Tag Archives: nature

Gardening between the rainfalls

Mom in her backyard garden 1944

I come from a long line of gardeners and farmers. My grandparents had farms and my mom grew up on one of them. When she came to Toronto to work, met my dad and married him, when they bought their first house, the one I grew up in – they made a garden, It was like a ritual every spring and when I came along, even at four and five years of age I got into the act. Each spring, Mom and Dad turned the soil, Mom planted vegetable seeds and I helped her do the latter  – with a lot of instructions from  her. After the soil-turning, Dad looked after mowing the lawn – with a push mower.

Four-year-old Only Child ready to garden in April

I also use a push mower to cut the lawn and like my mother I have to have my garden.

But in order to have a garden, you have to be able to get out there and work the garden, remove the weeds, plant the seeds, baby the perennials coming up again.  This year it’s been raining too much in southern Ontario so I am literally sometimes out there gardening between rainstorms. Meantime, out in British Columbia and Alberta it is dry, dry and there are spreading wildfires. Somebody up there got the weather mixed up – we need the rain to fall in western Canada and eastern Canada (Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces) need some dry periods – like more than just a day, or just a few hours.

So, I’ve been slowly making my garden beautiful. At least it is green and the perennials are coming up and blooming. So is the lettuce and onions I planted.

Do you garden? How does your garden grow?

Here are a few early photos of my garden. Enjoy

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

Waiting to be planted

 

Waiting to assist with the planting

 

A few perennials among the weeds

 

Rhubarb ready to pull, cook and eat

 

Bringing some flowers inside

 

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, Gardening, Mom and Dad

Only Child loves the B bugs

Butterfly on Only Child's cap

Butterfly on Only Child’s cap

I love bugs, insects and the like whose first letter is a “b.” So that includes bees and butterflies. As Wikipedia states about the latter:

“Butterflies are insects in the clade Rhopalocera from the order Lepidoptera, which also includes moths. Adult butterflies have large, often brightly coloured wings, and conspicuous, fluttering flight.”

Last week I saw thousands of butterflies up close when on holidays in southwestern Ontario. My cousin Anne took me to the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory in Cambridge, Ontario. The actual conservatory itself runs from April to October and is an amazing and beautiful butterfly and moth sanctuary. There are also birds such as dove and quail peaking out from the many plants and shrubs. You can see butterflies in their pre-stages of larvae; ugly beetles which are not butterflies, and get the grand tour from knowledgeable staff.

But the best part is walking around in the conservatory and just letting whatever will happen do so. Butterflies land on your hands and for some reason my beige cap was a big attraction. Anne took the photo above. I also took some photos – obviously not of butterflies landing on me – I am not ambedexterious.

There are also two rooms outside of the conservatory which have photos of butterflies with information posted near them, a gift shop and a cafe.

I think I got interested in butterflies 30 or so years ago when I lived in Aurora and went to an  art and craft shop which held monthly openings for its current exhibiting artists. Then I would write a story about it for the local newspaper. One artist had captured butterflies in an artistic arrangement. While I prefer to let butterflies be free or be set free, the arrangements were beautiful.

Then in 2003 I interviewed a fellow Ken McGrath who raised butterflies in his apartment and then in a rented room. It was his own business and he would mail them out to clients who wanted the butterflies to set them free at weddings, memorial services and the like. My very short story on Ken was published in Toronto Life magazine. Four years later when I interviewed Ken again for another magazine story, he had acquired a business partner and expanded his business – so I interviewed  her as well. That story, a longer one, was published in the now defunct Centre of the City magazine. After that Ken moved his butterfly business to rural Ontario. Today he is an artist who has traded butterflies for spider webs, which he uses in his pendants. He is now nicknamed Spider Web Wrangler. More info on Ken at the Pazan Gallery site where his creations have appeared.

Meantime, when out in my garden I look for butterflies landing on my ecinaccea, fennel and black-eyed susans. And check out my blog’s garden page here.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gardens, Only child

Only Child finds solace at Harbourfront

Harbourfront Music Garden and sailboats

Harbourfront sailboats and corner of the Music Garden in Toronto

Lake, beach, music and gardens – all created some peace for me, if only for a few hours. On Sunday I went to Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. Outside the two-year construction clutter is gone and the remake shows. Walk, bike, streetcars and cars all have their separate place to move along Queen’s Quay. And walking on the beach – sand or boardwalk (cement or boards) is lively, yet peaceful. About the only so-called drawback is the juggler who attracts crowds that block the access along the boardwalk.

I sat on a bench facing the boardwalk and ate my packed lunch while watching the boats sail around in Lake Ontario and people-watched. People of all sizes, ages and in quite a variety of clothes. But all enjoying themselves. And not crowded but not just a few people either. Perfect.

After lunch, I strolled along the boardwalk over to the grassy area (note: it is fake turf but if you had experienced the lumpy clumps of grass a few years ago, you would not complain about the turf). I checked out the craft booths for the perfect turquoise pendant. A few came close but not just it. I am trying to replace the pendant that got broken when I fell thanks to some careless you-know-what leaving a paper wire out on the street.

From there I headed for a brisk walk west to the Music Garden. This is a unique combination of wildflowers and other perennials, trees, pathways and a grassy area with layered wide steps to sit on while absorbing one of the summer classical music concerts. Sunday it was Italian baroque played by four musicians from Montreal. C0mpletely captured all my senses for an hour and soothed my tattered soul and body.

After the concert (free, by the way), I took some photos of the garden and of the ships sitting in the harbour, including one of the tall ships which you can board to take a tour around Toronto Harbour. Because of time, I left this one for another visit.

Then, after a quick look at some of the displays along the way, I went inside one of the buildings. I knew what I would find – all one area has closed and boarded up shops. It looks desolate and out of the atmosphere of Harbourfront. It seems like it was forgotten in the remodelling of Harbourfront area. And you know what I miss most – Tilly’s – you know of the Tilly hats? I can’t afford Tilly’s prices but I loved wandering in the store and looking at and feeling the clothing. The cafe is also gone as well as other shops. Not good.

So I went outside and boarded one of the new LRT streetcars which are slowing replacing the old clunkers. I still like the old clunkers but the new ones ride smoothly and you don’t have to show your ticket or pass unless asked. This short run took me underground and into Union Station where I (finally after a long wait) boarded the subway – another LRT types car – which I like. And I returned home.

A good day. With my health issues I don’t have too many of those.

So, it is carpe diem – for all of us.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Harbourfront sailboats

Harbourfront sailboats

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Filed under Health, Music, Music Garden, Only child, Peace and quiet, Sailboats, Sharon A. Crawford, Toronto

Only Child Grateful for Garden and Friends

Raggedy Annie guards Only Child's front garden

Raggedy Annie guards Only Child’s front garden

You’re getting some garden photos today. From this spring and summer. Friends’ photos coming up in a future blog post.

But both are connected in one way. I am grateful for both.

Let me clarify.

First my friends, my real friends, not the so-called friends like “Lois” who think they can control my life. On Saturday, my friend Bob picked me up at the Finch subway station. We were en route to Aurora for an old newspaper journalist reunion. While driving, Bob told me he was glad I was finding some peace with that church I had blogged about recently.

My first thought was “church.” I’m not a church-goer. I’m no longer Catholic or even Christian. Then my aging-brain kicked in. The Buddhist temple I had visited and meditated in during Toronto’s Doors Open May 23. I had blogged about it just after

https://onlychildwrites.wordpress.com/2015/05/26/only-child-finds-a-little-piece-of-peace/

 

Bob said that he knows I have been through a lot in my life and he was hoping I would find some peace and that might be with that church. I replied “I plan to go back but there hasn’t been time.” He said he hoped that I would. I’m planning to this Saturday.

Thank you Bob. I meant to tell you this on the way to Aurora, but the conversation got distracted and old minds sometimes operate like the proverbial gnats.

Bob and I have been friends for years. He was one of my first editors at one of the community newspapers I wrote for in York Region when I lived in Aurora (not quite in the grey ages – the latter is my school days). He has listened to me rant about everything from house problems to nasty people in my life (Lois doesn’t quite fit in that bad category, but the boarder that lived here from summer 2013 to October 2014 does), to – well you name it. He has also come to many of my son Martin’s gigs with the various bands he has played in over the years

The garden is my refuge and my delight (weeds and all – you don’t want to know the number of containers and bags of weeds and tree and shrub branches in the last yard waste pickup). As I daily pick the many black raspberries, pot plants, water potted plants and just sit out and enjoy the garden while eating meals or reading or just sitting, I am grateful. Sure, we have had a lot of rain, but it has eased off the last week or so. Some rain and possible thunderstorms due later today so I hope I won’t be eating my words here. But when I see on TV and the Internet all those forest fires burning out of control in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatoon and find out the number of people being evacuated, I guess we are pretty lucky here in southern Ontario, at least up to now. We have greenery, lovely flowers, and fresh food growing in the gardens and on the farms. Out west it is fire and smoke and air pollution and fear of losing your home.

The Weather Network showed a map of the fires and within listed the culprits causing the fires. The furthest east was “Person caused.” The rest were caused by weather (read “God”). The sense of justice in me wants the guilty parties to pay. But we’ll never find the person who caused some of the fires. My hope is that God will bring the necessary rain (sans thunder and lightning) to put all the fires out. And keep the wind away. Unfortunately, current weather forecasts show T-storms and wind.

Meantime, back in gardenland here, I will continue to enjoy my garden. But still keep a couple of wary eyes on the weather.

 

Cheers

Roses early summer in front garden

Roses early summer in front garden

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Family and Friends, Forest Fires Western Canada, Fresh produce, Friends, Gardening, God, Help and Support, Meditation, Only child, Peace and quiet, Raspberries, Weather

Only Child gets gardening finally

00240021Over the weekend we had lovely spring – almost summer – weather and I finally got out in my garden on Sunday. I cleaned off the patio table (bird shit – but at least it means the birds are back), brought out the rakes to the backyard. Took a side trip to the local gardening centre a few blocks away and bought some pansies. Some I repotted and all were set outside – on the patio picnic table, on an old baby’s porcelain bathtub I use to hold plants and on a couple of stands on the front veranda. Brought out a folding chair for the front. Even spent a bit of time sitting there reading and drinking some wine. And eating my meals out on the patio.

The garden is coming to life with tulip plants, irises, peonies, sedum, lamb’s ears, hyacinths, day lillies (the plants, no flowers yet), some onions that didn’t come up last year, chives, and my big surprise – a mum plant sending up new shoots. Usually these mum plants don’t do this – at least not the big ones I buy in the fall, even though they are supposed to.

The photo at the top is not from this year’s garden. It is what my garden and I aspire to. When there are some actual flowers, I’ll take photos and post.

So I got busy raking the grass and cutting off last season’s dead branches from the perennials. Lots to do here, but I am taking it gradually as it is too soon to plant anything new, although when I was growing up in the 1950s, Mom and Dad were out turning the soil and planting seeds – in April.

I am also assessing the damage done by God’s winter weather and what I need done – who will do it – and what I can afford to do. I have put it out there for all this to be fixed and where necessary for the money needed to do so to come to me.

I firmly believer that whoever causes damage must repair it, or at the very least, provide the tools (people, money, etc.) to do so.

But for now I will enjoy being out in my garden.

And doing a search for a new rain barrel. The old one and its setup unfortunately have to be replaced, “unfortunately” because it will cost me money.

 

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gardening, God, Home and Garden, Only child, Tulips

Wind storm prompts Only Child to random acts of kindness

Trees  bleak fall wind stormSouth and southwestern Ontario, Canada got hit with a horrible windstorm – gusts over 100 km in some places and much wind damage including trees down and power outages. Some places such as Kitchener and London, Ontario received flooding from the heavy rain. As I watched the videos about it on the weather network and listed what I did and didn’t want to happen, something good came out of all of this.

But first some background.

As many of you know I take the weather situations around the world seriously. No matter where you live you get plummeted with what I call the wrath of God, weather-wise. If you think I am nuts, just check out The Weather Network www.theweathernetwork.com or watch it on TV. The Force of Nature video clips are especially interesting, not just because they go round the world, but because of that title. Think about it “Force of Nature.” Really? Nature in that sense doesn’t seem appropriate. And then there is my favourite “Mother Nature” who in my mind doesn’t exist, especially when you think of all the extreme weather conditions as the norm worldwide. For those interested in the earliest recorded info about Mother Nature (not the Bible folks), and some variations through the ages, go to http://www.gotquestions.org/mother-nature.html

In previous posts I have also mentioned my takes on praying to God and the shakiness about “ask and you will receive.” So, with this storm coming and while it was here, I decided to lay it on the line, so to speak, to God about what I didn’t want to happen – not just for me but for everyone in the area being hit by the windstorm.

Those videos and stories on The Weather Network show that he didn’t listen completely. However, as I was checking for damage here and so far found I was lucky (We still have somewhat higher winds here in Toronto but not nearly as bad as last night, buy I’m keeping toes crossed), I made a decision.

We are all in this mess of weather God sends us. Some worse than others. As I watched some of the videos I felt badly for the people who lost homes from floods, winds, and in the Buffalo, New York area, from way too much snow last week. The latter claimed a dozen or so lives

Not right.

While I will continue to make my take on it all to God, etc., I plan to do some good. No I’m not rushing out to the damaged areas to help remove trees and restore hydro service. That’s for the experts.

Instead, I’m going to try to do random acts of kindness – once a day – all spontaneous. It may be as small as opening a door for someone or giving directions for someone trying to find a location. (I like to do the latter, perhaps because I have gotten lost before and just the thought of it is frightening).

Just to be clear, I am not doing it as Christian or Catholic duty. After all that has happened to me and what I have seen happen to others, I don’t consider myself Christian or Catholic anymore. Not sure what you would call me here – not agnostic or atheist and probably not even humanist, as I do believe in God – what I believe about him is just not any conventional belief. So what I want to do has nothing to do with God, religion and anything related.

I’m doing it because we are in the same leaky boat (any pun intended) in this life and if we don’t help one another some way, who will do it?

You probably can guess whom I think won’t do it.

 

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Floods, God, Only child, Prayer, Rain and wind storm, Sharon A. Crawford, Snow, Trees and Shrubs, Weather, Winter Weather

Only Child finds solace in her garden

Part of Only Child's rose garden in front by the sidewalk

Part of Only Child’s rose garden in front by the sidewalk

I’ve been seeking solace in my garden to get away from all the crap that has been shoved my way the last month or so. That is when one of these stressors – weather, i.e., heavy rain and winds – hasn’t gotten in the way. And the crap keeps piling up. Now the CRA messed up my tax returns on the notice of assessment and when I called they admitted their mistake and it will be fixed. Meantime, “the system”  won’t know this and so unless it is fixed before early July, the amount the Notice of Assessment says I still owe (but don’t) will come off my GST rebate for July and I won’t get my provincial tax credits (also July) until the situation is fixed. All for some clerical error at CRA. Not fair. I need that little extra to survive, or once the property tax and utility bills are paid, I do without somewhere (read health expenses for one).

My garden is my lifeline to comfort and some food. When I walk out into my garden and see they symmetry of the perennials, the shrubs, the raspberries starting to form, the onions and other vegetables coming up – even the ground where recent seeds were planted – I get some solace. The blend of colours – some white, red, yellow, blue, greens, silvers, and lots of shades of purple – the only spiritual nourishment in my life as I get no spiritual nourishment and help elsewhere such as traditional or non-traditional religion and faith. Faith and trust don’t seem to be in my vocabulary these days and it’s not by choice but from what’s been happening.

So I go out into my garden and absorb – sight, sound (birds), fragrance. I literally smell the roses which are now just beginning to bloom.

But there is a dark side to when I’m in the garden. Pulling weeds and digging are good ways to vent your anger and frustration. Each weed I dig up or yank out symbolizes the people, etc. who make my world worse. The pulled weeds are placed in the yard waste bins for city “garbage” collection to be dumped somewhere to go back to the earth. Appropriate. When we die our bodies disintegrate (if not done for us with cremation) back into the earth. A fit place for my stressors.

Sitting out in the garden in the sun or shade, reading a book, eating meals on the patio, or just taking in all the garden or collecting flowers are (along with writing) how I cling to sanity. Whatever sanity means these days.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gardening, Gardening health benefits, Healing through gardening, Income Taxes, Life demands, Only child, Rain and wind storm, Roses, Sharon A. Crawford