Thursday, December 28, 2006

Winter, Oops Autumn, in Agawa Canyon

I can finally download pictures without any glitches (hopefully), so I thought I would show some of our pictures from our trip to Agawa Canyon. We went on the day long train trip to see the sights of autumn. Instead we saw winter! At first I was disappointed, thinking it was going to be a gloomy day. Sault Ste. Marie was rainy and dull. As it was we were on the last weekend of the autumn season and most of the leaves had fallen; however, as we rode further north it started to snow. The snow got heavier and deeper as went up toward the canyon and by the time we stopped there was 20-30 cm on the ground. It was amazing and breath-taking. We rode in the dome car on our first leg of our journey and I was awestruck by the beauty that surrounded me. Since we were on the last car of the train, Don opened the door. The photographers on the train were lined up to take pictures and I loved watching the track rolling along. Here are a few of the pictures I took out the back of the train:

We were quite fortunate to go to the canyon n the day we did. If we had gone during the winter we would not have been allowed to get off the train since the canyon receives up to 15 feet of snow and it would be too dangerous for hiking. As it was we were not able to go to the lookout - closed due to dangerous weather conditions. It was a mix of rain and snow once we got to the canyon so I got soaking wet when we hiked to two of the falls. The water falls had not yet frozen over so we saw something more unique - water and snow, not snow and ice. The downside - I was soaked and my glasses kept fogging over. For those who are visually impaired like me, you can appreciate the frustration and disappointment when taking pictures and trying to get the light just right and focusing when you can't see.

Don had a great time looking at the trains. Being a model railroader he loved watching the engines changes from front to back for the return trip. I took some pictures of different parts of the train hoping to some day put together a collage for his train room.

I loved taking pictures of autumn peeking through the snow. The brightness of the colours against the snow was amazing.

We met a couple from Florida who come up to Ontario, Quebec and the eastern states every fall in order to get a real feel for the season. They had this honking digital camera that had a super zoom lens and could take five or more shots for my one. By the end of the trip they had taken 1400 shots! And I thought I took a lot of pictures!! They said they would send us a CD with some of their pictures on it which meant I was able to get some good pictures taken from inside a train (the windows were water streaked).
The return trip was relaxing. We sat below (not up top in the dome car) and could stretch out since there were fewer people than on the way north (a group of the people in our car hopped another train and kept going north to Hearst, another six hours north). We walked through the train and found car after car empty! When we asked we found out that there was just 200 people on the trip and since the next day was a full train of 800 they kept the cars on the train. We had free rein - great!

I loved looking at all the cottages along the rail line. Many of the cottages had no road access so during the summer the cottagers hop the train and the train stops along the way whenever people need off. The little huts you see at farms for children waiting to catch a bus are also along the rail line for people waiting for the train. I think that would be so cool to be that isolated... One man whose front door to his cottage was probably about 20 feet from the track was sitting on his veranda with his dog and reading the newspaper. I'm not sure I would want to be that close to the tracks. Here are the last look at our trip - the way back south:

I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into a special walk through a winter wonderland that Don and I took. The only thing that would have made the time better was to make it longer. We are now thinking of looking into the train trip up to Hearst, Ontario, a ten hour trip. I would also love to take the Polar Bear Express from Cochrane up to Moosenee and Moose Factory in the summer. Anyone up for it?


Have I Said How Much I Love Autumn?

I just had to add a few pictures I took this fall. I LOVE AUTUMN! It is such an amazing time of the year. The weather is usually fair and the colours magnificent. Barbara and I went to Elora Gorge to see the sites. I also went up to the Caledon Hills, just ten minutes north of where I am. The pictures below are from my hiking through the badlands and driving on the equestrian club road.

I just had to include this picture of our car. Don and I drove along the trans Canada on our way to Sault Ste. Marie. The weather was interesting - snow one minute, sunny the next, then foggy and icy. We saw that our car antenna had a layer of ice coating it that was about one inch thick. We found the first rest stop so we could take a picture of it since the ice was melting fast. When we got out we noticed the ice coating the front of the car. I just had to take a picture of it against the autumn trees since I thought no one would ever believe how contradictory the weather was.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Reflecting on 2006

The director of Education sent out an e-mail to all Peel Board staff. He reflectied on a few questions and challenged us to do the same. Here are my thoughts...

What did I do in 2006 that makes me most proud?
I suppose it would be the work that I have done in my classroom with my students since August and with mentoring and teaching other teachers about comprehensive literacy. Keeping the lessons simple and mini really works within a framework of reading and writing workshops. In teacher's college making formal and complex lessons was expected; however, keeping lessons simple and focused is better. I have been fortunate over the past year to work with teachers in planning and modeling literacy lessons. Just that little bit of modeling and professional discussion has made a positive impact on the schools I serviced.

What challenged me most this year?

Sometimes my own negativism or high expectations of myself create the moments of biggest challenge. At these times I need to slow down to speed up, to realize that it is best to take small steps one at a time rather than leaps and bounds to make the most impact on myself or others. I can be too hard on myself and wanting to see change too soon, before I am even ready for the change...

Who—or what—really inspired me?
I don't think it was anything big or anyone in particular, but I get greatest inspiration from the small and simple things in life, not the "big" moments. Examples: a child saying to me, "Mrs. Rutter you look pretty today" even when I feel tired and am having a bad hair day. These kinds of comments give me that extra boost to realize my day is good afterall. When my husband, Don, has dinner made when I get home from work, or when he buys me something (usually a candy treat) just because he was thinking of me, or hearing the words, "I love you", or a whistle when Don sees me in the morning. These simple gestures of love and kindness make me feel secure and, yes, even sexy. Looking at the autumn colours and realizing how amazing God is with His artistic touches. These days inspire me to write a poem or paint.

What touched me or surprised me?
I am back in the classroom (grade 2, in a portable) for the first time in three years. A lot of things that have surprised me and touched me this year are the little things I had forgotten (isn't it amazing how quickly we forget the day-to-day things that make life what it is). What touched me - the excitement of seeing the joy of learning and zest for life children have. Children are so naturally curious and fully embrace life. What do we do as adults, or what happens in life along the way, that dampens that spirit as children get older. Children start off wanting to go to school, wanting to learn, wanting to please others around them (particularly the adults), yet so many get turned off of school as they get older. Maybe I am ready for a change in grade to a junior class to try an reverse the trend.

What's the biggest lesson(s) I learned this year?
Keep it simple stupid : it is usually the simple things that make the biggest and lasting impact on myself and others. Also, don't sweat the small stuff: don't worry about what you cannot change. This is a hard lesson for me, considering I have such high expectations of myself. In order to not worry, I am learning to make lemonade when I am thrown a lot of lemons. I know, I know, how cliche of me!