Tag Archives: winter

Ice Ice Baby – Toronto Ice Storm 2013

Beauty and brutality . . .

It just looks as if it is raining – as Brits, we know ‘cold, wet and miserable’!

But this is rain that freezes on contact, ‘accretes’ on branches and leaves, on Christmas lights and baubles, on roads and side-walks, on cars, on road-signs . . . . on anything it touches.

At first it is just a fine layer, but the layers build and build until all is encased in crystal.

Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013
Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013
Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 - ice forming globules on the ground
Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013
Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013 Toronto Ice-Storm 2013

Eventually, the rain stops. If you venture out, safely clad with ice-grippers, there is a magical beauty, everything robed in clear ice that can be three or four centimetres thick. As the breeze shifts iced-branches, they sing an unearthly song, though for anyone who knows, there is a frisson of fear. When branches are weighed down like this, there is a risk that they will simply shear off.

 

Many areas of Toronto looked like a war-zone. We have lost around 20% of our urban tree canopy. Falling branches mean electrical wires torn loose. Over 300,000 homes were without power for anything from a few hours to over a week through Christmas and even into the New Year. Our power flickered through Saturday night and was gone by 6 a.m. on Sunday. It came back on at 8.30 a.m. on Tuesday, two hours after we left for Christmas in Quebec City. It is estimated that the clear-up will take two months and cost $75 million.

The pragmatism of Toronto’s people has been awesome, as well as the outpouring of mutual support. I can’t speak highly enough of the efforts of Hydro (Electricity Supply Board) workers from all over the country who put aside their own family Christmas celebrations to help. A priest I know spoke of a Hydro worker who positively glowed with the pleasure of restoring power to a church on Christmas Eve.

The last major ice-storm to affect Toronto was in 1998. I was mesmerized by the beauty inherent in the experience of an ice storm, but my heart goes out to all those significantly affected by it and I am heartily glad that past records suggest that we shouldn’t have another one too soon!

 See all our ice storm photos in our gallery!

Ottawa – Summer and Winter

Ottawa - frozen locks on the Rideau Ottawa - frozen locks on the Rideau Rideau Locks, Ottawa Rideau Locks, Ottawa

The same locks, winter and summer.

Ottawa: looking across the river to Parliament Hill (Panoramic) Ottawa: looking across the river to Parliament Hill

Parliament Hill, Ottawa Parliament Hill, Ottawa

If you look hard at the winter shot, you can see Parliament Hill on the skyline at the far right. Even in this mild winter, the river is almost frozen over.

Another tick on the bucket list . . .

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to skate a canal. Last weekend we laid claim to some ‘real winter’ and headed to Ottawa to skate the Rideau during the Winterlude festival – pure magic!

Skating the Rideau Skating the Rideau Skating the Rideau - made it! Skating the Rideau - made it! Paul enjoying a Beavertail! Paul enjoying a Beavertail!

We were lucky – this weekend, as for most of this year, the ice is closed. The ice may have been ‘poor’, but we skated all 7.8km of the world’s longest skating rink (at an average skating speed of 5.25 mph and a top speed of just over 9mph!). We stopped for a free technical lesson along the way, not to mention for hot chocolate and  ‘Beavertails’ (a Canadian classic!).

Snowflake Kingdom - ice slides Snowflake Kingdom - ice slides Snowflake Kingdom - snow carving Snowflake Kingdom - snow carving Snowflake Kingdom - tubing Snowflake Kingdom - tubing

Then on to Snowflake Kingdom, a wondrous winter playground for the young and young at heart (we couldn’t resist the ice slide!).

Later, after night fell, we were enchanted by the ice carvings in Confederation Park, probably not quite as exquisite as when they were carved a week before, given the freeze/thaw cycle of this winter, but still lovely.

Ice Carvings - Confederation Park Ice Carvings - Confederation Park Ice Carvings - Confederation Park Ice Carvings - Confederation Park Ice Carvings - Confederation Park - War Memorial Ice Carvings - Confederation Park - War Memorial

Winter festivals are awesome!!!

Snowflake Kingdom - snow carving I have new aspirations when building a snowman . . . Ice Carvings - Confederation Park Ice Carvings - Confederation Park The phantom statue's return? The phantom statue's return?

(See the Ottawa – Winter Album in the photo gallery for more pictures)

Skating at Sherbourne Common

Our new favourite place to skate

Shh! Don’t tell anyone. We almost have our own private rink with a view . . . (The down side is that it’s a bit unpredictable when and if the Zamboni will have come, so the ice is sometimes great and sometimes not!). This is part of the new port lands development, more or less next to Corus at Sherbourne Common.

  Skating at Sherbourne Common Skating at Sherbourne Common - a rink to ourselves (and yes, there are two Ginas . . .)

And yes, there are two of me, a trick I wish I could replicate in other areas of my life.

Winter Ravine Walk January 2012

Wonderful Winter!

A few photos from a wondrous winter hike (5 –6 miles) through the ravines and Don Valley  last weekend; cold but invigorating, with delightful ‘grazing’ to be had at the Brickworks (organic hot-dogs and hot cider, gourmet hot chocolate, fish tacos and the most amazing savoury spiced  Indian cake made from fermented chickpeas) before the short walk up the hill to the car.

Winter Ravine Walk January 2012 Top of the Trail - Winter Ravine Walk January 2012   Winter Ravine Walk January 2012 Winter Ravine Walk January 2012   Winter Ravine Walk January 2012 Winter Ravine Walk January 2012 - from the Boardwalk at the Don Valley Brickworks

Winter Ravine Walk January 2012 Winter Ravine Walk January 2012  Winter Ravine Walk January 2012 Winter Ravine Walk January 2012 - bridge near Mount Pleasant Cemetary  Winter Ravine Walk January 2012 Winter Ravine Walk January 2012 - Boardwalk at the Don Valley Brickworks

(More photos in our Winter in Toronto Album)

So far, this has been a winter of freeze and thaw, not my favourite conditions. But last weekend was stunning; fine snow-dust glittering in glorious sunshine, and blue-black shadows.

Then there’s the sound of winter; a muffled quietness that soothes my soul, punctuated by a scrunchy squeak . . .