Mont Ham, Parc RΓ©gional du Quebec

Friday, November 13th, 2020

For my birthday I took the kids out of school. I do this every year because, as far as my kids are concerned, my birthday is more important than any national or religious holiday. It’s true for them, of course. They’d be fine if Christ never rose or fell or if Quebec was still a French colony or if women never got the right to vote. But if I had not birthed them? Woe! My children are realists. Martin is the most likely (read: only) candidate for father, but, again, without the advent of genetic testing in the 1950s (and you can celebrate National DNA Day on April 25th!) there’d never be any proof of this. Therefore, despite his unconditional love and utter devotion to their health and well-being and his wonderful presence, he’s just simply not quite as important as I am. Yes, here I am, the most important person on planet Earth, a densely-peopled planet three rocks out from the Sun. I don’t actually do anything to encourage this feeling in my kids. In fact, I think all kids feel this way about their moms.

 

So, for my birthday, I took advantage of the fact that I’m an important person. I took my children up Mont Ham. We went up the steepest wayβ€” the red trail on the map (below)β€” and it was wonderfully steep. Due to the steepness, I had planned on taking another trail down. However, due to the late start, we were still on the mountain side when the sun began to set in the late-afternoon, mid-November way it does. For this reason, we also went down the not-as-wonderful-on-the-way-down-extremely-steep red trail. We were, in fact, still on a quite steep part of the mountain side when the sun was well over the horizon. That’s when I turned on my head lamp and gave profuse thanks to whomever it was who decided to mark the trail with reflective trail markers. That was probably the best surprise of my birthday. In fact, I’d say that reflective trail markers were the best surprise of the entire year. Heck, reflective trail markers were quite possibly the best surprise of the decade. What a wonderful, wonderful birthday present.

 

Here are my two side-kicks at the summit. It was quite windy, as summits are.

There was a lot of snow blowing around, but it didn’t seem to land on anything.

 

 

 

 

 

Mont Ham Quebec

Autumn, L’Île du Marais

Friday, October 23rd, 2020

When we get there, we walk across the boardwalk to the island. On the west side of the boardwalk, turtles bask in the setting sun. I did not buy my camera for the purpose of photographing far-away turtles. I chose my camera for the purpose of photographing children. The binoculars are for the turtles. If there are still turtles when my children are grown, they will still look like turtles. We will still see them with binoculars in that future. If there are no turtles when my children are grown, we will look at photographs of turtles that other people have taken. We will say, “Remember when there were turtles in the ponds? They sat on logs in the sun and we looked at them.” A world with turtles is a happier place than a world without turtles.

 

 

In the middle of the island there are rocks with moss on them. There are trees. If there is a time in the future when there are no turtles and no people, at least for a while there will be rocks with moss. For a while, there will be trees. Everyone will wish they could be there.

 

 

My favorite part of the walk, at least at the moment, is around the back side of the island. There is the edge of the island. There is the still water, the marsh, the hill, the silver steeple of Canton-de-Hatley. There is the sky. There is the moon. The world is everywhere we look.

 

Kiss @ Johnville Bog

Sunday, October 18th, 2020

I tried to take some photos of the kids on this log in mid-September, but the lighting was lousy.

Fortunately, I come here often enough to try, try again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Β  *Β  Β  *Β  Β  *Β Β 

 

 

A Short Walk in the Woods

Saturday, October 17th, 2020

We went for a short walk in the woods.

First we splashed in some puddles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we walked down the riverβ€”

 

 

 

 

 

β€”to the tire swing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we crossed the really awkward bridge where all the steps are attached to swinging chains

and there’s a tree that fell on top of it two years ago that one has to duck under.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I guess that was enough!

 

 

 

Johnville Bog & Forest Park (Again)

Friday, September 18th, 2020

I think I’d be happy to come here every day for a long, long time.

 

 

 

 

 

After some time, other people might require me to go alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Fall Down

Friday, September 11th, 2020

I took my old cameraβ€” of the sort that only takes old photosβ€” on a walk alone into the tall woods.

 

 

 

There I found a circle of children singing and old song and dancing in circles.

 

 

 

When I approached more closely, the children, the circle, and the old camera disappeared.

 

 

 

I found myself as an old woman, alone again, with a new camera and nothing more to photograph.

 

Akiva’s Piano Recital

Wednesday, September 9th, 2020

 

 

 

Click to view full screen:

 

L’Île du Marais Monstreβ€”

Friday, September 4th, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

β€”c’est juste un petit garΓ§on.

Johnville Bog & Forest Park, Back Entry

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020

On a cool late August day, we walk around the fence on the far side of the Johnville Bog parking lot to enter the bog the back way. Fence, boulders, and signage are all there to try to keep four-wheelers out of the protected area. In my observation, most people driving four-wheelers have little regard for protected areas.

 

The back trail starts up a steep eroded ridge.

It goes through a disturbed woodland rife with four-wheeler trails.

 

 

 

The trail emerges from the small woodland on top of a rocky ridge.

 

 

 

Below the ridge, one can see the extent of four-wheeler disturbance.

This whole area was once boreal forest bog.

Now, little grows outside the protected area but a few scattered poplars.

 

 

 

We walk through the disturbed area into the forest park.

 

 

 

Tall trees grow here.

 

 

 

We walk through the woods, into the bog.

 

 

 

Black spruce, tamarack, cottongrass and Labrador tea

bring back the sights and smells of Fairbanks, Alaska.

 

 

 

Mouths agape, pitcher plants beckon.

 

 

 

I love this place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Squirrel Traps! (& other things to worry about on the 6th anniversary of our wedding)

Tuesday, July 14th, 2020

To celebrate six years of being wed, we decided to take a walk in the woods. Or perhaps we decided to take a walk in the woods & what do you know, it was our anniversary! Either way, there we were sitting down eating a snack when Martin fell asleep. Mom believes this tendency is located on the Y chromosome.

 

 

 

While he was resting, Iris invented squirrel traps. As you might suspect, squirrel traps are meant to trap squirrels. Anything meant to trap squirrels should somehow employ nuts. It is quite possible that the idea was inspired by a video that Dad sent us by Mark Rober, “Building the Perfect Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder.” Iris’s resources were a bit more limited than Mr. Rober’s. She dug a hole with a large stick, surrounded it by small sticks, placed a leaf on the bottom, and would bait the leaf at the proper time. This particular squirrel trap, just so you are aware, is not meant to physically trap a squirrel. It is meant to mentally trap their focus for a moment, distracting them from whatever they were concentrating on, enticing them into the hole to eat the nut. Then the squirrel would be free to go.

 

 

 

After much longer than you might think it would take to engineer such a trap, the work was done. Either because she figured it wouldn’t take much to distract a squirrel or because she didn’t particularly want to share her snack, Iris chose the smallest nut she could find then woke Martin for the celebratory baiting of the trap.

 

 

 

When we reached the place of the grandfather trees, Iris resumed building. First, she experimented with building tripods. She tried very hard. What she learned is that it is difficult to lean three sticks together and have them stay just so.

 

 

 

Meanwhile, Akiva continued to play toss-the-spike with an iron spike that we found in an old junk pile. He had been playing it the whole way’s down the path since the junk pile. It’s played like this: toss the spike. Walk forward. Pick up the spike. Repeat. Usually, the spike lands sideways, bounces, then spins.

 

 

 

In this photograph, I have managed to capture the moment the spike landed point-down in the ground. Pine needles splash like water drops.

 

 

 

While this is going on, I play with the panorama feature on my camera. I have never used it before. Upon developing the photos, I see that, when taking a horizontal panorama, it would be a good idea to have a long depth of field. My favorite panorama captures Martin once again enjoying the activity of woodland resting.

 

 

 

Having given up on building a tripod, Iris built a common four-sided gnome house with a bark roof. She chose a nice forked stick to set off the front door so that the gnomes would know how to enter properly.

 

 

 

Finally, I took some portraits of my children. Mom says I should just take some nice photos of them now and again. Aside from the days when I take lots and lots of photos at once, I hardly seem to be taking many photos at all lately. But the woods are lovely for portraits. Here are some regular-ol’ photos of my kiddos, so’s you can go on and admire their cuteness. Or at least so I can admire their cuteness. That’s why I take photos, really: not for you: for me.