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.

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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!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Livestock in the Fields

I've been seeing a lot of cattle and other livestock out in the fields these days.  Sometimes they've been turned out into hayfields where the last cut has been taken off.  With the cooler weather, I think the animals enjoy being out more than during a hot summer.

This is the nearest herd to home.  On occasion they seem interested, but usually they completely ignore me.

This one at least looked my direction.

Maybe this big fella was embarassed that I caught him in the act!

Just around the corner are the horses at Hope Haven.  I always like driving past to say hello there.

And up the road a bit are the young Alpacas, grazing quite close to the road yesterday.

Finally, up near Meaford are two sheep farms.  One pair was relaxing on the manure pile, while a lamb was desperately trying to keep up as his (or her) mother walked toward me.

I'm not sure the little lamb, obviously a late one this summer, even let go while the ewe was walking.

Until finally they both stopped and looked up at me.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Sunrise and Evening Skies

I've caught a few interesting skies recently - one sunrise, and some evening skies.

The point on the eastern horizon where the sun rises has moved a long distance south of course.  At this point it was rising right in the gap between the trees.

I got one pre-dawn shot, and then the sun appeared in that gap.

The clouds were fascinating, but this formation all dissipated shortly after.

More recently, I grabbed these shots on my cellphone while on my evening walk.  The clouds seemed really interesting.

But the iphone did a terrible job on the sunset shot, one of my worst sunset shots ever.  Should have had a real camera!

The move has begun.  We got the keys to the new house today, and sat there waiting for our appliances to be delivered by Sears.  We breathed a huge sigh of relief when they did arrive, and then Mrs. F.G. spent an hour and a half taking the protective cling wrap off the fridge!  For those of you not in Canada, Sears is one of our biggest department stores, with a long history.  We have bought appliances there for 45 years, and seem to feel a certain loyalty, even though it's just a commercial store.  Now they've announced they're going bankrupt, possibly any day now.  So we were glad to get things before that happened!  Meantime, thousands of employees will lose their jobs, and the managers will get paid big bonuses.  It's not fair!  Our loyalty has been to the employees, not the corporation!

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