We cannot see our reflection in running water.
It is only in still water that we can see.
~ Taoist proverb
A Trip We’ve Taken A Million Times
Early in July, my Sweet Bear and I packed up our vehicle for the 600 kilometre road trip from Calgary to my home town, North Battleford, Saskatchewan. Our car was chock-a-block full, containing everything needed for our contribution to my mother’s birthday party: two homemade cakes, one poppy seed cake and one orange-almond cake (careful where you put them honey, they can’t be squished); an electric hand-mixer and a large stainless-steel bowl (to make whipped cream for the cakes); five strings of fairy lights (for a splash of magic); assorted plates, utensils, cutlery and fancy napkins; two small suitcases and one garment bag; two pillows and one yoga mat; one guitar and an entire sound system, which included two heavy and somewhat bulky microphone stands, two speakers, a very heavy amp, a sound mixer, a big box of cables and wires, and two microphones—all equipment required for the live entertainment (Sweet Bear and I were the live entertainment.)
All photographers know that early morning light and late evening light are magical: colours seem to liquefy and pool upon water, transforming it into a shimmering mass of quicksilver. Silhouettes are crisp and the world is gilded in gold. Early morning and late evening energy calm my soul; the energy is more subdued—the world is either just waking up or winding down for the night. It’s a sublime time to be outdoors with a camera as, almost always, something magical appears. Here are a few shots I took during magic hour this summer.
The birds have long been back in town. And while I haven’t been blogging these past few months, my sweet partner and I have been out and about ambling through our city parks, taking long walks whenever we can, armed with our cameras, breathing in the fragrant summer air, and thoroughly enjoying nature and the abundance of bird life in Calgary. And what could be more uplifting than seeing new chicks and ducklings thriving right here in our city parks?
“When you arise in the morning,
think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive—
to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
~ Marcus Aurelius
We Only Wanted to Glimpse One Bluebird
One of the things my partner and I were most hoping to see on our recent foray into wine country in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, was a Western Bluebird. While we get to enjoy the gorgeous Mountain Bluebirds which live here in Alberta, the beautiful Western Bluebird does not call Alberta home. We had never seen one of these little beauties before and we really wanted to catch a glimpse of one this trip. So imagine our surprise and great delight to discover that an entire flock of Western Bluebirds was roosting in the large Ponderosa Pine trees just outside our lovely accommodations in the Okanagan!
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
~ Rachel Carson
Inglewood Bird Sanctuary Finally Reopens
Our long wait is over: after a two year and one month wait, Inglewood Bird Sanctuary has finally reopened. Calgary’s June 2013 “Hundred Year Flood” severely affected our city’s beloved bird sanctuary and it was immediately closed to the public. Great care was taken in the restoration work so as not to disturb nesting or migrating birds, so work proceeded slowly. While a lot of restoration work clearly remains to be completed, the main pathways and pedestrian bridges have now been repaired and the sanctuary reopened its doors to a jubilant public on July 30th, 2015.
“I believe the world is incomprehensibly beautiful —
an endless prospect of magic and wonder.”
Pearce Estate Park Interpretive Wetland
Please join me on a long, meandering walk through the beautiful wetlands of Pearce Estate Park in Calgary, Alberta. You may want to pack a picnic lunch. This walk cannot be rushed—it should be slowly savoured. The treasures here are not necessarily obvious to those who rush through—they reveal themselves only to those who are willing to stop, look and quietly listen.
“Everyone likes birds. What wild creature is more accessible to our eyes and ears, as close to us and everyone in the world, as universal as a bird?”
~ David Attenborough
Some years ago, we took a fabulous six-week trip to explore beautiful Northern and Central Italy, meandering by car off the beaten path. Part of that trip involved a stay in a charming villa in Umbria, near the border of Tuscany. It was the perfect home base from which to explore the surrounding territory. The villa was a quaint, traditional small stone building, converted from what was once a tobacco drying shed. Quietly tucked away in the hills, it was ideally situated in the countryside at the far end of a long, winding, dirt road running up the hills through the forest, past occasional meadows of bright yellow sunflowers, olive groves and towering cypress trees. The villa itself was idyllic: peacefully and privately perched high on a hilltop. Nestled into a forest, it had an expansive, open west exposure, which afforded a beautiful view of staggered rolling hilltops, softly receding and fading one into the other with perfect tonal gradation. Bees buzzed in the fragrant purple lavender bushes dotting the yard, sensuously scenting the hot, dry summer air. Huge, heavy heads of vibrant red geraniums poked out of terracotta pots hung picturesquely from all the window sills. A cozy hammock called from the dappled shade of two lovely trees. Several tables and chairs were set up throughout the yard for outdoor dining, strategically placed to take advantage of the spectacular views. The blazing Tuscan-like sunsets were glorious to watch. It was perfect, utterly perfect. We’d stepped right into our idea of paradise. Or did we?
Few things feel more delightful than having a sweet little bird alight upon your hand. A couple years back, my partner and I discovered an enchanting little conifer grove where the Black-capped Chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches like to hang out on Prince’s Island, our beautiful downtown city park. For many years we’ve walked by this particular grove totally unaware of it’s hidden treasures.
One very cold, bright winter morning, we remembered to fill our pockets with unsalted peanuts in the shell for our squirrel friends and stopped by the grove to toss them a few peanuts. We sat on the ground in the middle of the grove, leaning up against a large tree trunk and waited for our furry friends to appear. It wasn’t long before several Grey squirrels descended the surrounding trees to check us out. Then, much to our delight, as my partner held out a peanut for an approaching squirrel, a chickadee swooped in, landed atop the peanut and took a few unsuccessful pecks at the shell!