Wednesday, December 14, 2016

FON Bowling Party

To celebrate the end of another successful workshop season, Focus on Nature held its first bowling party as a way of saying THANK YOU to our many volunteers.

In 2016, our volunteer instructors and assistants conducted 88 full-day workshops in schools and community centres, reaching over 2200 children - a new milestone for Focus on Nature!

Our volunteers bring their wisdom, experience and love of the outdoors to classrooms, giving all children the opportunity see the world with new eyes.

It has been a wonderful experience working with such a dedicated group of people who are making real difference in the lives of young people in their community.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Horseshoe Lake & Gull River

I spent a week in the Haliburton Highlands this September at a cottage on peaceful Horseshoe Lake.

Each morning I got up early to watch the spectacular sunrises over the misty lake.

 The evening moonrise over the lake was not as glorious but very serene.

Sometimes little "nature interventions"  happened unexpectedly, like these mating  dragonflies that landed on my hand one afternoon.

When I went exploring the Gull river, which flows out of Horseshoe Lake, I saw a beautiful Great Blue Heron, in full mating plumage, lurking in the shadows.  I had never seen such 'blue' coloration on a GBH before.

Normally wary of humans, this fellow let me approach quite close until a dog arrived and then he was gone.

The Gull River is also the site of a world-famous white water racing course and I was fortunate enough to see an actual race in progress while I was there. 

The skill and strength of the kayakers was very impressive and fun to watch!

Thursday, July 21, 2016


The flowerpot border wall

Trump wants to build a wall. How about a wall of flower pots like the one I saw yesterday at the Canada/USA border in Stanstead, Quebec?

Gail and Martin straddle the border in the Haskell Library

The border passes through the village library and theatre and then down Canusa Street. On one side of the street are American homes, on the other they're Canadian!

Stop and then take a left turn to drive down Canusa Street.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Community of Hearts

I had the distinct pleasure of leading a Focus on Nature workshop with the young adults at Community of Hearts. While they may live with challenges related to their mental disabilities, these folks were very enthusiastic about learning photography and showed great talent in making well-composed images.

We spent the morning walking, laughing and shooting photos of flowers, goslings, graffiti and our own shadows along the Speed River. It was a blast! They have a great sense of humour and a big capacity for compassion.

And like the students at our school workshops they were proud of their work and keen to share their slideshows with the others in their group.

Thank you Community of Hearts. I hope we'll be able to work with you again.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Happy Birthday, Gail!

We celebrated Gail's birthday yesterday, here in Barbados, where she's been staying for the past 3 months. 
I won't say which birthday (it's not polite to reveal a woman's age!) but it was a milestone. 

Gail's birthday wish was to have dinner on the beach with her good friends, Dianne and Sam Mahon.
With tiki torches and fine wine we made it a night to remember!

Happy Birthday to a wonderful woman. I love you so much!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Caribbean SOS

My idyllic day on the Tobago Cays (see previous post) ended in a near-disaster. Gail and I had hired a local water taxi, the Papa San and its driver Jerome, to take us from nearby Mayreau Island to the Cays and bring us back in the afternoon.

After a great day of snorkelling around the reefs, on the return 20 minute journey the outboard motor on the Papa San suddenly died.  The waters were quite rough on the windward side of Mayreau, rocking the boat as Jerome tried restarting the engine to no avail. We were out of gas!

The rocks and waves at Monkey Point
As the current drew us towards the rocks of Monkey Point and the ominous frothing surf of the surrounding reef, we started to get a little nervous. "Don't worry", said Jerome as he tossed the anchor overboard. Only one problem: the anchor wasn't tied to the boat and with one big wave the rope slipped through Jerome's hands and the anchor disappeared into the deep. No cell phone and no lifejackets. Now what? 

A boat came around the point heading for Union Island. Gail, getting quite panicky, took off her white shirt and started waving it as we all yelled as loud as we could. No response.

Towed home
The rocks loomed larger. The waters looked angrier. Gail was beside herself. I was thinking about our best options: stay with the boat or get our fins on and start swimming hard.

Another boat appeared and we waved and screamed even louder to no avail. Jerome put his flippers on and started beating his legs against the current. It seemed to have little effect.

Then a third boat appeared around the point. This time our waving and yelling paid off. The boat slowed and then wheeled towards us. Rescued!

Bigger boats are better!

Our rescuers were from a new resort development on Mayreau and their boat, unlike ours, was a large zodiac with a huge outboard motor. They threw us a rope and obligingly towed us slowly back to the Mayreau pier.

Lesson learned? Yup. The next day we went back to Tobago Cays but this time on a large catamaran with lunch served on board. It was twice the price but worth every penny.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Tobago Cays

This uninhabited group of tiny islands, and the protective reef around them, are a national marine park in the Grenadines. I'd heard it was popular with "yachties" sailing the Caribbean sea and a great place to snorkel in the crystal clear waters.

I decided to make this the place to spend my sixty-sixth birthday and I was not disappointed!

Green turtles, stingrays and every kind of tropical fish abound in these shallow blue waters.

Bonaparte's gulls flew overhead and iguanas chased each other around the beach as I enjoyed my rum punch! It was a day to remember.

A near-disaster awaited but I'll save that story for my next blog post.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Emerging Nature

Emerging Nature is our newest exhibition of photographs taken by students in Focus on Nature workshops and camps. It runs for the month of March at the eMERGE Centre in Old Quebec Street Mall, in downtown Guelph.

Jacob and Family at the reception.  Photo by Evan Ferrari.

The opening reception had a lot of media attention! Read the article published in GuelphToday.

If you can't make it to see these remarkable images in person, then do visit our Flickr site to enlarge them on your screen.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Green Heron

Who is that bird walking about in the bougainvillea? Why it's a green heron! In fact there is a pair of herons and they're building a nest in the tree beside our apartment in Barbados.

Green herons are a small heron that is familiar along the shorelines of lakes and marshes in Ontario but I didn't know he was a Caribbean bird as well. In Canada they are very secretive and difficult to see as they crouch perfectly still in the shadows waiting for a fish or frog to come near. But here they appear to be well-adapted to having humans around. So well that this pair will be raising a clutch of chicks right next door to us!