Saturday, January 27, 2007

Nature in the Big City

My daughter wanted to visit her favourite Thai restaurant in downtown Toronto today, so we had an excuse for an outing, (as if I really needed one). I lived in Toronto for several years and enjoy visiting the city, even though, from a commuter's point of view, I am happy to live in a smaller centre. Several rivers flow into Lake Ontario in this area including the Don River. Steep ravines cut through the suburbs and city centre. As children, my brothers and I spent a lot of time in the Don Valley near our home exploring the river and its banks.

Today we visited the Ontario Science Centre which is in the geographical middle of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, North America, Northern Hemisphere, Planet Earth, Solar System "Sol", Orion Arm, Milky Way Galaxy, Andromeda Group, Virgo Supercluster, The Universe. (really!)
It is built into the ravine and has several levels to explore. There are hands on exhibits, from environmental and natural science to physics and chemistry. Twice a day there is a bird walk in the ravine, and a number of feeders attract the birds that winter here. Exhibits demonstrated how the numbers of song birds are decreasing in this area. Part of the problem is that forests in central and South America are being destroyed and the birds are not surviving after their winter migration. Our cities here are sprawling and the natural habitat for birds and animals is shrinking.

The ravine was steep and slippery and I had difficulty getting a steady foot hold for pictures. I saw a white-breasted nuthatch, but its quick movements evaded my camera shutter. The downy woodpecker was content to stay at the suet bar, and the cardinals were obviously used to spectators.I wondered if an owl would make its home in this tree. In a couple of weeks there is an evening owl walk in a local conservation area and perhaps I will be lucky enough to see one then.
We went downtown, had our spicy Pad Thai, and browsed in the busy shops on Yonge Street. The snow on the city streets was ugly, brown slush and the dampness near the lake very chilling. It is good to know that city dwellers can visit the many parks and river valleys near by and experience nature first hand if they want to.
I am afraid that most people are too busy with their houses, jobs, malls and social networks to care that we are part of a very complex, interconnected and changing universe.


  1. Ruth, thanks for allowing me to visit Toronto today. Your story of the day was very nice and your photos are great. That is a very handsome cardinal and I'd love to see a downy woodpecker here! Glad you had some very good quality time with your daughter!

  2. Sounds like a great day out in the city. Love your cardinal shot also!

  3. A nice refuge in the city for those who can stop and take notice. Beautiful cardinal!

  4. Mary- I enjoyed the company of 2 of my daughters, so it was a great day. (I do miss the 3rd very much!)I am sure a woodpecker will find your suet soon. ;)

    Laura- The cardinal was really fluffed up in the cold air...lots of red.

    Jayne- Everyone would be happier if they stopped and took notice of the beauty around them more often. Sometime it is easier to just see the dirty slush.


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