One of my favourite fall activities is going to my local apple orchard to pick a bag of Mutsu apples, which (surprisingly) does not last a week with my family. In the winter, I scour markets and grocery stores for the best specimens that have not succumbed to becoming a mushy disaster.
As a tree enthusiast, most walks I take are spent with my head up in the canopy. I observe trees for their form, leaves, over all health, wildlife and the urban stresses they face. During the winter, my gaze shifts. I like the opportunity to examine the naked tree’s architecture and to practice my non-leaf based identification skills - relying on the more subtle tells of the twigs and bark. With the added challenge of winter identification, I have found myself taking more time to let my eyes wander. Recently I have been noticing some neat tree-connected art around our city.
Salt. It's on our tables, in our food and on our sidewalks. It has been linked to high-blood pressure and cardiovascular disease in us; discoloured leaves and sparse foliage in our canopies overhead. And as pressure grows to get Canadians to ease up on our intake, it may also be time to put our trees on a low-sodium diet.
The Guelph Urban Forest Friends (GUFF) is a group of citizen-based activists who took local tree preservation into their own hands. When faced with the city’s decision to cut down more than 20 mature trees we organized an action to preserve one of the remaining mature trees using a group of five bikes.
Toyin Coker and I sit across from each other at a chess table in the park outside the Wychwood Barns. It’s a sunny afternoon and a few birds fly overhead in the cool, late November air. I ask her to describe herself in a word. She floats a few, “natural mentor...gardener...I guess you could say a kind of community builder." I'm not totally convinced those encompass all that she is. We're here to talk permaculture. And if there's one thing I'm sure of, its that she is a woman who has realized her dream.