Monday, December 31, 2012
Photos: December 29, 2012 while waiting for the bus
Snow Clearing is a long process in a big city. After a big storm the crews work around the clock. While most clearance is done with snow blowers and large trucks, even payloaders are used to fill the trucks with snow.
This sizable storm will take many days before all the streets and sidewalks are clear. Even snow crews have to take time off (the labour laws do not allow them to work more than a 70 hour week) so all snow clearance is taking a 36 hour break until the 2nd of January. With streets clogged with snow, public transportation is the best way to get around. No parking to worry about and more room for the big snow trucks to pass.
Saturday, December 29, 2012
Photo: December 28, 2012
First day out snowshoeing this winter. The storm left a thick blanket over the forest floor. Not many people were up in Summit Park as we tramped among the trees. There is a stillness in the air after a storm. The snow muffles sounds.
The crisp breeze turned cheeks a rosy colour. My fingers felt the frosty air as I stopped to photograph. It was impossible not to stop and enjoy the sparkle of the sun on the snow crystals and admire the sculptures the snow created.
This looked to me like an icy totem pole with the profiles of faces. While man-made totem poles last for centuries, this one will be gone as it is reshaped by sun and wind. Winter is so much more enjoyable with a good layer of snow!
Friday, December 28, 2012
Photo: December 27, 2012
A record snowfall for one day - 45 cm of snow fell on Montreal. For much of the day it seemed to be going sideways with strong gusts whipping it, blowing it into high drifts.
Today these same trees enjoy the bright blue winter skies. The river gleams in the distance. There are piles of snow everywhere. I am very glad to have moved - no more shovelling, scraping, and salting.
There is nothing quite so beautiful as the day after a snow storm. The fresh fallen snow sparkles and the city looks pristine.
Thursday, December 27, 2012
It's fun to walk in areas of the city where I have not walked before. Even though I have driven through this part of Montreal, it is not the same as viewing on foot. While I am not a huge fan of graffiti, I did like the images here.
We walked into a park with houses facing it on each side. This three story (though more elegant than some) is typical of houses in parts of Montreal. The second and third floor dwellings are reached by an outdoor staircase, which can be treacherous on icy mornings. The wrought iron balconies at the left are more typical than the stone and concrete of the building in the centre.
This neighbourhood is near the Lachine Canal, once an important waterway, through which boats could bypass the Lachine Rapids. Industries sprang up along the canal. Since the advent of the St. Lawrence Seaway, it lost its usefulness. Now a bicycle path runs along it (not open this time of year). The waterway is used by pleasure boats, not working boats. Where once factories stood, now housing is replacing them. This footbridge crosses over the canal.
You can learn more about the history of the canal here.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Photos: December 24, 2012
Walking on a crisp and sunny winter day is energizing. The snow crunches underfoot and sunbeams dance on the fresh fallen flakes. Walking gives time to admire details.
This "snowy" window launched memories of childhood cutting as we tried to make these lacy flakes. And then I thought of my own children doing the same. Many snowy winters have passed since then.
I'm new to this area. I love the variety of architecture. I pass the old Westmount Conservatory (closed for the holidays). I'll have to venture in to enjoy the summery displays. I'm not a snowbird. I enjoy winter except for the ice. It invigorates. Many more winter walks to come.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Music is an essential part of my life. My passion is music from before about 1800, known as early music. I play it, I go to concerts and I support local groups and musicians as much as I can. I worry about the future of this music as government funding dries up and pop culture becomes more and more prevalent. Big rock shows bring in tourists, small music festivals with limited funds cannot attract the same kind of audience. So funders become more reluctant to support these efforts.
I had the pleasure of hearing the Corelli Christmas concerto in a private home of a local musician, Susie Napper, who has done so much to showcase early music in Montreal. It is done as a passion, certainly not because it brings her money. I fear our society only values things that represent money - professional sports, popular singers, blockbuster movies.
Bach was born in 1685 - we still play his music. Will anyone remember the sports teams, Celine Dion or the films of today in 350 years?
Sunday, December 2, 2012
While my move is still requiring work - more to unpack, pictures to hang... my life is beginning to get back to a more normal pace. Shopping for food during the worst of the move, was a quick foray to a supermarket. Now, with a little more time to breathe, I headed to the market.
December at the market and the parking area is full of trees for sale. The light dusting of snow reminds us that soon winter will really set in. The market changes from season to season. Some of the outdoor stalls get temporary winter walls, while others disappear as November arrives. Part of the parking area changes from spring and summer flower stalls to pumpkins and then to these trees and other seasonal decorations.
Now I do my shopping indoors. Unlike in a supermarket, here I linger - savouring a café au lait, enjoying eying all the delicacies displayed to entice. Somehow I always go home with a little more than I had planned. Shopping at the market is a personal experience. Each store requires a little conversation, not just a quick pass through the cashiers. I stop at my favourites, talking to the butcher that supplies organic meat, chatting with the woman in the bakery, discussing the merits of various cheeses in the cheese shop and more. I come home with a smile on my face, laden with bags of delights.
Sunday, November 18, 2012
I have been somewhat absent from this blog for a few weeks - busy with boxes as I have moved. This was a big step, leaving my home and going into a condo. It's a beautiful place (I'll post pictures of the view, soon), but it has been a lot of work with packing and unpacking. And so many decisions!
It was good to finally find some time to walk and enjoy a beautiful autumn day. The air was crisp and refreshing, the kind of weather that gives you energy. I walked at Summit Park. I love the sound our footsteps make as they crunch on the dry leaves.
It was interesting to see the different micro-climates. On the north side of the hill there was frost and frozen puddles - a foot in winter to come. While on the south side there was no hint of colder weather.
I find there is such beauty in the decay of autumn. The frost just added decoration.
Tranquility in nature - it was much easier to get back to unpacking after this walk.
Friday, October 26, 2012
Walking through the Place des Arts complex I passed this installation - a magical play of coloured glass and mirrors with images by Alfred Pellan. The title panel called it Cosmos musical. The images changed.
I only managed to capture a couple of images. The colours and repeated images were mesmerizing. I could have stayed longer. Others seemed to walk through this corridor, eyes straight ahead. I wonder what else they miss in life.
Found this video
Sunday, October 21, 2012
Autumn bring out the spiders. Lacy webs show up in the garden, on windows, wherever these arachnids think they will be successful at luring their prey. Tiny gems decorated these fine filaments. No jeweler could replicate this delicate creation.
If one could it would be his or her masterpiece yet, for a spider, this is just one of many.
I love the seasons that bring these ephemeral events - leaves that one day shout to be admired, lie drying on the ground the next. Fall is a season of celebration. Thanks, Mother Nature, for your daily delights!
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Last Friday I had dinner (before a concert) at a restaurant. I rarely order dessert but I craved a little something and ordered a biscotti to go with my coffee. It came like this.
Funny how negative (space that is) can turn positive - a smile at the presentation. I guess we always have to try to turn negatives into positives - and frequently there is a positive aspect even in the most horribly negative things. For example, I know that some negatives in my life have prompted personal growth. I'm not suggesting that the negative was a good thing - just that it precipitated positive change.
As I wrote yesterday - the negative of the decay of autumn leads to new growth in the spring. Funny how a sprinkle of chocolate can lead to these musings.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Despite the incredible burst of colour there is always something a bit melancholy about fall. The incredible blue skies and brightly coloured leaves are juxtaposed with the dry leaves on the ground which are starting to decay.
Yet even this decay smells good - autumn has a freshness about it that the languorous summer days don't. Everything is crisp: the air, the crunch of the leaves, the views, cleared of that summer haze.
Fresh fallen leaves blanket the earth putting fresh nutrients into the soil. While it is a time of decay, it is also the time to prepare the earth for next year's growth. The melancholy thoughts are fleeting when the sun shines!
Monday, October 8, 2012
A trip to the Atwater Market in preparation for Thanksgiving dinner was a treat. The air was crisp and the colours popped. And, as always, I bought too much - but it will get used.
On the menu - almost everything is local
Turkey - raised in Quebec
stuffing (my grandmother's recipe)
new potatoes, broccoli, salad - all locally grown
Apple cake - with Quebec apples
Strawberries - still local
It feels good to be able to serve mainly local food. Only too soon our growing season will be over and we will be shipping in fresh produce. In the meantime - a time to feast!
Saturday, October 6, 2012
Fall reveals its seasonal splendour dressing the trees in fiery clothes.
Leafy carpets cover the grass, redecorating the landscape.
Trees compete to show off their fashion finery.
Cold rainy nights make the trees shiver and slowly drop their their leaves, revealing their woody skeletons.
Autumn splendour is ever-changing, a last fancy festivity before the long winter rest.
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Toronto is not that far from Montreal (about 500 km or 350 mi) but the architecture is quite different. Houses in the older parts of Toronto tend to be very close together, often to the point that it is a tight squeeze between them. Another common characteristic is the front porch. In Montreal, row housing is more common in certain areas with outdoor staircases. I featured some samples here.
As we walked in this neighbourhood we came across one house which was not typical of Toronto. A simple home had been decorated like a frosted wedding cake. They were trying to transplant their Greek heritage. But frankly it was over the top! It was topped with statuary like fancy frosting. There is no accounting for taste.
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
So many shapes and kinds of gourds! I love the way fall treats us to new colours. While green is the predominant colour of summer with splashes of every hue in the gardens, autumn slowly turns to the warm colours - yellows, oranges and some reds before it fades into sepia.
Monday, October 1, 2012
I like the play of the different elements in this image. They each compete for attention. I sometimes wonder what drives graffiti writers. While I admire true graffiti artists, the tags and scribbles here just deface the building. I don't understand the mentality of people who think this is OK.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
The colours are starting. They are never as vibrant in the city as in the countryside. This year, in particular, I find them mainly muted, with leaves drying up before they really show their usual flashy fall foliage.
A walk around the mountain is never complete without a stop at the lookout to see the view. When the distant mountains are visible, I know we are breathing fairly clean air!
Facing west, you can see out to the silver ribbon of a river. As we go about our daily routines, it is easy to forget that Montreal is on an island. It is not everywhere that we get views of the river. Yet that is such an important part of why the city was established here in the days when ship travel was the most important form of transportation.
Sunday, September 23, 2012
Although I don't manage to take photos every day, my eyes have been trained to see differently. I notice things I never would have noticed before. And I have learned from my many online fellow photographers. I usually tend to look for beauty, though it may even be the beauty in decaying plants. Mikecogh has shown me through his photos, that the underside of life is also interesting. He photographs rusty items, back alleys (along with lots of more picturesque shots) and finds ways to make them intriguing.
I liked the strong lines I found here as well as the shadows. I'll have to go looking some more for the grittier aspects of my city.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
No matter how stressed I am, a walk in nature seems to calm me. With the beginning of a work year (I live on the educational calendar), renovations and much more, a walk was just what I needed.
Near the parking lot, these grasses swayed in the wind. They grow tall enough to hide the cars.
We walked down to see the river. There is something calming about watching the water. The sun was dancing on the water.
The duck seen at the top of this post made quite a display as it spread out its feathers.
Here it is in another pose. Funny how this kind of walk slows down my gait as I stop to notice life around me. It may not be good for my heart (in cardio terms) but it is oh so good for my heart. David Suzuki talks about how important it is to spend time in nature.
The colours, the sounds all contribute to a sense of well-being. Time for me to get out again!