Monday, May 30, 2011

London, Ontario, latest train station

I've been down on the VIA train station in London since it was built. I've been wrong. It's a good station and a fine addition to our downtown. (I was down on it because the new station is here because a beautiful old station from the 1930s isn't.)

A friend bicycled from Toronto almost all the way to London; I picked him and his bicycle up just outside of town. When it was time to leave, I took him downtown to catch the early morning train to Montreal.

It only cost $20 to take his bike to Montreal on the train. There are hooks in the baggage car and the bike, wrapped in protective plastic bag, was hung safely on a set of hoods where it stayed all the way to Montreal.

My friend doesn't own a car. He takes the train a lot. He assured me that London's station was one of the best he has been in in North America. He said that I should be proud. Now, I am.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Cemetery at Schenicks's farm

In 1834 one acre of Solomon Schenick's farm was set aside for a pioneer cemetery, a school house and a place of worship. 177 years later the school is gone, the place of worship has disappeared and the land hasn't seen a plow in decades. All is now an East London residential neighbourhood.

Well almost all. Some of the oldest and thinnest cemetery stones are set in a concrete wall to protect them from vandalism. The wall, in turn, protects many of the remaining headstones. The small plot sits on a larger piece of undeveloped land surrounded by a chain link fence with a padlocked gate.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Keys to the Forest City

Children call them 'whirlybirds' or 'helicopters'. They are more accurately known as maple keys — the seeds of the maple tree. These distinctive seeds grow in pairs and spin as they fall. With a good breeze, they can travel a fair distance before striking the ground. As one tree can release hundreds of thousands of keys, this London street was thick with maple keys after a nasty thunderstorm rolled through the neighbourhood.

When I was a little boy, I would break a maple key in half and then split the seed pod itself. The inside of the pod was slightly sticky and I could spread the two halves and stick them on both sides of my nose. I thought the wing or blade of the seed, sticking out from my face, was like a lot like a rhinoceros horn — a small, thin, green rhinoceros horn — but a rhinoceros horn just the same.

Hey, I was a little kid and little kid's have big imaginations.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Beautify the city; decorate a fire hydrant

Fire hydrants don't get a lot of attention. They are installed, painted and forgotten — unless there's a fire. Fiona decided to do her part to beautify the city; She decorated the fire hydrant at the neighbourhood park with dandelion blossoms.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Daisy Patch

One Earth Day, 2009, the Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act came into force in Ontario. The sale and use of the pesticides commonly used to maintain lawns and gardens in Ontario was banned. The result? Lots of bright yellow dandelions and lovely patches of white petaled daisies here and there.

Now, my neighbour tells me to enjoy the bright, flowering weeds while I can. He assures me they will soon be gone. He's hired a company that uses a new herbicide, approved for use in Ontario, with the active ingredient chelated iron. The company promises to control his weeds legally and chemically. No more futile pulling, they say. They claim  once the spray has dried, it is safe for children and pets to walk on the treated lawn.

Ah . . . I've been learning to love the untreated, naturally weedy, expanses of lawn.

Victoria Day Fireworks and I Missed 'em

The Fanshawe Optimist Club of North London again teamed with the Fanshawe Conservation Area northeast of London to present one of the largest fireworks displays in Southwestern Ontario. As usual, the Victoria Day event got underway at dusk, which thanks to daylight savings time comes a little late for the wee-ones.

We brought Fiona, 20-months, to see the fireworks and by the time they started she was just about ready to quit. Oh, the first five minutes kept her interested, she actually kept signing "more, more," but after that it was "been there and done that." She made it clear it was time to go. We left.

As everyone knows, the best fireworks are the closers. The bursts of colours come so fast they fill the sky with overlapping displays. Oh well, I may not have got the most impressive shots but we did miss the traffic jam at the end.

I must confess that my dramatic shot is complements of Photoshop. Forgive me.

A mother and her little daughter play with a sparkler while awaiting the show.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A cool spring

It still seems so early in the year. It has been a cool spring with way more rain than usual. Mentally it feels as if winter has just left. But these goslings, down by the river, say spring is here and has been here for awhile.

In years past I have taken pictures of the goslings strutting about behind their parents. This year the fuzzy, little things are cuddling close together for warm. As I was saying, it has been a cool spring.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cool balconies!

The balconies on this apartment building in the south of London are neat. If this building was built close to other, visually different, apartment buildings, the balcony treatment would contrast with the surrounding buildings causing these unique balconies to visually jump.

Instead this building is teamed with another of the same design and the pop is reduced to a gentle fizz.

Oh well, it is still a cool design.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Rain, now fog, and the forecast? Rain.

It looked good when we got up, just a little after daybreak. But soon a dense fog had settled over the city. Not good for the morning commuters but good for early morning photographers. Just step out the front door and find a picture.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It rained in the morning, it rained at night but in the afternoon we celebrated.

In the last half of April, Londoners enjoyed just three rain-free days. Rainfall during that two-week stretch totaled 77.9 mm or about the same amount as normally falls during the entire month of April. May is looking like a repeat and the forecast if for this abnormally wet spring to continue into early June.

Grandfathers like me with granddaughters like Fiona are beginning to panic. These little kids live to run and they need the room provided by the outdoors. There are only so many laps they can make running down the hallway from the kitchen to the TV room and back before the confinement reduces them to tears: Little tears but big sobs.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Northern Flicker in London Ontario backyard

A Northern Flicker shot through my kitchen window.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


 I'm not a gardener.

My wife and I like magnolias and so I bought a tree for my backyard. It has now survived a number of Southwestern Ontario winters and has grown to about four feet. This spring it is in full flower. What a surprise; The blooms are a deep purple rather than pink and the shape is unlike the other magnolia trees in the neighbourhood.

What did I buy?

The magnolia may be the official state flower of Mississippi and Louisiana in the U.S., but some species are native to Southwestern Ontario where there the temperate climate supports a Carolinian Forest.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Canadian spring

Spring is surely here. The grass is green and blooms are everywhere. Wish I had grabbed a better shot.