Backyard Thoreau


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Week 1

"It takes two to speak the truth -- one to speak, and another to hear." - Henry D. Thoreau

September 29, 2000

Weather: 7C - Mostly Cloudy - Slight Breeze


As I leave my house, the first thing I notice is two black squirrels arguing in our maple tree. I'm not sure if the frequent arguments in our tree are always the same two squirrels or different squirrels. The maple in our neighbour's yard is home to a family of grey squirrels who also argue amongst themselves, but rarely do we see arguments between grey and black.

Walking down Stream Avenue, I pass many colourful gardens - all of which are still in full bloom. The street is lined with maples, all planted the same year, so they are all about the same size. There are also a few spruce and pine trees, but they are mostly in closer to the houses. At the corner of Stream and Lakeshore is my favourite tree, a field birch. The field birch is a beautiful tree. Set on a sloping lawn, it long branches bend in the breeze like a willow's.

From here, my route takes me past the woods of the Forest and Stream Club - a small, but dark woods of maple, oak and evergreen that hides the Club from view. There is a small gatehouse at the edge of these woods where my parents first lived. It is covered in ivy and has a wild garden that fills its tiny yard.

I cross the street into the Pine Beach Park, a city park of mostly lawns and planted gardens with walking trails along the waterfront. From here, I can look out across Lake St-Louis at Chateauguay and Kanawake although it is difficult to tell where one becomes the other - at this distance, they both appear as a ridge of green above the grey water.

It is cool and breezy along the water's edge. The sky appears flat like you'd expect in a grey November, it seems to have already lost the soaring quality of summer. Even the clouds seem to be sluggish in their travels across the stratosphere. Perhaps the sky is signalling the earth to tell is fall has begun, cold weather is coming...

I continue along the Lakeshore until I get to the parks of the Community and Cultural Centre. Here, there are a wide variety of trees - from spindly young birch to soaring old oaks. It isn't really a wood, as there is mowed lawn between them. If you read the little sign, it is the beginning of an arbouretum and each tree and shrub is accompanied by a little plaque with its name on it. The trees are still full of the green of summer, although there is a feeling that they have heard the warnings of the sky and are preparing for the changes to come. I spend a few moments among the trees before beginning my return home.