Abundance in the Great North-West

26 August 2015 – All right, not as far north-&-west as the routes of that historic fur-trading company, rival to the Hudson’s Bay Company, but still pretty exploratory for downtowners like Phyllis & me. This week the Tuesday Walking Society took itself to North York, to walk through the parks bordering Black Creek (a tributary of the Humber) from Sheppard Av. on up to Steeles. And back.

Like the fur traders, we find abundance — not beaver pelts, just the wild exuberance of late summer.

Great clusters of cones high in a towering conifer, for example.

maturing cones, high in the fir tree

We wonder why they are concentrated at the very top: simple physical response to greater sunlight? or perhaps an evolutionary adaptation, since (presumably) winds at the top would be stronger & could carry them farther? We don’t know. If you do, please tell us. We admire them anyway.

Everywhere, shaggy late summer. Brimming over.

wildflowers in boggy land

Great clusters of Saskatoon berries …

Saskatoon berries

and burdock heads, inspiration (so the story goes) for Velcro …

burdock heads

and some other bristle-y plant, quite sculptural in its lines, especially after the tiny blossoms drop away.

elegant bristle-y (!) plant

We spot the first scarlet leaves of fall. Oh no!!!

Staghorn sumach

And then reassure ourselves that these leaves don’t count: the Staghorn sumach “turns” long before any other shrub or tree. See the conical red horn, toward the top-right corner of the photo? Its fruit, I learned in Muskoka one winter, is food of last resort for white-tail deer. The nutrition comes at the price of a very nasty taste. (Well, so one is told. I have not chomped any, to find out.)

Great stands of bullrushes, at one point in our walk …


and a series of bird houses.

I can tell you this one is occupied, lots of straw visible in the doorway, but I can’t say by which species of bird — nobody flew home while we were watching.

birdhouse along Black Creek

Our turning point is Black Creek Pioneer Village.

We don’t go into the Village itself — an open-air museum  of 1800s buildings & artefacts, which we each visited when much younger — we instead settle in the adjacent café for a bit of lunch before trekking back down-river to the car.

With one last look at the creek itself before we leave.

Black Creek, which dances in & out of sight along the trail

Then we climb up out of the ravine to the parking lot, and drive south & east (and more south & east) back downtown, to home.





Leave a comment


  1. Thanks for sharing this lovely walk.

  2. Susan

     /  28 August 2015

    When we were in Turkey, we purchased Sumac seeds to use for seasoning. Upon returning to Canada I noticed the Robins and other birds eating the seeds from our Sumac.

    • Hi — Well, maybe Muskoka Guy was wrong! or maybe deer have different tastes than birds — but thanks for modifying my assumptions about staghorn sumach

  3. bjsscribbles

     /  29 August 2015

    Beautiful imagery and peaceful land. There sounds like there are still some amazing walks to explore. The walks here in Australia cover amazing trails as well.

    • Hi, thanks for the comment — totally agree that walks in Australia are amazing; I have great memories of walks when I visited in your country a while ago

      • bjsscribbles

         /  30 August 2015

        There are some amazing walks one I love is the Hysen trail from the Fleuriau Peninsula in the South to the Flinders ranges in the North

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    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

    "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" -- Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

    "A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities" -- Rebecca Solnit, "Wanderlust: A History of Walking"

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