*ALERT: This post ended up much longer than I anticipated…but, beautiful places, so make sure that you scroll down to the photographs!
This summer, I stayed around town. There are still so many places I haven’t been…and, there are also beautiful places that I want to return to again and again. I know that there are a lot of people who put up their noses about Calgary. But, for me, Calgary is home and the access we have to genuinely wonderful experiences is right at our fingertips, should we wish to partake. Because of the circumstances of early summer, I had opportunity to do a little bit of exploring with my son. Before they disappear into the dark hole that is my desktop photo archive, I’m going to bring these snippets up to the surface. And then, I’m heading out to the pond with Max.
“Archaeologists of Lifeways of Canada Limited have been contracted by Alberta Culture and Tourism to find out about early settlement at McKinnon Flats. They’re part of Culture and Tourism’s three-year Post-Flood Investigation Program, which was initiated to record the effects of the June 2013 southern Alberta flood on archaeological and palaeontological sites along rivers such as the Bow, Highwood, Sheep and Kananaskis. As a result of the program, 100 new archaeological sites were identified and additional information was gathered at 87 sites that had been recorded prior to the flood. Many of these sites were found eroding from the riverbanks, with some in need of investigation before they disappeared entirely.
The McKinnon Flats site is one of these locations. Although it had been previously recorded in 1971, no-one realized that it contained deeply buried cultural deposits. As a result of the 2013 flood, however, a ten metre strip from the front of the site’s river terrace was removed, leaving a 400 metre exposure in the river bank that contained cultural evidence. This evidence included broken bison bone, large stone choppers and rock that had been heated and cracked in a fire. Among the eroding finds were the remains of a boiling pit that had probably been used to cook meat and process bone marrow in a skin-lined pit dug in the ground. Evidence of the pit was found in the form of almost 100 heated “fire-broken” rocks that were eroding from one of the riverbank exposures. Between the time the pit was observed in 2014 and the site was excavated in 2016, however, all evidence has been completely eroded.”
It was at this location that my son and I did a beautiful-weather-day hike and shared in a Spoloumbo’s picnic sandwich on the river bank. A spectacular day!
Frank Lake is located in the foothills fescue prairie ecoregion. The lake is a hemi-marsh, which means it roughly has the same area of open water as there is emergent vegetation. Vegetation includes mostly hardstem bulrush, sago pondweed, Richardson’s pondweed, and northern waterfmilfoil. The lake and its surrounding upland areas attracts many species of birds. Waterfowl and shorebirds and other birds use the lake for staging during migration, and nesting. Some birds that can be seen here include: tundra swan, trumpeter swan, Canada goose, northern pintail, Franklin’s gull, ring-billed gull, California gull, common tern, short-eared owl, eared grebe, marbled godwit, long-billed dowitcher, black-crowned night-heron, and black-necked stilt. Birdwatching is a popular activity.
The drive to Frank Lake was very relaxing, as was the walk on well-worn pathways. Along the way, we only met two other people, so it really did give me the sense of getting away from the city and relaxing into nature. Highly recommend! Not to be confused with my daily pond walking at Frank’s Flats.
I really want to get out to hike all of the pathways from all directions to the top of Nose Hill Park. It is such a spiritually charged place! It’s always been on my bucket list, but, living in the deep south of the city, I had to drive there, with intention and finally it happened!
The Leighton Center...I always take friends and family here. Most of all, because of the huge dramatic view. I feel the best of everything that is foothills living, when I visit the Leighton Center. On this visit, I enjoyed the appearance of several Mountain Blue Birds. I felt really excited about that. The smoke from the growing forest fires to the west began to cloak the mountains in the distance.
Pretty much an annual hike…breathtaking for its pretty immediate views…a place to take visitors to Calgary because of the expedient pleasure in the mountains, with very little exertion.
Custom Woolen Mills
On this particular day, I had convinced my young adult children to drive out to the Dancing Goats farm, just a short distance from the Woolen Mills. I thought that we would be able to visit the goat farm, but, was mistaken. In fact, the owners were in the city dropping off product to a number of retail locations. I spoke with one of them on the telephone, from the small town of Acme.
Instead, we ended up taking country roads to go to the Custom Woolen Mills. I was happy that Ruthie was in the gift shop, so I got a wee visit with her and had a chance to take my daughter and son into the mill. I feel so connected to the place. I love it more and more every time I make the drive.
It appears that I had some amazing experiences this past summer, most of them shared with Cayley and James. I realize that in this process of “Falling Out of Order”, there was an awful lot going on. But, for this lovely Thanksgiving afternoon, and with a pond walk and a large plate of turkey leftovers under my belt, I realize that it is time that I settle down to mark some narrative writings by grade four and five students.
Whenever I go through the process of archiving the experiences I enjoy in surrounding areas of Calgary, I realize how blessed I am. Yes. It’s possible to travel the world over. But, sometime it’s a blessing to realize what treasures lie very close to you, treasures to be uncovered. Today, I feel grateful.