The Grape Escape

 
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“The sun, with all those planets revolving around it
and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes
as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.”

~ Galileo

The Perfect Autumn Getaway

Let me take you to the heart of western Canada’s wine country in Penticton, a town cozily nestled in the sunny Okanagan Valley in the southern interior of British Columbia, Canada. The drive from Calgary to Penticton is a scenic 8 hour drive, winding over two stunning mountain passes and passing through three contiguous National Parks in the Canadian Rocky Mountains (see my previous post). Once we are over the mountains, the road glides down into the valley and hugs the shores of scenic Lake Okanagan for 132 km (84 miles), making for lovely vistas all the way south to Penticton. For my partner and I, the road trip itself is one of the best parts of our getaways to the Okanagan Valley and we milk it to its fullest.
 
The Okanagan is a pretty valley stitched together with picturesque patchworks of fruit orchards, vegetable farms, vineyards and small wineries. A few days spent basking there is what we call a perfect getaway. It is pure balm for the soul.

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Calgary’s Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and Nature Centre

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“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.

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Calgary’s Pearce Estate Park: A Wetland in the Middle of the City

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“I believe the world is incomprehensibly beautiful —
an endless prospect of magic and wonder.”

~Ansel Adams

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.

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The Bushy-tailed Woodrat

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“You only need sit still long enough in some attractive spot in the woods
that all its inhabitants may exhibit themselves to you by turns.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

A Delightful Encounter on Mount Indefatigable

Some years ago, as my partner and I rested on the rocks at the top of the outlier peak of Mount Indefatigable in Kananaskis Country (a beautiful mountain park in Alberta, Canada), I felt a light, slightly scratchy tickle on my bare calf. I looked down to see that it was the fellow pictured above, a cute rodent which I later identified as a Bushy-tailed Woodrat. It had the longest whiskers I’d ever seen. This little guy was intent on licking the salt minerals from my leg. I sat quietly, trying not to move or giggle. I was literally tickled pink! He continued to delicately lick my leg, totally unafraid, showing no signs of stopping until we finished our lunch and got up to continue on our mountain hike.

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Autumn Alchemy on the Prairies

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Fields of Gold

In autumn, a wonderful alchemy magically turns the green fields of the Canadian prairies to gold. One of my favourite sights as I drive across the land in autumn are the golden fields in various stages of harvest, stretched out as far as the eye can see in every direction, all the way to the horizon. Continue reading

A Happy Little Muskrat at Sibbald Meadows Pond

For the best viewing experience, I highly recommend watching in full screen mode.

Our Little Muskrat Friend

Sibbald Meadows Pond, in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, is a beautiful little mountain pond, home to frogs, trout, wild waterfowl and our happy little muskrat friend. This short video is a collaborative project done with my partner—I shot one short video clip and he shot the rest over several visits to Sibbald Meadows Pond (see my previous post, A Summer Oasis: Sibbald Meadows Pond).

My partner gets all the credit for many patient hours of sitting quietly, watching and waiting for our little friend to emerge from his bank burrow. I did the video uploading, sorted through the footage to select the best bits and found the fun music by Rimsky. We did the story-boarding and draft editing together and my partner did all the fine-tuning and video rendering. We love working together.

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A Summer Oasis: Sibbald Meadows Pond

To fully tap into the peace and beauty of Sibbald Meadows Pond, I recommend watching this video in full-screen mode.

Life at Sibbald Meadows Pond

This video is a short vignette highlighting some of the life, tranquility and beauty at Sibbald Meadows Pond, one of our favourite places to find inner replenishment. Nestled in the beautiful foothills of Kananaskis Country (see my previous post) and surrounded by aspen groves and stands of spruce and pine, Sibbald Meadows Pond is only a 45 minute drive from Calgary.

My partner gets the credit for shooting all the video footage (taken over several visits to Sibbald Meadows Pond a couple of summers back). I did all the grunt work of uploading and sorting through hours of footage and selecting the best bits to work with. We did the video editing together and my partner did all the fine-tuning and rendering.

More importantly, however, I made all the desserts for the picnic baskets we took on our various visits to Sibbald Meadows Pond (including my homemade Rhubarb Buttermilk Cake with Streusel Topping, Angel Food Cake made from scratch, and my Honey Almond Squares).

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The Joy of Summer Wildflowers

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“I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined…”

~ William Wordsworth

Wildflower Meadows

One of my favourite summertime things to do is to wander about the wildflower meadows of the foothills and mountains near Calgary. It is such a rich sensory experience. My ears delight in the beautiful symphony of sounds: the pleasant, steady drone of bees and hoverflies; the harmonies from the shimmering song of aspen leaves whispering on the breeze; and, above all that, birds sweetly singing and chirping from the meadow’s edge. A feast of bright, sunlit dabs of colour delights my eyes—wildflowers gently bobbing to and fro with the rhythm of the warm summer winds. Butterflies flit and flutter about, like delicate petals suspended in the air. Sweet, grassy, piney mountain air engulfs me, and I am utterly absorbed by the meadow. Time disappears. It’s pure bliss.

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Sharing Our Culture Powwow: Heritage Park

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“The American Indian is of the soil,
whether it be the region of forests, plains, pueblos, or mesas.
He fits into the landscape, for the hand that fashioned
the continent also fashioned the man for his surroundings.
He once grew as naturally as the wild sunflowers,
he belongs just as the buffalo belonged…”

~ Luther Standing Bear Oglala, Sioux (1868-1937)

Celebrating Our Rich Cultural History

Today is July 1st, Canada Day, and festivities are going on all over Calgary, celebrating our country’s diverse multicultural roots. An important part of our country’s heritage is inextricably linked to the deep and valuable contributions of the First Nations peoples. To honour and celebrate this rich part of our Canadian culture, I present to you a taste of my first powwow experience.

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