Family Day – sans family

And so, another holiday weekend has come and gone. While our cousins to the south have been enjoying Presidents’ Day (a.k.a. “Washington’s Birthday”, and no, I’m not getting into that debate, thank you very much), we here in the Province of Ontario have been blessed with Family Day. A holiday where many, but not all, people in Ontario get to kick back and relax. A holiday that some might accuse our current Provincial Government of inventing almost as soon as they were voted into power, but which in reality already existed in other parts of the country.

Despite some initial push-back from people who didn’t want it (because it pre-supposes a certain definition of “family”, because it can actually be a disadvantage to the self-employed, or because they work for federal agencies that don’t observe it), it’s turned out to be a popular addition to the calendar in a month that’s traditionally snowy, cold, and distinctly lacking in holidays.

We here at Chateau Wintle celebrated by hanging around the house and doing not much of anything, which quite frankly works nicely for me. There were some thoughts of a trip to the zoo, and a bit of minor flapping about when we realized that all the grocery stores were closed and supper might require some random freezer-diving, but otherwise, all was quiet.

Mindful of a recent visit to the family doctor, in which it was reinforced that none of us get enough exercise, I proposed a nice walk through the woods around the neighbouring ponds, connected by a network of waterways in the headlands of the West Don River. Which plan, I am sad to report, was met with rather a wave of apathy. But it was sunny, not too cold, and for once in this uncharacteristically mild winter, attractively snowy outside. So off I went on my own, tooled up with cameras, thinking thoughts of roosting owls, cheerful Chickadees, and murders of crows croaking opinions from lofty perches.

The walk was lovely, although by its end at 4:30 or so the mid-winter light was already beginning to go, at least in the shadier parts of the woods. But the birds… well, to say that they were uncooperative would be, er, perfectly accurate. The overwintering Goldfinches were skittish, the Chickadees, usually tame and friendly, completely absent, and even the Northern Juncos, common backyard visitors, were nervous. A crow called to somebody or other, then flew off. An intriguing red blob turned out to be Sumach flowers, rather than a Cardinal. All of the hawk-shaped lumps in the trees were bird nests, and the owl-shaped ones, squirrel dreys.

Sumac, Maple, Ontario - February 2012
Not Cardinals.

However, the waterways and their foliage didn’t disappoint, and the lowering sun handed me some pretty light to play with.

Haloes, Maple, Ontario, February 2012
Teasel, an attractive, but invasive, species.

And I certainly came across plenty of other people taking advantage of the day, although I didn’t spot anyone else creeping through the slush and underbrush to photograph backlit burrs. But I did see this pair. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether what they’re up to makes good sense, or not.

Danger - Thin Ice / West Don Headlands, Maple, Ontario

And that was Family Day 2012 – not noteworthy, but restful.

About Richard Wintle

I am Canadian by heritage, and a molecular biologist and human geneticist by training. My day job is Assistant Director of a large genome centre, where I do various things along the lines of "keeping the wheels on". In my spare time, I tend to run around with a camera, often chasing horses, race cars, musicians, and occasionally, wildlife.
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5 Responses to Family Day – sans family

  1. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    The last photo looks like someone is auditioning for this year’s Darwin Awards.

    This was our last year without Family Day in BC. Mirroring your experience in Ontario, our esteemed and beloved new Premier announced almost as soon as she won the party leadership that we’ll begin observing the holiday in 2013, which as it so happens is the most likely year of the next provincial election. Look how that worked out! Although she lost some goodwill for announcing it in 2011 but not implementing it until 2013 🙂

    I’m really looking forward to that extra holiday in 2013. January 1st until Easter is just too long without a day off, especially given the darkness and dreariness of the weather. And I still get to vote for whichever party I want (hint: not the Premier’s), so it’s a win-win situation really.

  2. Frank says:

    I love the teasel photo – well worth a bit of slush-creeping.

    As for ‘Family Day’, it does have a ring of convention to it, a bit like ‘family values’. But I think ‘family’ is in the eye of the beholder so I’m sure those of us in non-conventional families will be happy to grab the holiday and celebrate it too.

    • Agreed. There was some kibbitzing from self-employed individuals, who of course don’t benefit from this and are actually hurt by it since it’s a day that (a) their kids may be home from school and therefore distracting, and (b) their clients won’t be available. There was also some concern from small business owners who end up with yet another day they are forced to pay their employees vacation pay, while obtaining no work in return.

      Myself, I’m a big fan, though. 🙂

      • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

        There were the same murmurings over here too.

        I use a definition of family that includes friends and cats, so no complaints from me!

  3. Ken says:

    Bit late to the party, but I did want to mention that some of us had to work on President’s Day. like Columbus Day, most Midwesterners seem to ignore it.

    Juncos and chickadees seem scarce here as well. Could be because I haven’t filled the feeders recently…

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