just what they are. I occasionally buy sour cherries because of childhood memories. My mother immigrated to Canada as a child. In those days people tried to fit in, to assimilate. They changed their names to sound more Canadian and only spoke their mother tongue at home. But food was one thing they hung on to from their homelands. Although my grandparents died when I was very young (by the time I was five), I still have a vivid memory of sitting in their kitchen and eating sour cherries.

I bought these and will probably leave them on the pantry shelf for a while, just to catch a glimpse of them when I open the pantry door and have those early memories play on my mind. Once opened, I will savour the taste as it conjures up people long gone from my life. Taste and smells are powerful reminders of past experiences.

Benches


Benches, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Photograph: April 10, 2010
Warmer weather has brought people out. Cafes have put their tables outside and the benches in parks have started to be occupied. I passed a person sitting and chatting on the phone, another reading a newspaper and another just enjoying the feeling of warmth from the sun. Here in Montreal, it's day by day - but on the sunny ones, people take advantage of every bit of warmth the sun can send.

Customs House


Customs House, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Photo: April 9, 2011
Sitting at Place Royale, and now part of Pointe-à-Callière Museum, an archaeology museum, this was once the Customs House for the Port of Montreal. From the museum site "This building, designed by architect John Ostell, dates back to 1836–1837 and originally housed Montréal’s first Custom House (its name means “the Old Custom House”). It was expanded in 1881."

I love the layers of history you see from here, the art deco building peeking up from behind, the outline of an old stone structure on the newer brick building. Thankfully we have preserved some of our heritage. Buildings have been lost to fire and to the wreckers ball to be replaced by the next generation of architecture. I think of what the people of the past must have lived and endured as I walk here on a sunny April day.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Splash of Colour


DSC03130_2, originally uploaded by susanvg.
The sun is warming the earth. In protected areas flowers are starting to appear. They grow quickly, eager to catch the warm rays. I always find spring to be a time of magic when changes happen quickly. You have to stop and admire each new growth, for by tomorrow there will be new things to see.

Shiny Surface


Shiny Surface, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Daily Shoot: Make a photograph of something shiny today.
I had my car in for repairs and they always wash the outside when they are finished. Its shiny surface reflected the surroundings. I like the way it distorts the image, wrapping around the contours of the car.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

It's Starting


It's Starting, originally uploaded by susanvg.

I find it amazing that before the snow has all melted, new growth begins. These lilies seem anxious to reach the sunshine. Despite this, weather switches moment to moment with a short period of sleet falling yesterday followed by brilliant sunshine. The vagaries of April.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Camouflage


Camouflage, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Winter white has given way to sepia. Dried leaves cover the ground. Where the grass shows, it is still straw-like. This mourning dove poked in the leaves for food. The rustling sound gave away its location.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

It's Spring


It's Spring, originally uploaded by susanvg.
Daily Shoot: Make a photograph of a symbol today.
To me, a robin is a symbol of spring. Spotting the first robin is a sure-fire sign that spring has arrived. They have made their way to Casselman. Their chirpy songs can be heard as they settle in to their northern homes. They can be spotted on many lawns, checking out the dry grass for newly uncovered sources of food. It's spring!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Fixing the Lines


Fixing the Lines, originally uploaded by susanvg.

On Wednesday, I watched a man on a long yellow ladder working on wires attached to a pole behind my house. On Thursday, a Bell truck parked in front of my house and this orange clad man spent time in the basket of the crane, working on wires in front. I have not had problems, so I am not sure what they were fixing.

Daily Shoot: Make a photograph dominated by the color orange today.