“The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?”
~ J. B. Priestley
Hooray! Finally! Finally, the snow has come! It’s been a long wait this year. I love white Decembers, especially with the glow of all the holiday lights. My partner and I have been waiting for the snow to arrive, just so we could head out to the mountains and tromp around in it. There’s nothing we love more than a snowy day in the mountains of Kananaskis Country, Alberta.
Each moment of the year has its own beauty,
a picture which was never before and shall never be seen again.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
A Crisp Autumn Day
A few days ago, my partner and I enjoyed a fabulous mid-week hike in the mountains. It was one of those walks that stays with you for a long time. I’m still thinking about it today.
The morning dawned still and crisp and clear—it couldn’t have been a lovelier day for an autumn walk. We set out for Wedge Pond, in Kananaskis Country, about an hour’s drive west from home here in Calgary. The drive there is gorgeous, a treat in itself: the land covered in honeyed morning light, mist rising from the ponds, golden fields dotted with hay bales, and, in the distance, beyond the rolling foothills, the beautiful Rocky Mountains rising to meet a clear blue sky.
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.)
“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature,
which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
Be Still and They Will Come
If one treads softly or sits quietly in the woods, it isn’t long before its inhabitants will come out to play. Some of our favourite woodland and wetland residents are rodents. My partner and I have a special fondness for these furry critters, and we take great delight in spotting even the smallest mouse.
“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.”
~ R. Buckminster Fuller
Butterflies don’t know that, to us, they are flying metaphors—powerful symbols of transformation. They are blissfully unaware that they teach us life lessons, like the wisdom of letting go of the old to embrace something entirely new. Oblivious to the lessons we learn as we watch them morph from crawling, leaf-munching caterpillars into delicate-winged beauties sipping on the nectar of wildflowers, they just simply be themselves. They don’t try to become a butterfly; they don’t try to change. They just let it all unfold, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Don’t you just love that about butterflies?
Here are some of the butterflies we spotted this summer:
Above: Silver-bordered Fritillary on a bright yellow King Devil blossom at Bebo Grove in Fish Creek Provincial Park, Calgary.
For me, perhaps the greatest joy of summer is to amble about a wildflower meadow or mosey down a narrow, winding path in the woods, looking for beauty in all of its diverse forms. Few things make me happier than getting lost in photographing summer wildflowers. It’s a delicious thing to lose myself in light, colour, shape, and bokeh. Time disappears. Oftentimes, I come away with a photograph I know I will like. But even if I don’t capture a single successful image, simply trying to always leaves me feeling high—because focusing on beauty, for any reason, is always a good thing.
Here are some shots of this year’s summer wildflowers:
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?
“We cannot stop the winter or the summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or make them other than they are. They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives.”
~ Gary Zukav
A Winter Wonderland
As if on cue, the snow gently floated down in soft feathery flakes on Christmas Eve and I fell asleep, all warm and cozy in my bed, hoping that the snow would keep falling all night long. I knew that a fresh snowfall would bode well for the Christmas Day nature walk we planned on taking and I was not disappointed. The next morning could not have dawned more beautifully—the world was covered in a soft, thick, blanket of pristine white snow, there wasn’t a hint of wind, the sky had completely cleared and was bluer than ever and, in spite of the cold temperatures, a golden butterscotchy light gave the whole world a warm, inviting glow. Not a single wisp of cloud dared to show its face in the brilliance of that blue sky. My partner and I knew we were in for an incredibly beautiful walk.
“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.”
~ Jim Bishop
The Autumn Colour Palette
Autumns are short here in Calgary and in the nearby Rocky Mountains. If you want to enjoy it, you have to get out there and savour every day you can—lest a particularly hard frost, unexpected snow dump or a big wind takes it all away overnight. It’s happened before: autumn can quickly disappear here by mid-September. But this year, we’ve been extra fortunate. We’ve had a bonus month of autumn—October has been a gloriously beautiful month, with most days being warm and sunny, and graced with incredible azure blue skies. The weather has been so lovely that my potted geraniums are still blooming! It’s highly unusual to have them last this late into the season. We took full advantage of the spectacular weather this whole season and got out for long walks with our cameras in the mountains and in our city parks as often as we could. Here are some of the sights we enjoyed on our autumn walks this year.
“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!