This summer was the hottest on record in Toronto, but now that autumn has officially started, cloudy skies and cooler temperatures are a sign of things to come. Trees, flowers and wildlife across our campus are transitioning, becoming a showcase of colours. Watching the Highland Creek Valley change over the seasons—especially to the wild technicolour of fall foliage at its peak—is something to marvel.
The promise of the new academic year is energizing; the changing weather is both stimulating and comforting. It sounds hokey but it’s true.
Many of my visitors and most of my colleagues here know that I like “walking meetings,” meetings on the move. They’re productive and stimulating, especially along our campus Ravine Path. Walking and talking with a colleague the other morning, the crisp, clear air reminded me this is my favourite time of year as the bright morning sun showed off the foliage just on the verge of changing.
We’re fortunate that our campus has such an incredible location, perched on top of the Highland Creek wilderness, connected by trails to Lake Ontario, to the Scarborough Bluffs, and to the Rouge Park. If you time it right you can catch Varsity Blues baseball on our Dan Lang Field—a field of dreams if there ever was one, a match at the new UTSC Tennis Centre, even Quidditch on the meadow in front of the historic Miller Lash House and its beautifully, seasonally adorned gardens. In the early morning and at dusk there is a fox—the most beautiful I have ever seen in my life—commanding the bridge to the House. Like Her Majesty, we all defer to her.
The Doris McCarthy Gallery’s fall programming features Outdoor School, an exhibition and series of activities exploring the urban wild spaces and natural environment of our campus and surrounding area. A recent workshop led by artist-forager Deirdre Fraser-Gudrunas identified 60 varieties of mushrooms along the Highland Creek Ravine, that were catalogued as part of a subjective field guide.
This time of year the Valley really shows itself as warm and inviting, almost magical with bright colours complementing each other—greens, browns, yellows and reds. The beauty of the place truly makes me catch my breath—this is one of the prettiest places I know.