The Woods in Bloom (Spring)

After spending several days cooped up because of rain (or planting vegetables in spite of it!), I made it down to the river for a walk again today. Couldn’t believe the changes in just a few short days…wow. The wild apple trees are finished blooming already (missed getting pics of those this year…oops), and there’s a veritable explosion of colour happening. Of course, some of the colourful stuff is pretty tiny and well hidden, but if you take the time to look… 🙂

Not sure what this is...it reminds me of honeysuckle, but it's the wrong colour.

Not sure what this is…it reminds me of honeysuckle, but it’s the wrong colour.

Wild rocket.

Wild rocket.

yellow goatsbeard

yellow goatsbeard

Water irises

Water irises

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bloom6

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Wild strawberries

Wild strawberries

Rocket

Rocket

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Wild mustard

Wild mustard

orange hawkweed

orange hawkweed

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Oh, Spectacular Spring!

After many, many days of cold and rain and general miserableness, our weather made a huge comeback today with cloudless, brilliant blue skies and a temperature that didn’t make me want to turn tail and crawl back into bed. Charlie and I were both glad to get out for a good stretch, and we ended up doing more than 5 kilometers (3 miles) on the trails up at MacKenzie King Estate in Gatineau Park.

Though with all those hills we had to climb, I’m sure I should be allowed to double that figure… 😉

The bluest blue and the greenest green.

The bluest blue and the greenest green.

Charlie was a foot away from this guy and never even saw him.

Charlie was a foot away from this guy and never even saw him.

Meech Lake

Meech Lake

Pit stop for refuelling. ;)

Pit stop for refuelling. 😉

A little creek runs through it.

A little creek runs through it.

Never underestimate the power of perseverance.

Never underestimate the power of perseverance.

Waterfall at Mackenzie King Estate.

Waterfall at Mackenzie King Estate.

That was one determined woodpecker.

That was one determined woodpecker.

By the end of the walk, this looked like a really, really big climb. Heck, it WAS a really, really big climb.

By the end of the walk, this looked like a really, really big climb. Heck, it WAS a really, really big climb.


Sunrise in the Woods

I’m not a heat-loving person. Heck, I’m not even much of a heat-tolerating person. On the one hand, this is a Good Thing, because I can safely assume there’s nothing reptilian about me. On the other hand, it makes it difficult for me to get much done during an Ottawa summer.

My solution, developed over the last several years, has been to rearrange my daily schedule so that I have all the physical outdoor work done before 8 a.m. Yes, you read that right. By 8 in the morning, I’ve already fed the animals, walked the dog, and done a good hour’s worth of gardening. (And yes, I know that makes me a sick, sick person, but I’ve learned to accept that about myself. ;))

The difficulty, I’m finding, is making the shift to those earlier hours. Over the course of the winter, I put off getting out of bed later and later, hard pressed to convince myself to get out of bed while it was still dark. Bad habits resulted that I’m now having to break. Ugh.

On mornings like this one, however, I’m reminded that there are other — and even better — reasons for rising early. Believe me, it helps. 🙂

sunrise

sunrise3

sunrise2

sunrise4

sunrise5

sunrise6


The River in Spring

Took my first walk along the river since the snow disappeared…and it was glorious. The water is high with runoff right now, so parts of the trail are submerged, including access to my favourite portion of the river walk. Another week or two should see the waters recede, however, and in the meantime it’s really quite something to hear the roar of the rapids and see their sheer power. Nature has such a way of being quite humbling, even on a beautiful spring morning.

spring river4

spring river3

spring river1

Seagulls nesting on an island

Seagulls nesting on an island


Deep in the 700-acre wood…

At the edge of the Aylmer Sector of Gatineau lies a priceless gem of nature: 700 acres of undeveloped forest. While developers would dearly love to get their hands on this tract of land, a group of citizens has formed that is determined to protect the area — and with good reason. Home to more than 400 plant and animal species, the Boucher Forest is a last bastion of wildlife, an incredible educational opportunity, and an unparalleled place for communing with nature on the city’s very doorstep.

And like most forests, it’s filled with a special kind of magic for those who are willing to look a little deeper into the trees…

Snow-laden branches

Snow-laden branches

Looking way up

Looking way up

The silent fallen

The silent fallen

fresh snowfall

fresh snowfall

My almost-faun

My almost-faun

Edge of the meadow

Edge of the meadow

Gateway to Narnia

Gateway to Narnia

Snowy sentinels

Snowy sentinels

Barred owl keeping watch

Barred owl keeping watch


The Many Facets of Ice

Winter trail-walking can be hazardous if you’re not watching where you put your feet. Unexpected clumps of ice, hidden branches, new snow masking really big, really deep holes…it’s an adventure, all right. 😉

But there’s a benefit to having to keep an eye on the ground. Turns out there’s all sorts of little stuff down there that you wouldn’t otherwise notice. Stuff such as ice — from the solid, polished surface of the marsh, to the ridge of broken chunks driven up along the edge of the river by the wind after a thaw, to the most amazingly gorgeous, delicate, crystalline forms.

Today’s snow will have covered up most of what I found, but it’s kind of awesome knowing that it was there, however briefly…and that I took the time to see it. 🙂

Ice from a thaw plowed up onto the river's edge by the wind.

Bank of ice from a thaw, plowed up onto the river’s edge by the wind.

ice6Ice on a tree trunk

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Crystals on a frozen marsh

Crystals on a frozen marsh

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ice1


Making Tracks

One of my favourite things about snowshoeing is being able to get off the beaten track and forge my own trails. Yesterday Charlie and I trekked right across the middle of the marsh (he had a good sniff around the beaver lodge!), through drifts that all but buried him, and right through undergrowth dense enough to have us clambering over deadfalls and squeezing between saplings.

This is the first year I’ve used poles for snowshoeing, and now I can’t imagine why I didn’t think to do so before. They’re invaluable for keeping my balance, holding aside branches, and fending off Charlie when he steps on my snowshoes while walking too close behind me. That latter bit doesn’t happen very often, though, because he’s tall enough to do much of the trail-forging all by himself. 😉

making tracks

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making tracks3

making tracks4