An Enchanted Winter Walk: A Photo Essay

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“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.

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Oh, Glorious Autumn!

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“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.

Above: Wedge Pond, Kananaskis Country, Alberta.

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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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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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A Study in Motion Blur and Fading Winter Light

Study No.1

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Fields of White and Gold

 

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

Playing with Motion Blur

This motion blur study is the direct result of boredom and low light. I took all the shots from our moving vehicle as we cruised across the Canadian prairies on an eight hour long road trip. It was a cold, cloudy December day, the sun was low in the sky and the light was fading, but the landscape was beautiful nonetheless. The subtle beauty of the passing prairie landscape, with its muted winter colour palette, the snow-speckled fields and the starkness of the naked trees, all slowly dissolving into the pastel light of dusk, had me reaching for my camera over and over again.

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Balm for the Soul: Beauty and Stillness

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Everything inside and around us wants to reflect itself in us.
We don’t have to go anywhere to obtain the truth.
We only need to be still and things will reveal themselves
in the still water of our heart.

~Thích Nhất Hạnh

Autumn at the Pond

Wedge Pond, in Kananaskis Country, is a justifiably popular destination in the summertime and I am delighted that so many people get to enjoy its beauty at the height of the summer season. But, since my partner and I prefer to go when fewer people are about, we generally choose to go off-season, when we are able to truly enjoy the quietude, serenity and beauty of this lovely mountain pond nestled in the Rocky Mountains. My favourite time to visit Wedge Pond is autumn, when the larch, poplar and aspen trees start to turn their stunning fall colours, creating ridges and valleys of gold.

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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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