Paddling within Toronto Islands

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #28! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, hot chocolate, or a cold drink at my coffee station and let’s chat.

My first stand up paddling (SUP) excursion of summer 2021 was a resounding success. The morning started with some clouds. By the time I reached Toronto Islands to pick up my SUP board and go paddling, it was clear and sunny.

These surf boards are outside the centre where I book my SUP board. For my fantasy beach cabin, I’d like a mini version of these boards at my cabin door. My favourite is the O board with the blue waves.

WELCOME surf boards.
WELCOME Surf Boards. Sharing for #PPAC#5.

I love paddling within Toronto Islands and experience nature. The island vibe is totally different from the city vibe even though the two sides are only ten minutes apart by ferry. In the summer, the Toronto Islands are beautiful.

For readers who are unfamiliar with Toronto, the following map shows Toronto city centre with the CN Tower at the bottom of the map and Toronto Islands in green, surrounded by Lake Ontario in blue.

Map of Toronto Island Park.
Map Source: City of Toronto.

Once on the island side, I picked up my rental board, the red Starfish, by the water’s edge.

Then gently paddled towards Long Pond to see aquatic life and the wetlands.

SUP board.

Beautiful white lotus flowers are in bloom at this time of the year. Their presence is a display of purity and tranquility.

White lotus flower.

A few snowy egrets were catching fish in the wetlands. They flew away when I tried to get closer for a good photo. Better luck next time.

Snowy egret.
A snowy egret amid the green trees.

The painted turtles were out on tree logs to bask in the sunshine. Their name comes from the brightly colored markings on their extremities, which range from yellow, to orange, to red.

The head of the turtle is distinctive. The face has only yellow stripes, with a large yellow spot and streak behind each eye, and on the chin two wide yellow stripes that meet at the tip of the jaw. Their feet are webbed to aid swimming.

Painted turtle.
This big painted turtle is basking on a tree log. Zoom in to see its face and webbed feet.

A double-crested cormorant perched atop a tree. Up close, cormorants have gorgeous aqua green eyes and orange-yellow skin around the base of the bill and chin.

I saw beavers, fish, birds, geese, swans and duck families with cute little ducklings. The islands are green and idyllic at this time of the year.

After about two hours of paddling, it was time to return to the city. I’m grateful for a wonderful SUP outing on a beautiful morning with blue skies, green trees and water everywhere! I’ll be back next week to canoe with friends.

Before leaving Toronto Islands, I always take a few photos of Toronto’s skyline which has changed over the years with new skyscrapers and green space along the waterfront.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Linked with #Colour2021, #LifeThisWeek, #Pond, #SundayStills, #TreeSquare, #WWE.

How was your week? I’d love to hear your comments.

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5 Things To See at Berczy Park

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #27! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, hot chocolate, or a cold drink at my coffee station and let’s chat.

It was a typical warm week of summer with showers mid-week. Toronto’s cycling network has new routes, some are permanent and some are temporary pilots. I’m excited about new cycling possibilities and nice places to see, such as Berczy Park.

Berczy Park.

Berczy Park is named after William Berczy. Born as Johann Albrecht Ulrich Moll in 1744 in Wallerstein, Germany, he later changed his name and studied at the Academy of Arts in Vienna, before sailing to the Americas in 1792. He was co-founder of York (now Toronto) in 1794 when John Graves Simcoe was Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada.

Here are 5 things to see at Berczy Park for your weekend.

1- Gooderham “Flatiron” Building: The red brick building in the Gothic Revival style was designed by architect David Roberts and built in 1892 for George Gooderham, the president of Gooderham and Worts Distillery.

Gooderham "Flatiron" Building.
Gooderham “Flatiron” Building, 1892.
Gooderham "Flatiron" Building plaque.
History plaque.
Gooderham "Flatiron" Building.
Gooderham “Flatiron” Building, 1892.

2- Flatiron Mural: Canadian artist Derek Besant created the Flatiron Mural on the rear wall of the “Flatiron” Building in 1980. It’s a beautiful optical illusion. Check out the amazing details and their ‘trompe l’oeil’ effects.

Flatiron Mural.
Flatiron Mural, 1980 by Derek Besant.

3- “Dog” Fountain: The park’s centrepiece is a two-tiered “Dog” Fountain with a unique and whimsical theme. 27 dog sculptures – and one cat – are situated around, in, and on the fountain, each spraying water from its mouth. A golden bone sits atop the fountain.

The fountain was turned off during the pandemic until June 11, 2021 when Ontario reopened. The flowing water is a welcoming sign that things might be returning to normal.

Dog Fountain at Berczy Park.
Dog Fountain, 2017 by architect Claude Cormier and Associates.

4- Jacob’s Ladder: Designed by Toronto artist Luis Jacob, the artwork encompasses two giant bronze hands, with a rope lattice suspended between the fingers, forming a whimsical string game. The rope lattice is to be installed. Once it’s in place, it’s perfect for climbing, swinging, or a backdrop for a play.

Jacob’s Ladder, 2018 by artist Luis Jacob.

5- The William Berczy Family sculpture: The sculpture was designed by artist Almuth Lutkenhaus-Lackey and is in the south-east corner of the park.

Berczy became a well-known Canadian painter, architect, surveyor and writer before dying en route to England in 1813. His older son, William Bent Berczy, was a Member of The Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada and a gifted painter. His younger son, Charles Albert Berczy, was the first president of the Consumers’ Gas Company from 1847 to 1856 and Postmaster of Toronto.

William Berczy Family sculpture.
William Berczy Family sculpture by artist Almuth Lutkenhaus-Lackey.

One more thing…The Garden in Berczy Park is lovely with a mix of plants, shrubs, trees and pretty flowers.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Linked with #LifeThisWeek, #PPAC4, #ThursdayDoors, #TreeSquares.

How was your week? I’d love to hear your comments.

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What Made June Joyful

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #26! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, tea, hot chocolate or a cold drink at my coffee station and let’s chat.

It was a warm and humid week with thunderstorms. I had a reflective Thursday July 1. It was Canada Day and the beginning of a new month. As usual, I look back at the previous month (June) and look forward to fun activities in July. Let me share what made June joyful with my nature-inspired photos.

Nature

Nature gave wonderful gifts in June: Sunny days, blue skies, green trees in parks, beautiful flowers in the gardens, sparkling water by the lake, fluffy white clouds, warmer temperatures, and some rain. Summer arrived on June 20 evening. I’ve been spending more time outdoors to savour all the good things that summer brings.

A crabapple tree.
Crabapple tree: A pretty obstacle on the golf course.

Health

In June, I continued to keep myself healthy with regular cycling, walking, playing disc golf, body weight training, meditation and yoga. I’m fully vaccinated and feel good to do my part in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

It helps that vaccination uptake has been phenomenal in Toronto and the city’s mask mandate in all indoor public spaces continues to September. On Sunday June 27, Toronto set a world record after 26,771 doses were administered in a single day in one clinic.

Redbud trees.
Redbud trees brighten up a nice walking trail.

Home

On June 2, Ontario ended the province-wide lockdown and allowed the province to gradually reopen in three steps. We started Step 1 on June 11 and Step 2 on June 30. This means I can do things such as outdoor dining with my family and friends and get a haircut.

I love exploring my home city by bike and on foot. I can easily stop when I see something interesting and go when I’m ready. Here are three public art displays that I stopped to photograph impromptu.

A Runaway Forest by Jaakko Pernu.
A Runaway Forest, 2015 by Finnish sculptor and environmental artist Jaakko Pernu.
Garden Court sculptures by Scott Burton.
Garden Court (furniture sculptures in granite), 1992 by American sculptor Scott Burton.
1942 Ford fire truck known as "Little Red".
1942 Ford Fire Truck known as Little Red with Pride flag.

Leisure

What I enjoyed

  • Cycling on the Waterfront trail and Toronto’s bike network.
  • Walking on green grass in parks.
  • Smelling floral scents and identifying new plants in the gardens.
  • Watching young goslings by the lake and listening to bird songs.
  • Savouring summer fruits and the occasional ice cream.
  • Viewing public art and learning about the artists.
  • Visiting Heritage buildings and tracing Toronto’s history.
  • Taking photographs of places and things that I like.
  • Blogging and hosting Weekend Coffee Share link-ups.
  • Learning French and Spanish on Duolingo.

June was a month with many beautiful flowers in the gardens.

What I read

I read five novels and brought my total of Books in 2021 to forty five. Here’s my list with asterisk indicating new-to-me author:

  • The Only Story – Julian Barnes.
  • The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah. *
  • People We Meet On Vacation – Emily Henry.
  • War Horse – Michael Morpurgo. *
  • The Refugees – Viet Thanh Nguyen. *

What I wrote

I’m grateful for all the good things that happened in June. My July Fun calendar is looking fabulous. Happy weekend, everyone!

Linked to #TreeSquares, #TheChangingSeasons, #PPAC, #LifeThisWeek.

How was June for you? What do you look forward to in July? I’d love to hear your comments.

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How I Enjoy Spring

Green chairs by the lake.

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #11! 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. Let’s sit in the big green chairs and chat while enjoying the views by the lake.

A Good Week

It’s been a good week, cool, with a mix of sun and clouds, and great for going outside. Five fun activities that make me smile this week:

  1. I cycled on a recently added bike path on University Avenue which is one of the main arteries in downtown Toronto. My trip was fast and fabulous.
  2. I visited the Bloor-Yorkville IceFest21 event. This year’s theme is A Trip Around The World. Click here to see some of the amazing ice sculptures.
  3. On one of my walks, I discovered several beautiful outdoor art displays and murals. Art where I don’t expect it is delightful.
  4. I read a good suspense novel, The Chalk Man, by C.J. Tudor, a new-to-me author. I enjoyed her debut novel so much that I read her second and also good book, The Hiding Place.
  5. I’m hosting Weekend Coffee Share #11 and participating in the following link-ups: Leslie’s Spring Fun List, #SundayStills, #Colour2021, Cee’s FOTD, and #LifeThisWeek.
Tulips in Spring.
Soft Spring green.

Spring Fun List

As I type this, Toronto is still in lockdown. My Spring fun list includes what I can do while following public health measures:

  1. Cycle to explore parks, the lake shore, and the city centre.
  2. Take walks to enjoy nature in Spring and free outdoor public art.
  3. View Toronto’s Cherry Blossoms and the annual Canadian Tulip Festival.
  4. Meet my family and friends outside.
  5. Play 9-hole disc golf in a public park.
  6. Paddle around Toronto Islands.
  7. Plant a small herb garden.
  8. Read 1 book per week and add to my Books in 2021.
  9. Take photos and share my explorations on my blog.
  10. Try a new restaurant take-out.

The Sakura (cherry blossom) trees in Toronto’s High Park are a gift from the citizens of Tokyo. The first Japanese Somei-Yoshino cherry tree was planted here in 1959.

The Canadian Tulip Festival celebrates the historic Royal gift of tulips from the Dutch to Canadians immediately following the Second World War as a symbol of international friendship. Over 1 million tulips will be available for local or virtual viewing May 14-24, 2021.

Spring Green

Spring and green go hand in hand. Let me show you my Spring Green pictures from my photo archive.

The Emerald Isle: March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day which reminds me of my trip to Ireland. The Ring of Kerry, in the south west of Ireland, is a scenic drive that follows the coastline along the Wild Atlantic Way for about 180 km (111 miles). The stunning and green landscape has everything from the mountains to the shoreline.

The Ring of Kerry in Ireland.
The Ring of Kerry in Ireland.

The 16 emerald-coloured lakes at Plitvice Lakes National Park, the oldest and largest national park in Croatia. It was designated as a national park in 1949, and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia.
Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia in March.

Spring Showers: These Lady’s Mantle fuzzy and cup-like green leaves hold onto water droplets like little gems.

Water drops on Lady's Mantle leaves.
Lady’s Mantle.

Spring Flowers: Daffodils, tulips, and many more flowers bloom in the spring. Their green leaves provide a fresh backdrop and a good colour combination with the flower colours.

Daffodils and tulips.
Daffodils and tulips.

Spring Growth: From bare to green leafy trees. Move the arrows to see.


How did your week go? What do you look forward to this season? I’d love to hear your comments.

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A Year Later

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #10! 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.

This Week

It’s been a very good week with spring-like and mostly sunny weather here. The daytime high temperature reached 17C (63F) on Thursday. I complete my meditation, body weight workouts, and yoga at home before going outside to cycle and walk most mornings.

A beautiful day by the pier.
A beautiful day by the pier.

When I walk in the parks and along the lake shore, I see and hear red-winged blackbirds, sparrows, starlings, woodpeckers, ducks, geese, gulls, long-tailed ducks and swans . Most trees, except evergreens, are still bare with small buds on the branches.

White birch trees.
White birch trees.

Nature continues to keep me smiling and feeling positive. I also blog, chat with my family and friends by phone, learn French and Spanish online, listen to music, sort my photos, read, and write. I just finished a very good thriller, The Suspect, by Michael Robotham.

A woodpecker.
A cute woodpecker.

A Year Later

One year after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, I reflect on some of what’s been happening:

SubjectMarch 13, 2020March 12, 2021
Lockdown in TorontoFirst lockdown lasted from March 13 until June 2020.Second lockdown that started on November 23, 2020 is still on.
Food and household suppliesShortage occurred (e.g. Flour, yeast, toilet paper).Stable supplies.
Arts and entertainmentAll venues were closed. Exhibits and shows moved online or outside.All venues are closed. Exhibits and shows are available online or outside.
City-led and City-permitted outdoor major eventsOutdoor major events were cancelled (e.g. Parades, running races, festivals).Outdoor major events are cancelled through July 1 (e.g. Parades, running races, festivals).
Personal and recreational servicesLibraries offered digital services and closed branches.

Hair salons, gyms, and swimming pools are closed.

Public parks are open. Going outside is allowed for essential reasons (e.g. exercise, health care, groceries).
Libraries offer excellent digital services and limited services inside library branches.

Hair salons, gyms, and swimming pools are closed.

Public parks are open. Going outside is allowed for essential reasons (e.g. exercise, health care, groceries).
Social distancingPublic Health advised people to practice hand washing and social distancing (2m or 6 ft. apart).

Masks were introduced later and mandated in indoor public spaces and on public transport.
The 3Ws (Wash hands, wear mask and watch distance) continue. Masks are required in indoor public spaces and on public transport.

Indoor gatherings are banned, except with members in the same household. Outside gatherings limit to 10 people.

International TravelCanadians abroad were advised to return to Canada.

Airline and tour operators started cancelling flights and tours.
Canada added travel restrictions (e.g. hotel quarantine, COVID-19 test).

Non-essential travel is discouraged.
VaccinesNo vaccine available.Canada has approved four vaccines and vaccine rollout is in progress.

There was a temporary relief in Summer 2020 when the first lockdown was lifted. I got a haircut, socialized outside, and enjoyed a fun-filled summer paddling around the Toronto Islands.

This 3-geese distancing sign reminds me to do my part while keeping a sense of humour, including in difficult situations like living in a lockdown and a pandemic.

Three-geese distancing.
Three-geese distancing.

A year later, the main improvements are stable food and household supplies and vaccines. Since December 2020, Ontario has started its three-phase vaccination plan. I’m in the last phase to get the vaccine at the end of summer 2021 depending on vaccine supply.

I choose optimism. Yellow is the colour of optimism. So I updated this post with some yellow flowers from my photo archive. All florals are shared with FOTD photo challenge and Life This Week.

Daffodils.
Daffodils.
Sunflowers.
Sunflowers.

How did your week go? What improvements have you noticed 1 year after the pandemic started? I’d love to hear your comments.

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Life and Advice From A Tree

Trees

Hello blog friends! How are you doing? I hope all is well with you. Last Sunday it was sunny here with the high temperature reached 21C (70F). Then during the week, it was cooler than normal which made my walks relaxing. Cooler weather and walking in non-peak hours mean less effort required to keep physical distancing from people.

Life This Week

If we were having coffee, I’d share that Ontario, my province, started allowing a few seasonal businesses to reopen on May 4. All other non-essential business closures continue so my mostly stay-at-home routine continues. Every day is full of simple pleasures that make me feel positive and grateful.

I take time to appreciate sunrise, deep breathing, quiet meditation, a bowl of warm oatmeal sprinkled with cinnamon for breakfast, ripe-just-right fruit, a good cup of coffee, OK two cups of coffee, birds chirping outside, cheerful spring flowers, lots of daylight, moving at my own pace, a walk to the lake, a hot lunch, getting things done, a cup of tea, hand clapping with neighbours for carers, dinner at home, sunset, relaxation, and rest.

Cherry blossoms

Some of the things that I got done this week made me smile:

  • Congratulated my nephew who graduated from university with honours this month and promptly accepted a very good full-time job offer in his field of study.
  • Completed my daily meditation, 5 outdoor walks, 4 yoga sessions, and 3 workouts.
  • Tried a dance workout on YouTube to spice up my fitness routine and had fun.
  • Walked to the Toronto Music Garden and saw many beautiful spring flowers, including cherry blossoms and trillium.
  • Did my grocery shopping in non-peak hours and got most items on my list.

Advice From A Tree

If we were having coffee, I’d share that the trees that I’ve seen on my walk this week inspired me to think about Ilan Shamir’s poem Advice From A Tree and the Tree pose in my yoga practice. I’m sharing the poem (text in italic) and some of my photos below:

Dear Friend,

Stand Tall and Proud
Sink your roots deeply into the Earth
Reflect the light of a greater source
Think long term
Go out on a limb
Remember your place among all living beings

Willow trees

Embrace with joy the changing seasons
For each yields its own abundance
The Energy and Birth of Spring
The Growth and Contentment of Summer
The Wisdom to let go of leaves in the Fall
The Rest and Quiet Renewal of Winter

Feel the wind and the sun
And delight in their presence
Look up at the moon that shines down upon you
And the mystery of the stars at night
Seek nourishment from the good things in life
Simple pleasures

Trees with yellow flowers

Earth, fresh air, light
Be content with your natural beauty
Drink plenty of water
Let your limbs sway and dance in the breezes
Be flexible
Remember your roots
Enjoy the view!

Lake view on a sunny day

I enjoy my walk so much. I always come home with a smile and feel renewed. Nature inspires me to think about the Advice From A Tree poem and the Tree pose in my yoga practice. If you practice yoga, you know the Tree pose requires and improves our focus, balance, and strength.

During these uncertain times, I choose to focus on the positives, work on finding a balance in my day, be flexible, and stay strong. Once in a while, when anxious thoughts occur, I take a few deep breaths and think about the trees. This week is another good week. Thank you for coming along with me. I hope you enjoy our virtual walk.

Wishing you a Happy Mother’s Day weekend!

Tulips

How did your week go? What good things happened? I’d love to hear your comments.

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