Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Theatre Gardens in Spring

I took a stroll past the Festival Theatre today in order to spend time in the gardens there. This is one of the delightful gems of Stratford...natural artistry side by side with the dramatic arts.

A new pansy bed freshly planted holds promise of a lovely carpet of bloom to come.

The Arthur Meighan perennial garden displays her spring colours.

As the season progresses this garden area will provide a constant change of "scenery". With identifying labels on most plants it is a gardener's dream. I often come here to see what is in bloom at certain times, so I know what to buy to enhance my own little piece of God's creation.

A row of blossom trees I had never noticed before, just below the theatre, add their beauty to the baseball and soccer fields of lower Queens Park.

If you haven't been to Stratford in the Spring, why not consider it? The town is coming to life in so many ways, and the theatre tickets are less expensive. It's a win win!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Touch of Spring

We who love to garden get itchy palms come Spring. We can't wait to release the child within, to get our hands in the mud, and to marvel once again at the beauty of creation and new life. With the balmy weather we in Stratford have experienced in March and April, spring duties are progressing ahead of schedule. Gardens that we normally don't touch until mid May have had the vestiges of winter removed and the spring buds have turned their smiling faces ton greet the sun.

Here are a few of the jewels from my front garden that catch my eye when I step out these days. They are too beautiful not to share.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sculpture of Norval Morrisseau

Mine is a city that invites the imagination to thrive. Many wonderful artists call Stratford home. Not only the theatrical and musical arts flourish here, but visual arts of all types abound.

On my walk home today I saw one of my neighbours out creating a new garden. I stopped to chat and she invited me in to see her finished sculpture. It stands 8 feet tall and is a 3D portrait of Norval Morrisseau, an Ojibway artist and Shaman who is considered by many to be one of Canada's most original and important artists.

When he was 19, Morrisseau recovered from a severe illness after a mystic ceremony performed by a medicine woman, where he was given the name "Copper Thunderbird". In the late 1950's he became sick again with tuberculosis and met his wife Harriet Kakegamic in a sanitorium in Thunder Bay. She taught him to sign his artwork as Copper Thunderbird in Cree syllabics. My artist neighbour, Susan Murar, has captured the dichotomy of the face of the thunder bird interwoven with that of the artist. I was captivated by the sculpture's eyes and the intricate details that pull images from his artwork. Back and front, both sculptures in the set display a wonderful array of Ojibway legends.

If you are ever passing through Stratford do take the time to look up artist Susan Murar. She is a fascinating and talented woman. The statue, by the way, is created from white plasticine.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Spring Flowers

I wandered out with my camera today. My tiny tulips are quite stunning. I love the variegated striped leaves on the wee ones.

These little plants with the fuzzy leaves bloom pink and blue at the same time. I call it the polka dot plant because of its leaves, but I know that isn't its real name.

I am not new to gardening, have loved it and found it healing for many years, but when it comes to identifying...well, that's another story.

To all the gardeners reading this, I hope you are enjoying the hearty dose of sunshine we are experiencing. It is a harbinger of new life and lifted spirits after the dreary days of winter.

Monday, April 12, 2010


The sun is shining. The trees are budding, and it is a great time to try out some of Stratford's cafes. Over the past few years the downtown core has been offering more and more outdoor venues for a quick drink and a pastry, or even a full meal.

One of my favorites is the tiny back deck of Balzac's Coffee. Surrounded by mature trees and vines, it bids the visitor to come and while away a few moments or an hour, chatting or reading in the dappled sunlight while enjoying a superb cup of cappuccino or latte. Drop on by, grab your coffee and head out the back door.

Don't forget to look up on the way through. Original moulded tin ceilings and a display of vintage coffee ads and tins are part of the decor, and of course there is the 12-kilo micro-roaster where the finest selection of coffee beans from around the world are roasted to perfection. As well as traditional blends Balzac's offers a variety of Fair Trade Organic coffees and teas.

So if you are hankering for a little pick-me-up, wander on down Ontario Street to number 149, near Waterloo and enjoy the ambiance as well as the coffee.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Visiting the Swans

It is springtime in Stratford, and I finally got down to the river to see how the swans are doing since their release. So far they all seem to be staying east of Tom Patterson Island.

People are enjoying feeding them, and fortunately remembering to just give them grain or greens.

We still seem to have the bully. I couldn't believe how fast he charged through the water to keep the others in line. One swan who didn't do as he demanded got a royal dressing down.

It looks like there will be plenty of entertainment from the herd again this year.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Swan Parade

I could not be there myself, but found this video of the event at

Enjoy the bagpipes, the crowds, and of course the regal birds who are now enjoying their summer home.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Imminent Release of the Swans

Stratford's waterfowl are itching to be on the water. Yesterday we dropped by their winter quarters to see how they were faring.

It seems that they have caught Spring fever. Maybe they have sensed that tomorrow, Easter Sunday, they will take part in the annual swan parade. With bagpipes on hand to announce the occasion, they will march proudly past the thousands of visitors who come to see this annual event. The scent of the water nearby is good reason to drop the winter lethargy and pick up speed as they march, or should I say 'waddle', along Morenz Drive to the freedom of the river. With a final burst of energy they will race the last few yards down the ramp and into the water.

For Stratford, the releasing of the swans is like the initiation rite of spring. After the last bird hits the water, the crowds who come to watch will make their way along the trail the runs by the river. It is like we heave a collective sigh of relief knowing that we have survived the Ontario winter. The swans are on the water and there is a communal sense that all is well.

Soon the swans who have found their lifelong mates will be busy preparing nests and before long we will witness once again the miracle of new life as cygnets and ducklings entertain us with their joie de vivre. Easter is indeed a season of new life, of new beginnings.