Window into May

sunny-afternoon-windowThe old house at The Riverwood Conservancy has many quaint and picturesque windows. But this one, seen in late afternoon when the sun was slanting low, struck me as being rather melancholy. I’m not sure why. Perhaps because, whenever I visit, the place housing the Conservancy’s offices is always closed and still. Or perhaps it echoes with the lives once lived here, now long gone. Or maybe, on that early spring day, the woods surrounding it were still slumbering soundly. In any case, the scene inspired this haiku:

in a bygone glass
long-departed lives reflect;
a wistful window

“Chappell House Window” © 2019 Valerie Barrett. All rights reserved.

Joining in Wild Daffodil’s Photographic Monthly Meet-Up with a year-long theme of Windows.

Oh, to be in Riverwood now that April’s there!

Oh, to be in Riverwood now that April’s there!

I’ve written before about The Riverwood Conservancy, a park in Mississauga, Ontario that is dear to my heart. Sadly, I haven’t visited for quite some time, as I no longer work in that area. (It was always a treat to finish my shift with a stroll around the gardens or down a nature trail.)

The other day, in the early evening, I dropped by after running an errand in the neighbourhood. How glad I was to be back! My favourite spot is the garden and woods around Chappell House.


Chappell House, built in 1919, looks like it’s still slumbering after a long winter.

The only hint of green in the gardens right now are the snowdrops — aren’t they lovely?

snowdrops-in-aprilWhen there isn’t yet any sign of crocus, hyacinths or tulips, these dainty bulbs are so very welcome!

april-snowdropsIn another area of the park, near a century barn where schoolchildren enjoy nature studies, is a Sensory Garden. This peaceful space offers natural delights for those living with physical and mental challenges. Later this spring, they’ll grow fragrant herbs and plants with interesting textures for those who are visually impaired. Another part of this garden, new since I last visited, has painted wooden animal plaques along a fenced path; they are mounted within reach so their shapes can be felt and the bright colours enjoyed.

sensory-garden-riverwood-conservancyA new species of “painted turtle”, methinks!

turtle-sensory-garden-riverwood-conservancyIn the woods, this old birch log with elf-sized fungus caught my eye.

birch-and-fungusAnd as the sun sank low, signaling my departure, my camera captured this mysterious glowing faerie orb. Riverwood truly is a magickal place!

forest-faerie-orbTo read more on Riverwood through the seasons, please see these posts:
The Secret Garden
Falling for Riverwood
Riverwood in Midwinter

Window into April

sunny-stained-glass-windowWhen the afternoon sun slants in, this window glows with cabochons of emerald, tourmaline, citrine and garnet. It’s a favourite in the building where I work, and seeing the panes of luminous, rich colour always makes me smile.

I’m reminded of these lines from “Our House” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young:

… the windows are illuminated
by the evening sunshine through them
fiery gems for you,
only for you

Joining in with Wild Daffodil’s Photographic Monthly Meet-Up with a year-long theme of Windows.

Vernal Vignette

Vernal Vignette

spring-ephemera-vignetteWelcome, Spring! After a harsh, grey winter, we long to have fresh colour and tokens of rejuvenation and new life all around us. In preparation for greener, warmer days, I’ve been playing around with botanicals and bits of ephemera from my collection to make these springtime scenes.

Pretty pastels – robin’s egg blue, celadon green, soft pink and violet, apricot and daffodil yellow – are complemented by time-stained vintage postcards, each offering its own wish for a bright new season.

I’m partial to antique botanical prints; the gold-framed one shown here, of springtime bulbs, is from Botanicum Postcards, a boxed set of 50 beautifully illustrated cards from the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. (They’re too gorgeous to send, really.)

The mason jar got its robin’s egg tint by baking on a mixture of Mod Podge and food colouring – an easy method for colouring glass which I’ll share in a future post.

springtime-ephemera-vignetteThis shade also appears in the butterfly paperweight. To make it, I took a clear domed paperweight and, again using Mod Podge, glued to its bottom postcard-themed scrapbooking paper layered with a die-cut butterfly. I love how the images are magnified through the glass so you can see every detail!

Floral stationery and a travel-themed, bluebird-adorned pocket watch complete the vernal vignette.

spring-bird-nest-vignetteHere, a little cast iron birdie surveys her eggs, nestled in a moss-filled wooden box. The egg print in the background is from another set of 30 botanical and animal postcards: Nature’s Art Postcard Book from the American Museum of Natural History.

The postcards, paperweight and pocket watch all came from Amazon. (I think I might be their best customer.)

I had fun putting these tableaux together and hope you enjoy them, too. Wishing you a happy springtime full of light, colour, fragrant flowers and new ideas!


Window into March

Window into March

oil-lamp-on-old-windowsillThis is one of my favourite spots at our summer cottage. I love spending lazy mornings on the deck beside this window, looking through birches, pines and oaks toward the open lake, which you can just see reflected here. With a book, birdsong, pots of tea and good company, what could be better?

Joining up with Wild Daffodil’s Photographic Monthly Meet-Up, for which the year-long theme is Windows.

Window into February

Window into February

frosty-window-landscapeIn late January and early February, we suffered a nasty cold spell. For about two weeks, daytime temperatures plummeted to a brutal -22°C (-8°F) or more, with a windchill of -37°C, and even colder temperatures at night. We also broke a ten-year snowstorm record, accumulating 33 cm (13 inches) in one night. While other places endure far worse weather on a regular basis, this is pretty extreme here in moderate southern Ontario, and it made going about daily life a challenge.

January-window-frostOn one of those mornings – a day off, thankfully – I awoke to brilliant blue and sunny skies (still frigidly cold, to be sure) and windows painted with a lacework of frost ferns. How perfect, thought I, for this month’s installment of Wild Daffodil’s Photographic Monthly Meet-Up: Windows!

morning-frost-on-windowAlthough I’ve seen fancier designs elsewhere, we rarely get this kind of frost on our windows, so of course I had to take some photos. The darker images were due to a balcony overhang; I like the dramatic effect. I can see dreamy, misted landscapes and wintry forests etched in ice. Jack Frost’s talented handiwork!

freezing-rain-on-windowAnd here is this morning’s view, as today we are in the grips of a freezing rain and ice storm!

Window into January

Joining in on Wild Daffodil’s Photographic Monthly Meet-Up in 2018 was a lot of fun. For 2019, instead of having a theme that changes monthly, the format is a little different. The prompt for the entire year is Windows – which, along with doors, is one of my favourite photographic subjects. Lucky me!

Laura-Secord-Homestead-Niagara-on-the-LakeFrom my archives comes this charming vignette taken at the Laura Secord Homestead in Queenston, near Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. History buffs will know that American-born Laura Ingersoll Secord (1775-1868) lived with her husband, James, in this house during the War of 1812.

James Secord served in the 1st Lincoln Militia under Isaac Brock when the war broke out, and was amongst those who carried away his commander’s body after Brock was killed in the Battle of Queenston Heights in October 1812. Secord himself was seriously wounded during the battle, and his wife Laura oversaw his months-long recuperation. In May 1813, Queenston and the Niagara area fell to the Americans with the capture of Fort George. The town was occupied by U.S. soldiers, some of whom billeted in the Secord home.

Laura Secord’s claim to fame as a Canadian heroine came when, according to tradition, she overheard the soldiers discussing plans to ambush British troops stationed at nearby Beaver Dams in the summer of 1813. Leaving behind her wounded husband and their five children, 37-year-old Laura set out early the next morning, making the 20-mile (32 km) trek through dense bush, clad only in her regular clothes and ballet-slipper-like shoes, until she came upon a camp of Mohawk warriors. Guides led her the rest of the way to the British headquarters, where she warned their Lieutenant of the impending attack. Because of Secord’s information, the British and their Indian allies were ready for the ambush and defeated the Americans at the Battle of Beaver Dams.

We toured the historic homestead just one year shy of the 200th anniversary of Laura Secord’s heroic odyssey. The photo shows a games table set for the pleasure of two gentlemen, perhaps James and a fellow military man, with their wine glasses, playing cards and pipes at the ready.