Sunday, June 29, 2014
The local strawberries have started. They are not quite at their peak sweetness, but this week's hot weather should sweeten them up. We have been enjoying Quebec asparagus. They will soon be over, but with new strains of strawberries, I'll be enjoying them all summer.
This time of year, no visit to Atwater Market is complete without gawking at the multitude of flowers for sale - both cut flowers and for flowers for planting in gardens. Now that I just have a couple of pots on a balcony, I linger longer.
Friday, June 27, 2014
A highlight of my year is the Montreal Baroque Festival. Until last year the artistic director was Susie Napper. Now she shares the job with Matthias Maute. I have finally learned that one can't get to every concert without being sleep deprived. In addition, the concerts start to blur. So this year I was a bit more judicious - not more than about 2 concerts per day over the four days of the festival. Add a few informal events and it was still a bit of sensory overload but great fun and wonderful music.
Outdoor concerts can be a challenge. This one by Passiflore was accompanied by sirens, car horns and a rally for a fundraiser that was happening down the street. I have heard this group in a more intimate setting without the microphones which were necessary here and it was a delightful experience. Despite the cacophony around them, they still managed to share some wonderful music and it was nice to see the passersby stop for a while to enjoy.
One evening a musical scategories game was played in a local cafe. Each round was followed by a musical interlude featuring one of the many early music ensembles from Montreal. Les Voix humaines, seen here, have been on the scene for a long time. Others are just starting out. There is so much talent and such a variety of groups. Montreal is a haven for those, like me, who enjoy early music. Susie Napper and Margaret Little are the core and founders of the group. They were joined by four other viola da gamba players for a concert of music by Lupo as part of the festival.
La Petite Harmonie (you can see the horn player from the photo at the top) consists of wind instruments. I'll be watching for their concerts. They also played in the orchestra for the final concert of the festival - Ensemble Caprice presented an all Beethoven evening with a piano concerto played by Tom Beghin (he also played a solo concert of Beethoven sonatas - I find his playing very moving) as well as Beethoven's Pastorale Symphonie. Beethoven is outside what is normally thought of as early music, but it was interesting to hear on the kind of instruments Beethoven would have composed for. Modern instruments have a different timbre.
I always enjoy hearing Flûte Alors! - all recorder players. Of course - I am a little biased, being a recorder player myself. These young musicians form a wonderful quartet. Their ensemble playing is tight and beautifully in tune.
Concerts of high quality - mingling of audience and musicians, - the audience feels invested in the festival. May it continue for many years!
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
A long hiatus - my daughter moved (lots of packing, boxes and carrying) and then visitors and the Festival Montréal Baroque (more about the in another post) - I am slowly getting back to my blog.
With friends in town for the baroque festival, we all decided to visit the museum to see the Fabulous Fabergé exhibit. I so appreciate that the museum allows photography. The objects in the exhibit were beyond belief - ornate, elaborate, intricate. I did not photograph the tiny eggs which were absolutely exquisite - each one a testimony to incredible craftsmanship. You can see some for sale at Fabergé - but they are not as spectacular as seeing the older ones well lit in the display.
Looking at the opulence of the exhibit and thinking of the lives of most Russians at the time of the Czars, it is not hard to imagine why the revolution happened.
Everything from icons to china to photo frames to decorative pieces were highly decorated and often covered in gold and/or encrusted with jewels.
It was interesting to see, to gawk at the excesses, to marvel at the skill and aesthetic of the jewellers, and to imagine the lives of the people who surrounded themselves with these items.
Here are some links where you can learn more about Fabergé and the eggs
From the museum site: http://faberge.mbam.qc.ca/en/
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Today I was prepared - my new telephoto 55-300 mm, a monopod and my new little camera. The red winged blackbirds are all over the park. Their calls seem to predominate. They fly close to people, unperturbed unless you get very close.
They particularly like to be near water.
I have no idea what these flowers are but there were many. The air was scented with a mix of floral blooms.
This egret was standing absolutely still in the shallow water. Someone who had been there before reported that it had already caught a frog. The naturalists in the park told me that the red winged blackbirds sometimes harass the herons and egrets. I don't think I would like to get too near that beak!
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Ah the frustration! I forgot to charge the battery on my DSLR and my new camera was not behaving. It seems to have turned itself on in my purse and the lens tried to open unsuccessfully and then that drained the battery. Then after I charged the battery, the lens opened with a clack-clack and I could do nothing. I took it in to the store where I bought it, and of course, everything worked fine. I bought a case for it and hope this won't happen again.
So there I was at Parc-des-Rapides - no decent camera, just my phone. We spotted an egret, Canada geese, ducks, many red-winged black birds, a yellow warbler... no decent telephoto on hand.
Each time I go to this park I am awed by the force of the water as it rushes past. I am not sure how someone got these rocks to balance - but I was awed by that too! I'll have to make another trip (all batteries are charged now) to enjoy and share the wildlife.
Saturday, June 7, 2014
I know I have posted a picture before of this - stained glass plus sculpture. Vendome Station is where the metro line and the commuter train line meet - so the sculpture has an appropriate feel of tracks. When you go into the station when the sun is hitting the windows, the effect is magical. I love the way the colours from the glass play on the metal sculpture and the wall of the station.
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Photo: May 31, 2014
It is interesting to me that you can take something out of context and have it tell a totally different story. I look at this image and feel a sense of solitude - of peace, of quiet. Out of sight are the baby ducklings, the other visitors to the Botanical Gardens... But sitting and watching this duck did give me a sense of peace and calm. So maybe the picture doesn't lie!
Sunday, June 1, 2014
Photos: May 31, 2014
A friend and I took our cameras to the Botanical Gardens. I just bought myself a monopod and wanted to see what it was like shooting with it and I have a new small camera - wanted to put it through its paces - shooting both automatic and manually. A learning day - but also a day of delight. The Botanical Garden's new slogan is Hurry Up and Slow Down - and slow down we did - stopping to admire the flora and fauna in the outdoor gardens.
Many varieties of irises were blooming. Their intricate shapes and patterns just had to be admired.
The peonies were just coming into their own.
Their bright interiors called to the insects to come and spread their pollen
Turtles were out sunning. Their stillness reminds us to stop and wait for treasures to come along.
New life abounds. Dozens of ducklings paddled around the pond, their little feet pumping at a good clip.
Bird songs serenaded our visit. This redwing blackbird stopped to sing out, puffing himself up to get maximum volume.
One less insect - one well-fed grackle.
Last year David Suzuki started a 30 X 30 challenge - for 30 days spend at least 30 minutes in nature.
From the web site: "Over the last decade, researchers have realized what most of us know intuitively: nature is good for us! It is well documented that being regularly immersed in a natural setting, like a park, field or forest, can lower blood pressure, anxiety and stress levels, and boost immunity. ‘Green time’ has also been shown to reduce feelings of anger and depression, while increasing energy, creativity and even generosity."
I can attest to the benefits - so Hurry up and Slow Down in nature - it does a world of good.