4.25.2008

green progress, small scale

I don't think I've ever been so happy to see spring. This winter was just ridiculous, even for a winter-loving person like me.

I've been obsessively watching the trees in our neighbourhood for signs of leaves. The dogwoods are already in bloom, and now our little pear tree and forsythias are budding. The trees that line the sidewalk - I don't know what they are! - are still bare.

Most days, we can leave the back door open and the dogs can trot in and out at will. In the warmest part of the day, Tala likes to lie on the little concrete patio and survey her kingdom. Cody lies in the hot sun until she's cooked, then over to the shade to cool off a bit, then back to the sunbathing.

I like to sit in the backyard and listen to the birdsong, watch the birds skitter around. A big fat robin is working on a nest in the pear tree. It's just a small tree, and seems like an insecure spot for a nest. Yet the foundation of it survived the winter, so the bird must know what its doing.

Compared to my former urban life, sometimes I feel like I live out in the country. That's ridiculous, since this is the heart of suburban sprawl. But having a backyard, being outdoors a lot more, I am so much more aware of the change of seasons than I was in New York. In the city, I saw the overall change: oh look, it's spring now. Now I see the gradual changes over days and even hours. I'm really enjoying it.

In keeping with my goal of going hiking more often, this Monday we'll take our first spring hike. I'm aiming for once a month, a modest goal that would be a sizable increase over what we did last year. Hiking was a big incentive for me to deal with my foot pain. This will be a big test of my new orthotics.

I'd also like to try several different places for these little hikes. This week I'm thinking Elora Gorge.

22 comments:

Scott M. said...

Elora Gorge is a *really nice* place to camp and go tubing, but not all that great for hiking. Given the limited number of days in the hiking season, if I were you, I'd postpone Elora Gorge until a very hot day and go on the wonderful lazy tube ride through the gorge. It's great.

L-girl said...

Elora Gorge is a *really nice* place to camp and go tubing, but not all that great for hiking.

No? I'm surprised. James mentioned it was one of his favourite places, so I kind of assumed a good hike.

I know you like more intense and strenuous hikes than we do. If I said "walk on a trail" would the Elora Gorge be a suitable spot?

No tubing for us. Dogs can't go! :)

Jen said...

re: suburban country life: I once let my basement apartment to an archaeologist and his wife visiting Canada from Tel Aviv, Israel. The really didn't like the near-suburban (Parkdale) solitude. They missed the hustle and bustle in the streets, people yelling/calling out to neighbours, laundry between buildings, evidence that other people actually lived in the surrounding buildings... Ze'ev was busy at the university, but his wife, Eti, found it all very solitary. She even complained about the birds waking her in the morning!

L-girl said...

They missed the hustle and bustle in the streets, people yelling/calling out to neighbours, laundry between buildings, evidence that other people actually lived in the surrounding buildings... Ze'ev was busy at the university, but his wife, Eti, found it all very solitary. She even complained about the birds waking her in the morning!

Jen, that would have been me through most of my life!

But we do have a lot of evidence of life in our neighbourhood. Kids play ball in the street, there are always people walking dogs and riding bikes, and we're near several public schools and a large community centre. That helps.

When I'm in Toronto, I remember how much I love urban street life. I've traded it for a backyard and the chance to live in a house (a whole house, not an apartment in a house), but I do sometimes miss it.

Scott M. said...

No? I'm surprised. James mentioned it was one of his favourite places, so I kind of assumed a good hike.

It's definately one of my favourite places too in Western Ontario. But the beauty is in the gorge itself, which you can't see from the hiking trails.

As you can see on the last page here the vast majority of the gorge has camping right up to it, and while the hiking trail does bring you to some points along it, it's quite short in length and very compact. By far the best way to view the gorge is by going down the river in a tube which is only permitted when water levels are lower (and only fun when it's hot outside).

Tubing takes 40 minutes and, while you're right the dogs can't go, you can bring them and leave them with the friends you're camping with or whathaveyou while you go down. Definately worthwhile tubing there though.

Ferdzy said...

Well that's funny. I belong to a small hiking group, and on Monday we are going to go to the Elora gorge. Maybe we will see you there! (Not that we'd recognize each other.) I could look for your dogs, though, I suppose...

Scott M. said...

When you go to Elora Gorge, it's sometimes funny to check out the Grand River Raceway (and slots) which has a strange pioneering/late 19th century theme to it.

L-girl said...

Tubing takes 40 minutes and, while you're right the dogs can't go, you can bring them and leave them with the friends you're camping with or whathaveyou while you go down.

Friends we are camping with! How hilarious.

Nope, sorry. We don't tube, we don't camp. I'll report back on the gorge on Tuesday.

Well that's funny. I belong to a small hiking group, and on Monday we are going to go to the Elora gorge. Maybe we will see you there! (Not that we'd recognize each other.) I could look for your dogs, though, I suppose...

It is funny! Yes, keep an eye out for two people, one short and blond (me), with two dogs, one white and one dark brown. That would be something.

Scott M. said...

Although you won't be able to see all of it, I'm sure you'll enjoy it. I think it's just around 2.5 km of trail, unless you go through the campground.

The high water levels will probably have the lower road closed so if you do go on the other side you'll have to do so via the high road bridge.

redsock said...

We could each hold a dog on our lap. That might work!

L-girl said...

We could each hold a dog on our lap. That might work!

ROFL

Can you imagine Tala...??? Better Bring your scuba gear!

Ferdzy said...

I shall keep my eyes peeled!

We're a tallish, fattish, brunettish pair, in a party of an indefinite (but not too large) number. Sweetie looks a bit like a dandelion gone to seed, other than that I am at a loss to describe ourselves.

Oh well! I am hoping to come to your annual party, but I don't want to commit until we are through some mass hysteria (remortgaging, house selling) that has been going on here lately.

L-girl said...

I will look too! Hope you can make it to wmtc3. I will be sending a reminder/rsvp email in a couple of weeks.

kim_in_to said...

For many years, we used to drive out to Elora Gorge around Thanksgiving. Always on the agenda were: picnic, a small fire for toasting marshmallows, and a walk. I say "walk" and not "hike". I've never prepared with gear, water, or plans to follow trails. We would just take a walk and follow any path we might find, through the trees along the edge of the gorge, look out from the high bridge, and sometimes along the other side to the low bridge if the water was low enough that you could cross it to get back.

James said...

James mentioned it was one of his favourite places, so I kind of assumed a good hike.

Not exactly one of my favourite places -- I've only been a couple of times -- but I definitely enjoyed wandering around there.

Just about anywhere on the Bruce Trail is good, too. :)

L-girl said...

Oops, sorry for exaggerating. I got it from comments in this post.

Probably some of the confusion is because I call any walk in a woodsy type setting a hike. It's just a habit from a lifetime of calling it that, my dad calling it that, etc. For some reason, a walk is in the city or around my own neighbourhood, but if I'm not walking on a road or sidewalk, it's a hike.

I want to see this area, so we'll try it on Monday. Something a little different, not just driving up Hwy 10.

James said...

Oops, sorry for exaggerating. I got it from comments in this post.

Ah. I meant, there, that Elora Gorge is a personal favourite among provincial and regional conservation areas, which it is. For hiking, I prefer the first suggestion in that post: [...]the Bruce Trail. While there's some climbing on some sections, most of it just goes along the top of the Escarpment and gives you great views. Some places I like: The Devil's Punchbowl in Hamilton, Devil's Glen, Keyhole Caves, along the Niagara River.

L-girl said...

I want to check out Devil's Punchbowl. I think it's next after Elora Gorge.

For me, having never seen any of these places, it's fun to just check out new spots. Even the drive up is fun and new.

Except for Tala's barking, that is.

Scott M. said...

Except for Tala's barking, that is.

How goes the barking desensitization? Not good, I take it. Are you going to try any neat tricks on Monday?

L-girl said...

How goes the barking desensitization? Not good, I take it.

We put cardboard over the back side windows. No effect.

Other than that, we've given up for now. It was so time-consuming, with such microscopic results. She's gotten much better on the leash (which also had been an issue). So if we have to live with this barking craziness... then we have to. No one's perfect. Not even my Tala! ;)

Are you going to try any neat tricks on Monday?

There's not much to try. We'll put some yummy treats back there for her, but I don't want to sit in the hatchback and do training with her the whole way up to Guelph. It is anything but relaxing.

The only other "trick" for long car rides is drugs. We gave her a mild sedative on the way to the Kawarthas in Sept - it was heavenly.

But obviously we can't sedate her before a hike or walk in a park, that doesn't make any sense.

It's very possible she'll outgrow it eventually. So we look forward to that day. :)

Scott M. said...

... waiting with baited breath ...

L-girl said...

The weather didn't cooperate, so we've rearranged our week. I'll post about it later on. :)