Tangled Vines, a misty morning in Cedarvale Ravine
Being in nature and reflecting on nature is a great way to gain wisdom and insight into many of life's challenges. Throughout history, individuals have turned to the forest for answers. American spiritual teacher Ram Dass turns to the woods to shed insight on becoming less judgemental of others. Simply put, just turn people into trees; you will be able to accept and appreciate them much more easily. Here is an excerpt from his writing...
"... when you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.
The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying “You’re too this, or I’m too this.” That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are."
The restorative benefits of being outdoors may reach beyond the obvious reasons of physical activity and fresh air and into the realm of colour frequency and vibration. It has been known throughout history that colour can impact our moods and emotions and if there’s any doubt then consider how modern buildings use colour to reinforce their purpose. Is it any coincidence that both hospitals and schools use green, a colour known for it’s healing properties? Green is close to the earth and while it symbolizes growth and life, it's also the colour for balance, harmony and restful states of mind.
With this in mind, I turn to the vibrancy of autumn and the impact that yellow and gold may have on our mood and state of mind. This time of year offers a vibrant season of natural chromotherapy, and for anyone interested in this fascinating field of study, it’s been a topic of interest since ancient times. It’s definitely worth learning more about but in the meantime, let us embrace the short season of yellow and gold offered in the forest and experience first hand the benefits of yellow; a colour known to strengthen and stimulate the nerves and mind!
Summer may be winding down but the temperature isn't and the extreme heat and humidity this past week has been intense. For those of you living near a forest or park you may have noticed the crickets chirping a little louder than usual. A coincidence perhaps? Not at all. Crickets are known to chirp louder and more intensely in relation to the heat. This relationship is called Dolbear's Law and was formulated by American physicist Amos Dolbear in 1897 and documented in his article "The Cricket as Thermometer". In his article he accurately calculates the degree of heat based on the number of chirps per minute. Because insects are cold-blooded, they are constantly in tune with and taking the temperature of their surroundings and this results in the cricket's chirp rate being based on their metabolism. Basically the higher the temperature the more energy the cricket has for muscle contraction which increases the intensity of their chirping. They create their chirp by rubbing the serrated edge from the top of one wing against the bottom of the other and when doing so, they hold their wings up and open into a kind of acoustical sail sending their trills and chirps out into the night air. Here's a short orchestra recorded this evening:
When last have you seen a wetland? Have you ever paused for a moment or taken the time to look and listen. Wetlands are often overlooked or underappreciated which is unfortunate considering they are some of the most ecologically productive regions in the world. Their rate of photosynthesis is very high making plant growth fast which allows them to act as a natural filter. The abundance of plant material absorbs heavy metals and toxins from the environment as well as excess nitrogens and phosphorus from the watershed. The image above is classified as a marsh due to it's shallow waters and diverse plant life; it's a thriving ecosystem providing habitat for countless forms of life ranging from birds and insects to ducks, beavers, fish and frogs. Take a moment and listen... Listen to the sounds of the marsh in the last calls before night fall.
February 2015 was a record-breaking month for cold weather in Toronto and February 23rd hit the record for being the coldest Feb 23rd in history at -21 Celsius though a bone-chilling cold of -34 with the wind.
While most of us have the luxury of being able to bundle up and stay indoors, it's a very different story for wildlife. I took a trip down to the lake on one of the coldest days and found a flurry of activity on the lake. The ducks and geese were in a frenzy of motion and I'm sure if they didn't keep moving that they might have froze into the ice. The picture above shows how the ice is practically freezing around them. Shooting on a cold day like this is not an easy task. I do love a challenge but my circulation isn't great and I felt frozen to the bone. Somehow I managed to stay out long enough to get footage for a one hour video. The short clip below is a favourite with two Mallards keeping each other company on this Chilly Winter Evening. The full length video is available and will soon be posted on the Nature Studio YouTube Channel.
Lake Ontario’s name comes the Iroquoian language and translates into ‘Lake of Shining Water’. Not only is it a lake of great beauty and character, but it’s also an ecological wonder due to it’s size and connection to the Atlantic Ocean. All of the water from the Great Lakes flows through this lake and fish travel back and forth from the ocean into it. It takes approximately six years for all of it’s water to drain into the St. Lawrence River.
Lake Ontario has a “seiche”, a natural rhythmic motion as water sloshes back and forth every 11 minutes. The lake has a range of habitats including dunes, wetlands, forests, rocky cliffs and beaches. It never completely freezes because it is so deep. It’s the 14th largest lake in the world, and provides drinking water to over 9-million people. This short video clip captures the late summer light sparkling across the surface of Lake Ontario in early morning. For the full 30 minute video, visit the Nature Studio YouTube Channel Zone - enjoy the quiet morning with the only sounds being heard are the gentle sloshing of water against the shore. Look off in the distance to see birds diving and splashing in the water; delight in the Late Summer Light.