I spent most of my birthday (earlier this year) inside because it was bitterly cold. But, I couldn’t resist heading out in the bright, clear sun to admire the frosted trees. I was only out for about 15 minutes and I kept my hands in my mittens and pockets as much as possible, but they still ended up hurting because I kept stopping to take pictures.
I love to take the trails on the way to work. As much as possible, I try I leave early enough to take one of the longer routes. Aside from having the trails mostly to myself, the flowers and birds and such are a great way to start my day.
On a somewhat related note, I’ve been thinking about when spring starts. Last week, Kandise mentioned that the trees in New Brunswick were just starting to bud, but I’ve always been under the impression that spring had a late start in Edmonton compared to what I was used to back home (Nova Scotia). In the Maritimes (Maritime provinces = NS, NB, and PEI), there are (were?) lots of crocuses and such popping up early in the spring and there was always a lot of spring rain. Here in Edmonton, we get at least one last chill and snow in early May, then weeks of almost nothing before the all the trees go wild with leaves and blooms. Then thunderstorms start to roll in and the flowers will slowly start growing and blooming.
I think that I’ve been unable to take off my Maritime hat, which meant that I always felt that spring didn’t happen until there was rain, the smell of moist earth and lots of flowers. But, maybe Edmonton just has a tree-centric start. We’re probably more or less on the same schedule as the Maritimes.
Here are a few of the beauties I’ve encountered these past 2 weeks. While I did run into a few flowers, most of the blossoms are on trees and bushes. They are, according to my pictures from the past few years, about 2-3 weeks earlier than usual. Of course, we’re also bone dry here (the province has issued a rare province-wide fire ban because everything to dry and all our fire fighters are needed in the Fort McMurray), which may be slowing down the growth of some plants).
I’m a big fan of making a quick side trip through the Legislature grounds on my way to work each morning. It’s not out of my way (it only adds 5-ish minutes to my trip, if I go around the whole building) and there are some really lovely bits and pieces of garden, like the Lois Hole Memorial garden (a favourite place to stop). It’s exceptionally nice right now, while things are starting to bloom and before they’ve had a chance to fill in every nook and cranny with begonias (which are so boring compared to some of the native things they could plant and leave permanently).
It’s amazing how much of a different one month can make. Early April, we had a tiny bit of snow and the plants were only just starting to grow in the sunnier places.
This week, all the trees and bushes were in full bloom or getting ready to burst.
This is one of the reasons I love spring. It’s not just the flowers and the perfumed air – it’s the transition. From brown to green with hints of white and yellow and pink.
Perhaps my assessment of the beginning colour is a bit unfair. There are 50 shades of brown with hints of brick red and several greys. It’s actually quite lovely. You can see the backbone of the landscape – the trees, the slopes, and the no-longer-hidden trails. It’s a thrill to see it all emerge in the fall, but after a long dreary winter, it’s nice to see the green re-emerging.
Right now we’re in the phase where it’s mostly green ground cover and trees full of blossoms, but there are plenty more trees to bloom and plenty more colours to emerge.
Continuing with my theme for this week of revisiting my Paris trip (which happened last September), I thought I’d highlight the hidden beauties special moments.
As someone who lives in a city that’s relatively young and has relatively few older or historic buildings, all of Paris felt like a big museum and art gallery. There’s a lot of really amazing things to see and a lot of beautifully ornate features everywhere you go (sculptures, architectural details, painted walls, etc.). But, there was also a lot of hidden beauty. Some of my favourite things were remnants that they hadn’t bothered to hide and some of my favourite moments where generic or things that you can can see and do anywhere: sunsets, plants, etc.
Here are some of my favourite moments and hidden beauties.
This is the Patheon. As we wandered around the building (waiting for it to open) I kept seeing evidence of old windows that had been bricked up. The giveaway is the vertical bricks – they would have been the top of the window. I’ve always been drawn to bricked up windows and doors. They spark my curiosity. What did the windows look like? Why did they get rid of them? If you go to Google Maps and use Street View to go around the building, you’ll see evidence of a lot of windows.
I also love the creamy colour of the bricks, the cobble stone road, and even the black grime building up on the walls (it adds character). It’s not a typical vacation photo, but it’s one of my favourites.
I love that L’Arc de Triomphe is mirrored by the Grande Arche down the road. It’s a minor detail, but it adds a bit of interest.
No matter where I go, I love nature. The stairs of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica were full of people enjoying the view, soaking up the sun, listening to the busker, and eating. On the fenced-in lawns, birds rested in between trips to the stairs to find crumbs. It was lovely being surrounded by music, sun and birds.
While admiring Chopin’s grave, there was a crow hanging around making weird noises (certainly not ones I’d ever heard from crows). It was odd and I think that it would have been creepy if I was superstitious. It made Chopin’s grave a little bit special for me.
It’s a sunset, but it’s a sunset seen from the top of L’Arc de Triomphe while most of the other tourists were glued to the other side waiting for the Eiffel Tower to light up. Seeing the Eiffel Tower light up was nice (especially as it was on the hour, so it sparkled), but my heart lies with sunsets.
I love gardens, especially when they’re a bit messy and slightly wild. Contrast in gardens is one of my favourite things and this image has stuck in my head as a reminder of the quiet afternoon when I walked to the Jardin des Plantes.
Water is a prominent feature of fountains, but sometimes it’s nice to see the fountain’s design without the water in the way. All of the fountains were turned off when we were at Versailles. While this was disappointing for some fountains, I was really happy to get an unimpeded look at this one. Bonus points: all the birds hanging out on the men and beasts. It’s almost comical to see them resting on sculptures that are full of ferocity.
Last, but not least, modern art in the Conciergerie. This might be one of my all time favourite things about my trip to Paris (one of several dozen, of course). I really love the contrast. There was also a lot of modern art in the Hotel de Ville, hung in the decorative halls and rooms. It was so wonderful to see old and new together.
As mentioned in my last post, I finally finished going through my photos from my Paris trip 5 months ago (!!). While in Paris, I became a little obsessed with chandeliers. Yes, those ornate light fixtures that I would almost definitely never have in my home because the glamorous look isn’t for me. I adore them. I looked for, admired, and took many pictures of them in every place we visited. They hung in art museums, castles, the city hall and pretty much any semi historic building (unless the era didn’t have chandeliers, like Chateau de Vincennes).
I loved them all: the golden ones, the crystal ones, the large ones, the small ones, the ornate ones, and even the so-simple-they-look-modern ones. My love for them is so vast that I felt a tinge of excitement when I saw a picture of painting and immediately recognized the chandelier. Is that Mozart being presented to Mme De Pompadour? Who cares! I have a picture of those chandeliers!
Truth be told, half of the “pretty hall” photos I took were really “look at the chandeliers” photos.
I just love them. I love the details and I love seeing how people updated them to use electricity (some add wired-in sockets for mini light bulbs, some add faux candle sticks, and some leave them as they are). The ones covered in crystal or ornate sculpted pieces (animals, cherubs, foliage, etc.) are my favourites, but I also really love the ones that are surprisingly simple.
I don’t know why I love them so much. It’s not like there weren’t a million other things to fall in love with: tapestries, painted ceilings, hand painted walls, velvet curtains, detailed flooring, etc. But, I guess we all have our oddities.
Here are some of my favourite chandelier pictures from my trip.
Five months ago, I flew to Paris with a friend. Four months ago, I wrote a post about my experience. About a week ago, I finally finished going through my pictures. A few days ago, I finally finished labeling, compiling and sharing those pictures.
While I work on a few Paris related posts, here’s what I did in Paris, according to my Instagram account.
We left early on Day 14.
My walk to work always involves a trip up through the Alberta Legislature Grounds. This is partly because it’s a convenient way to to get into the section of downtown that I need to be in, but mostly because it’s a nice last bit of quiet and gardens for me to enjoy before having to think about the work day. The leaves are changing, but the gardens are still looking pretty good. One of these days, I’ll gather all the pictures I’ve taken over the years and give you a bit of a tour of the various monuments and garden sections, but, for now, here’s just a few pictures I’ve taken on recent strolls through the grounds.
Normally, my walk to work is uneventful and unexciting. Friday morning was different: I had to be social for a few minutes and I took a new route.
It started with a guy deciding to strike up a conversation and walk with me for a few minutes. It was first thing in the morning on a quiet trail and he was chatting me up. No, I’m not kidding! Thankfully, I was awake enough to keep up my guard and be non-committal with my chatter. Also, he took the first stairs we came upon (partly because I gave slightly incorrect directions to the nearest Timmy’s – rude, maybe, but I was a walking alone on a quiet trail!).
It threw me off, a bit. By the time I made it to the first fork in my usual route, I was still feeling like I needed to mentally reset myself. I had planned on taking the shorter route, but I took the longer route instead.
I got to the bottom of the hill I climb to get to the Legislature grounds, but I just wasn’t ready. I needed more quiet time. I wasn’t in a rush to get to work (I have somewhat flexible hours), so I veered off in a different direction. I knew the paths, I just hadn’t been on them in a while and I’d never taken that loop to get to work. I did briefly regret the decision when I remembered that there are several fairly steep sections of trail leading up to the High Level bridge, but it was worth it. The extra bit of walking was exactly what I needed and the view as I crossed the bridge was gorgeous.
I’m not sure I could do that route each day, but I’m definitely going to add it to my list of options for cool mornings. Of course, it took nearly twice as long as my usual route, so I’d have to leave a bit earlier, but I’m OK with that.
On Friday, I spent my lunch break at the McKay Avenue School Museum. Along with a lovely little park space and old schoolhouse, it’s home to a quiet and very interesting collection. Most of it relates to the history of the school and Edmonton schools in general, but there’s also a replica of the Legislative Assembly on the top floor. There’s a lot of interesting stuff (more than I had time to read) relating to the evolution of classrooms, training and events during war times, and the history of the public schools in Edmonton.
I had the museum all to myself so I got to wander through the creaky halls and take my time admiring all the little details, like the gorgeous chairs in the replicate Assembly.
It’s free (though, they are looking for donations to help repair the roof) and worth taking a slightly longer lunch break (or, going back several times).