Out Like a Lion

Remember Groundhog Day? I said it confused me because in my experience “six more weeks of winter” and “an early spring” were pretty much the same thing. Well, here we are seven weeks later and counting, and yesterday we were greeted to this…

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By the time everything was said and done, we probably had close to six inches of fresh snow, on top of several feet that hadn’t melted yet. Nothing was cancelled. Traffic was slow but manageable. It was business as usual, except for a collective “enough already”. It’s about time for spring.

But I try to focus on the positive. It really was pretty – or it would have been if it had been mid December rather than the end of March. The street scene was like something right out of Narnia.

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The large snow flakes and the light created a surreal effect – now that I think about it, probably the perfect effect for these times.

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This morning we woke to this…

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Definitely a winter wonderland – other than the fact it’s March 25th.

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I am sooo ready for spring.

 

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Toronto By Train

It has been quite a while since my last business trip of any kind, but more on that later. Today I’m going to write about my train trip to Toronto.

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There was a time when I routinely took business trips on the train. I’ve taken a few Amtrak trips in the last few years, but it’s been a good 25 years since the last time I traveled on Via Rail for business. So I was pleased when this trip came up. Actually I was quite annoyed about having to take the trip (again, more about that later) but I liked the idea of taking the train again. The fact that Jan was joining me was an extra bonus.

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We stayed downtown, just a few blocks from Nathan Phillips Square, in front of City Hall, which features skating this time of year.

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The architecture offers an intriguing mix of old and new, with a (not very green) touch of nature.

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It offers some interesting effects.

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If it had been warmer, or if I’d brought my Ottawa clothes (and I hadn’t been busy working) I would have loved to get out more. But at least I was treated to an interesting effect on the train ride home. It was a cold day, with snow squalls, and it appears it had snowed a bit just before we came through on the train. The slipstream whipped up the snow, and created a very interesting winter scene. Of course, the fact that I was in a warm railway car sipping a glass of wine really helped to make it interesting.

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Monday it’s back to the old travel routine…

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Water

It was gorgeous today. The sun was shining in a clear blue sky, perfect for a walk to check out the melting snow. There is something about running water, especially from melting snow, that brings out the kid in me.

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You will note there is even a hint of green showing. Unfortunately it is still just a hint. the big picture shows that we still have a way to go before spring.

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In case you are thinking we only have snow in the forest, this is not the case. The streets were mostly clear, which is wonderful for walking, but there is still lots of snow on all the lawns. I rather like this picture because you can see the layers of snow from each snowfall over the winter, almost like a sedimentary rock.

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I’ll leave you with two pictures. The first shows the interesting textures even when everything is brown, if you only look.

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And finally, the sun glistening on the running water.

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I’ll try to keep posting pictures of snow until the last drift melts. It could be a while…

 

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Winter

I haven’t been traveling at all for a while now. My last trip was early December. It’s one of those “good news – bad news” stories best shared over a drink, so I won’t go into it here. I’m okay with this development – I like it at home, even in winter. But it has limited my opportunities to take pictures. So I’m turning my attention, at least for now, to the one photography subject that is available in abundance. Snow. Even though it has started to melt (unusually early, as it happens) it will be some time before it’s all gone.

To start, let me go back to December 22nd.

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In late December the snow always looks so festive, blanketing a drab brown landscape with fresh white snow.

By mid February you are no longer thinking back to the dull fall landscape. If you are an optimist, you are looking forward to the fresh green of spring. Of course, if you are a realist, you are looking out your front door to see this…

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And between those two dates we were treated to more of the same, so the snow was beginning to pile up. It was around this time that we reached an important milestone – the snowbank in the front yard was higher than me.

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Needless to say, those tender green shoots of spring have no intention of poking out any time soon.

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Groundhog Day

The basic idea behind Groundhog Day is that the groundhog’s shadow will determine if we have an early spring or six more weeks of winter. This has always confused me because where I live these are pretty much the same thing. Perhaps that’s why local groundhogs generally don’t bother to come out at all in February. There is of course one notable exception – the famous Stittsville groundhog who appears every February to greet winter weary Canadians with a much needed party.

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Meanwhile, outside where it was not quite so warm and cozy, the guests were enjoying the fresh air while skating on the lake, complete with … Christmas trees?

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This was not your usual skating rink, which is basically a large (and rather boring) rectangle. This was more like a maze – kind of a snow-maze. Fortunately the snow wasn’t deep enough to risk getting lost when you came to a dead end in the maze.

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Still, it was fun skating along the winding path. Interestingly, the general consensus was that the best part was clearing the snow to get started.

img_9709I realize that I’ve been missing for quite a while – the last time I posted was December 4th. I’ll try to use this post to motivate me, and to provide a theme. Snow. It’s going to be with us for at least another six weeks, so I might as well use it to advantage.

And all of you people who are watching the daffodils push up through the warm earth … I have nothing to say to you – at least nothing that could be said in polite company.

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Back To Reality

Less than twelve hours after arriving home from Barcelona, I was off again. This is not nearly as exciting or as important as it may sound. Fortunately, it is also not a typical occurrence. Thank heavens.

After a week of lovely weather in Barcelona, freezing rain was quite a shock to the system, and of course meant the plane needed de-icing.

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An afternoon of meetings in D.C. followed by an evening train ride put me in Philadelphia for meetings the next two days. It is a wonderful location on the 45th floor, offering stunning views of the city. At least it usually does. This time the view was somewhat limited.

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But walking back to the hotel in the fog offered some interesting views. It almost felt like I was in London.

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But the next day was sunny with clear skies. What a difference.

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After four weeks on the road, I am ready for a long rest. Fortunately this is my last trip until mid January.

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The Final Day

On our last full day in Barcelona we retraced some of the same route we had taken a week ago, just after we arrived. We discovered a small market with local food and wine that we assumed we’d missed last week. But then, by the cathedral in the Gothic district, we found a Christmas market. Last week it had definitely not been there, so perhaps the local products market was new as well. Who knows?

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To finish the day, we enjoyed a glass of Cava back at the apartment to celebrate a successful visit to Barcelona.

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It’s a good thing we got lots of walking in today, because tomorrow is a full day sitting in the plane.

 

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