We had a frost warning in North Bay last night. Despite the name "North Bay" giving us a bad rap of being frigid year round, even though we are just a smidgen further north than Ottawa, this was definitely out of character. While I was slightly concerned for the wellbeing of my tomato plants, I was more excited about the arrival of autumn.
I don't fare that well in summer heat. Give me crisp, spice-scented fall air any day. I love everything about it, including those grey fall days that just bring out the intense colours of the trees. Pass the hot cider and pumpkin pie, I am ready for autumn's bounty.
This past week, I've been focused on dealing with the backlog of house projects that piled up while I was working on Helianthus. I had hoped to be doing a bit more painting, but I'm actually appreciating the break. There's still so much to do, but tomorrow I'll be picking up the brushes again to keep working on my latest work in progress, a painting of a canoe in Algonquin Park.
I'm often asked if I come from North Bay originally. Since I've been here full-time since 2014, I'm tempted to say yes, because it's the longest I've ever lived in a city, ever. Before moving north, I lived in Toronto for four years and worked in real estate. My first two years, I was in love with everything about the city. My third year, I began to fret about ever being able to afford anything more than a high-rise apartment. My fourth year, I felt like I couldn't breathe anymore, and I needed a fresh start somewhere new. Somewhere with nature, affordable housing, and a warm community.
I fell in love with North Bay almost immediately. While working on my Bachelor of Education degree at Nipissing University, I would take my SLR out on the trails and take photos of North Bay almost daily. I was completely, totally, head over heels enamoured with the north. That year, I worked mostly on my photography, which really helped me develop an eye for composition and colour.
Fall Photos and Inspiration
So for fun, I figured I'd share a few of my fall photos of the north with my readers, since so many have expressed a similar love of the north. These were taken over the past few years, and aren't necessarily in chronological order. I feel fortunate beyond belief to live in this incredible place; when the pandemic is over, I highly recommend visiting our beautiful little city. It has tons of hidden gems, if you just know where to look.
This was shot in a trail network called Laurier Woods. It's tucked away right in the middle of the city and includes a couple of beaver habitats. While this isn't the greatest shot, I love the colours and warmth.
Nipissing University is nestled right beside a massive network of trails. I rented a locker where I kept snowshoes and hiking boots, and whenever I had a gap between classes, I'd head out into the trails to clear my head. This is the entrance to the trail network, curving along the edge of the pond where I once saw otters playing.
Speaking of Nipissing, I just love the campus location. I went to Queen's for my undergraduate degree, and while the campus was undeniably beautiful, we didn't have treelines like this in Kingston.
Duchesnay Falls is a gorgeous hike, easy to access from either the highway or along one of the campus trails. This isn't even the main waterfall, just one of many along the way.
Another view of part of the Duchesnay Falls trails. I don't really have a good shot of the falls themselves, because they are MASSIVE. They're best seen in person or by drone, where you can get a sense of their sheer size.
Don't laugh, but I love Canada Geese. I think they're majestic. I know many people find them to be a nuisance, but there's something so timeless and ritualistic about their natural rhythms. Their arrival means spring is coming, their departure a herald of cooler weather to come. I have such a soft spot for those annoying honkers.
I can smell the trees again just looking at this photo. Moments like this make you feel alive. This was taken in the early evening in the fall, when I was walking back from campus to the residence buildings. Residence is located at the base of a large hill, and while you can take College Drive for an easier stroll up to campus, there is a lovely trail that winds up along the hydro poles and goes straight to campus. That was my preferred route. Admittedly, I was late to class more than once because I was distracted by nature and had to take some photos.
What I love about all these images is that they were taken from places that were effortless to access, since nature is woven inextricably into the fabric of North Bay. I didn't have a car when most of these photos were shot, and I could still hop easily between the city and the woods without too much effort. This little robin eating her berries was more than happy to ignore me while I stuffed a giant lens up in her face.
New Work to Come
While I can't take credit for the next photo, it feels appropriate to share it, in case you missed it from a previous blog post. This photograph was shot by my neighbour, Jodee Yeo, while she was out walking a trail that is a literal stone's throw from our street. Although a city bus trundles down our avenue every half hour, our side of the street overlooks a conservation area that includes marshes, lakes, and snowmobile trails. Again, it is such a blessing to live where nature and civilization are engaged in a respectful dance. I am so excited to try painting the image below:
I'm also excited because my incredibly talented neighbour, who runs Birch Haven Wood 'n' Craft alongside his lovely wife, has offered to make frames for paintings on request. Pat is probably more of a perfectionist than I am, and his work is impeccable. I will personally be commissioning a frame for the painting that's going to be going into my front hallway. If you order a painting from me in the future, you'll have the option of ordering it with a frame as well.
With photos like these reminding me of the beauty of September and October, I'm starting to get very excited about what's to come. I can't wait to hit the trails once again and soak it all in.
Are you as excited for autumn as I am? Or are you still clinging to summer? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think, and as always, please feel free to share this post with anyone you think might enjoy it. With gratitude, and warm fall thoughts, Marianne