Last year I made a move - both physical, from one place to another, and metaphorical, as in life changes - from Peterborough where I did my undergraduate studies at Trent University to Kingston to pursue graduate studies at Queen's University. I talked about change in my previous post, it was the thread that held the last year together and I feel it will be the theme of this year as well. And with changes come adjustments.
There was a park right around the corner from where I was living in Peterborough. I was in a newer subdivision at the north end of the city, right at the urban-rural fringe where just beyond the manicured lawns in my neighbourhood were untouched areas and farmland. There was a park around the corner from me; it wasn't particularly big, as far as area goes, but it was packed full of wildflowers from snowmelt to snowfall. Now I live in Kingston, in an older area near the university with the lake right across the street. This area has been developed for a over a century with rows of brick or limestone homes. There are parks nearby, but they are more the pristine city park type with playgrounds that limit the activities a child can imagine, benches that prescribe where you are meant to sit, grass kept short and if there are gardens they are filled with easy to grow ornamental flowers. Regrettably, these are not the wilder lands, filled with possibilities and surprises that in turn fill me with excitement. There are other parks, the kind of parks that I favour, but they are farther away. I did visit Marshlands Conservation Area - a gem of a park to the west end of downtown - the other day, and I look forward to cleaning up my bike when the weather gets a bit warmer so I can visit it more frequently.
While I find the nearby parks disappointing, I admire the gardens in my neighbourhood. The gardens at homes in the newer subdivision I lived in while in Peterborough were also new, if they had been put in at all. It was a clean slate of a neighbourhood, what had been there before had been razed and nothing new had yet established itself.
Here in Kingston my neighborhood is full of older homes, with the majority easily standing at least a century, and these old homes have old gardens. Plants have had a chance to establish themselves in these gardens, and may even have escaped the confines of the garden and stolen away into yards, in this neighbourhood. Any new plans a person may have for their gardens this year must consider, incorporate, and adjust to the decisions from years past in this neighbourhood. I like the idea of gardens in this neighbourhood. There is a continuity with history. The clean slate that existed long ago, when this neighborhood was new, has been filled as the years have gone by.
There are snowdrops in this neighborhood. And I like these too.
I did little exploring in my neighbourhood when I first came to Kingston. The first month I was here it rained every day. The following month I was away at conferences and when I was here it was raining still. The subsequent two months I was doing fieldwork elsewhere. And then it was it was September, school started. While I had a break over the winter holiday the sidewalks were treacherously slippery.
Now that the spring sun has melted the snow I crave the outdoors. But with the end of the semester rushing towards me I find myself with little time to seek out the wilder parks I prefer, at least not on a daily basis. And so I find myself strolling around my neighbourhood for the first time. And I find myself gaining a deep appreciation for this place that I have made my home. While my local parks disappointed me instantly, I love looking at the gardens of these century homes and look forward to observing them throughout the seasons.
The promise of spring has been present for some time now as we proceeded through winter - from the warming days to the lengthening daylight hours - and finally today we have begun this new season!
I've always felt that spring is an exciting season, it is fresh and new and full of the promise.
Soon wildflowers, like the spring beauties pictured here from yesteryear, will bring flashes of colour to the landscape, putting the limited colour palate of winter firmly behind us.
Time has a funny way of escaping me, and I don't think that this is a unique experience that I alone have. Last year saw a lot of changes in my life - I moved from Peterborough to Kingston and started graduate school - time seemed to move faster last year. And while I do my best to take time and make time to explore the world beyond my window, I didn't feel like I could add enough minutes or hours to my days. Before I knew it the greens were turning to browns and the world was carpeted in the quiet white of winter. I can't say whether this year will be any different, I feel a new suite of changes laying ahead in wait for me. But spring is full of promise, and I can hope that it promises to afford me more time to wander the fields, forests and fens that I am so fond of.
News, reflections, notes and other ramblings from the trail by PTBO Flora founder Rachel.