Joyful, Joyful

We start our holiday Blog post with a good news tree story. But, of course! It’s all about the trees!

A Win for Concerned Citizens in Action – Hurrah!

Imagine what it takes to keep your unwavering focus on the seemingly elusive cause of saving Toronto’s oldest tree….for 14 years!

Imagine being a six-year old who loves this 250 year old red oak and wanted to help.

Meet Sophie Maiolo, now nine, and Edith George, local Toronto heroes (and Junior and Senior Loraxes), who with champion donors Mark and Ben Cullen, and Ed Clarke, and together with more than 1300 other concerned citizens rallied behind a shared goal, and on November 26, succeeded, thus saving one of Canada’s oldest trees, for the benefit of the whole city of Toronto for generations to come.

Thanks to Nora for celebrating this success story with us. To read about Edith’s long journey, begun in 2006, and to see photos of this much beloved red oak (Quercus ruba) with its amazing 17-foot circumference and 78-foot wide span, see this inspirational Toronto Star piece about individual citizens joining up and making a difference

And here’s a news piece with tree photos on Toronto Council’s decision as featured on the GoodNewsNetwork

Brings to mind one of Catherine’s favourite quotes, by Margaret Mead – “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” 

Making positive change for Planet Earth and one another, one tree and one forest at a time….

Thank You

It warms our hearts to hear that our Blog has inspired some of you to give the gift of trees this season. Thanks to Linda for bringing to our awareness an organization she supports inspired in part by our Blog – Chalice, which sponsors international aid projects that are ‘fighting hunger by planting fruit trees,’ – awesome cause!

Good Reads

Others are raising their voices (and our awareness) on tree-themed or environmental topics through their written word. Just in time for the holidays, whether for gifting or for your own reading pleasure, here are some recent book ideas that have come across our (virtual) desks, with thanks to friends and readers for alerting us to them.

Bridget George’s  It’s a Mitig! “guides young readers through the forest while introducing them to Ojibwe words for nature. From sunup to sundown, encounter an amik playing with sticks and swimming in the river, a prickly gaag hiding in the bushes and a big, bark-covered mitig.”

“Featuring vibrant and playful artwork, an illustrated Ojibwe-to-English glossary and a simple introduction to the double-vowel pronunciation system, plus accompanying online recordings, It’s a Mitig! is one of the first books of its kind. It was created for young children and their families with the heartfelt desire to spark a lifelong interest in learning language.” (Goodreads:

Canada’s Jessica J. Lee recently won the 2020 Hilary Weston Writer’s Trust for Non-Fiction award for her book, Two Trees Make a Forest: Travels Among Taiwan’s Mountains & Coasts in Search of My Family’s Past.

CBC Books offers this introduction to the work:

“A chance discovery of letters written by her immigrant grandfather leads Jessica J. Lee to her ancestral homeland, Taiwan. There, she seeks his story while growing closer to the land he knew.”

“Lee hikes mountains home to Formosan flamecrests, birds found nowhere else on earth, and swims in a lake of drowned cedars. She bikes flatlands where spoonbills alight by fish farms, and learns about a tree whose fruit can float in the ocean for years, awaiting landfall. Throughout, Lee unearths surprising parallels between the natural and human stories that have shaped her family and their beloved island. Joyously attentive to the natural world, Lee also turns a critical gaze upon colonialist explorers who mapped the land and named plants, relying on and often effacing the labor and knowledge of local communities.”

Goodreads adds, “Interlacing a personal narrative with Taiwan’s history and terrain, Two Trees Make a Forest is an intimate examination of the human relationship with geography and nature, and offers an exploration of one woman’s search for history and belonging amidst an ever-shifting landscape.”

After watching this delightful interview with the author by Steve Paikin on The Agenda, Catherine immediately put a hold request for the book with the wonderful Toronto Public Library.

She also was intrigued by this Steve Paikin interview with author James Raffan about his book Ice Walker, another book now on her holds list with the TPL:

Both books are profiled in this article in the Toronto Star on “Reads that are good for your environment,” together with:

Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass,

Julia Zarankin’s Field Notes from an Unintentional Birder, and,

David Attenborough’s A Life on Our Planet. (Toronto Star:

Here’s a link to Allan’s guest blog review on the David Attenborough documentary by the same name -


Columnists Mark and Ben Cohen profile the documentary, “Kiss the Ground,” as an illuminating “…treatise to the value of soil as a key component in the battle against climate change.” (Toronto Star, December 5, 2020). We have made a note to ourselves to learn more about the soil and climate change connection in 2021, starting by watching this documentary, narrated by Woody Harrelson, on Netflix soon. Stay tuned.


Thanks to Eileen for putting this excellent New York Times’ article on The Social Life of Trees and the work of Canadian scientist Suzanne Simard on our radar.  As Eileen observes, the article is a a good follow up piece for anyone who has read Richard Power’s The Overstory. Another one on our ever expanding reading list!

New York Times‘ article:

Guardian review of The Overstory:

Joy for the Senses and Holidays

To bring you our very best wishes for the Holiday Season, our goal for this Blog post is to flood all your senses with opportunities for joy.  We will need you to help with your imagination and participation, please – our Blog platform doesn’t have an option yet for sharing joyful aromas, tastes and touches with you over the Internet!

Spicing Up The Season

They say that our sense of smell is one of the most powerful avenues into happy memories.  Makes “scents” to us (sorry, Catherine couldn’t resist the bad pun opportunity).

Aromas and tastes that bring us happy associations with festive holiday gatherings over the years include:

  • Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire
  • Clementines
  • Peppermint Candy Canes

We invite you to share with us the smells and tastes that evoke holiday happiness for you.

Nature’s Gifts of Joy-Canadian Winter Birds

Hygge – Feeling Cozy

“Pronounced “hoo-ga,” this Danish concept cannot be translated to one single word but encompasses a feeling of cozy contentment and well-being through enjoying the simple things in life.”

Here’s a cool job title – CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen.  With jobs like that there’s good reason why Denmark is at the top of the list of happiest countries in the world! Then again, so is Canada!  Hmmm, maybe it’s a northern climate, winter cozy kind of thing that’s a secret happiness ingredient?

This Country Living article offers the skinny on Hygge and ideas for eliciting more of it this winter —

Delivering Joy and Hope During a Pandemic Holiday Season

Catherine is delighted and proud to discover her friends and neighbours, Nora and Ben, spotlighted for their acts of kindness in spreading holiday joy as featured in this CBC videoclip – perfect timing for our Blog post!

Lucy’s JOY or YOJ

Setting up the decorations, Lucy planted the J block on the bottom as the first letter, building upward to spell “JOY”. Then Allan came over and said “What does “YOJ” mean”? So do we read up or do we read down? To this day, in our household, we sing “YOJ to the World”!

Songs of Joy

Beethoven’s Ode to Joy – Som Sabadell Flashmob Performance

Literally so joyful, and worth sharing this uplifting video again —

David Bowie and Bing Crosby – Little Drummer Boy (Peace on Earth)

Andrea Bocceli – Oh Tannenbaum

Peanuts Gang – Christmas Song (Linus and Lucy) –

The Joy of Movement

Snoopy surely radiates the “joy of movement” in that Christmas Song videoclip!

Read Kelly McGonigal’s science-based book to learn how to fall in love with movement. She shares how “movement can and should be a source of joy,” and suggests a good place to start is with your favourite playlist, and to just get moving however it inspires….

“Through her trademark blend of science and storytelling, McGonigal draws on insights from neuroscience, psychology, anthropology, and evolutionary biology, as well as memoirs, ethnographies, and philosophers. She shows how movement is intertwined with some of the most basic human joys, including self-expression, social connection, and mastery–and why it is a powerful antidote to the modern epidemics of depression, anxiety, and loneliness.”

“McGonigal tells the stories of people who have found fulfillment and belonging through running, walking, dancing, swimming, weightlifting, and more, with examples that span the globe, from Tanzania, where one of the last hunter-gatherer tribes on the planet live, to a dance class at Juilliard for people with Parkinson’s disease, to the streets of London, where volunteers combine fitness and community service, to races in the remote wilderness, where athletes push the limits of what a human can endure. Along the way, McGonigal paints a portrait of human nature that highlights our capacity for hope, cooperation, and self-transcendence.”

“The result is a revolutionary narrative that goes beyond familiar arguments in favor of exercise, to illustrate why movement is integral to both our happiness and our humanity. Readers will learn what they can do in their own lives and communities to harness the power of movement to create happiness, meaning, and connection.”   Goodreads:

Here’s a fun bouncy K-pop song for the season that makes us smile and feel like dancing  – aptly called Merry and Happy (2) by TWICE –  Wishing you the “joy of movement” –

A Wonderful World

We leave you with the winningest smile of that ambassador for joy himself —

Louis Armstrong – What a Wonderful World

Wishing you all the joys and wonder of this special time of year and a Happy, Healthy New Year!

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