Monday, April 13, 2015

The Swan Parade in Stratford, Ontario



Topiary swans decorate the commercial area.
Last Sunday saw Stratford's 25th annual Swan Parade. Every spring, the city's swans are released from their winter quarters to waddle down to the Avon River, preceded by the Stratford Police Pipes and Drums. Thousands of people gathered on this beautiful spring day to witness a most adorable scene. To know more on the history of Stratford's swans visit this link: The Swans of Stratford

The swans' winter quarters in Stratford are located behind the William Allman Memorial Arena, a short distance from the Avon River. 

The facilities include a big backyard with plenty of ground surface as well as a large pond.

Waiting impatiently for the procession, we heard some laughs and giggles from the crowd 
down the street.

One of the geese ran ahead of the marching band, obviously eager to get to the water. Too cute.

It's remarkable how fast these creatures run. One of the handlers had to run after him to make sure he/she was okay.

video
The Stratford Police Pipes and Drums

 Here they come...

Amongst the swans there was one white goose. Notice the second bird in front, probably the other goose's partner, wondering where the heck he/she went.



and here they go, heading towards the river.

video
Stratford's swan parade in progress

Photo: The Stratford Beacon Herald, taken in 2013
The Stratford Police Pipes and Drums, along with the swans handlers, provide safeguards until they reach the water. The crowd, although in the thousands were, to my surprise, very calm and orderly.
The people of Stratford and its surroundings are extremely proud and
protective of their swans and wildlife.

Photo: stmarysheritage.juplo.com
Photo: Lynn Boehler 
A few hours after their release, a couple ventured on the other side of the river, free to enjoy the coming warm season.

I learned that when a pair of swans become too aggressive to get along with the others, they are exiled to neighbouring towns, such as St Marys.
Should we have a little parade for our two delinquent swans?
It could be named St Marys' Swan Walk of Shame.

St Marys' swans on Trout Creek
UPDATE

Thank you to Oleg Strilyaniy of My Toronto for sharing his most excellent video 
of this year's swan parade. You will see the parade from beginning to end as well as a glimpse of beautiful Stratford Ontario.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Winter Blooms to Chase the Blues

Paper whites
Though this winter is not nearly as cold as last, I made sure that I would have some greenery and blooms throughout the 'dreaded season', starting with some delicate and fragrant paper whites.

 They were started a week before Christmas in a variety of glass vases.

 To my surprise, they grew tall and strong - three feet in some cases.

 They were in full bloom by New Year's Eve, providing a fresh and fragrant display for my mantle.

I also started two amaryllis bulbs, one red and one apple blossom. These took more time to bloom, but were well worth the wait.

The red one was the first to bloom. No fragrance to speak of, but the terrific display more than made up for it.

Around the same time, I was offered some forced bulbs: narcissus, tulips, muscari and hyacinth (which were out like a shot).

Little muscari.

 The perfume of the hyacinth filled the library.

 Then the two-tone amaryllis came out.

 Here we are, all together as I'm writing this post. My 'feel good' corner.

But I have another 'feel good' area. This one is in my studio window. Brian bought me two gorgeous cymbidium orchid plants for my birthday. I need some beautiful ceramic planters to put them in.

Orchid flowers last two to three months so they will carry me well into spring.

And then there's my upstairs 'feel good' corner at the end of the hall. My azaleas topiary which spends summer outside, does well inside at that window. This shot was taken last year.

This year again. By the end of February it will be covered in red blooms.
If you're like me and have difficulty getting through winter, I've found that recreating nature indoors really helps.

This post is dedicated my little Violet, my shadow, my sweet and sassy show-off.
I miss you terribly.

2006 - 2015

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Falling Stars and Snowflakes - Last DIY Project of 2014

I'm able to slip in one last DIY project for the year - something you might find 
appropriate for your New Year's Eve celebration. 

I live in an area supplied by hard water so I absolutely need softening laundry products or our clothes and towels end up looking and feeling like burlap. I hate buying disposable items, especially if these items are clean and smell good after being used, but I've found a way to re-use my dryer sheets. As you might know by now, I like to re-use or repurpose as much as I can to reduce my footprint.

 
The used dryer sheets still have traces of scented wax, which are very useful to stiffen paper snowflakes. I sandwich the snowflake between two used dryer sheets and...

press them with a warm iron. A low heat setting is all you need, you want to melt the wax not the fabric. The wax will absorb in the paper snowflake making it slightly darker in appearance and fragrant as a bonus.
In some instances I had to move the snowflake around the sheets to catch all the wax.

 When your snowflake has absorbed the wax, let it cool and gently peel the top and bottom sheets from the snowflake.

 You are left with a firm snowflake that can be hung without drooping.

 You are also left with freshly ironed dryer sheets, which can be used for another project.

 I then take star-shaped cookie cutters and trace them on the stack of dryer sheets. Any simple and easily identifiable shapes could be used, depending on the occasion. 

 Next, I cut the shapes. In the case of the stars, I shortened the points to make sure they don't flop downwards when hung.

I then sew them together leaving spaces between each star. I found that a short stitch works best. I ended with a long strand of stars which I cut to different lengths. 
The round moon-like paper discs garland, the delicate snowflakes along with the transparent stars give the display an ethereal astral theme, appropriate for a midnight event when the ball drops.


A Very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year to All!
It's always a pleasure exchanging a few words with my dear blogging friends.
I look forward to more exchanges in 2015.