To give you a little introduction, this is the second installment of a photo a day. It began during the month of May 2020 while I was involved with four Virtual runs during this COVID-19 pandemic. The month ended and I was only down to one virtual. It was called The Great Virtual Run Across Tennessee. When I registered for the Great Virtual Run Across Tennessee (#GVRAT1000k) on May 6, 2020, I never expected to take this virtual race as seriously as I have. I actually kept putting off registering because I honestly did not think I could complete 1000 kilometers, Registering 6 days late as number 17,983 did not help. It meant there was 17,982 runners with up to a 5 day head start.
Little did I realize, that this “Virtual Race” would push me. There were so many days I did not feel like heading out. Losing both my jobs with the pandemic had taken a toll on me mentally. But once I got home from my daily run/walk I felt so much better.
To hold myself accountable and transparent I posted daily updates on Twitter and my Facebook running page with photos and screenshots of my mileage and where I was that day. This blogpost article is a recap of one photo from each day of June 2020. Some days I took well over a dozen photos. As mentioned in my May, 2020 article, I am not a photographer. I have a cheap point and shoot camera. The photo I post might not be my best photo that day, but would be a photo that would have more of a story behind it. Hoping you will find a few of these stories have some interest. Without any further introduction, here is one photo to share from each day in the month of June, 2020
June 1: Springtime is a time of new life. With my old point and shoot camera any animal captures are a huge victory. I don’t want to move closer and spook an animal for the sake of a picture. This baby chipmunk had no fear, just curiosity. Perhaps I was the 1st human it has ever seen. It calmly stayed just a few feet from me. I marveled at the detail of the feet, which makes it able to climb trees so easily.
June 2: I have really struggled seeing all the logging that has taken place these past couple of years in my area. Beautiful older growth hardwood forests I have hiked through the past 3 decades and marveled, hugged and gotten strength from. Massive oaks and maples have been leveled to a bunch of stumps. Greenpeace mentions that 80% of the world’s forests have been destroyed or irreparably degraded. I know we all use wood products, from toilet paper to the wood handle on our corn brooms. But I really struggle with witnessing excess consumption just for image and status. It’s becoming the norm rather than the exception to have homes built in excess of 4,000 square feet (sometimes far greater) on the country properties in this area recently. Considering building that dream home? Please remember, the larger the home, the more the environment will be impacted. A simple rule of thumb provided by The House Designers is that it takes 6.3 board feet of lumber for every square foot of house. The average North American home of 2,600 square feet (excluding garage) would require 16,380 board feet of lumber to build. That is 22 mature trees cut down just for the “average” sized home. And that is just for the framing. This does not cover other wood products such as plywood, flooring or the cabinetry.
June 3: I have only taken a keen interest in birdwatching this past year since I have become semi-retired. So I can’t recall if I have ever seen this type of bird before. But what is staggering is that in the last 50 years, bird populations within the hundreds of North American species has plummeted by 3 billion birds. This particular bird, spotted on a tree just on the edge of my village in Hillsdale is the Brown Thrasher. When I posted it on Twitter, I learned from one of my followers it is the state bird of Georgia. I also learned that the defunct NHL hockey team, the Atlanta Thrashers (which relocated back to Winnipeg) was named after this bird. Whether I have seen this bird before in my 62 years, I don’t know. But now that I am a bit of a birdwatcher, I’m claiming this as a “lifer”, which is birder parlance for a species observed for the 1st time in one’s life. Sadly, less than a week later I saw what appeared to be the same beautiful bird dead on the side of the road. Likely hit by a vehicle.
June 4: I was in one of those very special natural areas where I took dozens of photos. Hard to choose just one photo. This natural area called Rennie DeBoer Woods, is right in the city of Barrie, Ontario…population 150,000 people. Have a lot of respect for any municipality that leaves areas in their natural state. Humans have too often altered landscapes to “tame” it. So much biodiversity is lost in the process.
June 5: Any day in Copeland Forest is a good day. So much natural beauty there. There is a quote that goes something like, “When you thank God for all the amazing things He has created, don’t forget to include yourself”. Self worth is something that not just teenagers struggle with. The early death of my dad when I was 15, and then 43 years working as a labourer really took it’s toll on me as I struggled daily over the years to provide for the family. This time spent in nature has given me the opportunity to reflect on what is important. I have my health and a great family. You can’t put a price on that.
June 6: During the virtual race there were “life” stuff that came up often. And I would work in my distances accordingly. Some days I would head out 2 or 3 times a day. The month of June is really nice in that there is a lot of daylight. To be out when the sun rises is always amazing and peaceful. Some of my most beautiful, reflective times were very early in the morning.
June 7: Definitely the oldest landmark in Hillsdale (built in 1869), the beams of the historic Hillsdale mill have rotted away in the middle, and it is just a matter of time before it implodes within itself. It is at the point where I really don’t think it can be saved. Have been taking lots of photos these days. I don’t know how much longer the old mill will be around. Intrigued by the morning mist in this photo from a different angle.
June 8: I have still been on the lookout for my 1st Monarch of the season, but no success yet. But lots of beautiful swallowtails. As cute and pretty as they are, butterflies will feed on dung. A term called “mud puddling” where with their proboscis they suck up fluids from soil, dung or even carrion. It gives them nutrients needed for reproduction, especially at a time when sugary flower nectar might be scarce. Intrigued by the green bottle flies also in this photo. There is even a fly right on the butterfly.
June 9: This magnificent oak is in a beautiful hardwood forest right on the edge of my village. The forest was twice the size when my wife and I moved here 31 years ago, but a new subdivision went in a few years later reducing the bush lot to half the size. Gone were many magnificent older growth trees such as this one. I always wondered why do builders raze a complete forest. And if you are lucky, leave one tree per lot. I ended up writing this article after talking to some builders about it.
June 10: The Ebony Jewelwing with their iridescent black green is one of the most beautiful insects I have ever witnessed. These damselflies have very specific requirements of moist, wooded areas. I only found them in a couple of areas of Copeland Forest. And on this day they were in abundance. I also learned that young adults’ wings are lighter and more transparent, while older individuals have more solid black wings. The white dot on the wingtip is a female.
June 11: Living, breathing trees serve many purposes. A young child would see this tree as a location for that perfect tree fort. And 20 years ago it was just that. I never knew who the “tenants” of this secret hideout on the edge of my village were, but no doubt the memories would last a lifetime. The fort was in use for a couple of years, and all that remains is the base 15-20 feet up the tree. The creativity and imagination that comes from these forts are so important for a child’s development. And we don’t necessarily need a tree. My family didn’t have a suitable tree in our yard, so my kids on their own initiative built blanket forts. When I was a kid on the farm I built my fort out of hay bales in the hay loft. And in the Canadian winter, the possibilities are limitless with those amazing snow forts.
June 12: It was very windy that day, so I specifically chose an area on a road allowance that is normally very thick with mosquitoes. The wind did seem to help somewhat. Very beautiful in there.
June 13: I loved practicing with my macro setting on my camera during this virtual. Insects such as this beautiful dragonfly always has its own challenges as I need to get close enough, but I also do not want to disturb the insect.
June 14: This pandemic has definitely affected people in so many respects. During shutdown people in care homes became a prisoner in their own rooms and working people like myself all of a sudden found myself without a job. As well, children could no longer hang out with their friends. Birthday parties were taboo, so you made do with what you could do. This was a drive-by celebration for a boy named Dylan, who I am crossing guard for. I figured he’d probably would not recognize me in my Prius, so I chose to run behind the convoy of vehicles. And use the mileage on this birthday run as part of my #GVRAT1000k distance.
June 15: My favoutite part of Copeland Forest is the wetlands. It was very wet on certain trails on this day. Torrential overnight rains had flooded this trail (on right side of photo). Interesting enough, as a kid this area used to be called Copeland Swamp. If we think of “swamp” it has that derogatory feel to it, like it is useless real estate that should be drained. Draining so much of our wetlands has had such a detrimental effect on our planet. On the contrary swamps (thankfully now referred to as wetlands) are extremely valuable. Here is an article I wrote when I was creative writer at Busch Systems about how important a role they play.
June 16: I took this photo a fair ways back to get it all in the photo frame. The tree is massive. And ancient. If trees could talk, what stories it could tell as it stood there right from the early colonial days until now. What caught my attention was not the tree, but what is at the base of the tree. Notice how much more soil there is around the tree, than in the field in the background. At one time this whole area used to be boundless, unbroken forests. Settlers cleared these forests and created fields for agriculture. With modern agriculture, the equipment is so massive, fencerows have been removed to accommodate them. Over the years this massive field was continuously cropped using pesticides and chemical fertilizers, making it susceptible to wind erosion. Plus the compaction from heavy equipment and ecological degradation from continuously cropping. Look at the base of the tree shows how much soil has been lost. A World Wildlife Fund article mentions that “In the last 150 years, half the topsoil on the planet has been lost.” There is a lot of emphasis on climate change these days, and rightly so. But if soil degradation is not addressed, there will be dire consequences. If we have lost half our topsoil in the last 150 years, will there be anything left 150 years from now? A positive point with this field, a new owner has bought and is farming it traditionally. This includes planting it back in hay to help stabilize the soil. Short term, it won’t replace what was lost, but it will prevent it from further degradation.
June 17: Such a beautiful looking ground cover. But I would think twice before digging some of this up for the garden. There are 2 plants in the patch, which are Poison Ivy and Virginia Creeper. A few years ago I wrote an article on how to identify Poison Ivy. The article also talked about urushiol, which is the substance that makes poison ivy so toxic.
June 18: I grew up on a farm. As soon as school was done it was summer holidays. For those that grew up on farms, summer meant busy helping get crops harvested on the farm. For me, it started off with haying season. Except we didn’t have big round bales like this. Hay bales in the 1970’s were those small rectangular bales that weighed 30-40 pounds. We bailed 8,000 of them on the farm, and each bale was individually handled from the baler to the wagon. Then from the wagon to the hay elevator. Then from the hay elevator to where they were stacked in the hay mow. This post is “a picture a day” only, so I’ll send the link of my dad loading hay bales on the hay elevator. It was the year he died of a heart attack. He was 47.
June 19: This was part of the North Simcoe Rail Trail. I accessed it at around 15 kilometers from home. Part of the trail skirts along the edge of the 27,000+ acre Minesing Wetlands. It is one the largest and least disturbed wetlands in Southern Ontario. A Nature Conservatory of Canada article mentions it is sometimes referred to as the “Everglades of the North”. This is due to their designation as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance. The Florida Everglades has that very same distinction. Right around here where this photo was taken I came upon this pair of nature photographers who had these massive long lenses on their cameras. A bird took off in flight just as I got up to the photographers. They told me the bird was a rare green heron. And showed me the pictures they took. I had never heard of a green heron before.
June 20: I actually took a day off here, after finishing my Race Across Tennessee in 50 days (though I didn’t start until day 6). Because of the late start, I started in 17,983rd place. Finished the crossing in 660th place. The pandemic was still on. I wasn’t working, so I decided on this day off I might as well register to keep going on the “Back Across Tennessee.”
June 21: I started my “BAT”, which stands for “Back Across Tennessee” this day. One of the main reasons I am continuing this on was the huge improvement in my blood pressure. Plus I lost 10 pounds up to that point.
June 22: At 35 kilometers from home, this was the furthest I drove from home during this entire 4 month virtual. I needed to deliver something up to a village called Waubaushene. Decided to do my mileage for the day while there on the Tay Shore Trail. It was very beautiful. There were a few dozen of these covers to protect the eggs in the turtle nests on the edge of the trail. Either from predators such as raccoons, or humans who might accidentally step on or ride over a nest as they try to make an effort to social distance during this pandemic.
June 23: This day was a socially distanced hike with a friend along Barrie’s Waterfront Trail. So much respect for the city’s Parks and Recreation staff who worked really hard to make these parks so beautiful. Places like this are so needed for mental health. Particularly during a pandemic.
June 24: With a cheap camera it is always a challenge to capture a butterfly with its wings spread wide open. It means getting reasonably close, but the last thing I want to do is disturb the butterfly. It was so exciting to capture this magnificent White Admiral. The markings on it are truly amazing!
June 25: As ambassador for the Monarch Ultra, I was SO excited to spot my 1st Monarch butterfly of the year on this day. It was about 4 kilometers from home and was feeding on some red clover on the edge of a hay field. The amazing thing is that I got the most amazing picture of it. Sadly that is not the picture I will be using for this day. Just a few hundred meters away from where I spotted the Monarch was a field of soybeans recently sprayed with glyphosate. Milkweed on the edge of the field was all dead. Milkweed is the only plant the Monarch caterpillar feed off of. The only plant alive was the GMO engineered soybeans. Easy to understand why it is so difficult for our important pollinators to survive. It is a very toxic world we live in. The website Global Glyphosate Study mentions “Glyphosate is the most used herbicide in human history, 3.5 billion pounds (1.6 billion kilograms) have been sprayed across the United States since 1974. Worldwide the amount sprayed since 1974 is 18.9 billion pounds (8.6 billion kilograms). In the last decade alone 6.1 billion kilograms have been applied worldwide. Glyphosate use has increased 15 times since genetically modified crops were introduced in 1996″. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were quoted in an article in Alive and Fit magazine, in that there is “found strong correlations between the use of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, and the rise in chronic illnesses related to gut dysfunction such as celiac disease”. Non-organic wheat crops are also treated with glyphosate just prior to harvest to force the wheat to dry out and release more seeds. It is profit at all costs. There is so much processed foods nowadays that contain wheat. This is something very personal to me as I came very close to losing my wife to anaphylactic shock 15 years ago. After a battery of tests it was determined my wife has now become anaphylactic to wheat. She is extremely diligent in reading food labels. If it says “may contain wheat”, she doesn’t touch it. Because her life depends on it. I encourage you to read food labels for yourself. Eat less processed, manufactured foods. If at all possible, support your local organic farms. Buy organic at the supermarket. Get to know your local producers. By buying directly from them, you know where your food comes from!
June 26: After encountering the field poisoned with Glyphosate the previous day, it was very refreshing to return to my beloved Copeland Forest and spot a patch of exquisite Pink Lady Slipper orchids. They are so beautiful and only grew in one small damp area of this magnificent 4,600 acre forest.
June 27: A lot of my distances I stayed close to home without ever getting in a car. These forests have been my “office” for the past couple of months. So good to be alive!
June 28: It is not just bees and butterflies that are pollinators. Tiny beetles about the size of an ant also like to get in on the action for some tasty nectar.
June 29: The fun thing with posting the daily photos on Twitter, I’m learning heaps as well. Twitter friend Yves Prevost mentioned that these are Inky Cap mushrooms. He mentioned normally they often grow on lawns, so growing on a log in a forest setting in quite unique. There is a reason why these mushrooms are called “Inky Cap”. The website “Mushroom Appreciation” mentions this mushroom is like an “Exploding pen, this mushroom releases a black liquid that is laden with spores. As it matures it will deliquesce, meaning it will appear to melt away until only the stem is left”.
June 30: Have walked past this spot many times in Copeland Forest and it’s the 1st time I’ve noticed this tree supporting another tree. Wasn’t paying attention. Reminds me how important it is to pay attention to those around us, & support them, to keep them from falling.
Thanks for reading. Is there a particular day in this article that resonated with you more than any other?