Mont Royal

A big lump of magma long exposed to erosion, Mont Royal rises above the island of Montreal. A good place for a park, no? Frederick Law Olmsted — who I inevitably call Frederick Lawn Olmsted, with a nod to James Joyce’s “Lawn Tennyson, gentleman poet” — evidently thought so, too. After the triumphs of Central and Prospect Parks, Olmsted, sans Vaux, worked on many other landscaping projects around the U.S. and here in Montreal.There were only a smattering of winter-hardy birds like chickadees and nuthatches up there that brisk November morning, so this Pileated woodpecker, Dryocopus pileatus, or Grand pic to the Francophones, announced itself as a pleasant surprise with great thudding taps. At one point, it paused to listen to some other great thudding sounds made by nearby construction.Northern deciduous hardwood forest, including birch, Betula spps, Borleau, and:Silver maples, Acer saccharinum, Érable argenté/plaine blanche, which were all over the city and the hill.And all over me were these burrs, tempting the Maginot Line of U.S. Customs.

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