Turtle Love, Leeches and Chance Encounters

Yesterdays post made me think of a chance encounter with some turtles a few years ago in the late fall. It was near the same spot I was taking pictures at yesterday. There are times where you’re in the right place at the right time to experience something you might other wise never see. In this case it was turtle sex. Big snapping turtles. Amazing creatures that look all prehistoric and ooze coolness.
The pictures aren’t great and I was wishing at the time I had my polarizing filter on to cut down on the reflections, but I didn’t. A polarizing filter can, at times, make a world of difference to your images, this was one of those times… She says regretfully…

The male was on top of the female at first (I think!) and that’s her foot sticking up in the air.

When I looked at the images later I was astonished to see all the leeches that were covering the turtles legs. I didn’t notice them when I was taking the pictures.  Initially  the turtles didn’t notice me but when they did they broke apart and the female quickly buried herself in the mud.

And the male stalked right up to me near the shore and gave me the evil eye. I can kind of understand his disappointment. Sorry bud…
All images © Karen McRae

Down by the River

Our city has a river running through it. Two in fact. Today was a beautiful sunny day so I took some time to walk around the river near my home.

I sometimes see people riding their bikes down to the river with fishing lines tucked under their arms. Things get left behind.

All images © Karen McRae

A Favourite Place

I am fortunate to live just a short distance from a world class cross country ski area with over 200 km of ski trails. Gatineau Park in Quebec is a gorgeous hilly park with all levels of cross country skiing, you could never get bored there. Of course it doesn’t look like this just yet, but soon I hope! We spend quite a lot of time there skiing in the winter and a bit of time climbing in the summer. These pictures were taken during a previous ski season. I hope we turn white before the holidays!

The park which is 361 square km's is dotted with little cabins equipped with wood burning stoves, you can pop in and warm up or even bring a meal to warm up on the stove.

All images © Karen McRae

A Light Dusting

It’s December, I’m ready for more. I love how the snow softens the landscape and makes everything slow down. The sounds are a little bit muffled, the world is a little more still. I’m romancing the winter now.
Bring it on.

I’ve loved this poem since I was a child. Mom, Dad, if you’re wondering where your Robert Frost book is, I stole um, borrowed it years ago.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
By Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

All images © Karen McRae

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

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