Signs of the times…

Yesterday (January 20, 2021) was a pretty cold day (-4C), an anomaly. Not so long ago it would have been an anomaly because it was so warm for late January; now it’s anomalously cold.

Having lived in the same place for 12 years now, it’s easy to notice certain trends. In the past few years, I have been alarmed to see crocuses starting to sprout in mid-February. Last week I saw the little shoots a whole month earlier than any previous year. My irises are also throwing up a few brave leaves. On Sunday it was warm enough to transplant my Purple Flowering Raspberry (Rosa odoratus) from the backyard to the front. The soil was pliable and not even close to frozen. In fact it was crawling with earthworms. Yesterday my kids saw a robin, not a usual sighting in Toronto in the heart of winter.

Crocuses sprouting in the third week of January: not the Toronto I grew up in!

As a once avid and now more mellow birdwatcher, one of the most tangible evidence of Toronto’s changing environment has been the appearance of mockingbirds (Mimus polyglottos). Back when I birdwatched a lot in the late ’80s and early ’90s, I never saw one until I went to California. I saw my first Ontario mockingbird at the Oakville GO Train station in 2003. Since then, mockingbirds have become a daily sighting in my neighbourhood, often coming to feed on the berries of Virginia Creeper growing on my porch.

A Northern Mockingbird, just done feeding on fruit from a Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina), January 2021.

Today (January 21, 2021), they’re calling for a high of 3C.

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