Archive for the ‘Our Earthly Paradise’ Category

Celebrating Earth Day – 50 Years Later

In Food For Thought, Our Earthly Paradise on April 22, 2020 at 1:11 pm

After enduring a rollercoaster ride of weather conditions from pelting snow to misty and cold mornings, I was keen to embrace today’s sunshine. Earlier in the day, I walked through my neighbourhood with my dog Ivy happy to be greeted by the shining faces of daffodils, narcissus and forsythias sporting their cheerful yellow blooms. Magnolia sprouts appear ready to burst as crocus and small blue flowers carpet the grass. Busy robins are working the field searching for their breakfasts as we pass. These telling signs signal – spring is officially here. Despite the torrential rains that have transformed the garden into a mud bath and those whipping gusts of winds rattling the windows, seeing the bright blue skies reminds me how sun starved we are.

It’s been a long and dreary winter complicated by the recent lockdown here in Toronto and the threat of COVID-19 throughout the world. Many of us may recall the adage April Showers bring May flowers – it’s a positive reflection, no doubt created to provide a glimmer of light during dark days. It’s no wonder people get spring fever at the first rays of warm sunshine.

Rural country side

As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow remarked in his poem The Rainy Day:

“Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.”

We’re all experiencing degrees of darkness now because of the pandemic. If April’s rain is a metaphor for tears, it’s because the whole world is crying: Tears of anguish from sickness and losing loved ones, failing businesses and economic hardships. On the bright side, there are tears of joy for the positive environmental changes we’ve noticed: Smog has lifted, water has cleared and animals have returned to places after long absences. While the month of May is just around the corner, it’s not likely we’ll see a deluge of the quarantined rushing back to work or steady streams of insatiable shoppers hungry for retail experiences.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and, in this rare moment of repose we’ve all been granted, it’s a wonderful opportunity for deep reflection on the world we live in. It’s reminded me how grateful I am for fresh air, clean water and nutrient-dense food. Yet how often do we take these key elements including our own good health for granted? Will we return to our wasteful and polluting ways? Or will we have learned important lessons? We’re all connected whether we believe it or not.

Outside of preventative measures such as handwashing, few are looking at eliminating the actual sources that grow these preventable pandemics. One widely accepted school of thought links these new crops of infectious influenza outbreaks directly to our food systems. There’s no shortage of information from films such as Food, Inc., and books like Big Farms Make Big Flu on how this era of food production prizes profits above all else and endangers the lives of unwitting consumers. Food producers have created ideal breeding grounds for these dangerous diseases in factory farms and wildlife markets where animals live short, miserable lives in cramped, squalid conditions. Stamp out the source and stop the spread.

To respect the earth and return to balance, we need to extend our consideration to animals – both wild and domesticated – and put an end to factory farming and the wildlife trade.

If we can hang on a little longer, the skies will shine bright again. When we finally re-emerge from our dens after this forced hibernation, will we have gained any clarity of vision? Will this crisis have given us the hindsight on environmental issues we’ve been lacking all along? And more importantly, will we finally heed the call to act and effect lasting change?

Our ancient Mother Earth has issued a message: Every day should be Earth Day; she needs our help now more than ever.

Happy Earth Day!

In Our Earthly Paradise on April 22, 2018 at 12:16 pm

Under peoniesEvery day should be Earth Day! Celebrate our gorgeous planet with acts of kindness and reverence. We have just this one earthly paradise…let’s make it last.

Warning Signs

In Food For Thought, Our Earthly Paradise on January 22, 2017 at 10:36 pm

As women around the world banded together to send a collective message to the new U.S. president about equal rights and freedoms, there were other signs from Mother Earth that didn’t go unnoticed – by me at least.

In three seemingly unrelated stories (there could be more) – large numbers of animals were found dead: Dolphins washed ashore in the U.K., and dead pelicans and false killer whales were discovered along the Florida coast. Sad news indeed. And no real answers on why. Innocent animals are always the first casualties, but no one appears to be sounding the alarm. Please tell me I’m wrong. There must be something in the water…We’re poisoning our beautiful world and this is just another resounding reminder of the true cost of our complacency.

This weekend, it was incredibly warm in Toronto and while I was out walking with a friend and her dog we spotted several robins on a lawn. Yes, robins – in January. To me, these birds are always the first sign of spring. Alarming and concerning. This is Canada after all, the true north, in winter.


It’s 2017!

In Our Earthly Paradise on January 2, 2017 at 3:33 pm



Welcome to 2017! I hope you survived the holidays and have come out on top. Now that winter is officially here, we can all look forward to more daylight. (Fingers crossed).

Love the nature theme in the Bay’s Christmas windows this year in downtown Toronto – it’s a beautiful reminder of what is really important in this world.

Super Moon

In Our Earthly Paradise on November 14, 2016 at 10:28 am


Thanks to my husband for capturing this incredible early morning view of today’s super moon over the Toronto skyline. We were out walking last night and got a great view of it then. Will be out again tonight as who knows where we’ll be in 2034 when it will be this close again!

Mother Nature Always Wins

In In the Garden, Our Earthly Paradise on January 16, 2014 at 10:07 am

IMAG0801If you experienced any of the extreme weather last month, you know what I’m talking about when I say Mother Nature always wins.

Here in Toronto, we were hit with an intense ice storm the likes of which we’d never seen before. A forced quiet fell over the city. Planes were grounded, travellers stranded and many residents and businesses went without power for up to a week.

IMAG0803The trees in and around our home took a real beating as the frozen ice literally bent our birch tree in half. Luckily it wasn’t to the breaking point but certainly a sight to behold. Mind you, we’ll have to wait until spring to be sure of the damage. Several neighbours weren’t so lucky and lost trees and shrubs galore.

To be dark and cold around Christmas time was a real eye opener. Some without power complained bitterly, others rose to the challenge and extended helping hands to friends, neighbours and family. The adage — times of crisis bring out the best and worse in people — never rang so true. We lived like our pioneer ancestors for a few days and were simply grateful to have our wood-burning fireplace, loads of candles, and a gas cooktop to get us through it all. On a positive note, it made us stop and think how to better prepare ourselves for the next emergency or power outage. Believe me, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of these situations – we’re just beginning to see the effects of climate change.

IMAG0802While we strive to control this world to our own ends by destroying natural habitat, species and ecosystems, we fail to consider that for every cause there will be an effect. How powerless we are in the face of nature’s amazing backlash: The display of brute force, incredible strength and power truly awe-inspiring. Yet, no beauty is more breathtaking.

A Tree Falls in the Urban Forest – A Community Weeps

In In the Garden, Our Earthly Paradise on May 22, 2013 at 7:31 pm

pruningIt’s been a week now; phone wires down and internet service out for half the day, two trucks and an crew of almost a dozen to take this giant on. We’re on edge as the concrete jungle creeps ever nearer the beloved sanctuary and refuge of our urban arboretum. The incessant buzz of chainsaws and wood chippers has my head pounding and eyes growing heavy. There’s clear cutting going on in my neighbour’s backyard and it’s heartbreaking to see an ancient tree being ripped down, limb by limb. Torso thick logs lugged and cavalierly tossed into the chipper. Decades of growth reduced to bark chips a moment later.


Farewell old linden tree. You’ve served us well. A playground and nursery for numerous litters of raccoons, home to generations of birds, squirrels, countless insects and more recently the rabbit we call Garden Bunny. Goodbye to the deliciously cool shade you provided during the dog days of August, the privacy you’ve afforded many of us neighbours and the endless supply of fresh and fragrant air.

Stripped to the root, the yard now lays bare, naked for all to see the flaws of the landscape open and exposed. Magnified, in fact, as the glorious sun rushes in to fill your void. Picking up the pieces of scattered leaves and fallen branches, we welcome the warm stranger to these once shaded parts, though still in mourning we remember the cool friend who always had our backs.