It is Grace’s and my habit to walk for one hour every day, Monday to Friday each week. We do this first thing in the morning. On dry days there are different venues where we walk, and on wet days we walk around the indoor concourse of our beautiful Abbotsford Arena Sports and Entertainment Centre.
A place where we really enjoy walking on dry days is Centennial Park, located in the centre of Abbotsford, the town where we live. The park contains Mill Lake around which is a walking trail enjoyed daily by many local folk.
In recent weeks I have taken some photographs during our walks. The majority were taken back in February while it was still winter. We are now in the full bloom of spring, as the latter pictures will show. We want to share some of the pictures with you and hope you will find them interesting. Comments on the scenes shown will, generally speaking, appear underneath each of the pictures. For the technically interested, our camera is a Nikon Coolpix S8100, a simple pocket sized camera that is basically “point and shoot.” Click on the pictures to enlarge them (something I recommend as you will be able to see the details so much better) and then click on the “back” arrow to return to the inserted size.
The first group of pictures are some general views that were taken in February on a mixture of overcast and sunny days.
Looking south east from the park, Mount Baker can be seen (on a clear day anyway). The mountain is about 30 miles (48 kilometres) away from the spot where I took this picture. It is 10,781 feet (3,286 metres) high and is located in Washington State, USA. It is the most northerly situated volcanic mountain of a line of volcanoes that goes down through Washington, Oregon to Mount Shasta in northern California. Mount St. Helens (of 1980 eruption fame) is one of the mountains in this chain. Mount Baker is actually the second most active volcano, next to Mount St. Helens. However, this is not a cause for concern as all the others appear to be dormant and Mount Baker only emits a steady stream of vapour with the odour of sulphur from the Sherman Crater near the summit. Monitors on the mountain show no evidence of a build up of pressure. Mount Baker last erupted in 1843 and even then it was not a huge eruption.
This view looks east from the car park to the wooden bridge. Beyond the bridge are some townhouses, the residents of which have a nice view of the lake. Grace’s late brother Calvin and his wife Beryl lived in one of those townhouses when they first moved to Canada in the early 1980s.
This shot was taken from the south side of the lake, looking north. The buildings one can see are part of the Sevenoaks Shopping Mall and the tall building with the green roof is a very nice block of apartments. In the far distance one can see mountains that are part of the Coastal Mountain range. These particular peaks are about 8,000 feet high and, as you can see, they are snow capped. The water fowl seen in this picture are Common Coots.
I took this picture from the wooden bridge on a sunny, calm day in February. The dwellings that can be seen are part of a very nice townhouse complex that overlooks the lake.
Now join us as we take a walk around the lake, beginning at the north car park. The full circuit around the lake is 2.13 kilometres (1.32 miles). We will go counter clockwise around the lake.
While we walk, our Toyota Corolla (“Grace’s car”) will wait patiently for us in the north car park. As you can see, it is still winter with trees that are still bare. Mount Baker can be seen in the distance.
One of the first sights we notice as we begin our walk is the ducks that are gathering together close to shore on this cold, winter morning.
We feel privileged to have a pair of resident bald eagles in Centennial Park. Each year, in late winter they begin the work of renovating and fixing up their nest, high up in a tree in preparation for egg laying and the raising of their eaglets in spring and early summer. The nests are huge and can weigh up to 500 lbs. We reach their tree shortly after we start walking and there they are, sitting quietly close by their nest. They do not seem to be troubled by the cold wind that is blowing.
Four days later we were enjoying a sunny, cold, crisp day with blue sky and I was able to take some more pictures of our eagles and their nest. Here is one of them. Do you think this picture would make a great jig saw puzzle?
Walking on we soon reach the location of the children’s water park. In the picture it is still deserted with the exception of one mother and her baby, and Mr. Crow on the grass. It is February 23rd but the scene will change dramatically during the hot days of summer when it will be thronged by children (and adults who have not yet grown up). The apparatus you see has many small water jet orifices, pointing in all different directions. A computer programme directs the jets to squirt water in seemingly random order. It is utter pandemonium, with children (and those other “children” I mentioned above) squealing in excitement as they run around trying to avoid the jets of water, only to be caught again and again by jets of water coming from other directions.
There are many memorial benches to be found in the park, placed there by those who wish to remember and honour loved ones who have passed away. Here is one of them. Richard Ballantyne, a personal friend of ours had this bench installed in memory of his parents Arthur and Kathleen Ballantyne. Arthur was a soldier in the Canadian Army during World War II. He served with great distinction and heroism, particularly during the Italian campaign and was awarded a medal for his bravery. When in London he met Kathleen. They were subsequently married and after the war, Kathleen was one of many English war brides who sailed across the Atlantic to join their new husbands and begin a new life with them in Canada. We knew them and it was my privilege to conduct both of their funerals.
There are two conventional children’s playgrounds in the park. This is one of them located on the south side of the lake.
We have now reached the wooden bridge where we can have a view of the lake looking west. On a log you can see some cormorants and gulls. There are fish in this lake which attract these birds. In the background you can see some sport fishermen in a boat.
Other fishermen prefer the safety of the shore to do their fishing.
While taking pictures on the bridge we met and began a conversation with a lady. She offered to take a picture of us both. Why not? Here we are, dressed for a cold day and wearing our iPod earbuds (Grace) and headphones (me) which provide us with good music to listen to as we walk.
Grace’s first choice of music to listen to as we walk is Christian music, e.g. Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, Graham Kendrick and Brian Doerksen etc. Brian and his wife Joyce were two of her students in high school here in Abbotsford.
For those of you who know Grace, you also know that she loves to sing. Further, she has a strong voice. It is very hard for her to walk in the park and just listen. She does not even try. Her voice can be heard for quite a distance. This provokes looks from other walkers, some of curiosity or even disapproval but the majority smile and seem to enjoy it. Quite a few have stopped and told her they like her singing and encourage her to continue doing so.
This sign not only gives some important instructions, it also provides some valuable information – particularly for those who are involved in education. We have read this sign, understood what it says and observed the behaviour of some people in the park. Clearly we do not yet have 100% literacy in Abbotsford! The ducks and geese, on the other hand, seem to be quite pleased about that and have no plans to advise those who feed them not to do it.
We are now nearing the end of our walk around the lake and we walk past an area that, in this picture taken February 23rd looks untidy, bedraggled, even ugly. This, however, is a very important area as winter becomes spring and the dead vegetation is replaced by thick, healthy rushes and other water plants. This area is a perfect haven and location for water fowl and birds to build their nests and have their families, all effectively hidden by the dense growth. Some small turtles also live here. There are other areas like this one around the edge of the lake.
The above picture, taken today May 24th illustrates the point I am making. This is the same area but is totally changed. In addition to waterfowl, there are birds like the red wing blackbirds who make their nests in the rushes. The picture was taken from a different viewpoint – the wooden bridge.
For the final group of pictures we are going to move in time from February to April and May. Spring has sprung and the bare trees and bushes now have their luscious foliage.
There are many lovely rhododendrons like this one currently in full bloom in the park.
The business among the water fowl and other wild life of having families is well under way – led by the Canada geese.
This is the first new family we saw and I took this picture on April 19th. Today, May 24th, I took the picture below of the same parents and their brood of six. You will count only 5 goslings in the picture. The 6th was just out of the picture on the right. In just over one month those little birds have really grown. The primary wing feathers (pinions) are already beginning to form and we are wondering how long will it be before those new wings will lift those bulky young bodies aloft for their first flight?
This is the largest family we have in the park this year. We have asked could it be possible that mama laid and hatched this many eggs? This picture was taken on May 16th.
What is going on here? This picture of the same family was taken today, May 24th. Ma and Pa now have a family of 18! Let me give you some help with the counting. In the picture you can see Mother Goose and 17 goslings. There are two mallard ducks huddled close together beyond the adult goose and to the right of her. The 18th gosling is with Dad, about three feet away from me as I took this picture. He is preventing the little tyke from straying further away and is, actually, herding it back to the main group. I repeat, this is the same family as the one in the previous picture with 13 goslings. Somehow they have picked up and adopted 5 more from other broods. We have seen, sometimes three families on the same grass area together. The goslings mingle together so I guess that means there is a possibility of a mix up happening. Or, maybe their own parents abandoned them and this loving couple took them in. They are certainly very protective of them.
I should add that there are also ducks with their ducklings in the park but the ones we have seen are in places where it is not easy to get pictures of them.
Finally, what about our eagles?
Look carefully at this picture and you will see the male bird (white head and tail) perched with his back to the camera. The nest is to his right and down below somewhat. We can’t see the nest as it is now hidden from our view both by the foliage of the tree in which it is located and the lighter green foliage of a smaller, younger tree in front of it. Perhaps one of more of the eggs has hatched already as there was a lot of squawking up there a few days ago.
Well, that’s it. Hope you enjoyed the walk in the park with us.