Friday, December 28, 2012

Big Snow

garden table with new snow
We awoke yesterday to a big fresh snowfall, the first in almost two years around here. Freshly fallen snow is transformative, not only of the landscape but also of the mind. It awakens a younger me, the Simon that used to spend hours playing outdoors making tunnels and forts as a boy in Ottawa. And the changed and simplified appearance of everything blanketed in snow inevitably encourages the artist in me to grab my camera and get out to enjoy it while it lasts.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Hobo of Spencer Gorge

This week I hiked into Spencer Gorge to meet Marty, the resident hobo.  Marty,  a self-declared hobo, who collects bottles and cans for a living around Dundas Ontario, camps out at his "Cuddy Shack" deep in the woods.

I helped him carry wood and water up from the stream as he told me about the wildlife he observes, and the historical artifacts he has found. He even found a body once.

The view is beautiful, the shack is warm and the Christmas tree outside is decorated. Merry Christmas Marty! 

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Neighbourhood Fox

There's a new hunter in our neighbourhood, a bold and handsome red fox. He trotted past my studio window twice last week, and yesterday I spotted him from my car.

So I followed him as he wandered across the lawns and streets, using my cellphone camera to snap a few quick shots. What he was looking for I have no idea. But I have noticed that there haven't been any rabbits around here for awhile!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Winter Birding

Tufted Titmouse

I went birding along the Niagara River last Sunday, my first attempt at 'winter birding', with a group of birding experts who knew their birds well, particularly the unusual gulls who gather there.

While I did spot a few rare gulls such as the all-white Iceland Gull, a first for me, I had more luck - and fun - photographing the winter birds in the local woodland parks. Another first was the Winter Wren, an uncommon and secretive bird that lives by woodland streams.

But the most beautiful bird of the day was the Tufted Titmouse, a relative of the Chickadee, that was quite amenable to posing for my camera!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sounds of the Season

The Blind Boys of Alabama perform in the Glenn Gould Studio
Last Friday I made my way down to the CBC Broadcasting Centre in Toronto for the annual Sounds of the Season food drive and live radio broadcast. I dropped off my contribution of non-perishable food items for local food banks and then found a seat in the Glenn Gould Studio theatre just as The Blind Boys of Alabama were doing their sound check. These living legends still know how to rock the house with their gospel music!

The food drive is still accepting donations at the CBC or online, so please consider supporting the cause.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


The view from my room at the Caravanserai Cave Hotel in Goreme

As a side trip to my visit to Findhorn, I spent 3 days hiking through the valleys of Cappadocia Turkey, a region I thought might make for interesting stereo photography.  So glad I went! 

Ancient abodes in Pigeon Valley
An early Christian crypt

Since at least 1300 BCE, people have carved dwellings in the surrounding hills and hoodoos, here called castles and fairy chimneys.

Whole underground cities, complete with churches, stables, wells and ventilation shafts have been carved in the soft rock, laid down over millennia as volcanic ash.

As well as providing safe sanctuary from marauding armies, these abodes were warm in the winter and cool in the summer!

I took a hike through the euphemistically named Love Valley
Up, Up, Way Up!

A highlight for me was a balloon ride where we rose through the clouds to emerge into bright sunlight, with a view of a distant snow-capped volcano.

The air was actually warmer above the clouds than below!

I wrote an account of my ride with Butterfly Balloons on TripAdvisor.

I wanted photos of Turkish people and they wanted photos of me!
The Turkish people were wonderful hosts, always gracious and willing to accommodate a traveller's needs and make helpful suggestions. Two Turkish men offered me a ride to Avenos, a pottery-making town, where I wandered the markets, snapped lots of people pictures, and visited a school of traditional Turkish carpet making.

A 3D cross-view of carpet-weaving students in Avenos

Wendy, Xiaoyong and Josie Chai

One of the wonderful things about traveling is the chance to make new friends; people with whom you share a special moment in time but might never meet again. Wendy, Xiaoyong and their daughter Josie shared their car with me and were great models for my landscape photography. Such a delightful family! I do hope we meet again some day.

3D cross-view of Love Valley

Capstones on the fairy chimneys around Urgup
Cappadocia is a place that should be on everyone's bucket list. And if you ever want a guide/companion to go with, just let me know!