musings from Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington ... home of The Write Spot

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

cherry blossom time...

In the spring of 1959, the citizens of Tokyo, Japan made a gift of two thousand Sakura cherry trees to the people of Toronto as thanks for Canadian support of Japanese refugees after WWII. The little trees found a new home in High Park, thus beginning a springtime tradition in our city: cherry blossom time. 

I'm a couple or few years older than those cherry trees, born and raised in Toronto, but until this week I've never had the chance to see the trees in bloom. What a magical sight it is! 

My friend and I set our alarms for oh-gosh-thirty on Monday morning and made our way through rush-hour traffic to arrive at High Park a few minutes past eight. The parking lots were already busy, the grassy slopes full of people with cameras, people walking, people gazing up at the masses of pale pink petals in mute admiration. (There was even a bride with her photographer – lovely dress but no competition for the absolute perfection overhead.) 

Cherry blossoms on the hill, High Park, Toronto

Click on any photo to see larger version. (Images will open in new window.)

The vista over Grenadier Pond seemed stark as we emerged from the tunnel of blossoms but we soon discovered more signs of spring along the pathways... a gorgeous pair of Merganser ducks on the pond, daffodils blooming in pretty clumps, early flowers in sheltered suntraps, and  my favourite  riots of brilliant yellow forsythia.

Our rambles eventually lead us to the famous High Park Zoo, a Toronto institution since 1893. The zoo made news world-wide last year when the resident Capybaras escaped and went walkabout for most of the summer. Bonnie and Clyde are safely home now with three sweet babies as a reminder of their "summer of love". ;-) I've got lots of zoo pictures (including some of the Capybabies) to share next time, so be sure to check back. Meanwhile, happy spring!

stillpoint... blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

a wee tree update...

The Easter Bunny stopped by our house a bit early this year and dropped off a special treat... for the Christmas tree. So, as promised, here's our wee Grinchy tree, sporting a cheerful new outfit for spring. [If you missed the fashion show, follow this link to see wee tree's post-Christmas costume changes.]

Our little tree is incredibly patient and continues to thrive, but his humans are running out of decorating ideas. (Suggestions welcome. All I've got is a vague idea about a giant strawberry for June!) On the other hand, maybe it's time for a new pot with some fresh soil and a shot of fertilizer. Wee tree would likely appreciate a few months of rest and relaxation before Christmas rolls around again. 

stillpoint... blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

birds of spring...

I went walking at one of Toronto's finest waterfront parks this afternoon. Colonel Sam Smith Park in Etobicoke is a favourite with bird watchers and for the past few years I've enjoyed trying to spot new (to me) birds whenever I visit. Luck was with me today! I found a large group of long-tailed ducks in a sheltered bay. Most of them were too far away for a decent photo but this guy came close enough for a quick snap. Isn't he lovely? One for my life list.

Long-tailed Duck

A bit farther west, out in the yacht basin, the red-necked grebes were squabbling, pairing off, and joyfully singing the love songs of their people. 

Red-necked Grebes

Red-necked Grebes

The marsh area was comparatively quiet except for the trill of red-winged blackbirds and the quacks and dabbling of mallard ducks.

Mallard Duck

Mallard Duck

This gorgeous young robin didn't seem to mind at all when I stopped to watch him hunt. He even obliged by posing prettily for me on a rock.

American Robin

Over all, a very fine walk indeed! I don't know about you, but I am very glad it's spring.

Permalink:  birds of spring...

stillpoint... blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

a wee Irish tree...

St. Patrick's Day arrives this Friday and I will definitely be wearin' the green. I can trace my Irish roots all the way back to the 17th century when my maternal grandmother's Dickenson forebears, Daniel and Elizabeth, settled in Edenderry to raise their family. This year, instead of green beer (yuck!) or a tipple of Irish whiskey (Writer's Tears?), I'll be celebrating with something new and different – a wee, green St. Patrick's Day tree.

It's okay. I know you want to say it, so go ahead.

"What the heck is a St. Patrick's Day Tree?"

Well, here's the thing. Last Christmas, son J and I decided to decorate with a live tree instead of our old reliable artificial spruce. We simply couldn't resist this sweet little Grinch's Christmas tree. Isn't it adorable?

I figured it would be a cute conversation starter, take up just the right amount of space in my small living room, and then fade away into the compost bin after the holidays. But, no. Instead of fading away, little tree seemed to flourish.

If you know me, or if you've read my 2015 post about flower power, you'll understand how difficult it is for me to give up on a plant, no matter how sad or how sorry it may look. But once the Christmas season ended it seemed silly – and just a bit embarrassing – to display a Grinchy tree with a shiny red ball. So, off with the shiny red ball and on with a classic white bow tie, perfect for celebrating the New Year.

Little tree continued to thrive. And so when February rolled around, we traded in the formal bow for a jaunty red ribbon with Valentine heart dangles.

Fast forward to March, and our little tree grows fluffier day by day. Last week we dressed him up in a pale green bow with sparkly shamrock bangles. I think it suits the little guy, don't you?

For each petal on the shamrock
This brings a wish your way

Good health, good luck, and happiness
For today and every day.

We're already planning a special Easter outfit (photos to follow) but for now, we're enjoying this little bit of Ireland on our table.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

stillpoint... blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington

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Wednesday, February 01, 2017

goodbye little friend...

January 24, 2001 - February 2, 2017

My sweet Sam passed quietly away this afternoon. He was the best and finest cat I've ever known and I will miss him terribly. The last few weeks were a great struggle for Sam - after sixteen years his mighty heart had begun to let him down - so I'm comforted to know he is finally at peace. I'll always be grateful for our time together, for all the smiles and laughter, for all he taught me about love and life, and for the chance to share his stories here on the blog. 

Goodbye, little friend. You were a Very Good Boy indeed.

More about Sam...

Sam enjoying his balcony, summer 2009

Watercolour portrait of Sam by Jocelyn, Ontario, Canada

stillpoint is the blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington

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