Cootes paradise: winter reveals remarkable textures

Goldenrod seed heads at Cootes Paradise

I happened to be in Hamilton, Ont., yesterday with time on my hands and took the opportunity to explore Cootes Paradise. Steeltown may be notorious for its air pollution, but it also offers access to remarkable green space and natural areas such as Royal Botanical Gardens (RBC), waterfalls like Tews Falls in Dundas, and Bruce Trail along the Niagara Escarpment.

Cootes Paradise at the west end of Hamilton Harbour is the most significant wetland on this part of Lake Ontario. Urban runoff, uncontrolled land use and the introduction of carp into Lake Ontario led to serious decline in the wetland’s ecology over the past century. RBC has worked at restoring it since the 1990s.

Diverse habitats make the whole area a great birding destination. Hamilton Harbour draws all kinds of waterfowl in the winter, while adjoining woodlands offer winter shelter and summer nest sites for songbirds. Rarities often turn up here. I have occasionally travelled to Hamilton to spot hotline species like brown pelican.

Yesterday I arrived with binoculars but my eyes were drawn to things closer at hand. Winter bares the landscape of distractions like flower, fruit and foliage. Underneath lie intriguing structures, the girders and crossbars of life. For artists and craftspeople these dead husks and shells appear pregnant with inspiration.

Raspberry and goldenrod

5 thoughts on “Cootes paradise: winter reveals remarkable textures

  1. I completely agree. The starkness of contrast, and the slanted sunlight, is why I could never adjust to a southern winter. It just has this allure that never fails to grab me. Since I can hear better now, sound has been added to the visuals: birds, wind, rattling branches etc. It amazes me how much I was missing for so long. When you gradually lose one of your senses, as I did, you stop noticing what you can’t sense anymore.

    1. Joe, that’s great news about your hearing. I remember you mentioned the problem, and am glad to hear it has been corrected. The texture of the world must seem much richer again. Enjoy!

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