Category Archives: photography

Steinbach Manitoba to Thunder Bay Ontario: A perfect storm of beauty and darkness



I was thinking about an autumn trip for weeks. Maybe months. I am an admitted travel slut who has not travelled for more than 2 years. I was a-hankering. Bigly.

Autumn is my favourite time of the year to travel.   My original idea was a trip to the east coast of North America perhaps for 4 or 5 weeks.  It is astoundingly beautiful there in the fall. I don’t know if any other place in the world has such a beautiful autumn.

But malign forces were at work.  Other matters kept encroaching on the available time.  First, I got sick. Then Christiane got sick. A few work-related matters and cottage repair issues interfered. How can work interfere with  the life of a retired person?  Available time was shrinking. Malign forces remember.

Then I down -graded my plans to a trip around Lake Superior. It is a spectacular place.  This would still be good.  Michigan is considered by many the best place in North America to see fall colours. But every state and the province of Ontario around it are spectacular. The boreal forest of Canada and the US are magnificent.  I could hardly wait.

Then even that puny trip encountered obstacles.  Malign forces again.  For a while I thought I would not go at all. Then after I recovered from a cold, which I passed on to Christiane, who was not impressed, I decided to abandon all reason and light out for the territories as Huck Finn would say. I went on my own for a very short jaunt as far into the Superior region as I could get, before I would have to turn around and get back in time for duties that were calling.  Isn’t a short jaunt better than nothing?  I thought so. Chris was happy to have me leave (imagine that).

As a result of these forces my superior tour turned into a puny inferior tour.  But I tried to make the most of it. I thought I did that. Parts of the story are truly amazing. These are the parts for which I can’t claim credit, but I think they are worth the trip and I hope some faithful readers of my blog follow me on this journey of discovery. It was far more than pretty pictures. I came for pictures; I found truth. A dark truth.

Crocuses in Steep Rock

Every year’s in spring I rush out to photograph crocuses, not because they are Manitoba’s official flower, but because I think they are one of our prettiest flowers.  This year I drove 3 hours to photograph flowers I can find within 20 minutes of home. Is that rational?

This day I joined the Native Orchid Conservation Inc. group on a field trip to Steep Rock.  Chris thought I was nuts for driving so far However, I was keen to go on a field trip. I was also keen on seeing Steep Rock again.  It is located on the shores of Lake Manitoba on wonderful limestone cliffs.  I always feel like I am on the east coast of Canada when I there.

Steep Rock is one of the most scenic spots in Manitoba. It feels like you are at the east coast.  Where else in Manitoba can you see such limestone cliffs beside a massive lake?  Nowhere of course. Steep Rock is special.


After spending about 20 minutes on the beach our faithful leader Megan led us along the beach toward the cliffs that in some places could be climbed quite easily. Megan is a dedicated leader. Once she saw me clambering up a cliff in search of a good spot to photograph flowers and quickly encouraged me to come down to safety. I realized I was taking a foolish chance and did not argue with her. Slipping and falling there even though not very high would have been at least very unpleasant and perhaps worse.  I promised her I would not be so foolish again. I am normally quite timid of dangers, but sometimes in pursuit of a photograph I take risks that I normally would not take.

Once we climbed up to the land adjacent to the beach we were met with glorious crocuses.  First, we saw a few crocuses and then hundreds!  This might be the best place in Manitoba for crocuses. At least I have never seen better. This was well worth the trip. Great scenery and a hundreds of crocuses. What could be better? I was very happy I had come on this trip. I tried my best to get some photographs of crocuses on the edge of the cliff with the lake covered with ice in the background.

There were a couple of fields with tons of crocuses, often in lovely clusters. Life was good today


Autumn thoughts of old men (and a few others)


Buffalo Point is a special place for me.  At no time is it more special than autumn. It is always a sad time.  I know what is coming and I resist the march of time. Toward winter and toward death. In the back yard (which is really the front since it faces the lake)  which is where we spend most of our time, facing the lake, often on the deck, I looked around. I saw rotting trees. Is that bad? Is rot bad? No. Forests must rot. If the trees did not die we would soon be choked out. That would not work. Just like the planet would be overrun if we did not die. In this world, death is necessary? I don’t know about the next. That is why old men must move on and should not hang around too long.

I am like that old poplar. It no longer has leaves. I don’t have much hair left. Old is good.  Someone once said, “No wise man ever wants to be any younger than he is.” Obviously, he was not a wise man. The tree had a hole near the top. To me it looked like a woodpecker had drilled a hole in the rotten tree looking for bugs to eat.  The hole may be used by another bird as a nest next year. This old tree is still of use.  So are old men. Of little use not much more than that.  Not the same use they once had, but different. Still important. Old men need to impart what they have learned. What else is a long life for? In this day- and-age old men sometimes resort to blogging to try in their small way to give a flavour of what they have learned or think they have learned.


Albert Camus, one of my favourite writers and philosophers captured what I think about autumn– “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”


Delia Owens, who wrote Where the Crawdads Sing said “Autumn leaves don’t fall, they fly. They take their time and wander on this their only chance to soar.” I would say they don’t so much soar as meander.  Maybe that is because I no longer soar, if I ever did. But I sure can meander.

Jane Hirshfield, the author of The Heat of Autumn said, “The heat of autumn is different from the heat of summer. One ripens apples, the other turns them to cider.” That applies to me too. I find apples too acidic, perhaps because I have acid reflux problems.  Life is never simple for an old man, but an old man can enjoy simple pleasures, like an autumn stroll in the woods.

Elizabeth Barrett Browing once said, “Where waving woods and waters wild Do hymn an autumn sound.”  Imagine that. How can you hymn an autumn sound?  I wish I could do that.

George Eliot said, in autumn the still melancholy could make “life and nature harmonize.” I actually think that can be done at any time, but since autumn is my favorite season, why not reserve it for autumn.

The American poet e. e. cummings put his thoughts into a form that an old man can understand: “”A wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away, and the trees stand. I think, I too, have known autumn too long.” It is clear I too have known autumn. Sadly so.

One of my favourite writers, Wallace Stegner, who wrote one of the best Canadian books ever, Wolf Willow, also said it well, “”Another fall, another turned page…”  It was time to head out to our deck and turn another page of a good book.

Autumn at Buffalo Point



Chris and I spent one last weekend at Buffalo Point before her surgery. It was still a little before prime colours I thought, but the colours were still wonderful. Sometimes we just have to be satisfied with what we have.


After we unloaded our stuff, we sat on the deck and enjoyed a lovely fall day. Chickens were twittering non-stop as if they were getting ready for the winter to come.

The next day  I went for a stroll thinking the colours were too green.  With hindsight, I think I was too critical.

The second day the colours looked better than the first. Could they really change so much in one day?



Next morning. I went for a quiet stroll with my camera. This would be my last day to soak in fall colours.


The pond and lake were perfectly calm. It gave us trust that things would work out.


I was not in a hurry for autumn to come, because I knew what came after it. Ominous winter. This year that uneasy feeling was amplified because Chris would have surgery a couple of days after we returned.



Golf courses have some use, besides chasing little white balls.



An Autumn meander in the Whiteshell





After a lovely picnic at Whitemouth Falls we continued on our autumn jaunt. Our second stop was Old Pinawa dam. This is a historic old dam that was  was built to provide electricity for modern Manitobans. You can see the old dam in the distance.

Autumn is my favourite time of year. I love the changing of the colours. In Manitoba the colours are not as spectacular as they are on the east coast, but ‘You gotta dance with the girl you brung.’

Our walking club had visited this site earlier in the summer.


A branch of the Winnipeg river flowed by with impressive enthusiasm. I was surprised there was so much water here as we had a very dry summer.

I was a little disappointed that the autumn leaves had not yet reached the peak of colours, but I tried to make the best of it.  You gotta dance with the girl you brung.

I knew I would not be able to return to this place this autumn since next week. after Chris’ surgery I would be seconded to perform manservant  duties.  Of course in my opinion I performed those services with sterling diligence.


After we completed our too brief visit at the dam, we continued  our meander through Whiteshell Provincial Park–one of the jewels of Manitoba.  Meandering is good.




A Nature Jaunt




This has been a very strange year. Chris was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm in January. The surgeon told us it was a big one and he clearly recommended surgery. In fact he said, he wanted to do it as soon a possible, because he hated seeing his patients die before the hit the operating table. We agreed with this entirely. In fact, we didn’t like the idea of Chris dying on the operating table either. Her surgery had been postponed twice already because Covid-19 was overwhelming the Manitoba health care system.  Both of us were very worried it would be postponed again. So one week before surgery was scheduled we went out for a nature jaunt to get our minds over surgery.

We went to Whitemouth Falls near Seven Sister Falls power station. It was a magnificent early autumn day. I am a sucker for autumn. I love the colours and try to capture the feeling of them, sometimes going beyond the real.

We have been to the modest falls a number of times but this was the first time we were able to get onto the island.  In fact, because the weather was so dry this year it was no longer an island. We had a lovely picnic in the warm fall sun.


Life does not get much better than that. And I got to photograph autumn leaves. We don’t have the colours they have down east, but is you look you can see.

Chris had surgery at the end of September and after that we had to stay home while Chris recuperated.

Thankfully Chris survived the delays and we enjoyed a little bit of autumn.  We only enjoyed a couple of days in the autumn. But we tried to make the most of them.

Like leaves, our lives are brief and then we flame out. Not always in a blaze of glory but we do the best we can.

As Shakespeare said,


Out, out brief candle!

LIfe’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.


Life was good and we wanted to keep it. And savour it. This day we did exactly that.




Sometimes reality does not provide the best view



I love to photograph this orchid and then play with the image to make it appear to be glowing in the dark of the bog. This image is actually a combination of two identical images. One of those images was brightened while the second one was then blurred. In Photoshop I then combined the two images to create this result. It is like magic when they are combined. If you click on the image and make it larger you can see the effect a little better. Sometimes the effect  is more pronounced than this image. Most important it is fun to make reality bend a little.

More Hoar Frost


As Chris and I drove around  country near Steinbach the hoar frost “held” for about an hour or two after we headed out. To me the most important part of hoar frost is their ephemeral beauty.


As soon as the temperature of the air reaches a high enough temperature the hoar frost will melt and disappear. Or if it gets windy the wind can blow the hoar frost off the branches. If you want to photograph it, you must move quickly.


Beauty is always temporary.  What a pity. But beauty always returns. And I never get enough.  We took a number of photographs and celebrated the beauty we captured so briefly. We had no need to travel to Arizona to find beauty.


Inspecting Sunsets



When the sunset begins I call it a whisper sunset. You just see a pale blush of sun if you look to the east or at least away from the sun.


At Buffalo Point for the New Year’s weekend I found employment of a sort. Henry David Thoreau, one of my heroes, claimed to be an inspector of snow storms when he lived at Walden Pond. That never appealed to me much but being an inspector of sunsets that was more like it.




So, I took up a self-appointed position as the inspector of sunsets. The sunset today was pretty good too.  I particularly like sunsets in winter when trees are reduced to their essential elements.



One thing I learned many years ago I think it was from Jim Peters or Dennis Fast at a photography workshop was that the best sunset photos don’t have the sun in them. The sun usually turns into a yellow blob in photos.  Best, usually, to keep it out of sight but look at its magnificent handywork.

I love sunsets.

Winter at Buffalo Point




Winter in Canada is filled with awesome beauty. You pay a high price to see it, but it is awesome beauty. Too often those of us who live in northern climes are so focused on the coldness of the winter that we miss its beauty. That is serious negligence.


Since I was stuck here for the winter I did resolve to enjoy it this year as best I could. I wanted to draw in to me the beauty of winter and silence.

The American writer, Jack Kerouac said, “I got all my boyhood in vanilla winter waves around the kitchen stove.”  A vanilla winter. How fitting. My favorite flavor joined to winter. That is a good way to think of winter. Even when sitting indoors.