Just before 7 p.m. on Friday evening, I went outside to retrieve my camera bag from my Jeep and to put said Jeep in the garage. I glanced up above the garage and noticed a sliver of the new moon glowing in the black sky. Just to the left of the moon's image was a bright and distant star behind the moon, and ever so faintly beyond that, another incredibly distant and faint squiggle of light. On an impulse, I pulled out my camera and took a couple of quick shots of the distant scene. The 300 mm lens was on the camera and I made a futile attempt to hold the camera steady. I expected little but was still intrigued a little with the resulting dancing images. It was too bitterly cold for another shot. Don't ask me where that red sky came from. Even though I have a Nikon, I haven't a clue how it works. I just point it and press the shutter.
Two of the frequent viewers of this blogsite are Babs and John Bradbury of Schomberg. They are avid painters and photographers. They also visit and recommend many, many blogsites other than mine. Plus they have their own blogsite where you can view lots of their charming oil paintings. I quickly selected five paintings from their blogsite, that caught my eye, to feature here. You can see many more at bradburyjb.blogspot.ca. Their style, colours, soft focus and subject matter leave me with a warm, satiated calm. Visitors to Sheena's Kitchen, on Main Street in Schomberg can see some of the Bradburys' art there also. Please comment if you wish. Barry Wallace
These two King Township houses, which are located near to each other on the 16th Sideroad, are fine examples of the Gothic Revival style of the Victorian age. Both have been recently decorated with masses of icicles hanging from their gable roofs. It is my personal feeling that this style of architecture, adorned with hanging, tapering pointers of ice, were made for each other. I know that icicles can be quite impressive and lovely in many other applications, but for me it is old, winter-time, Ontario farmhouses with icicles that seem made for each other. I think it is because icicles, although they intrude without invitation, do nothing more than evince and evoke the welcoming warmth of bricks, with their various ochrous colours, or the soft, pastoral tints of painted wood.
Well, drifting snow has finally made its presence felt. Some drifts remain as the wind sculpted them and boast of graceful forms. Others have been beaten back by the snowploughs and are as high as two metres in places. The snowy masses shown here are all located on the north side of the 15th Sideroad, between the 7th Concession and Weston Road. It is a stretch of road about two kilometres south of one of the King Ridge's highest points. Winds and snow coming over the ridge have a stretch of open fields to gather mass and momentum to throw at snow fences and wild hedgerows.
Even collapsed drifts (above) have somewhat graceful forms as the wind continues to smooth their edges. Below, a mailbox makes a last stand before the next snowfall or a snowplough that will probably bury it completely. On other roads, around and about, I noticed a couple of mailboxes that had been wrenched from their posts by passing ploughs, meaning other delivery arrangements would have to be made. February, the shortest month, is starting to posing some tall challenges.
Winterfest was held on Family Day at Cold Creek Conservation Area, on the 11th of King and one of the perennial favourite activities was the horse-drawn wagon rides in the snow. The horses, a mother and daughter team from Bradford, named Chase and Bailey, provided the rides on a very cold day. Two of three gentlemen, taking turns driving the team of horses, are pictured below. They were dressed for the chilly temperatures and smiling as they posed for me, but one can tell from their rosy cheeks it was bitterly cold.
After I took the photo immediately above, I checked the shot to make sure is was okay and found myself thinking It was a little hazy or out of focus, then I realized Chase and Bailey were exhaling warm steamy breath into the bitter air, and yes, that's an icicle on a cold upper lip. Despite the daunting deep-freeze, many families were in attendance and probably kept warm with the hot chili. Thank goodness for a bright sunny day.
I was out and about on Sunday morning looking for things to photograph in King Township. It was the coldest morning of the winter so far. However, neither man or beast presented himself or itself, except for those driving in their warm vehicles. My mission seemed somewhat doomed, so I did the next best thing. I headed for the Pine Farms Orchard Cafe where I bought a half dozen Royal Gala Apples, plus a raspberry and coconut tart, and a black coffee. I took a seat next to the old Renfrew wood stove and tucked into my treat. The young staff at Pine Farms proceeded to fire up the Renfrew and a young lady went about getting it going. As she loaded firewood into the stove, I remembered my maternal grandmother doing the very same thing with her wood stove on the farm, back in the 1950s. During all the times I was visitor in my grandparents' farmhouse, including the one whole year that I lived there, I do not remember my grandfather stoking or tending the stove, or filling up the firewood box. While I believe Grampa Sid split most of the firewood in back shed, Grandma Alice split her own kindling. As I watched the stove preparations at Pine Farms, and not having taken any pictures so far, I decided I would take a selfie ("Oh vanity of vanities"). I then decided to take a couple of shots of the activity around the stove, before moving on.
There were approximately 500 Snow Buntings in a field on the north side of the King Road, between Temperanceville and Rafferty's Corners (Dufferin Street) on Wednesday of this week. They would glean seeds one minute, from dead plant stems in the snow, and then swoop and swirl in the air for another minute, then repeating the alternation over and over. It was lovely to behold.
My friend and neighbour, Dave Lippett, was out exercising his dogs on Forde Crescent in King City, on Monday, and I couldn't resist stopping the three of them in order to take a photograph of the pooches with their brilliant blue boots. They looked entirely comfortable with their footwear. Two days ago I blogged a photo of Geoff Simpson walking Marley the poodle, at Cold Creek. Marley didn't have boots but Geoff told me that when he gets Marley back to the house, he draws a warm bath, lifts Marley into the tub where he he can thaw the ice between his toes and warm his paws. All and all - lucky dogs.
Idropped in at Cold Creek Conservation area on Saturday and ran into Geoff Simpson, a regular at the location. Not only does Geoff Simpson volunteer at Cold Creek Conservation Area, on the 11th of King Township, but he leases a residence on the property and walks Marley the dog there also. Geoff is a busy volunteer and has served several local organizations over the years, including Arts Society King, the McMichael Art Gallery, the Humber Valley Heritage Trail Trail Association, as well as Cold Creek and other causes. He has his own consulting business also...a busy fellow, indeed. Below is a photo showing some recent restoration work on the Cold Creek barn, notable for its English Wheat Barn design and American Swing Beam...definitely a landmark worth preserving.
King Township's acclaimed nature photographer, Gary Conway, has mounted a beautiful exhibition of past and recent work entitled "Three Forests Exhibition" at the King Township Museum. Photographs taken over several years highlight the differences and similarities between Ontario's inland temperate forests, Nova Scotia's Atlantic coastal forests, and Costa Rica's Pacific tropical rainforests. The photo above was taken in King Township's Happy Valley Forest, on the Oak Ridges Moraine. The 78-day exhibition of the works take place until Saturday, April 18. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays. The museum is located in the hamlet of Kinghorn, on the King Road, just east of Jane Street. Please comment if you wish. Barry Wallace
Pictured above is a female Snowy Owl sitting atop a post in the Holland Marsh on Thursday of this week. My King City neighbour, Jerry Binsfeld, and I spotted five of these wonderful birds in the Marsh, on both sides of Highway 400. There were four females and one male. We also spotted a number of Red-tailed Hawks, a Rough-legged Hawk, and a couple of Coopers Hawks. We also saw several Common Redpolls along the banks of the canal feeding on weed seeds. There may have been a Hoary Redpoll among them but neither of us was prepared to say for sure. The weather was cold but the birding was hot.
By pure coincidence, I came across this online photo of an old Langdon's Coach Lines bus that served King City between 1948 and 1954, just two weeks after Alan O'Brien, of King City, a former partner in Langdon's Coach Lines, passed away at the age of 85. B. J. Langdon started his bus business and his two sons, John and Jim joined him in the company when they finished high school. Jim Langdon was a friend and schoolmate of mine in the late 1950s and his older brother, John, was our school bus driver. However, being Jim's buddy didn't keep me from being kicked off the bus by John Langdon, for rowdy behaviour. The bus above (No. 11) is seen at the end of its days, at Dixie Auto Wreakers in Mississauga, in 1955. Langdon's Coach Lines was eventually sold and today is part of First Student, the largest school bus company in North America. Please comment if you wish. Barry Wallace
Agable roof, a single dormer, a rusted stovepipe chimney in a back kitchen perhaps...and how old? In summer, this scene is somewhat mollified by the green embrace of trees and grass, but in winter the bleakness is disconcerting. No doubt though, it is still likely a home, year-around, to small, wild creatures and birds.
There haven't been many snowdrifts to speak of so far this winter. A few, like these on the King Road near Hwy.400, have lost their pristine whiteness, because of dark soil being picked up by strong winds, from wide-open fields to the north. More snow, though, will soon enough alter this view.
Recently I've been going on about the loss of old King Township wooden barns. I've run photos of some of the doomed vestiges of older times, but I've also included shots of some completely new barn structures. There is another category of course: old barns renewed. Such is the case of the barn above. It is located on the 15th Sideroad of King, just west of Weston Road. Size-wise, it is an impressive structure. It also now impresses with its new board cladding. The low, late January sun, on the new wooden boards, gives the barn a golden glow. Some new windows add a somewhat understated but stylish touch. When I first moved to King City 60 years ago, this farm belonged to Aubrey Marshall. More recently the farm was home to the 'Forget-me-knots', a 3-generation extended family that lived together and became well-known in this area as a Von Trapp-style family (of Sound of Music fame) musical group. The farm was up for sale in 2014. I am assuming the property now has a new owner who has restored the massive barn.