Site Stories – Cherry Beach

Anna Hoad, Lead Steward

This spring we thought our site at Cherry Beach was doomed. The empire (of invasive plants) strikes back!

We took off half the old phragmites stalks in one area, but the rhizomes were so thick they had killed off all the undergrowth and were in the process of choking out the bushes and trees. Seeing the completely bare earth was sobering… garlic mustard, wood avens… Dog strangling vine was springing up and I thought, that’s it. We’re doomed! This site’s just too disturbed. It’s invasives ALL the way down.

Cherry Beach Phragmites in spring

Then I remembered Paula Davies telling us that the natives were hiding there; waiting to be released. So, we went on a hunt in areas we’d just cleared. And there they were … baby raspberries, currants, cottonwood trees, sumacs, and clumps of bergamot. They’re thrilled to have light and nutrients to themselves and are thriving. There were also non-natives, like comfrey and valerian, hopefully fitting into the ecosystem and feeding someone. There was even a little orchid (eaten too soon to be identified. As well as clearing the weeds around it, I should have been building a branch fence!)

Now every day we’re out stewarding, we point out to each other the plants we’ve discovered and released. It keeps us going.

Black Swallowtail butterflies love bergamot aka bee balm

Posts from the Cherry Beach Stewards

Projects with Plants

One day when we were stewarding, I admired Louise’s shirt, and she said she made it. Louise dyed this lovely pattern using leaves and flowers. The dramatic dark one is sumac, and the smaller yellow ones are the flowers and stems of Coreopsis tinctoria from her garden. She lays the leaves and flowers on the shirt, wraps it tightly around a dowel, ties it tightly with string, and then lets it steam over water for an hour. Some fabrics accept dye readily and others need help. I’m so impressed. And, I want to make one! Maybe next summer we’ll persuade her to show us how.

Specialized Police Units at Cherry Beach

Specialized Police Units
by Anna Hoad, November 10

I saw the Canine, Marine and Bomb Units recently. The Canine Unit was training their dogs. There are between 32-35 dogs, though only a few come out to train each time. They’ll take any kind of dog, but many are German Shepherds from eastern Europe, who are bred for police work. Chasing and biting come naturally to dogs, so of course the training was focused on them stopping both on command.

I was attending a water sports safety session at Cherry Beach put on by the Toronto Windsurfing Club. Stacy Kellough, Detective Constable in the Marine Unit, said here’s about 35 people in the unit but only 2-3 boats out on any shift. She congratulated the clubs on ensuring members know how to enjoy water safely. She said the people they rescue tend not to belong to clubs. Aside from the safety gear specific to your sport, she recommends bringing a cell phone in a dry bag. If you call 911 to report people in trouble, your call converts to latitude and longitude within 10 miles of shore. They’ve rescued people that have blown miles offshore that way.

I saw the Bomb Squad cruising by. Love the anarchist drawing on the van. Happy they didn’t need to stop!

Cherry Beach Mid-August post

Cherry Beach August post

Cherry Beach July post

Cherry Beach June post

Cherry Beach Spring post