Friday, May 25, 2018

Niagara Gorge Stories

A news item this week occurred at the Niagara River Gorge where a mid-twenties woman slipped on the rocks, fell into the gorge waters and remains missing.  The gorge has 24 kilometres of hiking and walking tracks running along or near the gorge.  It is very popular with sports enthusiasts.

The waters of the rapids are rated class 6 - which is very dangerous.  We mostly think of the Whirlpool Rapids, but there are 4 more sections - the Upper Great Gorge, Lower Great Gorge, Old Narrow Gorge and Lewiston Branch Gorge.  The one closes to the falls is the Upper Great Gorge. It is the right-angled turn in the river's course that makes the deep counter-clockwise spin that we call the Niagara Whirlpool.  The water has a maximum depth of 125 feet.

There is a rescue team for the gorge - the High Angle River Team.  There eight members in the team and they are also prepared to rescue people from the aero car should it ever break down - the aero car has a perfect safety record for its many years of operation.  They regularly rescue people on the hiking trails in the gorge.  The most common scenarios seem to be when people go off the trails and fall down the rocky cliffs.  There were more than 150 calls along the river last year. 

Our Niagara Orchard story this week is the greening of the trees and the dandelion seeding.  All the seeds have blown off now in the winds.  What a sight, though, fluffy white all down the orchard rows.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Smacked in the Face by a Fly

There must be hundreds of stories on the Royal wedding.  There's one titled "Don't Ruin Her Buzz" and it says that Meghan Markle was smacked in the face by a huge fly during the Royal Wedding.  One can look at the video HERE.  It certainly looks like a huge fly bumps into her face.  

What are all the Royal Couple stories? How can there be so many?  The world of exposes and tabloid news has matured and the topics seem endless:  Her half-brother and half-sister - who they are that they weren't invited to the wedding is one.  All the things that Meghan can't do now that she's part of Royalty.  Blow-by-blow coverage of the wedding 'moments', especially stories of what might be 'breaking protocol'.  All the celebrities that attended, and who said what about whom.

In contrast, Google Trend results show the top questions were fact-based: when is the Royal Wedding, What time does it start, etc.  And then the queries were about 'Stand by Me', the cellist playing at the Royal Wedding, and the sermon. The analysis says that since their engagement was announced, Meghan and Harry have become some of the most searched Royals on Google. See all the Royals trends HERE

Today we look at the late flowering tulips - these are known as Lily-flowered.  The benefit of the late varieties is that they withstand the heat well, so often last into June.  

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Scourge of Flies

I was at Beamer Falls Manor yesterday - a heritage home bed and breakfast in Grimsby on the escarpment.  Its target market is weddings.  We were looking at the garden together for planting ideas.  It is situated at Beamer Park, where the hawk migration is celebrated each year - the park has a commanding view of Grimsby and the Lake.  

My question was:  Are these black flies? There were so many flies all around us that we swatted continuously.   There is nothing like this below the escarpment.

What causes them to be in one place and not another in close proximity?  I didn't find any stories on this, but did enjoy the questions from foreign visitors on whether they should come to Ontario at all because of the 'horror stories about black flies'.  

We do consider black flies to be a 'scourge'. Black flies can be a serious health problem - they can cause sickness and death.  There are stories of cattle being severely affected - an outbreak in Alberta in 1971 resulted in almost 1,000 animals dying, and others to lose significant amounts of weight. The term commonly used is: 'black flies cause human suffering and are a scourge to livestock.'  Returning down the escarpment, I considered myself lucky to return to my black flie-less garden. 

Today we look at Strasburg Rail Road which we visited last Friday while in Pennsylvania. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


There is a Royal wedding this Saturday, and people will be remembering the Royal wedding that riveted the world - that of Princess Diana and Prince Charles in 1981.  It is a Royal wedding event that is revered and referenced by the press.  Her children are the subject of the global obsession with Royal weddings.

I went looking for the most remarkable Royal Wedding Gowns of all times - and there are a lot of them. There still is a lot of Royalty out there - Norway, Monaco, Sweden, Jordan, Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark - even Luxembourg.  There's a picture of the Queen of Bhutan in traditional costume.  She is the world's youngest living ruler.

There are two weddings for Prince Charles - the second with Camilla Parker Bowles in the Harper's Bazaar article.  Diana's is 29 of the 41 weddings covered.

What about Vogue's coverage of the most famous wedding dresses?  It is HERE.  It covers all kinds of celebrities and the dresses that made the news.  There's John and Yoko's wedding portrait, Mia Farrow and Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and (  ) fill in the name as there are quite a few.

Grace Kelly and Princess Diana seem to be 'markers' for beautiful wedding dresses. Grace Kelly's dress had 25 yards of silk, Princess Diana had the longest train in history.

The last picture in this article is also perhaps the most notable   It shows Queen Victoria's wedding dress in 1840.  This is the dress that started the tradition of white wedding dresses.

Our Spring show in the orchards is coming to an end as the green leaves sprout on the trees.  This orchard is  on 23rd Street in Vineland.

I checked on the Jordan Wisteria yesterday, and it is just starting to show colour.  We're in the midst of the Redbud season and the show is beautiful this year.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Thunderstorms 101

Winter thunderstorms do happen, but they are rare because the air is more stable. Strong updrafts cannot form because the surface temperatures during the winter are colder.  Did you know that a winter thunderstorm is called a thundersnow? That's my Severe Weather 101 learning for today.  Or is it?  What about summer thunderstorms? There is a lot to learn there.

We had rain last night with lightning and a little thunder, and it has started again just now.  That signals summer for me - that's when we get our thunderstorms.  Lightning is generated in clouds with strong vertical updrafts. Thunder is the acoustic effect on the Earth's atmosphere.  Thunderstorms can line up in a series and become what's known as a trainband or squall line.  Where would we live in the world to experience the most thunder?
Venezuela, Zulia is the world leader in thunderstorms;
"The most persistent and most spectacular thunderstorm in the world is Catatumbo Lightning. This is nearly continuous thunderstorm with up to 20,000 flashes of lightning per night, seen 140 - 160 nights per year and lasting approximately 10 hours long. It produces approximately 10% of tropospheric ozone in the world." Located along the Andes Mountains, it is the largest lake in South America and is situated in such a way that mountain breezes tangle with warm lake air. lists the top ten hotspots ranked and listed by average lightning flashes per square kilometre per year.  It looks like the Republic of Congo is the dominant location for this weather phenomenon:
1. Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela: 232.52
2. Kabare, Democratic Republic of Congo: 205.31
3. Kampene, Democratic Republic of Congo: 176.71
4. Caceres, Colombia: 172.29
5. Sake, Democratic Republic of Congo: 143.21
6. Dagar, Pakistan: 143.11
7. El Tarra, Colombia: 138.61
8. Nguti, Cameroon: 129.58
9. Butembo, Democratic Republic of Congo: 129.50
10. Boende, Democratic Republic of Congo: 127.52

Our weather highlights say that showers and thunderstorms are skimming through southern Ontario Monday night and Tuesday.  Then we're on to a warm weekend.

Our Niagara orchards on on display today.