Toronto Music Garden in Autumn

Hello and welcome! I’m glad you’re here. It’s week 47 in 2022 and I’m hosting Weekend Coffee Share (WCS) linkup #97 which includes the Photographing Public Art Challenge (PPAC). Feel free to link your WCS or PPAC post to this post. Come on in for a coffee or tea, and let’s catch up.

I had written about the Toronto Music Garden in Spring (here), Summer (here) and Winter (here). To complete my series, I visited the garden in Autumn (early November). A week after my visit, we had our first dusting of snow.

Toronto Music Garden

The Toronto Music Garden springs from the imagination of renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma and garden designer Julie Moir Messervy. Inspired by Johann Sebastian Bach’s First Suite for Unaccompanied Cello, the garden is made up of six “movements” whose forms and feelings correspond to that suggested in the music: Prélude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Menuett, and Gigue.

Prélude

This section imparts the feeling of a flowing river. Granite boulders that came from the Canadian Shield represent a stream bed. Low-growing plants soften its banks. Circular designs on the ground and at the edge of the boulders represent the water movements. The trees with straight trunks are native Hackberry trees. This is the only section in the garden that is not a dance form.

Prélude in autumn

Allemande

This section imparts the feeling of a forest grove of wandering trails. The allemande is an ancient German dance. The trails swirl inward and move higher and higher up the hillside. A circle of dawn redwood trees and a small birch forest provide shades to the various contemplative sitting areas that look over the harbour.

Allemande in autumn

Courante

This section imparts the feeling of a swirling path through a wildflower meadow. The courante is an exuberant Italian and French dance form. The trails swirl upward in a spiral form, through a lush field of grasses and brightly-coloured perennials that attract bees, birds, and butterflies. At the top of the swirling path is the maypole, with Celtic-patterned spirals and iron wheel, designed by Anne Roberts.

Courante in autumn

Sarabande

This section is envisioned as a poet’s corner with a centerpiece. The sarabande is based on an ancient Spanish dance form. The trails go in an inward-arcing circle that is enclosed by tall needle-leaf evergreen trees. Japanese maple trees are also grown here. The centerpiece is a huge stone that acts as a stage for readings, and holds a small pool with water that reflects the sky.

Sarabande in autumn

Menuet

This section imparts the feeling of a formal parterre garden of flowers. The menuett is a French dance movement. Its formality and grace are reflected in the symmetry and geometry of a circular pavilion. The pavilion is hand-crafted with ornamental steel by Tom Tollefson. It is designed to shelter small musical ensembles or dance groups.

Menuet in autumn

Gigue

Gigue section imparts the feeling of a series of giant grass steps that offer views onto the harbour. The gigue, or “jog”, is an English dance. The steps form a curved amphitheatre that focus on a stone stage set under a weeping willow tree.

Gigue in autumn

Photographing Public Art Challenge

To my delight, as I reached the east end of the Toronto Music Garden, I saw a new mural on an utility box by artist Varvara Nedilska.

Art by Varvara Nedilska, 2022
Art by Varvara Nedilska, 2022

In early November, Toronto Music Garden still had plenty of colours such as pink and white anemones, pink and purple asters, snow berries, holly berries, and more. I love walking through the garden and take in the beauty around me.

December Schedule

Please note the following Weekend Coffee Share linkup schedule:

  • December 2: Linkup #98
  • December 9: Linkup #99
  • December 16: Linkup #100
  • December 23: No linkup
  • December 30: No linkup

I’ll repeat this announcement between now and December 16th since some bloggers don’t participate every week. I’ll be taking a break in the last two weeks of 2022. After the holidays, I’ll resume the Weekend Coffee Share linkup on Friday, January 6, 2023.

How was your week?

Linked to Jo’s Monday Walk.

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Celebrating 6 Years of Blogging

Hello and welcome to my blog! I’m glad you’re here. It’s week 41 in 2022 and I’m hosting Weekend Coffee Share linkup #91. Come on in for a coffee or tea, and let’s catch up.

October 10, 2022 marked the 6th anniversary of my first post on the Natalie the Explorer blog. The milestone inspires me to share some of my thoughts on blogging, hosting and participating in blog linkups and photo challenges.

Blogging

I started the blog on Blogger in October 2016. I moved from Blogger to WordPress in May 2019. The move to WordPress is good for me as most of the bloggers I connect with are on WordPress, and it’s convenient to read blogs and leave comments when you’re on the same platform.

What I enjoy about blogging:

  1. Having a hobby, a creative outlet and a digital record of my adventures.
  2. Sharing the beauty and wonders of our planet Earth by text and pictures.
  3. Connecting with and learning from other bloggers and blog readers around the world. I’ve had the pleasure to meet several bloggers in real life.

Thank you to everyone who visits Natalie the Explorer. I appreciate all the visits, likes, comments and shares over the years. I value each and every one of my blogging friends and everyone who took the time to leave a comment. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement through the years.

Hosting

I experimented with hosting the monthly Wellness Wednesday linkup in 2018-2019 and the monthly Wellness Weekend linkup in 2020. I’ve been hosting the weekly Weekend Coffee Share linkup since January 2021. I hope to reach the 100th linkup soon. 100 sounds like a nice milestone.

What encourages me to host:

  1. Receiving comments from linkup participants who take time to read my blog and leave a comment.
  2. Seeing a good number of bloggers join weekly and connect with other bloggers via comments.
  3. Seeing linkup participants do link backs and pingback to promote the linkup. Here’s WordPress how to create a pingback.

A linkup becomes stale when bloggers join in without leaving comments for the host and other participants. It’s like having a party with no conversation and no social connection.

Some blog hosts use InLinkz. Some hosts have participants leave their links in the Comments and the host does the roundup of participants. I’ve been using InLinkz for the weekly Weekend Coffee Share linkup, however, I’m thinking about using the Comments and roundup in the new year. I’ll let you know when I decide to change how I host my linkup.

Thank you to everyone who actively participates in my weekly Weekend Coffee Share linkup. I appreciate all the comments, contributions, link-backs and pingbacks.

Participating

I enjoy participating in selected blog link parties and photo challenges to support my fellow blog hosts and have fun. The following gallery (and my header photo) is my contribution to Terri’s Sunday Stills October colour challenge and Denyse’s Words & Pics linkup.

I hope to share a pleasant walk with you next week.

What keeps you blogging? What encourages you to participate in a blog linkup or blog challenge?

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Fall Cycling and Hiking

Maple leaves in autumn.

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #45! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

It was a week of mostly sunny skies and unusually warm temperatures for this time of the year. Daytime highs ranged from 11C to 17C (53F to 63F). Daylight Saving Time ended on November 7. I was outdoors most mornings, cycling and hiking along nature trails.

This Fall I’ve been to at least a dozen beautiful parks in Toronto. Each park has interesting architecture, unique history, and varied terrains. The diversity of trees planted throughout these parks, in various stages of growth from young to mature, provide a brilliant display of Fall colours against the deep green grass.

Here are photos from some of my cycling and hiking trips. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them.

Trinity Bellwoods Park

Trinity Bellwoods Park is a beautiful 14.6 hectare (36 acre) public park with full amenities in downtown Toronto. A mix of bike trails, paved walkways, staircases, and hills attract me to this park for a good bike and hike excursion.

Trinity Bellwoods Park in the Fall.

Trinity Bellwoods Park was once the home of University of Trinity College (Trinity College in 1852). Of the college itself, only the stone and iron gates now remain.

Trinity Gates.
Trinity Gates are at the southern entrance to the park.
Variety of trees in Trinity Bellwoods Park.
Variety of trees in Trinity Bellwoods Park.
Autumn leaves.
Autumn leaves in Trinity Bellwoods Park.

Queen’s Park

Queen’s Park is an urban park in downtown Toronto. The park was named in honour of Queen Victoria and opened in 1860 by Edward, Prince of Wales.

Queen's Park in Fall 2021.

The shape of Queen’s Park is similar to an oval. The north portion of the park includes many big trees, benches along paving stones, pathways, picnic tables, and three bike trails on flat terrain. I like to cycle here then take a walk in the park.

Edward, Prince of Wales statue at Queen's Park.
Edward, Prince of Wales statue at Queen’s Park.
Autumn leaves, pathways and benches at Queen's Park.
Autumn leaves, pathways and benches at Queen’s Park.

The south portion of the park is the site of the Ontario Legislative Building, which houses the Legislative Assembly of Ontario (provincial government). This portion includes the majority of the monuments and memorials in the park, and the Queen Elizabeth II rose gardens.

Ontario Legislative Building.
Ontario Legislative Building opened in 1893.
Queen Victoria statue.
Queen Victoria statue.
Autumn leaves.
Autumn leaves at Queen’s Park.

High Park

High Park is located in the west end of Toronto. The park offers quiet walking with beautiful scenery, gardens, long hills, ravines, steep staircases, and winding trails through woods.

John and Jemima Howard deeded their 165 acre country estate, which they had called High Park, to the City of Toronto in 1873. What a beautiful and generous gift they left for Toronto’s residents.

Colborne Lodge built in 1837.
Colborne Lodge, built in 1837, was John and Jemima Howard’s country home.
Autumn leaves in High Park.
Autumn leaves in High Park.
Trails in High Park.
Happy trails in High Park!
Steep staircase and autumn leaves in High Park.
A steep staircase and autumn leaves in High Park.
Grenadier Pond.
Grenadier Pond, Toronto’s largest pond, is on the west side of High Park and a great area for watching waterfowl, herons, egrets, turtles, and other pond-dwellers.

I can easily spend a full day in High Park to explore nature and watch wildlife. The park’s varied terrains are fantastic for hiking. There are also five bike trails, a Nature centre, Hawk’s Hill (to watch hawks), a zoo, and other attractions in High Park.

Fall Colours

Aside from parks, here’s a gallery of Fall colours that greeted me this past week. I’m thankful for good health, beautiful parks, winding trails, stunning Fall foliage, and gorgeous views everywhere I look.

It will be cooler this weekend and the seasonal decorations have started in the downtown core. I look forward to seeing the holiday displays.

Linked with #LifeThisWeek, #SundayStills, #ThursdayDoors.

How was your week?

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Recent Reads and Fall Colours

Black Gum tree in autumn.

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #42! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

It was a mild week with daytime high temperatures ranged from 14C to 21C (57F-70F). The weather was ideal for long bike rides and long walks so I did that most mornings. Nature gives me a new stunning landscape every day.

It was also a fun and leisure week. I cycled to several parks and beaches. I met a friend in High Park for a nice 5K hike and coffee catch-up. I walked another 5K with my neighbour to visit a beautiful garden. I saw new public art exhibits and finished my book of the week.

Recent Reads

Speaking of books, I’m pleased to contribute to the #WhatsOnYourBookShelf challenge, co-hosted by four lovely bloggers Donna, Sue, Jo and Debbie.

I use the Toronto Public Library 2021 Reading Challenge categories to read widely and discover new books, authors, and genres. You can see the full list of books I’ve read and the categories I’ve met so far this year on my Books in 2021 page at the top of my blog.

My recent reads by author’s last name include:

  1. Beartown – Fredrik Backman
  2. The Dark Lake – Sarah Bailey
  3. The Midnight Library – Matt Haig
  4. Lost – Michael Robotham
  5. The Miseducation of Evie Epworth – Matson Taylor
  6. Second First Impressions – Sally Thorne

Sarah Bailey, Matt Haig, and Matson Taylor were new to me authors. I enjoyed all six novels, especially The Midnight Library and The Miseducation of Evie Epworth. Second First Impressions was a light and fun romance comedy fiction. The other three novels were good although I felt that they were a bit long for the story lines.

Fall Colours

October is a beautiful month here with the vivid Fall colours. I feel fortunate to see them every year. This year the warm weather has delayed the leaves changing colours. The late summer flowers are still looking good while the yellow, orange and red start to show.

Here are some photos of Fall colours. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them.

Oak leaves in autumn.
Leaves started to change colours.
Potted mums and pumpkins on haystacks.
Burgundy potted mums and pumpkins on haystacks are common signs of Fall.
Maple trees changing colours.
Two maple trees with pops of Fall colours greeted me on this path.
Dahlias.
These bright dahlias last well into Fall.
Queen Elizabeth rose.
Roses are still doing well in the gardens, like this gorgeous ‘Queen Elizabeth’ rose.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Linking to #Colour2021: Orange, #FOTD, #LifeThisWeek, #SundayStills: Pink.

How was your week? What’s on your bookshelf?

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Fun Ride | My Walktober

Hello blog friends! How are you doing? I hope your day is going well and you have a few minutes to stay and chat with me over a cup of coffee or tea.

This past week, we had some cloudy days and periods of rain. On Friday, the day started with fog, then the sun came out with a blast of summer-like high temperature of 23C (73F). By Friday evening, a cold front passed through the city bringing strong winds, severe thunderstorms, and showers. It all cleared up and cool temperatures returned the next morning.

I went cycling and walking five days in a row during the week. More than once, when I left home for my bike ride and a long walk, it looked cloudy at first, then the sun came out, and the rest of the day was beautiful. Let me show you my wanderings in pictures.

Gorgeous trees and leaves

Heritage sites

Scadding Cabin.
Scadding Cabin: This log cabin, Toronto’s oldest known surviving house, was built for John Scadding in 1794 during the first years of British settlement.
Fort Rouillé.
Fort Rouillé, more commonly known as Fort Toronto, was the last French post built in present-day Southern Ontario in 1750. The concrete walkways in this area delineate the walls of Fort Rouillé, a fortification with four bastions and five main buildings. Fort Rouillé was destroyed by its garrison in July 1759.

Inviting trails

I’m grateful to have easy access to the Waterfront trail, which is part of the Great Trail of Canada. At 27,000 kilometres (16,777 miles) in length, the Great Trail of Canada is the longest recreational trail in the world.

Waterfront Trail.
A small section of the Waterfront trail with Lake Ontario on the left of the photo.
Exhibition Place Trail.

Reflections

Every outing reminds me that:

  • It’s a good “move” to start my day with physical activities outdoors. I always feel great by the time I return home.
  • Preparing for an enjoyable bicycle ride is similar to preparing for an enjoyable walk, with the addition of my bike helmet.
  • Warm up, cool down, and stretch exercises help maintain or increase my body’s mobility, they help prevent some injuries, and they make me feel great. They are not to be missed.
  • There are many local gems to discover. Just when I think I know my city, a wandering leads me to new experience and new learning. Both cycling and walking allow me the freedom to turn to wherever my curiosity takes me.
  • The cool air, open space, blue skies, the trail, the lake, and nature make me smile and feel happy. They’re my go-to antidote to social isolation during this COVID-19 pandemic.

I usually choose a scenic spot for a picnic before finding my way home. With cooler weather, people tend to stay inside and that leaves me with a lot of open space when I’m outside. The views, either towards the city or the lake, are amazing.

I’m thankful to have experienced so much seasonal beauty in October, and for the joy and health benefits that cycling and walking give me every time I head outdoors.

How did your week go? What outdoor activity have you enjoyed recently? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

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Fun Walk | Autumn Colours

Hello blog friends! How are you doing? I hope your day is going well and you have a few minutes to stay for a chat with me over a cup of coffee or tea.

Today is the 10th Wellness Weekend link up. The optional prompt is Walking, which is one of my favourite activities. If you’ve recently gone for a walk, feel free to join in, meet new friends, and share your walk here.

For those who are new to my blog, I’ve been living without a car for many years. I walk to exercise and to get from A to B in all four seasons. I’m sharing one of my recent walks and some photos of autumn scenery along the way.

Preparing for an enjoyable walk

I check the weather before I head outside. Whenever I see a sunny forecast, I smile and do my happy dance. I wear comfortable clothes, sun protection, and sturdy shoes with proper arch support, a firm heel and thick flexible soles, to cushion my feet and absorb shock.

Waterfront trail

Since I walk outdoors, in cooler weather I wear layers that I can take off when I get warm. For my 5K walks, I bring water and snacks in my day pack. I also choose to walk where the path surface is fairly even, and during the day when visibility is good.

Walking a scenic route

I do many of my walks along the scenic shore of Lake Ontario and the Waterfront trail which is reserved for pedestrians, joggers and cyclists. I walk different routes for variety. I usually walk without listening to music or an audio book or a podcast because I want all my senses to focus on what’s in nature.

Yellow leaves
Yellow leaves

This month, for example, I see plenty of beautiful trees showing off their yellow, orange, red and even deep eggplant hues. There are evergreen trees as well which provide a nice backdrop for the autumn colours. Birds, butterflies, squirrels, sea gulls, and Canada geese are common sights.

Orange to red leaves
Orange to red leaves

Autumnal themes continue in gardens, parks, and planters in the neighbourhood. Examples: Light purple asters, potted mums, ornamental cabbage or kale plants, and a lot of pumpkins. I bet there will be a lot of pumpkin carvings to decorate for Halloween on October 31.

Warm up, Cool down, and Stretch

I start my walk slowly for five to ten minutes to warm up my muscles and prepare my body for exercise. Then I pick up my pace for a brisk walk to make it count. At the end of my walk, I walk slowly for five to ten minutes to help my muscles cool down. After I cool down, I pick a scenic spot for a view while gently stretch my muscles.

Stretching after a long walk with a view

Keeping track

Even though I walk year-round, I keep track of how many walks I do in a month as part of my Health maintenance routine. I don’t use an app or an electronic device, just a simple spreadsheet where I keep track of all my key activities. This helps me see where I started from, how many walks I’ve made, and serve as a source of motivation.

Knowing the benefits

I’m grateful for easy access to the lake shore and many parks and gardens. After breakfast, I usually go outside to explore nature, open space, fresh air, the lake, plants, and animals. I come home feeling good and ready for the rest of the day.

I know my regular brisk walking helps me:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Strengthen my bones and muscles
  • Boost my energy and immune function
  • Improve my balance and coordination
  • Improve my mood and keep me mentally healthy
  • Let my creative thinking flow

There is no need to complicate physical activity. Something as simple as a daily brisk walk can help us live a healthier life. We can really walk our way to fitness.

How did your week go? Do you do brisk walks regularly? I’d love to hear your comments.

Linking here.

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Agawa Canyon: From Rail to Trail

After enjoying a nice family hike along the Attikamek Trail in Sault Ste. Marie, the next day we took a rail excursion from Sault Ste. Marie to Agawa Canyon Park. Agawa Canyon has been on our list of destinations to visit for a while. We were so glad to make it happen.

Getting There

The Agawa Canyon Park is only accessible by hiking trail or the Algoma Central Railway, and is located 186 km or 114 rail miles north west of Sault Ste. Marie. We take the Agawa Canyon tour train that departs from Sault Ste. Marie at 8 am and arrives back in Sault Ste. Marie around 6 pm.

Agawa Canyon Park location
Agawa Canyon Park location (red marker)

About Agawa Canyon

Agawa Canyon was created more than 1.2 billion years ago by faulting along the Canadian Shield. A series of ice ages subsequently widened and reshaped the Canyon over a period of 1.5 million years with the last ice age retreating about 10,000 years ago. The word Agawa is native Ojibway for “shelter”.

The Sault Ste. Marie visitor guide provides a map of three nature trails in the Agawa Canyon Park. They are the Lookout Trail, River Trail, and Talus Trail. We hike the River Trail and the Talus Trail for the three waterfalls in the park. The Lookout Trail is closed on the day of our visit. The trails are well maintained and are covered in fine gravel.

The Train Ride

Rarely is the journey as rewarding as the destination, but the Agawa Canyon train ride is truly an exception. The train is outfitted with large tinted windows and comfortable seats to watch the ever-changing and breathtaking Northern Ontario landscapes. The train ticket includes a $10 voucher that we can use for food and drinks in the dining car.

Spruce Lake
Spruce Lake

We drink in the beautiful scenery as the train hugs the shores of northern lakes and rivers, crosses towering trestles, and passes by mixed forests that turn red, purple, gold and yellow in the fall.

Autumn foliage
Autumn foliage towards Lake Superior

We also listen to a GPS-triggered audio commentary about key points of interest and the rich history of the region. When we can peel our eyes away from the window, the train has locomotive-mounted cameras that provide an engineer’s “eye-view” via flat screen monitors installed throughout the coaches.

A view from our window on the Agawa Canyon train
A view from our window on the Agawa Canyon train

The Weather

The weather changes frequently during our train ride, from overcast, to partly cloudy, to light snow flurries at high elevation, to partly sunny as the train starts its descent into the canyon at Mile 102 and full sunshine by the time we reach the canyon floor at Mile 114.

Light dusting of snow
Light dusting of snow at high elevation
Train arrival at Agawa Canyon Park
Full sunshine upon train arrival at Agawa Canyon Park

The River Trail

Upon arriving at the Agawa Canyon Park, we start our hike on the River Trail which gently rolls along the banks of the Agawa River. The strong sunlight quickly melts the thin layer of snow. The trail glows and smells fresh as if it just received a spa treatment.

Autumn colours by the Agawa River
Autumn colours by the Agawa River

We walk about twenty minutes, enjoy the trail and the vibrant autumn colours along the river before reaching the beautiful Bridal Veils Falls, the tallest waterfall in the park.

View along the River Trail
View along the River Trail

We see many white birch trees with their golden leaves and mountain ash trees with their red fruits that accentuate the landscape.

Mountain ash
Mountain ash

The water flow at all the falls in the canyon is contingent on runoff from snow and rainfall. We luck out that Bridal Veil Falls at 68.5m (225 ft.) are running strong. The Agawa River is the calm and reflective barrier that holds us back from getting closer to the falls.

Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls at 68.5 m (225 ft)

The Talus Trail

From the River Trail, we walk about fifteen minutes to reach the Talus Trail which follows along the base of the west canyon wall. This trail leads us past lichen covered talus slopes to the viewing platforms at North and South Black Beaver Falls.

The Talus Trail
The Talus Trail

We can hear the rushing sounds of water before reaching the viewing platforms. Black Beaver Falls at 53.3 m (175 ft) are also running strong and look so beautiful with the surrounding autumn foliage. We respect the Caution sign to keep off the rocks.

North Black Beaver Falls
North Black Beaver Falls
South Black Beaver Falls
South Black Beaver Falls

Clouds roll in and out while we pass bridges, creeks and waterfalls to return to the train. Altogether we walk 5 km and enjoy every minute of the hike in Agawa Canyon Park.

On our way back to Sault Ste. Marie, we get to see the spectacular landscapes again from our train windows. Everyone is wide-eyed to take in as much as possible the pristine beauty of Canada’s rugged wilderness.

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