The Long Melt – 2015

It seems like forever since the snow was here, but I wanted to add my visual chronicle of “the long melt” for the 3rd year in a row: you can see 2013 and 2014 if you want to compare

Although this winter was less snowy than previous winters (really, check out 2013 to see some snow), the snow did linger as March was cool as was April and the winter had been cold, and really this is Ottawa, we are just ready for spring when it comes, and it never seems to come fast enough. And we never seem to remember that it just takes as long as it takes for the snow to all melt.  As usual I’ll start the photos on March 21, the last day of winter/first day of spring and continue until all the snow in the back yard was gone.  This year was pretty typical of the last 3 yrs with the snow all melted by about April 19th.

March 21, 2015 - !st Day of Spring - When will the snow melt? (Deck)

March 21, 2015 – !st Day of Spring – When will the snow melt? (Deck)

March 30, 2105

March 30, 2105

April 3, 2015

April 3, 2015

April 4, 2015

April 4, 2015 (snowfall! a small setback)

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April 7, 2015

April 8, 2015

April 8, 2015

April 11, 2015

April 11, 2015

April 12, 2015

April 12, 2015

April 13, 2105 - SNOW FREE ON THE DECK!

April 13, 2105 – SNOW FREE ON THE DECK!

Now for the Garden Melt.. it takes a little bit longer to finish.

April 21, 2015 - 1st Day of Spring - Garden

April 21, 2015 – 1st Day of Spring – Garden

April 30, 2015

April 27, 2015

April 30, 2015

April 30, 2015

April 3, 2015

April 3, 2015

April 4, 2015

April 4, 2015 (snowfall! a small setback)

April 7, 2015

April 7, 2015

April 8, 2015

April 8, 2015

April 11, 2015

April 11, 2015

April 12, 2015

April 12, 2015

April 13, 2015

April 13, 2015

April 17, 2015

April 17, 2015

April 19, 2015.  Snow free day in 2013, but not quite in 2015.

April 19, 2015. Snow free day in 2013, but not quite in 2015.

April 21, 2015.  All the snow is finally gone from the back yard.  exactly one month after spring started.

April 21, 2015. All the snow is finally gone from the back yard. exactly one month after spring started.

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January Photo Challenge: Up Close and Far Away

January was my month to choose a theme, and I wanted to make sure it was something very broad that could be photographed indoors as well as out, since I find that in January I often don’t get outside with my camera because it’s too cold.  That being said, I did get out on the Rideau Canal one afternoon when it was just below zero and possible to take off my mittens long enough to snap a few shots.  The rest of my month’s work took place around our “Lego World” that is constantly in a state of construction and flux in the attic.  Much of the building is still completed by Mommy and Daddy and other adults who happen to be around, but it’s an activity that we all enjoy and Adrian loves to play with all of the machines and buildings that we create.  I also discovered that it’s very hard to get good close-ups of Lego, at least using the lens that I have.  I never quite got the lighting and the focus just right…  (and for the record, whoever says that modern Lego is not creative has not been to our house!)

What's going on in Lego World?  Let's take a closer look...

What’s going on in Lego World? Let’s take a closer look…

Looks like the paramendics are out for a date.

Looks like the paramedics are out for a date.

Santa? is that you?  What are you doing on the roof of the blacksmith's shop?

Santa? is that you? What are you doing on the roof of the blacksmith’s shop?  Oh, just chasing that bad guy?  Ok, go get him…

There was a disaster and an earthquake flattened the city.  But the people rebuilt... newer and better coffee shops, bigger hat shops and more spaceships.

There was a disaster and an earthquake flattened the city. But the people rebuilt… newer and better coffee shops, bigger hat shops and more spaceships.

Let's have a cup of tea.

Let’s have a cup of tea.

And now for something completely different: Here are my photos from the Canal. I was relatively pleased with these.

Close Up

Up close…

Close Up

…up close…

And Far Away

…and far away (the Bridge into Patterson Creek)

Close Up

Up close…

and far away

…and far away

close up

Up close (Looking at the Chateau, under the Somerset Bridge)…

and far away.

…and far away (Looking down the Canal at the Somerset Bridge and the Chateau)

And a little bit of HDR for the last few shots: It’s always fun to play around with HDR to try to make mediocre images a little bit exciting.

close up

Up close (University of Ottawa)…

and far away (University of Ottawa)

…and far away (University of Ottawa)

Close up (Bank Street Bridge)

Up close (Bank Street Bridge)…

and far away (Bank Street Bridge)

…and far away (Bank Street Bridge)

And two more, that I just remembered from the beginning of January, we had an ice storm to start off 2015.

Far away... (after the ice storm)

Far away… (after the ice storm)

...up close (after the ice storm)

…up close (after the ice storm)

Only Natural: April Photo Challenge

I have spent the month of April wondering what the photo challenge theme was.  I was convinced that nobody sent out a theme.  Then at the end of the month Dave (another member of the group) sent out a set of photos under the theme “Only Natural”.  Something twigged in my brain, that yes, I probably had seen this theme before.  Too bad it’s already the end of the month and I didn’t take any photos with the theme in mind because I had totally forgotten what it was.

However, I did have a little instagram photo challenge of my own for April which fits the theme (a nice broad theme will do that). So I will share it as my April offering.  The photos actually start on March 22, the first day of spring, and document the melt of snow from my back yard.  I did the same thing last year, and although this winter started a month earlier than last winter, the snow on the deck was melted on the exact same day, April 19.  The photos are taken looking out the back door at our deck and at our veggie garden.  The garden is where we pile the snow we shovel from the driveway all year long, so it takes a bit longer to melt than the deck – it’s covering of snow is “only natural!”.

March 22, 2014 - the deck

March 22, first day of spring 2014 – the deck

March 25, 2014 - Deck

March 25, 2014 – Deck

March 31, 2014, deck

March 31, 2014, deck

April 3, 2014 - Deck

April 3, 2014 – Deck

April 10, 2014, Deck

April 10, 2014, Deck

April 14, 2014 - Deck

April 14, 2014 – Deck

April 15, 2014 - Deck

April 15, 2014 – Deck

April 17, 2014, Deck

April 17, 2014, Deck

April 19, 2014 - Deck

April 19, 2014 – Deck

And the Garden…

March 22, 2014 - the garden

March 22, 1st Day of Spring 2014, Garden

March 25, 2014, Garden

March 25, 2014, Garden

March 31, 2014, Garden

March 31, 2014, Garden

April 3, 2014, Garden

April 3, 2014, Garden

April 10, 2014 - Garden

April 10, 2014 – Garden

April 14, 2014 - Garden

April 14, 2014 – Garden

April 15, 2014 - Garden

April 15, 2014 – Garden

April 17, 2014 - Garden

April 17, 2014 – Garden

April 19, 2014 - Garden

April 19, 2014 – Garden

It’s “only natural” that the snow would melt… eventually! Now if it would only warm up, we could really start to enjoy the spring!

Ottawa River Sculptures

One of my favourite lesser known attractions in Ottawa is the rock sculptures on the Ottawa River at the Remic Rapids, just west of Parkdale. These beautiful, ephemeral sculptures are built every summer only to be knocked down by the ice and the force of the river each winter. They are never the same and throughout any one summer are constantly being added to and refined. I first visited these rock sculptures in 1997 – when the Boy’s Dad and I were first dating and spent many evenings getting to know each other going for long walks. I was pleased when I moved back to Ottawa over 10 years later to see that these were still created each summer. It’s worth a trip at least once a summer: We made our annual trip last weekend on our bikes. We were not disappointed. These are still as magical as ever.

Overview of the sculptures

Overview of the sculptures

Close-up of the balancing rocks

Close-up of the balancing rocks

I was impressed with this little wall.

I was impressed with this little wall.

A close up of the wall.

A close up of the wall.

Sculptures in the water.

Sculptures in the water.

Here’s a link to the artist’s home page: http://www.jfceprano.com/ – he’s been at it since 1985!
 

Juniper Farm

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We have a “share” in a farm just outside of Wakefield called “Juniper Farm” (http://juniperfarm.ca/).  They had an open house last weekend and the Boy and I went on an adventure to check it out. (getting there was an adventure – I couldn’t figure out how to get my GPS to search for an address in Quebec, so we had to wing it based on my memory of the Google Map I’d seen.  Luckily the road the farm was on, was just off the main road and as we were driving along – all of a sudden I saw the turn off.  It would have been too bad to take a two year old almost an hour out of the city, only to have to turn around because we couldn’t find what we were looking for!)

Once we found the farm (which really is quite easy to locate), we had a great morning.  The weather was cool and overcast, and it’s been pretty wet, but we had our rain boots on and were able to tramp around, get a bit muddy and have a look at where our veggies come from.

A highlight was a trip to the chicken coop.  It was fun to see many of the sustainable agricultural practices that I’d read about in various books (like “the Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “Salad Bar Beef”) being put into practice on this farm.  They have the chickens on the fields that are fallow this year and move the pens around as they eat up the grass.  As they eat the grass, they dig up the soil as well as fertilize it with their poo.  It’s a great source of nutrients for the soil and an extra source of income for the farm, which sells eggs and meat.

Hello Chickens!

Hello Chickens!

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A highlight for the Boy, was a trip into the chicken coop to look for eggs.  The farmers have a son a little bit older than he is who showed him the ropes.  It’s pretty exciting for a city boy (and his city momma) to get right into the pen with the chicks and go collect fresh eggs.

"Look at what I found!"

“Look at what I found!”

 

The bare dirt shows where the chicken houses have been.  This year's cultivated land is in the back ground.  There's tomatoes in the mobile greenhouses (they have to move them each year in order to let the land go fallow).

The bare dirt shows where the chicken houses have been. This year’s cultivated land is in the back ground. There’s tomatoes in the mobile greenhouses (they have to move them each year in order to let the land go fallow).  I would have liked to walk around the veggie fields a bit more, but since I was dealing with the attention span of a two year old for whom chickens are much more exciting than tomatoes,  that will have to wait for another trip.

Farm kids have great toys.

Farm kids have great toys.

 

Standing on a snowplow blade, one of the highlights of the day.

Standing on a snowplow blade, one of the highlights of the day.

 

We had a fun morning out in the country, it was great to meet the farmers and see the exciting things they are doing on their farm to try and grow food organically and sustainably.  We were members of this farm last year (although we didn’t make it out to the farm) so we can vouch that the veggies taste great.  The CSA shares are sold out for this year but you could get food from Juniper Farm at the Chelsea and Wakefield farmer’s markets as well as at their farm store.

A quick play in the sand box before heading home.  As the boy said "I didn't want to leave the farm".

A quick play in the sand box before heading home. As the boy said “I didn’t want to leave the farm”.

 

 

 

Bikes and Blossoms

This weekend was the May 24th Long weekend – affectionately known, in Ontario at least, as “the 2-4”.  Traditionally the first camping or cottage weekend of the year, it really signifies the beginning of summer for many Canadians.  I’m happy to say, that after a long, snowy winter here in the capital, this “2-4” did not disappoint.  Even though we weren’t at a cottage or out camping we had more than one meal outside on the deck with friends, went for a hike and a picnic in Gatineau Park, and I got to go out biking; both on my own, and with The Boy and his Dad.  I was happy to be able to finally bring along my “big” camera and try to take some better photos than I get on the iPod on my daily toddler adventures.  It seemed like everyone in Ottawa also had the same idea and the bike paths were packed with people cycling, taking photos and generally enjoying the sunshine, the flowers and the outdoors.

This series of photos highlights blossoms and bikes seen on Saturday and on Monday.

Daffodils

Daffodils and Dows Lake

And over the bridge

The bridge near the Arboretum

Biking By

Biking By

Blossoms in the Arboretum

Blossoms in the Arboretum

My ride.

My ride.

Blur... I didn't quite perfect these photos. I am keen to try again.

Blur… I didn’t quite perfect these photos. I am keen to try again.

Bixi's being well used

Lots of people were biking around on Bixis

I made her do a drive-by so I could take a shot

I made her do a drive-by so I could take a shot (it’s my sister).

Bikes and Boats

Bikes and Boats

Along the Canal

Along the Canal

Stop to look for ducks

Stop to look for ducks

Winding Path

Winding Path (rare bike free moment)

Biking with the Boy.

The best thing (Ok, one of many, many great things) about the improved weather we’ve been having has been getting out on my bike with The Boy. I didn’t bike much with him last year for various technical reasons (insert boring story about bike frame and incompatible trailer hitch here).  This summer, I want to use my bike for far more trips, like I did in Vancouver – before I had a car.  So far – so – good!  the Boy and I have been having a great time.  Going on out with the bike significantly increases the places that we can visit within a close radius to home.  We try to walk a lot and we drive too – but there are some places that are difficult to drive to (they aren’t actually accessible by car – or they are too close to justify the drive) but too far to walk (without the walk taking up all the time and leaving no time to “be” at the destination ); this is where biking can be perfect.

Where the canal meets the Ottawa River

Where the canal meets the Ottawa River

For example:  on exercise mornings we can bike to the Y and then after we were done we can bike to Dow’s Lake to look for ducks or to throw pine cones in the water, and to look at the tulips and flowering trees.

Throwing sticks into Dows Lake

Giving Dows Lake a little stir with a stir stick.

I can honestly say that these little trips have been some of my favourite times as a parent.  The Boy is very interested in what’s around him, enjoys riding in the trailer, and is thrilled about seeing the river and ducks, all of which are still very new to him.

One morning we sat on the edge on the shore where the canal meets the Ottawa River and talked about what we were seeing for almost an hour, the ducks, the crane at the Art Gallery, the high water, the sound of the cars going over the Alexandria Bridge (Mommy, what is that noise?”) and the Aquabus that came along full of tourists – (if you want to capture the imagination of a two year old – tell him that the boat he’s seeing is actually a “bus-boat” that can drive on land and in the water!)

It's not that easy to explain what a "flood" is to a two year old.

It’s not that easy to explain what a “flood” is to a two year old.  We had to learn lots of new concepts like “shore” and “edge”

Another time we went up to the arboretum and spent a long time watching ducks swimming, listening to the frogs,  just observing.

"A Duckie!"

“A Duckie!”

"Look, look, Mommy, a Duckie!"

“Look, look, Mommy, two Duckies!”

And all of this is possible on a bike.  I feel like we have an infinite number of places we can explore on the bike that were just a little bit out of reach on foot – and that my eco-guilt doesn’t always let me visit in the car – or that are tough to get to by car as well.  When you think about it, Ottawa has a lot of waterfront and almost all of it (at least in the centre of town) is accessible by bike paths.  We could choose a different direction to explore every day for weeks and still find new places to go.

At the Arboretum

At the Arboretum

The open road!

The open road!

And tulips - Ottawa shines in the spring!

Tulips…

More Flowery Trees

…Flowery Trees…

Flowery Trees

… and more Flowery Trees: Ottawa shines in the spring.

All photos are taken on the iPod – which is easier to carry while cycling – but sometimes leaves a bit to desire in the quality department.