The Coming Season

I  have a kind of love/hate relationship with Winter. I always dread the shortening days and biting cold and the fact that it tends to drag on and on. Once the snow is here I start finding it tolerable, even magical. Everything is brighter and fresher.  It’s more the anticipation of winter that gets me, once arrived  I have discovered that if  I embrace winter for what it is I can get lost in the beauty and possibility of it. And that means spending a considerable amount of  time outside. We often move from mountain biking season into ski season within just a few days but winter has been slowly inching towards us this year, slowly enough that now I am just eagerly awaiting a big snowfall. Itching to get out on my skis. Until then here is  a little glimpse of one of winter’s  magical possibilities. Tomorrow we welcome December.
Upper Nicholson’s Locks, Merrickville ON
All images © Karen McRae

Late Day, Late November

November is almost gone and it’s been a kind one. Warmish with more sunshine than usual and the snow that came a few days ago is all melted away. Today was mostly grey but the late afternoon brought some interesting light, and with it orange fields and purple-blue skies.That orange field has been beckoning me for a while now.
All images © Karen McRae

Avian Architecture 2: Bird’s Nest Shavings

Ages ago a friend of mine gave me some metal shavings for the purpose of remaking them into a bird’s nest. These shavings are actually called “bird’s nest shavings” because of the way they look and bunch together. I finally got around to weaving one together. It was trickier than I thought. The little shavings are very delicate and break easily if bent. It took me quite awhile to weave them into a decent shape. I’m sure the birds wouldn’t be impressed with my efforts but it made me appreciate even more what a work of art a true bird’s nest actually is. I think I might give it another go. You can see the real thing here.  (The little egg-shaped rock is from my trip to Newfoundland this summer).
Click on images to enlarge.

All images © Karen McRae

Words Only

Picture this. You are driving along a country road. It’s early in the morning and the sun is low in the sky filtering beautifully through the trees as you move along. You’re not in a hurry. You glance to the side and something catches your eye.  Something hanging low on a tree almost glowing in the warm morning light. At first you’re not sure what you see but then you say quietly,  “It’s a chicken”. And it is a chicken. It’s hanging by its feet from a low branch and it’s almost naked. Like the tree. There is a figure bending towards it removing the last few feathers. The light is perfect.  So perfect it seems only natural that this is unfolding before you. And you realize that if you had your camera with you, you might have stopped and interrupted this scene, but you didn’t and now you have only words.

Back Lane Café Collaboration

The Hintonburg area of Ottawa is crawling with hip new restaurants and one of the latest additions is the Back Lane Café. I got a chance to visit on the weekend and although it wasn’t for the food this trip,  I will definitely be making a culinary visit in the near future.

I was there to photograph an interior design collaboration initiated by the owner George Monsour who recently returned to Ottawa from 6 years in Paris. My friends over at Rusty Nail  Design were tasked with creating a charming time-worn interior in a completely stripped down shell.

“The intention with this restaurant was to combine the transparent and informal workings of a colonial bakery with the subtle sophistication of a classic Parisian cafe. These two elements were combined using original Canadian architectural items (see the facade over the bar). Recovered logs from the Rideau river milled for flooring, doors and iron work from turn of the century  Canadian houses and post & beams from local barns.”
There certainly is a Parisian feel to the café but it also has more contemporary elements that give it a bit of a fresh edge. The custom concrete counter at the bar for example was finished to give it a look somewhat like aged metal with a lovely rich surface.

On Sunday the Rusty Nail crew were busy installing a new element to the interior, designed to help improve the acoustics.

A sound dampening material was essentially hidden inside some reclaimed shuttered window frames and mounted to the wall. This cuts down significantly on the space previously showcasing artwork but solves an important problem.

Rusty Nail called in another person to collaborate on this project. Artist Heather Snow contributed curly ironwork mounted to the front of each window. There is other iron work dotted around the café pulling all the elements together. (I will confess here that Heather Snow is my sister! She has recently become a welder which brings up her coolness factor significantly in my books)

You can find out more about these innovative artist/designers here:
Rusty Nail Design
Heather Snow
The Back Lane Café is located at 1087 Wellington St. W.Ottawa, ON 613-695-2999 No website yet but they are on Twitter and the reviews are excellent! I also got a peek at the bright beautiful kitchen with lots of natural light and 2 specialty wood burning ovens. Can’t wait to try the food!

Thanks to everyone at The Back Lane Café, Rusty Nail Design and to Heather Snow! And thanks to Desire to Inspire for re-blogging my photos!

All images © Karen McRae

You Are Carried With Us

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

For Ilse 1917-2011
All images © Karen McRae

The Textural Beauty of the Canadian Shield

We spent an afternoon this weekend on a friend’s property that is a beautiful example of  the Canadian Shield  landscape. Rocky outcroppings covered in lichen and carpets of various  mosses in a mostly forested area. Gentle breezes rustling the  oak leaves, some of which seem to hold on for dear life all winter long. But it’s the mosses that completely captivate me. They are like little miniature forests  with an astounding array of colour and texture. (Click on images to enlarge)
All images © Karen McRae