Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Hiking @ RBG

Pine in winter sky @ Royal Botanical Garden :: All Pretty Things
With this winter that looks like spring - this past weekend we have decided to spend it outdoors. It was sunny and warm, and we had to decide: hiking or swimming. Initially William said 'both' - but I knew it will be too much: hiking in this weather, with all the wind is tiresome even for a full-of-energy child.

William munching @ Royal Botanical Garden :: All Pretty Things
We stopped first at the Chocolate Exhibition (it's a good thing we ate before we left home) where we learned a lot about the cacao history: I never knew it was the Maya who grew the cacao trees... or that the Aztecs would use it like we use money / gold today, because they couldn't grow it... or that it was introduced in Europe by the Spanish - this last bit made sense, since they're the ones who conquered South America, after all, or many other bits and pieces. The whole learning process was made easier and fun with a scavenger hunt: you were supposed to answer 9 questions and collect a cacao bean for each answer! Hint - if you go, make sure you take one pouch for each person that loves chocolate :) We then watched a nice gentleman making cacao from the roasted beans, using a bike to grind the beans... we were able to sample the 'smoothie' at the end - quite interesting taste. We had to visit the Mediterranean Gardens and say hello to Spot and Tiger (2 of the Koy fish in the pond... William named them a while ago). I admired the glass projects too - I forgot the name of the company / artists, but both the stained glass and the fused glass projects were breathtaking. With a short stop at the quiz centers we were back outside and on our way to the Arboretum.

Lilac buds in winter @ Royal Botanical Garden :: All Pretty Things
The garden is home to hundreds of lilac bushes and trees and it is a miracle in May. What I never expected until last year (when we first went in the Arboretum Gardens during winter) is to find the hills a pleasure when the lilacs have no blooms and no leaves. However, it's an interesting sight: one can see the wood properly and discover subtle differences that won't be visible anymore once the leaves appear. To my surprise - the lilacs started to bud... I am not sure if it's a good sign, I sure hope my beautiful flowers will be in coming May...

Goose flying @ Royal Botanical Garden :: All Pretty Things
This time we started from the middle trail and decided to pursue the Cootes' Trail towards the Cootes Paradise Sanctuary. I knew we won't be able to get too far - however we managed to get to a few Lookout places and enjoy long moments of pure beauty...

Woodpecker @ Royal Botanical Garden :: All Pretty Things
Woodpecker @ Royal Botanical Garden :: All Pretty ThingsWe've encountered a small bird paradise: various types of woodpeckers and chickadees coming to eat the seeds everyone is leaving on the tree stumps. There is something almost magical in watching a bird: these were used to people, but not to the point they will approach humans, and I could stand there for hours watching them flying from trees to the seeds and back to trees. Not sure why they wouldn't simply stay on the stump until they had enough to eat: they just came, took a few seeds, fly away, eat them, come back.

Chickadee @ Royal Botanical Garden :: All Pretty Things
We walked to the end of trail (beginning of the marsh and the Dundas Channel) and in the lookout place we met a couple of chickadees. One was really noisy - chirping away continuously (I had the feeling she wanted us to go away) and refusing to eat from our hands (she had seeds on the wood rail next to us, I'll give her that). The other one would just measure us and decided we aren't a real threat... she came to eat, but didn't like our assortment of seeds (apparently they like the sun flower seeds with the shell, and we had just the core of the seed! lesson learned :)) so off she went on the rail as way. We sat on the bench and watched them - like the woodpeckers: come, take a seed, go away, eat it, come back...

Ducks in the sun @ Royal Botanical Garden :: All Pretty Things
The marsh was half-frozen, however near the shore there was a large area where the ice had melted - ducks and geese were happily playing there. If you look at the pictures - you'd never know it is winter! It looked like summer.

Of course the child had some important activities: he was some sort of clone (the Star Wars type) and ran from hill to hill to research and pre-scan for battle droids and other enemies. However, he stopped to admire the nature every now and then and made some plans for future adventures :)

Royal Botanical Garden :: All Pretty Things
Royal Botanical Garden :: All Pretty ThingsRoyal Botanical Garden :: All Pretty Things

What beauty moments have you discovered recently?

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