Thursday, April 25, 2013

Leaves are Starting

Leaves are Starting by susanvg
Leaves are Starting, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Each day I check for signs of growth. Some bushes are starting to sprout the beginnings of leaves. It is a time of greening. Sun, rain and longer days are nurturing new growth. Wouldn't it be nice if it were so easy to identify the elements to help students grow? But education does not have an easy formula and is certainly not one way for all.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Spring Runoff

Spring Runoff by susanvg
Spring Runoff, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
The melting snow finds its way to streams and ponds. This river was swollen with the spring melt. What is a usually playful dance over the rocks is now a noisy torrent.


Pussy willows start to emerge, a sure sign that spring is taking hold. As snow recedes the remnants of autumn are revealed.


Some dry leaves still cling to the trees. A gentle breee sets them off, rustling like the wings of a swarm of insects. They are not ready to take flight. New growth will push them off.


Spring comes in, full of energy.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Starting to Thaw

Starting to Thaw by susanvg
Starting to Thaw, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
 Photo: April 20, 2013

What a difference 100 km (about 60 miles) and some moderate mountains makes! It is like going back in season. We went to the Laurentians for a couple of days - to Trout Lake near Ste-Agathe. Spring is taking a tentative hold, but the ice is not ready to leave the lake. On the south-facing side of the lake, much of the snow has melted, but the other side still has plenty of snow.


A hardy heron hunts hopefully at the edge of the lake, the only spot that is free of ice. I don't know how those skinny legs can abide the frigid water.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Old and the New

The Old and the New by susanvg
The Old and the New, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
What you can't see in this photograph is what intrigued me. I was at a concert by Arion. The soloist was David Breitman, a fortepiano player. For the second half of the concert he played as part of the orchestra. Arion is a baroque orchestra - playing on period instruments (instruments that would have been played at the time the music was composed) as well as using techniques (e.g. a different bowing style) of the time. A fortepiano is a precursor to the piano. Breitman walked out with a tablet, not a paper score. He had a foot pedal with which he advanced the pages. Of course this is easier with a fortepiano as there are no pedals on the instrument. It was an odd juxtaposition, but the music was really what it was all about - and that was lovely.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sun Life Building

Sunlife Building by susanvg
Sunlife Building, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
I was listening to CBC 1 - a discussion about gold. I learned about Operation Fish. During the Second World War, Churchill ordered Britain's gold reserves as well as negotiable securities to be packed into crates and shipped to Canada, despite the danger of U-boats. It arrived in Halifax and from there the securities travelled here. They were stored in vaults below the Sunlife Building while the gold was stored in Ottawa at the Bank of Canada. In this way Britain was able to sell securities to pay for the war effort (the US liked to be paid - no armaments on credit!).

I shudder to think what would have happened if one of those ships had been torpedoed. You can learn more about the Sunlife Building here.


Melting by susanvg
Melting, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Day by day it is feeling more spring-like. The photo above was taken on April 14. The melting snow helped to water the gardens

April Flowers
Photo April 15

The moment the sun shines everything grows at a rapid pace. The crocuses spring open and a day of rain started greening up the grass. Colours reappear as sepia landscape gets washed.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

It's never over until it's over

Photo: April 12, 2013

It could have been worse. They were predicting up to 20 cm but some of it fell as rain. Many are disgruntled, but warmer weather is predicted so this will melt fairly quickly. But in the meantime, it's back to boots. Great pools of slush are accumulating.

First Flowers

First Flowers by susanvg
First Flowers, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.

Photos: April 7 and 8, 2013
Spring is trying to take hold, but it has been a cool April. I search the gardens for any signs when I go walking. A few hardy crocuses have ventured up.

Warming Up

The trees know to wait for warmer days. No sense growing leaves before it is time.


These scylla take advantage of a warm spot with heat radiating off the wall to bloom early. I always marvel at how things can grow out of cracks and crevices. Spring is taking a toehold.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Bonsai Cherry Tree

Bonsai Cherry Tree by susanvg
Bonsai Cherry Tree, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
On the way to and from the butterfly exhibit we passed through a greenhouse with bonsais. Montreal has a large collection. Only a small part of the collection resides here. Most are in a pavilion that is only open starting in May. Each year I say I must go back.


I always find it interesting that we are so fascinated with things in miniature. I remember taking my (then fairly young children) to Madurodam in The Netherlands. We walked like giants around the miniaturized sampling of Dutch life. There, too, the plant life was coaxed into miniature versions of the normal larger forms.

Bonsai - Japanese Maple

I admire those with the patience and knowledge to maintain these trees (this one is 55 years old). It is definitely a work of love.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Blue Morpho

Blue Morpho by susanvg
Blue Morpho, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
It's almost impossible to catch the blue morphos' magnificent iridescent blue exterior. They flit around so quickly and once they land they fold up their wings.

Here are more of the butterflies we saw.

Many Stripes

The varieties and patterns are extraordinary.


These are actually moths. They are more active at night. They are quite large as you can see below in comparison to one of the butterflies.

Feeding Time

Monarchs Mating

The butterflies have normal life cycles - here are monarchs mating. When we looked carefully (with the help of a person working there) we saw some eggs, a few caterpillars from a few species of butterflies as well as a chrysalis.

Abundance of flowers

It was so delightful to see all the colours.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Butterfly by susanvg
Butterfly, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Photos: April 2, 2013

Every year the Botanical Gardens has a butterfly exhibit: Butterflies Go Free. What a treat when the outdoor scene is devoid of bright colours and when the wind makes walking outside bitter. I enjoyed my brief stop in the tropics - even if it was artificial.

On Spindly Legs

The butterflies fluttered by. Landing on their spindly legs they enjoyed the warmth.


Some rested with their lacy wings outstretched, while others closed their wings and hid their brilliant colours.


The Monarch is common in Quebec in summer. Their astonishing migration is a concern for all as their winter area has been threatened by logging. I would hate to think that the yearly exhibit will become the only place to see them.

More butterflies to come.

Roots and All

Roots and All by susanvg
Roots and All, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Photo: April 1, 2013

This was not an April Fool's joke. The wind was whipping through the city and this downed tree was one result. Fortunately it did not land on people, vehicles or houses.

Windy Day

I saw this on my way to my book group. I was impressed with how quickly the city reacted. By the time I walked home, trucks were on site to cart away the pieces that had already been chopped up.