I am on the road up north to Sudbury for the next few days. I will continue to publish your comments, and add any necessary news links. You might also want to check out my photo slide show to the top left of my blogsite to see if it really is like a Group of 7 painting. My southern readers that is, I know many of you are from Northern Ontario, so this is hardly an event of sorts for you! You know all ready!
I'm planning on taking my time driving up from Toronto, to enjoy the autumn leaves and countryside. I will be visiting my sister, and my mom in the nursing home. My sister Maryanne and I will be going for an autumn drive. She's going to show me the colours. I am avid to see them again. Fall arrives late in Toronto here in the south, and is hardly near as spectacular as in Northern Ontario.
Perhaps I am too late all ready to see the leaves change colour in Sudbury? If so I will be sure to stop to check them out and enjoy along the way up and back home. Commune with nature, so to speak. Sudbury is about a 4 hour drive north, foot to the floor, which I hardly plan to do this time. All things in good time. I am quite looking forward to my little road trip. Off I go with my camera, and some good tunes for in the car, driving along on my lonesome.
I am no stranger to the north per se. My mom was born in Kirkland Lake. My grandfather was a painter there. Besides painting a lot of the houses, and the landscapes, he also once painted the greeting sign over the highway just outside of town, and a big wall mural you saw as you arrived in town.
I won't be visiting Kirkland Lake this trip. I want to visit mom in the nursing home in Sudbury. I am bringing a book of photographs from her side of the family and am going to ask her whom she can identify, the places and times, whatever she can remember. Her memory is going, though her health is good. I'd like to see what more family history I can rescue and save from the shifting mists of time before it is too late. Also just to see her of course, and spend a little time together on my birthday. Maryanne too. We can discuss our trip to Santiago de Cuba for a week next month. We will visit my teacher friends, go to the Cuban schools. Should be fun too!
I will be back in a few days to beat the weekend traffic. Keep checking in here though in the meantime. I'm pretty confident there is enough to keep everything going for a few days in my immediate absence! Also look forward to a guest blog and a few other posts I trust you will find very interesting, in the next few days ahead!
Weee! Here I am driving my car! Not! Actually I had to stop 3 times for road work.
It was a good way to spend my birthday! I left Toronto at 11:30 am and arrived in Sudbury by 4:30 with 2 roadside and a rest stop along the way. It was relaxing to just stand on the roadside in the middle of nowhere and look at the picturesque scenery; the forests, lakes, + rock out croppings, all very Group of 7ish like paintings in fall colours. For my rest stop I pulled over at the French River Provincial Park; named after the "French" peoples. I think so. There's a walking bridge arching over the gorge. Quite spectacular. Many if not most of the leaves had changed colour two weeks ago, and fallen off the trees, but there were still bright splashes of colour everywhere, fabulous oranges, crimson red, every shade inbetween.
French River Gorge
I've spent too much idle time at home screwing the pooch while I thought about going to see the autumn leaves up north this fall. Truth be told it is getting late. The full autumn splendour of the changing colours has reached south to north of Barry now. Further north the trees grown increasingly barren. I would think they will arrive in Toronto next week. That's splendorous too, in an urban rather than in the rustic, sense, but it will suffice. Still Maryanne and I are going for a drive tomorrow. It's not a total loss, there is still a lot of fall colour to see, but not the full blast I had been thinking about. So it goes.
We had a quick supper at a local diner and went to see mom at the nursing home. It was early evening and she was pretty alert. We sat and talked for awhile until I almost dozed off and she was starting to forget a lot and repeat herself. Still it was very pleasant, quite nice just being with my sister, mom and I together on my birthday. We will go see her again tomorrow after our drive through the countryside.
Mom + I on my birthday.
It was difficult getting my butt in gear this morning. My sister was getting antsy but we got on the road by noon, picked up her girlfriend Pamela, an artist, and went to Onaping Falls, not far out of town in the woods. A.Y. Jackson painted a waterfalls scene there, which was later bought by a local high school, stolen, and never seen again. Too bad.
The location was a very Group of Sevenish northern scene, the pine and coniferous trees, some maples, lots of rock [the Canadian Shield] and a series of rapids, very nice. We followed the trail through the woods to the lookout points. Most of the leaves were on the ground, which breathed a natural earthy smell, the bittersweet decay of autumn. There was a light rain, making the rocks shiny and wet. It was cool, but not damp like in Toronto. The naked tree branches created a very stark, moody feel against the grey sky. It was very moving really, a vigorous hike. Back near the parking lot there was a collection of rocks mined from the area, some dating 1.5 billion years! Throughout the park there are meteorite craters in the rocks, from long, long ago. What history the park could tell!
One disappointing note. Graffitti has been written on many of the rocks along the rapids reading "Free Tibet". I don't care if I'm going to be political incorrect here or not. Its a total shame. IMHO whoever did that should be packed in an airtight case and sent to Tibet as a consequence. There is NO excuse for it.
After an early dinner, we went to the nursing home to visit mom, who was ready to go to bed. We had brought her a desert, sat with her in the dining room, talked for awhile, tucked her into bed and left. She was tired.
We are back at Maryanne's dickering about on our laptops, watching some t.v., and talking. She goes back to work tomorrow. I plan to take my time driving back to Toronto. There are a few roadside stops I'd like to make if the weather is good. Take some more pictures. I have taken a lot of pictures. Some I've put on this blog, others I am posting in the slide show above.
Sometimes though I just like to stand and look at the scenery, if it catches my interest. Drink it in with my eyes, feel it, smell it, just be here now. It becomes a snapshot for a photo book in my mind, which I always carry around with me, and can revisit, when I relax and close my eyes. I have lots of time to do that now. It is very peaceful, relaxing and I feel centred.
A few weeks ago I parked my car at a lot behind a store and noticed a field nearby. I walked out into the middle. The sun was shining down, nice and not too hot. I was looking at a tree that was just starting to change colour, at the edge of the leaves. A train came by on a track behind the woods. I could hear it, but only half see it through the trees. Then it was gone and everything was very still again. My cellphone rang, one of my teacher buddies looking for me. He asked what I was doing and when I told him he observed that I must be getting very bored being retired. I said no, not at all. I was actually quite enjoying myself. There has been so little time for such pleasures over the past few years, plus all the noise in my mind from politics and school. Not now.
I noticed my first guest blog for this week is in my email. Am going to see if I can get it up for tonight.
It was grey and overcast most of the way home, not good for photographs, so I just enjoyed the scenery. Listened to Robert Johnson and Woody Guthrie on the car stereo. My first stop was the French River Trading Post for brunch, coffee and a toasted egg salad sandwich. I checked out the store, wasted some time, no hurry.
I drove straight through most of the road repair stops I got held up at on my way north. The huge Caterpillar bulldozers, diggers and trucks are clearing new highway lanes that have been blasted through the rock, leaving huge cliffs of Canadian shield on either side of the road. Very impressive.
The trees had more and more colourful leaves the further south I drove, starting in Muskoka until it was relatively minor just outside Barry. Shades of earthy brown, bright yellows, reds, a quilt work of many colours and shades. Rolling harvested farmers fields, huge outcrops of rock, the gray sky. I stopped in Parry Sound at Tim Hortons for a break, then one last time along the roadside to see if I could take some photos. Sorry folks, too overcast, they are just in my minds eye.
I am really enjoying autumn this year for the first time in longer than I can remember. Usually, they autumn has come to represent a rather sorry sight. The days growing shorter and shorter, my school and union work getting busier and busier. I know it will only continue, even more so, with the bitter cold and snow soon settling in, until the first real rays of hope, a light at the end of the tunnel, as the weather improved in April, the first indication that summer is coming soon. Now that I am retired, none of that suddenly matters. Stripped of its past connotations I have been quite enjoying autumn this year. The crisp cool bite in the air, the fall colours, everything.
I thought that I'd want to be headed off to warmer climes asap, but aside from my Cuban Schools Project trip to Santiago de Cuba next month, that can now wait until it gets real cold! Then I'm planning to just go lie on a tropical beach, swim, snorkel, dive and so on. The school calendar is now of little, nay of no concern to me.
I arrived back in Toronto amongst a mad downfall of rain. Pulled off highway 400 at Finch Ave West to take the backstreets home, avoiding the rush hour traffic. Quite content with my little road trip and travelling for now.