The photo prompt for February’s Photographic Monthly Meet-Up is Warm. Being a water and sky baby, I’m not usually one for “hot” colours – especially in flowers – but these sumptuous roses at a local market caught my eye!

Thanks to Wild Daffodil for running this challenge. The new prompt starts on the first Tuesday of the month, and for March, it is Scale. Hmm … will you weigh in on this one?


Riverwood in Midwinter

Although I took these photos at The Riverwood Conservancy, a local woodland and park, last month, I thought I’d share them before we get closer to spring! If you’ve read any of my previous posts about this place, you’ll know that Riverwood is set in Carolinian forest and boasts historical buildings, including traces of 19th century farm archaeology.

I was taken by the varying textures and muted colours of slate, soft blue, moss, cream, ochre, rust and burnt umber I found on that sunny day in January. Enjoy!

MacEwan Barn still has its original 1865 inner beams and once stabled the owner’s prized horses.

Moss and lichen add a welcome bit of green to a cold and snowy January.

The entrance arch to the MacEwan Terrace Garden is inset with panels of swirling marble.

Not sure which species this is, but the tree, possibly Honey Locust or Buckthorn, has long and lethal-looking thorns (not shown) projecting from its trunk and branches.

Old equipment left to slowly subside on this former farm.

Dried fruit and silvery plumes of Virgin’s Bower (Clematis virginiana).

Warm brick contrasts with cool slate on steps at Chappell House, built 1919.

Lawn at Chappell House.

The sun sets over my favourite bit of woods at Riverwood.

One-a-week Photo Challenge: POP!

Today is a balmy, snow-covered −11°C, with a predicted low of −23°C tonight. Let’s go out with a POP of summer colour for the final prompt of this challenge! I took this image in June at a local plant nursery and gave it an oil painting-type effect.Thanks to Wild Daffodil and nanacathydotcom for running the challenge. I look forward to contributing to the Monthly Meet-Up next year!


I love photographing windows, doors and gates. What lies beyond them? Where do they lead? They’re like portals to another world – mysterious, beckoning.

It was difficult to choose from amongst my collection for this week’s One-a-week Photo Challenge prompt, Window. I have images from old cabins and sheds, stately homes, ruined castles, humble brick abodes. Stained glass is another of my interests, so I’ve photographed my fair share of leaded windows in chapels, churches and cathedrals. These would have been a bit obvious, so for this challenge, I opted for the quaint and rustic.

A cosy cat at a Lake Ontario home • Along the Mississauga Waterfront Trail, 2007

Wildflower bouquet on my cottage bedroom windowsill • Muskoka, 2016

Patio café • Bracebridge, 2014

Lunching at this charming tearoom is an annual summer tradition • Gravenhurst, 2008

Chappell House, The Riverwood Conservancy • Mississauga, 2017

By the lake • Muskoka, 2016

Although I participated in only a few of the weekly prompts, I enjoyed them very much. Thanks to Wild Daffodil and nanacathydotcom for this year-long challenge!

Falling for Riverwood

This tiny creek nestles at the bottom of a steep ravine near Chappell House. Oct 29 2017

The Riverwood Conservancy has quickly become my favourite local place to practice shinrin-yoku (“forest bathing”). Since writing about my first discovery of this wonderful urban oasis, I’ve visited many times, usually after a long day at work, to rejuvenate and seek peace. In this post, I’ve included images from September and October. I look forward to experiencing what the property has to offer in all seasons.

Oct 15 2017

So far, I’ve followed new trails and enjoyed the deep solitude of the woods, meadows and riverside. I’ve taken dozens of photographs of the park, and I’ve sat on the back terrace of Chappell House, nursing a cup of tea and feeding the black-capped chickadees by hand. (I usually bring a pocketful of wild bird seed; these cuties are easy to coax to the hand.)

Back garden view of Chappell House, built in the Arts and Crafts style in 1919. In keeping with the artful nature of the park, I’ve given this photo a painterly effect. Sep 17 2017

The gardens, still so full of foxglove, Japanese anemones, hydrangea, monkshood, echinacea and roses in September, are drowsing now, awaiting the first blanket of snow. (We had flurries here the other night, but nothing stuck.) The volunteer gardeners, however, have ensured that shrubs and small trees will provide structural interest – and food for birds – during the colder months.

The Arts and Crafts-style gardens complement the house. In September, Japanese anemones provided vibrant colour. Sep 17 2017

On another part of the property stand the McEwan house and barn, the foundations of which date from 1850. There and in a new building, the Conservancy and Visual Arts Mississauga offer community programs for school children and adults. In the surrounding gardens, there is a raised-bed Sensory Garden featuring plants with different scents and textures, and the Enabling Garden invites disabled participants to pitch in and help grow an amazing variety of herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables.

Painting in the Visual Arts Mississauga building, where community art classes and gallery shows are held. Title and artist unknown. Oct 16 2017

It is from this area that several trailheads lead to more discoveries, including a grand allée of Norway spruce planted over a century ago to protect the fruit orchards (remnants of which can still be seen) from wind damage. Dotted around the woods are 19 “tree caches”, different species of trees marked with QR-coded tags. Scanning the tags with a phone app brings up a website with all kinds of interesting facts about each of the marked trees, some of which are quite rare.

Scanning the code revealed that this tree is a White elm (Ulmus americana), a rare species in eastern Canada due to the ravages of Dutch elm disease. Oct 16 2017

Each time I go to Riverwood, I have a little quest in mind. The Conservancy’s website hints at structures associated with the 1919 Chappell House, but doesn’t specify where they are. These mysteries eluded me at first, but, in best Time Team spirit, I followed obscure paths and paid attention to archaeological clues, and eventually stumbled across the original stone-lined swimming pool and paved tennis court. The pool is now fenced off for safety (not very picturesque, so no photos), and the tennis court’s remaining bits of broken asphalt are now home to moss, weeds and monarch butterflies – and Tai Chi practitioners. Both are a poignant paean to the privileged life of the early 1920s.

Oct 15 2017

I’ve enjoyed watching the autumn colours come into their glorious own. There’s a particular part of the forest that is incredibly peaceful, full as it is of towering sugar maples (one in particular is known to be over 250 years old), beeches, oaks, birches, evergreens and a number of Carolinian (southern) species. The squirrels and chipmunks are quite entertaining, and I’ve been serenaded by the calls of resident and migrating birds: blue jays and robins, woodpeckers, goldfinches, kinglets and sparrows. The other day, I spotted my first dark-eyed juncos of the season, which means only one thing: winter is coming!

The serene beauty of autum woods. Oct 29 2017


Long ago at a local zoo (using a basic camera with limited zoom), I photographed this very proud and royal looking male blue or Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus). With his flamboyant plumage in gemstone shades of sapphire, emerald, turquoise and gold, the peacock is a fitting subject for this week’s One-a-week Photo Challenge prompt, Regal.

Native to India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, the Indian peafowl is associated with deities in Hinduism and Buddhism and was considered a royal guardian and a symbol of paradise in India, Babylonia and Persia. Ancient Greeks believed these birds were immortal, an idea adopted by early Christians who used them to depict eternal life. The ocelli (‘eyes’) of a peafowl’s train have come to represent the all-seeing god and the heavens studded with the sun, moon and stars. Although the strutting of the peacock to display his magnificent train is a sign of pride and vanity in some cultures, in others the bird represents creativity and joy, with the quills being a metaphor for a writer’s inspiration.

The peafowl was introduced to the rest of the world, first by the upper classes as beautiful and entertaining symbols of their wealth and status, and eventually to zoos. In the Middle Ages, peafowl were considered a gustatory delicacy. Plucked and roasted birds would be presented at the feast table redressed in their feathers as if to appear alive. Apparently, they were coarse, tough and bad-tasting and were thought to cause indigestion and ‘bad humours’. Ah, well, if one has the money…

The term for a group of peafowl is bevy, but also muster, party or – most appropriate – ostentation!

The peacock lends a royal theme to this rich display of colour, form and texture: opal, garnet, amethyst, onyx and smokey quartz gems, a peacock-hued bead necklace dotted with gold, sumptuous furs and fabrics, fine stationery and a peacock-painted china cup.


These two photos belong together because they were taken on the same day in the same place, and I couldn’t pick just one for this week’s One-a-week Photo Challenge prompt, Rust!

The images are of the tool shed attached to our family’s cottage, built in 1914 by my 18-year-old grandfather with guidance from his wheelchair-bound father, a former carpenter and jack-of-all-trades Who Knew Things.

The door’s hardware is original (its skeleton key is equally rusty!), and these old tools have been lovingly used by generations of gardeners.

Photographing the door was a challenge in itself, as the knob is closer to the eye (and camera lens) than the keyhole. Previous attempts resulted in either one or the other being drastically out of focus. Using advice from my photographer sister on dealing with depth of field, I managed to get this image. It’s not perfect, but I’m happy with it, and it’s a nice memento of a cherished place.

Please check out nanacathydotcom and Wild Daffodil for more rusty images!