Many Springs: Discovering Wildflowers…Again!

Yellow Lady Slipper Orchid

The hiking Ya-Yas and two wee sprouts headed for the Bow Valley Provincial Park Trail System today for our annual spring wildflower hike on the Many Springs Trail.

“The ‘Many Springs’ trail head is located about 2 km west following the paved road that goes through the park. This is a 2.4 km loop around a spring fed lake. This trail is known for its abundance in spectacular flowers.”

“This is also an area known for its diversity of birds. At Waypoint #1, a spectacular view opens toward the north, revealing Mount Yamnuska, Loder Peak and Door Jamb Mountain.”

Anenome canadensis ‘Canada Anenome’, Buttercup Family

“At various points, the trail is going directly over the lake allowing for close study of life in the water below.”


It was an exceptional day for snapping photographs.

Wild Columbine

The weather co-operated nicely and things seemed to be well into bloom, particularly the wild tiger lilies!

Wild Tiger Lily

We enjoyed a picnic lunch at the trail head and celebrated the tradition of flower-gazing as a group.  It has been such a blessing!

I like the brief quote that appears on the last sign on the trail. “Not many are as lucky…to break from the round of daily chores to come and discover this place called Many Springs.”

Viola Canadensis ‘Western Canada Violet’, Violet Family,

I am not including here, my photos of Indian Paintbrush, Wild Flax and other common flowers from the area.  It was such a joy to find some unusual things and to have the time to try to capture a decent record of them.

Lonicera dioica, Twining Honeysuckle

Out-of-focus, but an intriguing find.  Help me identify this one!

No idea…but this was one of my favourites!

Then there was the wee bush bunny, the conversations and the friendship!  All made for a most amazing day!

Little Miracle

Here’s to another springtime of Many Springs.

The Big Wild

I’m proud to say that I created one of the frames for this project!  Can you pick it out?

Borrowed right from the YouTube site, the following important information

Drawn to the Wild is a collaboration between singer/songwriter Sarah Harmer and Mountain Equipment Co-op. Canadians submitted over 1800 frames drawn using an online art tool. This video is the finished product. To learn more, visit

The video comes from a documentary and concert film, “Escarpment Blues”, which features Sarah and her band touring across southern Ontario. Inspired by The Johnny Cash Project, Drawn to the Wild aims to raise awareness about threatened Canadian landscapes.

Sarah’s passion for this wild space not only shows through her video work and music, it shows through her words: “the Niagara Escarpment’s survival as a unique natural environment is seriously threatened. Drawn to the Wild is one way Canadians can both support its protection and collaborate with me and each other in a fun and creative way.”

“I’m a Mountain”
Written by Sarah Harmer

Video from “Escarpment Blues”, a documentary by Andy Keen.

Sarah Harmer
Jason Euringer
Joey Wright
Julie Fader
Spencer Evans
With Marty Kinack, Bryan Bean, Chris Brown

Executive Producers: Sarah Harmer, Patrick Sambrook
Commissioning Editor: Rudy Buttignol – TVO
Producers: Andy Keen, Sarah Harmer, Bryan Bean

Where Are You Grace Buzik?

Of course I did a very quick search for Grace Buzik, after I found her name plate inside of this most amazing birding book, Stalking Birds With Color Camera by Arthur A. Allen.  It seems to me that she has been an illustrator, living in Calgary.  I am going to have to follow up with this search by reading the books that she has illustrated: The Prairie Gardener’s Book of Bugs by Ruth Staal & Nora Bryan Illustrated by: Grace Buzik; a beautiful Mountain Journal,  and Best Bulbs for the Prairies by Liesbeth Leatherbarrow, Lesley Reynolds, Grace Buzik (Illustrations).

I think that it’s an interesting thing that I should pick up a beautiful birding book that was once owned by an illustrator. ‘Serendipity’, some would say…

Stalking Birds with Color Camera by Arthur A. Allen

Ok…so, this is my new most favourite birding book on the planet!  I have read many and own several, but this is absolutely the best!  First of all, the TITLE!  Isn’t the title awesome? I purchased this book in a bulk pile, along with several other real treasures, for $1.69. Here’s the dust cover.

There is a name plate in the front cover of this specific book and It was once owned by Grace Buzik in NW Calgary and was published in 1963 by the National Geographic Society.  Here’s a photograph of Author Allen, stalking birds near Ithaca, New York.  His very first article appeared in a National Geographic magazine in 1934.  There is such humour and honesty in this particular book that, already, I have learned a whole number of things about the birds that appear daily at my feeder.

Just recently we have experienced the end of a particular species of Giant Galapagos Island Tortoise. Lonesome George has spent the last number of years alone, with some years accompanied by two females of a closely related species, but on June 24, Lonesome George was found dead by his keepers, somewhere near his watering hole.  As I peruse this birding book, I marvel at the people (scientists, journalists and photographers) who have dedicated their lives to documenting and studying a whole number of species because in that way, we retain a treasured experience/story, as the human collective.  Contemporary photographer, Brian Skerry, is presently one of my favourites. He has provided captivating images for the National Geographic for years and recently published the book, Ocean Soul.  He is very generous, in that, he truly values education and the welfare of all life and his documentation is used to sustain a whole number of troubled species.  He has offered me permission to use his photographs as references for some of my drawings/paintings of cetaceans.  For this, I am truly grateful.

Back to Arthur Allen…and this photograph was taken by Robert B. Goodman of the National Geographic Society, 1963.

The captions hold such magic…for every coloured photograph, the author creates a bit of humour and then goes on to share the science.  Here’s an example.

“Good-bye, Daddy – Hurry Back”
The brilliant male Scarlet Tanager has just fed his youngsters, and now, while they look after him hopefully, starts his search for the second course of a meal that lasts all day.  Well camouflaged, the young resemble their mother rather than their dazzling dad.  In October the birds will fly to Colombia or Bolivia to spend the winter.

The reader can not help but be entertained by this book, featuring 494 illustrations, 385 of them in full natural colour.  A rich and fascinating find!

I had thought that starlings had moved into the neighbourhood, but since checking references and descriptions in this book, I now know that I’ve got a couple of Bronzed Grackles (a common crow blackbird) as well as the every-now-and-then appearance of a Cowbird, with its brown head.  Needless to say, I’m going to have some fun times, sitting back with my morning coffee, reading these brief and entertaining narratives.  The idea of ‘stalking’ birds makes me smile!

Sanctuary by Peter von Tiesenhausen

This afternoon, I drove out to the Leighton Arts Centre to experience a dance performance piece and epic sculptural project by Peter von Tiesenhausen.  He harvested 1000 poles to use in the construction of the piece from his own woodlot outside of Grande Prairie, Alberta.

The experience on the hill transcended dance and certainly the elements, were in part, responsible for a very mystical experience of the art.  The dancers initially brought up for me, bird-like movements in the great stand of vertical poles.  There was considerable interaction and a variety of levels and locations in the performance piece.  I felt amazed by the entire interaction between the dancers and the sculpture.  I also think that that interaction caused the viewer to move and enter into the art from a whole number of points of view.

The rain itself, contributed to the art as the viewers were transformed in their bodies…with the clothing/boots they wore and the very colourful presence of umbrellas.

Peter seemed joyful as the piece came to its conclusion and we couldn’t help but celebrate along with him.  Awe-inspiring!



Morning At the Bird Feeder


There’s a light in the valley
There’s a heart all alone
And the door is always open

Go away from your window
Pull the shades way down low
And in a whisper words are spoken

Higher and higher
Taking you there
You’ve got to fly
You’ve got to care

When the feelings gone
And you can’t go on
When things ain’t right
You wanna stay all night

Looking for someone
Who will always be strong
And who will not let you hide

You need your defender
For right or for wrong
You know the path is deep and wide

When the feelings gone
And you can’t go on
When things ain’t right
Don’t give up the fight

thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.
e. e. cummings


Portraits of Self

There is no long trail of documentation that precedes me…no hard drive containing a vast record of digital photographs…who I was…who I am…appearance-wise.  I fear though, that I have left a huge trail of ephemera.  My children likely wish that my footprint was less in this regard.  I have a stack of concert t-shirts, for example…each one worn one time only…I hope everyone will select their favourite and take it, when I’m gone.  The same goes for my ‘vinyl’…each record played once in order to make a cassette tape and then filed in a box.  Why do I hold on to such as this?  Does anyone really know Three Dog Night anymore?

My mother found two photographs in a box taken with a borrowed camera and she swears that they are photographs of me.  Why do I have my doubts?  Here is one of these official baby photos…the only one of two.

I  treasured the paint-by-number of The Last Supper that my father did while stationed up north, so much so that I purchased its contemporary on E-Bay for $9.98…apparently done by someone’s grandmother circa 1953.  I’m glad I have an archive of the original.  (see below)

I’ve always been a pet-lover.  This has been documented also.

Next…proof that I studied ballet, until the teacher explained to my mother that perhaps this wasn’t the style for me.  In retrospect, I could have told her that and saved us both the trouble.

Family…most times one parent was missing from the photograph, depending on who was holding the camera.

School photographs are the best, aren’t they?

Two other portraits were brought to mind by a photographer of my youth, Lorraine.  The first one portrays my ‘earth mother’ days very well.  I made lots of whole wheat and rye bread back then, some loaves more successful than others.  These, always partnered by the community pot of soup.  Mm-mmm!  Lorraine captured my young-woman-walk-through-the-coulees-self exquisitely, me thinks!

The second sitting was with Lorraine when I was about seven months pregnant for my first baby.  I like the ethereal sensibility created with the lighting and the curtain in the window.  I don’t mind publishing the photo here.  Photos in our contemporary world have become far more provocative and revealing.  I think this one is subtle and captures, I think, my sense of anticipation, if not acceptance.  Thank you, Lorraine, for reminding me of these!

Based on this visual legacy, I decided to have my portrait done professionally and it was both entertaining, creative and fun!  Thank you, Jen of Jen Hall Photography!  A great experience and a record of my presence to my life.  Thanks also to Cathy Larsen who built a quilt out of 2006, a year where I documented magic every day for 365 days on fabric.  You are a master at your craft, Cathy, and I continue to this day, to treasure our friendship and your artistry!

Sometimes when I think how good my book can be, I can hardly breathe. Truman Capote

Listening to Ambient Music and Voices

I attended MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art)…had a chance to view the works by John Chamberlain, Iain Baxter, Jacques Hurbubise and Julie Duschenes.  I was particularly fond of the works by Duschenes, given that the series portrayed her walks, Walk Transcriptions, in a purely original and accurate way.  After enjoying all of this, I made my way upstairs where I viewed a whole number of portraits of Christopher J. J. Reimer.  Marc Rimmer did a wonderful job curating the exhibit.  It left me speechless.