Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Last Paddle

I'm activating this post from my ipad, sitting in our new house in Meaford.  We got successfully moved and are settling in.  Glad this long day is nearly over!

On my last evening on the French, I headed out alone down a nearby channel, just puttering slowly past the rocky shoreline.

Into the bay in the evening light.

More interesting rocks.

And Red Maples.

So nice to paddle very close to the rock, as slow as I want, visiting with the moss and lichen!

The next morning I watched my buddies head west for another long paddle, but I had to leave a day early to make an important medical apt. the next day.  A wonderful 5 days for me!

We probably don't have internet service at the moment; don't know if this will even publish.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


After trying unsuccessfully to find the 'Elephants' (though we did find some big rocks), we paddled on to explore Washpan Bay, one of those long narrow inlets in the bedrock here.

More of that beautiful White Pine and bedrock scenery.

After paddling and exploring a while we pulled in to another empty campsite for a gorp break.

And a cup of tea.

This was our trail lunch by the way, for 7 people.  Rye bread with PB&J, salami, cheese, peas, pickles, and an orange for desert.  Amazing how you can come up with a nutritious lunch with little effort.

One of our crew was determined to go for a swim!  The water was not warm!

We headed up all the way to the end of Washpan Bay, and turned back to paddle out the narrow channel.

At one point a Turkey Vulture looked down from above.

We had also chased a pair of Kingfishers along the shoreline.  This is my typical picture; they always seem to move on a little before I can get close.

A little wee bit closer with this shot.

But I did get a good picture of the splash when one of them caught a fish!

I also tried (unsuccessfully) to convince myself that these reddish stains in the rock were pictographs.

This rather weird moose watched from the shore as we paddled home.

Tomorrow is the big day, and we're ready!  Looking forward to the next chapter in our lives.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Hunting for the Elephants

On day 4 of our canoe trip, we headed off across Ox Bay in search of the 'Elephants'.  These are apparently huge rocks that somehow remind one of elephants.  We never did find them, but we had a wonderful paddle exploring the shoreline.

The sun was shining brightly as we headed out, gleaming off the water.  It turned out to be a beautiful day.

We spent most of the time puttering along the shoreline once we got across the bay, a typical northern rocky shoreline, with White Pine and Red Maple.

The White Pine, growing right out of the rock, is the iconic symbol of this country for me.

We found a campsite (hardly anyone camping at this time of year), but pulled in for lunch.  We were exploring these huge bare bedrock hogsbacks.  Didn't really look like elephants, but they were big rocks!

From the top you could look out into Ox Bay to the west - gives you a good idea of what the French River delta looks like.  Ox Bay is where the French and the Pickerel Rivers mix and mingle before heading out to Georgian Bay together.  The two white buildings in the distance are the lodge we stayed at.

One of my canoe buddies wanted to try out my little single canoe.  I think he enjoyed it!

The solid bedrock captured a bit of water in the low spots, moss grew, and on top of that we got a little patch of Cotton Grass, and then some Cranberry.  Yes, that's a real wild cranberry.

Sharkbytes asked about this picture I posted yesterday.  These are veins of rock, obviously harder than the surrounding rock, standing out about 6-8" from the other bedrock.


For those of you who missed it and have asked, we're moving to trade a summer of gardening and property maintenance for time to travel, explore, take more photos, and write.  We're also trading winter isolation in the snowy highlands for accessibility in town.  The house is new, but the yard is tiny!  It will be a challenge for Mrs. F.G. to design a garden, but lots of fun I'm sure.  We'll be in the town of Meaford, which is on Georgian Bay, so expect more pictures of the bay, in all its moods!  Two sleeps left.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Back to the French River

I've got more to share from my September canoe trip up on the French River.  Since I won't have any time for new photography the next few days, this seems like a good time to go back to them.

One late afternoon I took my small single canoe, and headed out to explore slowly, camera in hand.

Immediately I started seeing some of those interesting rock formations.

And passing some of those Red Maples that were turning colour.
There were beautiful reflections and stunning long curves in the bedrock along the water where the ice pushes by each winter.

I headed for one of those narrow channels that are my favourite part of the French River.
Through that narrow channel and into a shallow bay surrounded by northern forest.

On into the open marsh, past the pink Smartweed, and a number of different rush species.

Back through a narrow band of swamp, thanks to the high water levels this summer ....

And back through the narrow channel headed for the lodge.

So glad I got those 5 days of friends, paddling and relaxing before the final rush here - 3 sleeps left.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Bigleaf Magnolia

We've been surprised this year by our Bigleaf Magnolia.  First, way back in June, it bloomed for the first time.  Now it has the most interesting, enormous seed pod.  A really interesting and unusual tree in several ways.

It started back in June, when about 6 of these enormous flower buds showed up on the small tree. 

Bigleaf Magnolia, Magnolia macrophylla, is known (surprise, surprise), for its big leaves.  In fact they are giant leaves!

These leaves are over 6" wide, and about 18" long.  They are described as the largest leaves of any tree in North America.

This is the tree when the blooms came out.  It remained a small shrub for several years, and appeared to get frozen off each winter at first.  Only in the past 2-3 years has it grown up to its current 8-10 feet.

The flowers are huge too - known as the largest flowers of any tree in North America.  I should have got the step ladder out to get a view of the bloom from above.

My arm will help you judge the size of these leaves and the flower.

I did like this view from below.  I was surprised to read that the original range of the Bigleaf Magnolia is across Mississippi and Alabama, but in spite of that it is quite hardy, all the way to Zone 5 if you know your plant hardiness zones.  That lets it survive in the northern states, and here in southern Ontario.

The enormous seed pod is just as interesting as the enormous leaves and flowers.  This was two weeks ago.

Now the seed pod has opened up and started releasing its seeds.

The cells of the seed pod open up and the seeds fall out, but hang briefly in mid-air by an almost invisible filament.

We've got some unusual 'Carolinian' trees on our property, but this one beats them all!

Four sleeps left now!