Thursday, November 01, 2007

Brrrrr...the cooler weather has finally arrived! It's starting to feel rather nippy outside at night and I've even started to dust off my winter boots and coat this week. It's not stopping the exploration though and I've had a lovely month full of fun and 'fall' colour.

Earlier this month, I was treated to a visit from my godson, Alex. His mummy and daddy tagged along for the ride as well and it was lovely to see them all here in Toronto. They spent a week with me and managed to squeeze in some sights such as England winning the World Cup semi-final, Niagara Falls and the CN Tower before heading off to Chicago for a further week's holiday with some of their other friends. Alex seemed to particularly enjoy his salmon and caviar sandwiches followed by strawberries and cream at the Windsor Arms where we went for afternoon tea. He's such a cheery boy with a sunny smile and I loved every minute of having him and Annie & Jon to stay.

Another highlight was when I headed out of the city into the Haliburton highlands, a three-hour drive north east of Toronto. It was lovely to see some of the spectacular fall colours on the trees as we drove up there. Along with two friends, Janet and Fair, I took part in a wolf weekend at the Haliburton Wolf Centre. It was a fantastic couple of days and along with six others plus our two group leaders, we learnt so much about these amazing creatures which have a bit of a bad rep generally. The Centre has a captive pack who live in a large enclosure on site and apart from having food thrown in on a weekly basis are not socialised. The Centre conducts research on the wild packs that roam in Haliburton Forest. We took part in the research by analysing some wolf scat (poo) which we collected on our field trip. It contained evidence of beaver en croute. On our field trip, we also saw moose and bear tracks as well as a live beaver and a number of beaver lodges, dams and slides. The only moose I saw was dismembered and I'm quite relieved we didn't encounter a bear or wild wolf.

As well as learning about the wolves and spending some time watching the captive pack, including the new wolf pup, we also learnt about the problems posed by cross-breeding wolves and dogs. We were told how dangerous these animals can be due to their unpredictable nature and how, sadly, people think it's cool to keep these animals in domestic environments where they can be a potential danger to those around them.

Disappointingly, our attempts at encouraging the wolves to howl failed as they don't tend to howl in windy conditions. This was a pity as hearing them howl when it was a full moon would have been quite something. We were, however, able to watch them being fed and it was fascinating to watch the pack hierarchy come into play at feeding time. We saw first hand what the phrase ' a tail between his legs' means.

This week was Halloween and the Canadians go to town when it comes to celebrating this particular festival. Gardens are turned into graveyards and houses emit spooky sounds.

I celebrated with friends and the festivities were kicked off when the local bagpipers (!) paraded up and down the streets. Shortly thereafter the knock, knocks started and the local children played trick or treat. Over 150 children came to the door and the costumes were amazing. Not only were their the traditional ghosts and witches but also various ninjas, firemen, superheroes, chickens and cross dressers!

I dressed up as a cat (minus whiskers) and took part in the pumpkin carving and 'candy-giving' but this was not enough to keep the evil-doers from the door. My pumpkin was stolen! What has become of it? I don't know...pumpkin pie perhaps?