Friday, August 7, 2009

Summer in Southwestern Ontario

There is nothing quite like a southwestern Ontario summer.

“There’s a different feel to the summer air in southwestern Ontario,” wrote Paul Wells in UWO’s alumni magazine recently. He speaks of the “impossibly lush green fields” and the “just-right humidity.” Anyone who has spent any time in southwestern Ontario will know exactly what Wells is talking about. For me, these words evoke exquisite sensory memories as deeply synesthetic as any Proustian madeleine or violin melody.

Being back at the Wetland this week, after a short stint in a stinky city just recovering from a six-week garbage strike, has left me speechless … and grateful. Grateful that such beauty exists. This string of perfect summers days has completely robbed me of words. I have shunned the laptop, the Blackberry and Twitter for the real twitterers! Our wetlands and our gardens are full of birds, and I have wanted only to experience every achingly lovely sight and every fleeting sound. I say fleeting because there are certain sounds that will only be heard now and over the next few weeks. Come September, the soundtrack will completely change.

Beautiful to begin with, White’s Wetlands has never been more verdant, more luxuriant than it is this week, the first week of August, 2009.

In fact, the entire area is breathtaking. After an inordinately wet July, southwestern Ontario is in full flourish now—the foliage is thick, the grasses tall and the ponds and creeks are full. Unusual for this time of the summer. The deciduous trees literally drip green and gold in the sunlight. The conifers are heavy-boughed and dark, their needles a deep green, reminiscent of April or May. There is not a brown blade of grass, a dry needle or a silent tree. Everything is alive with colour and sound. Birds sing, the grasses hum, the air buzzes. All the while, fat, fluffy clouds scud overhead.

Heaven truly is a place on earth.

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