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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The Royal Society for the Appreciation of Hoverflies

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Hoverflies in My Sky Garden

One of my great summer joys is watering my balcony plants first thing in the morning. A few weeks ago, I was doing just that (using my fancy brand-spanking-new copper watering can) when along came a little hoverfly. These little guys somehow found their way up to my sky garden the moment I brought out my first plants and they’ve been visiting regularly ever since.

Delighted to see one, I jokingly said to her, “Would you like a little drink of water, Miss Hoverfly?” And before I could even finish, she alighted on the spout of my watering can, took a tiny sip from a single droplet of water and quickly hovered off to check out the rest of my garden. Well, that just made my morning, because—surprise, surprise—I adore hoverflies!

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Long Live the Weeds!

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 Nodding Thistle, also called Musk Thistle (Carduus nutans)

 

“What we call a weed is just a plant that hasn’t learned to grow in rows yet.
Or we haven’t got a purpose for it yet.”

~ Steve Kenyon

 

Nodding Thistle: A Thing of Beauty

A couple of weeks ago, I was driving down a busy Calgary roadway—windows rolled down, sun on my shoulder, my arm exuberantly slapping the side of the car in time to a snappy tune on the radio—when I came to a stoplight. As I waited for the light to change, my eye caught a flash of something bright pink. I turned to see that the attention-getting vibrant hot pink colour belonged to the large, heavy-headed blossoms of some tall prickly thistles growing in a dense thicket amidst a mass of Yellow Sweet Clover—all flourishing in an abandoned empty lot beside the railroad tracks. The striking tangle of vegetation bestowed a spectacular and flamboyant splash of colour on an otherwise drab looking landscape.

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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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The Danbo Brothers: A Crunchy Walk Through Autumn Leaves

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One of Autumn’s Simple Pleasures

The Danbo Brothers are independent and active little fellows and I quite enjoy having them around. They come and go of their own accord and I often don’t see or hear from them for days. Since the leaves started to turn, I haven’t seen much of them at all. I caught sight of them the other morning on their way out and, while I normally don’t like to pry, I couldn’t contain my curiosity about what they’ve been up to, so I asked them. They happily informed me that they’ve been spending their days ambling through the woods, watching the trees turn and crunching through piles of autumn leaves. It seems to delight them no end. I know what they mean—I love it too. For me, walking through autumn leaves in fall has the same magnetic appeal as puddle jumping in spring.

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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

Autumn’s Great Big Party

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“October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came —
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.”

~ George Cooper

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Meditation on the End of a Beautiful Day

Death is not extinguishing the light;
it is putting out the lamp because the Dawn has come.

~ Rabindranath Tagore

A Tribute to Two Beautiful Men

This time-lapse video is dedicated to two beautiful men whom I dearly love and whom I have been blessed to have in my life: my own dear father and my dear father-in-law. Two years ago, they both left this world just a few weeks apart. They each lived a long, rich and happy life and I often feel their joyous spirits around me. Continue reading

Late Summer Picnic at the Beautiful Spray Lakes

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Come on over, have a seat in one of our comfy chairs and share our picnic lunch with us as we enjoy a spectacular view of the Spray Lakes in Kananaskis Country.

After a Freak Early Blizzard, Summer Returns

Given the lovely sunshine and warm late summer temperatures we’ve been basking in this week, few would suspect that just last week we got hit with a huge blizzard which dropped some 20 cm of wet snow on Calgary! While it’s rare for us to see snow in the summer months or this early in September, it can certainly snow here in any month of the year. Happily, a quick return to summer-like temperatures made fast work of the unseasonable and unwelcome snowfall.

This past week my partner and I took advantage of the gorgeous weather and took off for a fun little day trip to the mountains of Kananaskis Country.

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