Grouse Mountain Hike! Part 1

All I can say is – WOW! Saturday was an amazing day! The weather was gorgeous and made it the perfect day for hiking. Five of us met up to enjoy the day and get some exercise! I’m glad we could hike it together, because I must say that having each other there for moral support was needed.

You know, when I thought about hiking Grouse Mountain, I expected it  to be a couple hours of fun and some good exercise. When we arrived at the bottom, and I looked up to see the clouds covering the top of the mountain – I knew then that it wasn’t going to be all that easy.

It was a grueling 1 hour and 40 minute walk to the top. There were markers along the trail saying “You have now reached the 1/4 mark.” When I saw that sign I wanted to cry! I was a lot more out of shape than I thought, and with Radek calling me “Grandma”, you can only imagine how unamused I was. However, those comments made me push myself hard and keep going to reach the top. I was so exhausted already but knew that the view would make it worthwhile. And did it ever.

All of Vancouver – and further – could be seen from the peak. Below, the Lionsgate bridge sparkled as the sun reflected off of hundreds of vehicle tops. Hiking Grouse is a truly amazing experience and I encourage you to hike it! I won’t say too much more so Manouk can write some of her experiences and what activities there were at the top of the mountain.

Get out there to Grouse mountain and hike the Grind! You’ll love it!

– Laura

Toronto Music Garden

A taste of summer is just lingering around the corner for us! Usually when I step outside after class, I’d be welcomed by dark skies and howling winds. But now, I’m glad I don’t see much of this. The day light is extending further into the night and instead of being greeted by whips of wind, the air is much warmer and gentler.

Now, is the perfect time for us to visit the recreational parks in our neighborhood as all plant life is in its budding stage. But, a garden is just a garden, why bother spending your time in these gardens you may ask? Well, the truth is, there is an exquisite garden in Toronto that deserves your visit as it tries to visually unfold musical movements through the use of landscape.

This garden is known as the Toronto Music Garden.  The Toronto Music Garden was an inspired design by YoYo Ma, a famous cellist, and Julie Moir Messervy, a landscape architect. The garden depicts the musical movement of Bach’s Suite No.1 in G Major for unaccompanied cello. For those who are music lovers or those who are curious as to how such a garden can be ‘music’ of any sort, a visit to the Toronto Music Garden is a must.

The Toronto Music Garden is divided into 6 sub –gardens that correspond to the 6 movements of Bach’s music:

  1. Prelude: Bach’s first movement sets the mood for what is yet to come. The movement is fluid and tender which provides the audience with a sense of serenity and security. Visitors at the garden will find themselves strolling along the river bank lined with low growing plants, granite rocks and a corridor of Hackberry trees.
  2. Allemande: Allemande is a duple meter dance that originated from Germany. It is a very expressive and grave movement, but still tries to indulge in a sense of calm and gracefulness. Visitors strolling through this movement will be greeted by wandering trails and Dawn Redwood trees.
  3. Courante: Courante is a colorful, quick-paced and lively form of French and Italian dance. To captivate the essence of this mood, the garden features a swirling path of wildflowers and luscious green fields leading up a hill to the Maypole (designed by Feir Mill Design Inc.).  Here, you may find exotic, dancing butterflies and musical, singing birds.
  4. Sarabande: Based on the Spanish, slow triple time dance, the Toronto Music Garden portrays this movement through a series of tall evergreen trees lined along an inward-arc.  A huge stone is placed in the centre of the garden acting as a “poet’s corner”.
  5. Minuets: Minuets is yet another French dance. However, the difference between Minuets and Courante is that the style of Minuets is much more structured and symmetrical. As a result, visitors will find that the garden features several formal floral arrangements that circle the Music Pavilion, designed by Canadian artist, Tom Tollefson, for small orchestral and dance performances.
  6. Gigue: The Gigue takes its name from an English dance. The Gigue is cheerful, lively and very merry. The architect depicts this joyous movement through the use of vast green lands that looks onto the harbor and uses small bushes and perennials to frame a stone stage for summer performances.

When you visit Vancouver or Toronto or any big cities for that matter, you will find that typical “Botanical Garden” you should visit. How often would you find a garden designed primarily for the sake of music? The Toronto Music Garden is definitely a must see. I’m a bit disappointed that the last time I went to Toronto, all I saw was the Toronto Botanical Garden and not the Toronto Music Garden.

The Toronto Music Garden is located at 475 Queen’s Quay West between Bathurst Street and Spadina Avenue.  The cost? FREE ADMISSION.

For more information, please visit: http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/thewaterfront/parks/musicgarden.cfm#gen