Sunday, July 29, 2012

Summer Sunsets

These are some of the photos I shot of a beautiful summer sunset down at Britannia Beach in Ottawa. That particular evening something nudged me in that direction and with only minutes to spare I raced down and caught the sun, just as it was going down.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tea in the Zen Garden

After the delightful task of viewing all the various display areas at 1001 Pots, and selecting and buying the pieces that I wanted, it was such a joy to sit down in one of the three tea salons. I chose the one located in the peaceful shade of the Zen Garden and was treated to a delicious cup of coffee by friend D. The same delightful friend who had discovered 1001 Pots and invited me along for the day.

There was a demonstration of the Japanese brush painting that adorn these banners that hang from the tea salon's roof and top the small tables.

There is a selection of Japanese teas for your enjoyment, served in gorgeous handmade ceramic teapots and tea cups, but the delicious smell of the brewing coffee was too much to resist. It was a serene place to rest and collect my thoughts after giddily traipsing about the garden trying not to miss anything.

The beautiful bouquet of garden flowers atop the worn wooden cabinet were resting in an handmade ceramic vase that suited the collection perfectly.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Silica Garden

Another interesting feature at 1001 Pots, is the unique Silica Garden that's tucked away in one corner and can be easily missed. 

The entrance to the Silica Garden is through a pair of rusty metal doors.

The roof is made of  branches open to the sky.

Inside, there are various rooms with benches for sitting and contemplating or perhaps for studying the myriads of pottery that make up the walls.

Not all the walls are filled yet.

But those that are provide a fascinating display.

A "stream" of blue ceramics flows through this unique garden.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

1001 Pots

For 24 years now, 1001 Pots, the largest ceramics exhibition in North America, has taken place in Val-David, in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec. There is an abundance of styles to suit everyone's taste in this outdoor display on the grounds of the event's founder,  potter Kinya Ishikawa. You can wander to your heart's content in a lovely garden setting, collecting as you go, and pay at one of the cashiers near the front entrance. Even if you decide not to bring anything home with you, the setting and displays are a feast for the eyes and make the outing well worthwhile. 

Some of the displays are grouped by theme, such as these bowls above, and the vases below.

Other displays group the work of a potter in one place, clearly marked with a sign. Visitors are given a brochure with a map that helps you find the location of a particular artisan. There are so many displays, this certainly helps if you are looking for the work of a particular person.

And if all this wasn't enough, there are workshops,demonstrations, musical concerts and poetry readings scheduled throughout the event's one-month run. This year, 1001 Pots runs from July 13th to August 12th.

Monday, July 2, 2012


The sound of my childhood summers was the distinct humming of cicadas.  On the hottest of summer days, this sound was heard high in the trees that lined my street. How lucky to be able to catch this magical transformation as it took place this summer. Though I have heard cicadas, I hadn't seen one before, let alone been witness to this amazing part of its life cycle.

After having spent as much as 17 years underground, sucking sap from tree roots, cicadas emerge to shed their larvae casings. They climb a tree and latch on, in this case to a hanging wicker basket. The outer shell cracks open and they slowly merge, shedding their outer layer.

Having emerged a little further, the wings are still all folded up and can be seen as the two green protrusions at each side of the body. The cicada is hanging upside down with only a small portion left to be pulled from the casing.

A side view of the cicada, now fully emerged and wings beginning to unfurl. The green, by the way, was the bright shade it is in these photos.

The wings are now completely formed and have rotated to angle down. Total time elapsed, perhaps 20 minutes to half an hour. Eventually the cicada would have moved to the branches above to sing for a partner, but we left at this point, having invaded the poor creature's privacy long enough. The males attract a female by making the characteristic humming sound, while the females answer with a clicking sound, made by flipping their tails.

I'm including this photo of the cicada hanging from the wicker basket to give you a sense of the scale of this newly formed creature.

BBC Worldwide produced a time-lapse segment on the life cycle of the cicada with Sir David Attenborough that's available on YouTube.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Happy Canada Day!

Celebrating Canada Day by picking luscious ripe strawberries and making four batches of jam.