I was introduced to my new friend, Eric Wicherts, in the midst of a pandemic. I won’t forget that. It is a beautiful thing that something wondrous took place when times were unexpectedly difficult. Eric has lived and continues to live a very interesting life and conversations are always interesting, but not so much when both of us are wearing masks and unable to sort out the mumbles. Writing one another seems to be our most optimal form of communication and I look forward to hearing from him as he writes his advise, experience and his efforts on recent projects.
The day I met Eric, he spoke the entire time about his beloved wife, Andie, who passed away in May of 2019. Eric created a beautiful archive and history of Andie and her artistic journey in a book, aptly titled, Andie. This is such a thorough compilation of a life’s work. It is an incredible book.
As I experienced the beauty of Andie’s studio that day, I thought to myself, ‘this couple had an incredibly interesting life together’.
It is only through letters, since, and our few conversations that I am getting to know more about Eric Wicherts, without Andie. He is a remarkable story teller. I hope my readers will follow the link above in order to hear an interview. As time passed, it became obvious that I should invite Eric to see the amazing KOAC project and reconnect with Harry Kiyooka and Katie Ohe.
Yesterday was the day!
With Eric tucking into my back seat and dawning a mask, off we headed for the country, but by a very convoluted route. I took my cues from google maps, a system that was in no way as expedient as taking Eric’s verbal directions. The return to his residence at the end of the afternoon, was seamless and direct.
I would like to express a great deal of gratitude to both Harry and Katie for their generous welcome and their delicious conversation. It was a busy day, as a free tour was being offered at 2 pm, an exciting offering during Alberta Culture Days.
At a point, I left Harry and Eric to visit and engaged in a segment of the tour where a person can experience the convergence of art, nature, sculpture and story.
It was early in the conversation that I shared with Katie how she, along with other strong female artists and my sister, had inspired me to return to complete my BFA.
Eric has attended one of the KOAC fundraisers at the Hotel Arts. Here, Katie is showing him some of the news coverage on one of those events.
Sphere by Christian Eckhart can be seen at the right.
An early Alexander Caldwell to the left…I’m forgetting the title.
Katie’s Mother and Turtle in the foreground and 2 Crack, Pot Column Sculpture behind.
A close up of Sphere by Christian Eckhart.
The tour is listening to a description of the cement fondue piece, Woman Standing by Norman Sjoman. Bob Morrell is in the foreground.
Garden Sculpture by John Andrekson
A wee piece of ceramic pottery by Roy Kiyooka is sitting in the gardens…
An incredible story shared about Snakes by Elli Scheepens.
Zigzag by Claudia Questo
Earth Mother by Mich DeMuth
Two works by KO Arts Centre Resident Artist James Ziegler
Dandelion by Katherin Dobbins
Time spent, deep in conversation and deep in thought, with Eric and Harry. Harry shares such a rich collection of stories and remembrances. This part of the visit smacked of nostalgia and gratitude.
“What is a teacher? I’ll tell you: it isn’t someone who teaches something, but someone who inspires the student to give of her best in order to discover what she already knows.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Witch of Portobello
Thank you, Eric, for the beautiful afternoon. I like what you said as I left you at your door. “I hope that I will see you again.” I will, Eric.
Steve posted an event on his Facebook page. I attended high school with Steve from 1970 until 1973, when we graduated and I moved north, back to Canada, while most of my peers from Great Falls, Montana, ended up moving to Montana Universities. This guest speaker event sponsored by Swan Valley Connections, appealed to me from the moment I saw it, probably because I’ve watched a Bald Eagle family nesting in a very special spot on the edge of the Bow River for going on eight years. I have learned so much from these beautiful raptors over the years, but realize after last evening, that I have so much more to learn.
Kate Davis lives in the Bitterroot Valleyin Western Montana and is an acclaimed photographer, steward, educator, writer and presenter who has studied and educated the public about Raptors for years. Kate’s biographical notes can be found here.
Steve lives in Condon, Montana in the Swan Valley, a wonderfully rich ecosystem and landscape teaming with multiple species of mammals, fish, birds, plants and trees and raptors. I am really grateful to Steve for posting and hope to be included in future Swan Valley Connections events.
Kate has written several valuable books/resources and is truly, an expert in this field of study. As a result of this presentation, I will be picking up some of the books as they will be helpful in my identification of a variety of raptors and to further my knowledge in the behaviours and abilities of these. When I capture photos of hawks, while circling my place at the river, I always have to share them to the group, Alberta Birds, because I am unable to make a proper identification without the help of others.
The evening’s talk was riddled with rich narratives coming from Kate’s memories and research, but interspersed were the introductions to three raptors that live with Kate
I am always one to be concerned with the shrinking habitats of species along the Bow River and the horrendous impact the development of the Southwest Ring Road has had for our local populations of birds, mammals and other species.
Next, we met Sibley. Sibley is one of 18 non-releasable and falconry birds that live in enclosures next to Davis’s house, and this evening, was present IN Kate’s house. What a profoundly beautiful creature!
And finally, we met Owen, the Sawet Owl. Most entertaining was Kate’s ability to make the various calls of owls. This was such an entertaining and informative presentation. While Covid-19 keeps us from an authentic connection, we are blessed that technology brings us into space with one another in a different way. I am so thankful to the Swan Valley Connections for making this happen. Ramona, and some of my birder-friends from the Bow River would enjoy such as this and I’ll make certain that I invite them in enough time to connect for future presentations.
65% of Raptors do not live their first year. They are hit by cars. They go hungry, finding it difficult to locate and kill prey that ‘doesn’t want to get caught’. Their struggle to breed and raise young in primarily hostile environments is extraordinary. The fact that I am blessed enough to watch our Bald Eagle family so regularly is a true gift. If eagles are not stressed, they will live for forty years. That is just so absolutely amazing.
Kate’s primary message to the public is not necessarily to get the big work done in terms of the protection of these species (although that would be nice)….but, her message is to GO OUTSIDE and when you do, leave your cell phones behind.
I was, just now, sitting on the red couch sipping coffee, Max sprawled out on the cool floor beside me. I was listening to an old Live From Everywhere session with Craig Cardiff on Instagram. He was writing a song for a couple from Milwaukee, as they shared their story of meeting and falling in love and staying in love. I got really emotional and as I came down the stairs, strangely, big tears were plopping down my cheeks and falling off my chin. What? What is going on? I think they were blessing-tears. I just feel so blessed.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to take a morning drive out to KOAC, in order to do some yard work with a group of wonderful volunteers gathered together by wonderful connector, Alice Lam. I was surrounded by mostly younger folk and it gave my heart such joy to see these people working so hard to make something beautiful even more beautiful. I hope to work alongside these people again. Thank you, Alice.
Alice is seen, here, on our lunch break, eating a fresh lively salad provided by a fantastic start up that has its own magical story. Through the pandemic experience, Inspired Go has been a company that stepped up and connected with community, in order to make things better. In April they announced the #feedthefrontlines campaign, providing free meals to local healthcare workers. For each box sold they donated a meal, for a total of 6714 donated meals. What an epic moment in Inspired Go’s history! It is a beautiful thing to see people in our community do great things. Over two volunteer work days, Inspired Go provided lunch, served up by my dear and respected friend, Wendy Lees. Thank you!
Upon arrival, Katie, Harry and Ricardo were there to welcome volunteers. We received a lovely overview of the studios and the expanse of sculpture garden, beginning with a gathering in Katie’s studio. There, she richly described her process as she works on pieces connected with the concept Cluster.
I was most intrigued by Katie’s description of the selection of materials and the process of editing, along the way. I loved her description of vessels that might contain the cluster and her process of discovery. In the raven piece above, I especially loved the creation of the nesting materials in the bottom section. All the while, Katie is holding strapping that will be required to pull a new bench into place. She is always and forever thinking and solving spatial problems.
Off we headed for our various assignments. I couldn’t wait to get to work.
Thanks, Wendy Lees, for your homemade chocolate chip squares. They followed our Inspired Go salads. Yum! Then, off to the woods in our mosquito net apparel! What a fun bunch of hard working people!
It was at this point of the third huge pile of dead wood that the first loud boom of thunder began. Our day was cut a little bit short by the huge foothills storm that raced through. I’m sad that I didn’t grab a photograph of the dramatic sky at this point in the afternoon. I hosed down my footwear and hopped in the car. I had a chance to say good bye to Harry, but Katie was busying herself somewhere else on the property.
What an amazing day!
Through Covid-19, I have tried to support one visual artist, one musician and one gallery. It was all I could do, although I wanted to do so much more. As a result, I have purchased Janet’s Crown by Katie Ohe for my 65th birthday gift. I am also, over time, purchasing Weeping Bees 2007, Brother Pear 1996, Monsoon2, 2006 and Untitled, 1977. I’m over the moon about these acquisitions.
I don’t have a lot in the resource bin of life…but, I’ve always had enough. I’m blessed that I was able to give my three children and myself what we needed, that we had food and shelter and I was, as a teacher, always able to make ends meet. Often times it was the sale of my own art that provided us with what we needed at the end of the month and when things were really tough (I wasn’t always able to purchase art. lol), friends and family supported me. Regarding visual art, a lot of people don’t know that they can create an art collection if they budget a little bit over time. Arrangements can be made with galleries so that the collector can surround themselves with beautiful art. I have purchased works from various galleries in town including Gorilla House and Rumble House.
A beautiful little mid-day hike at Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area nicely preceded yet another afternoon rainstorm. Thank you, Val, Oliver and Cathy. It was a beautiful exploration of fescue, aspens, wild flowers, powerful skies, butterflies and conversation.
We started off with a little visit inside of the tipi.
Photo Credit: Kath and Oliver taken by Val Vine
Off to the open spaces…heading for Mountain views through the natural grasses. The wild Lupines were electric blue.
Photo Credit: Close Ups of Lupines by Cathy Szata
Then through the Aspen Grove we went. Butterflies and more wild flowers and Oliver hiding in the tall grass.
Photo Credit for the next three images: Cathy Szata I really do appreciate getting into the photographs somehow, Cath. Thank you.
Thursday was a beautiful day. Cayley and I attended Teacher’s Convention together. I’m proud that my daughter has chosen the teaching profession and prouder, still, that she takes her profession to heart. She is a strong woman. We share in a lot of the same concerns for our planet and its people. We also really believe that there’s a lot of power in education and that it is essential to change, healthy perceptions and strength of character.
I have been blessed that over the last while, I’ve had a number of strong women coming into my circle, These include artists, writers, mentors and friends. I feel in awe of their abilities to inspire and build up communities, families and their own experiences in so many impacting ways. Strong women have always been in my life; don’t get me wrong. But, recently, I’ve been really looking at what these women have done to influence me. I’m noticing them more.
Our sessions in the afternoon began with a talk by Tanya Tagala, author of Seven Fallen Feathers and All Our Relations. (No photos for any convention sessions, so, I’m sharing one of the Massey Hall lectures delivered by Tanya…very similar content.)
This was a very powerful talk, delivered with humour, honesty and generosity. Tanya’s first hand experiences and personal narratives increased our understanding of our story as Canadians. I know that many of my readers do not feel as I do on issues of Indigenous peoples and their rights. We are willing to fight for the rights of others, but so often neglect our responsibilities to our Indigenous, Metis and Inuit neighbours across the nation. I just don’t see how we can walk away from the treaties that our ancestors signed, in good faith. We are all treaty people. This is not an imagined past.
I value Tanya’s work; her writing and her voice. She is strong and positive and she speaks the truth. Every child deserves safety, clean water and shelter….it is not a child’s fault that they were born under the weight of history!
Cayley and I went for a movement break after the talk. We were quiet for the most part, but talked a bit about the open mic question session and what questions we feel are still unanswered for us. We were reviewing, in our minds, what needs to happen to shift our delivery of content in our classrooms. It was lovely to meet up with Lana and Heather during the break.
Next, we heard, in the same hall, Sheila Watt-Cloutier, a beautiful woman who I had met a Mount Royal University some years ago, with my sister-friend, Karen. I feel blessed to have had a second opportunity to hear Sheila speak and encourage my readers to take the opportunity when you can. Please read her book, The Right to Be Cold.
Sheila shared a great deal of information and global concern for the melting north and the melting permafrost. We need this global cooling system. There are species that now arrive in the north, never-identified by the Inuit peoples. This strikes me as a manifestation of our consumption and greed. It is so easy to forget Canada’s north, abandoning her for all of the social and economic concerns of the south. We need to make these connections and be more deliberate in our protection of her.
There were such stiff rules about picture taking…and procedural rules around book-signing, but Cayley managed to grab a quick photo from a distance of Sheila and me, together, in conversation.
This is not a very becoming photograph…but…I took an opportunity to chat, give a context and express my interest. Sheila is a beautiful, authentic and very smart woman who has accomplished great and wonderful things in her life. Thanks, Cayley for sitting on the sidelines and capturing this engagement. Does it seem like anyone around me is concerned?
After the session, Cayley and I went To Bar Anna Bella’s for a cocktail and to bond. It was a lovely relaxed atmosphere and we were all on our own. I had the Osmoz Gin from France. Yum!! Magic!
As we left, the winter festival was setting up. I found it ironic and a little sad that this is what met us just around the corner. Interesting that a great big ‘plastic’ igloo should appear out of nowhere. Calgary moved on to the Glow Festival.
Sometimes it feels like I’m flying in to the evening programs at Esker Foundation. The trek north on Deerfoot Trail is never optimal around the dinner hour. It seems that the folk who have struggled their way south through rush hour traffic have made their way home for their wardrobe changes and are then all headed back to the core for their evening events. Calgary is such a sprawl! All that aside, when the program lists are published for the Esker Foundation, I always try to log on and register and fill in my calendar for the coming months.
Today, Anna Gustafson delivered a ‘making’ workshop at the Esker. These programs are especially inspiring. Because I wasn’t able to fit this one in, I was really motivated to listen to her talk last night and to see her work in Esker’s Project Space. This exhibit, titled Object Lessons is accessible from the huge picture windows on street level 9th Ave SE.
Anna described her connection with other species and her sense of urgency around having a deep regard for sustainability. I felt as though we were connected in our thoughts through some sort of umbilical…I was captivated.
As she spoke about shrouding objects that represent our full-on consumption, I thought very much about the bags of litter I picked for such a long period of time at a single pond here in south Calgary. Nothing ever seemed to change about the landscape that I picked….after months and years of clearing the flats, new litter would just move on in. It came in waves. It was no wonder that Anna’s fish nets filled to the brim with shrouded single use plastics hit me in the gut.
The exhibit is happening, in partnership with the New Gallery and Anna Gustafson is extending an invitation to the public to help her with the harvesting of particular household objects including remote controls, film and slide projectors, film cans, slide carousels, flashlights along with white cotton and linen fabric for shrouding. Donations can be brought to The New Gallery from 3February to 19 April.
Anna has a very detailed record of where she is gathering these objects, as seen below.
I find it interesting that as I attended a second event last evening, I should still be thinking about Anna’s work as I encountered this display. Well done, Anna, and thank you. Thank you, Esker Foundation.
I wasn’t going to write today, but here I am, a glass of Malbec to my right, and so much to think about.
Today would have been my brother’s 66th birthday. I turn 65 in May. He and I were so very close. It pains me that we didn’t share as much in our later years. He became a private man. Still, we made time to share good meals with friends. We enjoyed live music together. We were both very proud of our city. I love all of the growing-up memories of John. He was sometimes rebellious. He was robust. He was quite a live wire. I like the memories of him grilling steaks and burgers. He knew what he was doing there.
I have been thinking about John all week. Birthdays celebrated with families are so special. He should be here to celebrate with us. Now, he is ‘with us in spirit’. That’s something people say…but words like that just crack open my heart and cause it to bleed, all over again. I feel bad for people who try to make just the right remarks when you’ve lost someone you deeply love. I’ve often been one of those people. Let’s face it, there are no really helpful words. Best to just say ‘I’m sorry’. I don’t blame or judge people for things that they’ve tried to say. I know that their intentions are good. Grief does weird unbelievable things to a person. There’s no real understanding it. I miss John, though, every day…just as I miss my mother.
Family went out for lunch together. I liked being with John’s son. We were ‘hospice buddies’ and call ourselves that to this day. There’s no way that one can know what that experience is like until one might find themselves living it. I take a moment as I’m typing and lift a prayer for families who are in the midst of all of this. I take a moment and pray for the beautiful hearts who give palliative and then hospice care…and the nurses…the doctors. A tear drops.
Our family was the very best through the pain of losing John. If family does work. We did our best work through that time.
My grandson broke out into a lively version of happy birthday when he received his vanilla ice cream on dry ice. He even got the part about ‘Uncle Johnny’. His timing was impeccable. A Moxie’s lunch to celebrate my brother was the perfect choice.
From the lunch and our good-byes, I had to head right for the river. For one thing, the temperature was steadily moving up and was -11 when I pulled up in front of the house. I can clear my head at the river. Through John’s last months, I always felt uplifted while at the river’s edge, even on particularly difficult days.
I first walked along the bank in a north west direction. Across from me, the beauty and tranquility of deer and geese. After five days of -30 to -40 temperatures and a bad wind chill, it seemed that all of nature was breathing deeply in and breathing deeply out. Such a lovely thing. Interestingly enough, in the icy times of winter, I always notice that the deer consume the geese droppings. Such was the case today. Vegetation must be minimal by now and what better way to consume some nutrition! Nature cares for itself in so many different ways.
Once heading south on the path, I experienced the most remarkable moment! In a flash, a coyote rushed out of the tall grass and a deer bound into the frozen river. The coyote lurched to a stop on the very edge of the ice. I was frozen…couldn’t move…didn’t even think about capturing the moment on my camera. Too late, I recorded the deer’s challenging swim and its exit from the cold water. I watched until it found its way, some distance, up onto the bank. It wobbled on the ice and then bolted for the cover of the brush.
I was relieved but remember pausing to wonder how all of the beautiful creatures that inhabit the river valley manage to eek out a living.
Continuing on my hike, I was mindful that the coyotes are hungry. I figured that if one coyote came out of the brush, there were others. They work diligently together in order to eat, especially in these circumstances of frigid temperatures. Above me, to the left, I saw two. Do you want to observe a coyote? Listen for the Corvids (Magpies, Crows and Ravens) because all follow close behind the predators.
I was pleased to observe this young beauty consuming something. It was either a rabbit or a pheasant. I could hear the pheasants articulating in the high brush as I made my way south. Looking closer, a Raven decided to peck away at the carcass.
Around this time, I bumped into Lloyd. I really can’t believe the distance he walks down in this same spot, in fact, he goes so far as to cross the ice to the island almost every day. He asked, in his jovial way, ‘Why he hadn’t seen me lately?’ And I told him that apart from one day during the deep freeze I came down to make my typical observations. He walked with me as far as the beaver dam. Together, we looked at the reflections on the smooth pond ice. He told me a story of skating ponds in his childhood….such magic! Walking, I told him about the incident with the deer. We parted ways. As he left, he said, “I hope you spot your eagles”.
The remainder of the walk was very peaceful. I thought that I might discover more deer, given that the stressed white tail flew out from this side of the river, but no sightings. Several beautifully large and articulating Ravens flew amongst the bare branches. All was magical. Then, as if from nowhere, the young Eagle appeared. I haven’t captured any really clear photographs, but I would guess that it was either one of the one year olds from last summer’s nest, or a two year old. Its colouring is getting to be mottled. One thing for certain, it wasn’t the Huntress, one that I expected to see. A Raven flew in and gave this youngster some company for a short while. Dad was no where to be seen.
This day was a beautiful day. Again, it reinforced the fact that life is filled to the brim with both beauty and brutality. We have no choice but to take it all and in whatever ways it makes its way to us. We can control the ways that we respond, but apart from that, we should always keep a Plan B in our back pockets.
Here at home, safe and warm, a friend from the river, fired off a message to me. I was eating from a hot bowl of stew at the time. The message was about a deer that was wounded and down, just beneath 130th Ave. She met Lloyd while out on her hike (love my network of river friends) and thought that this deer was possibly the character from my narrative. I will never know. Initially, I thought, by description, the deer was above the bank, but as the information became more clear, I learned that this deer is wounded and is out on the ice tonight. It would be an impossible thing for anyone to assist it tonight, impossible to keep it from its suffering. While this is upsetting to me and to my friends, we have sometimes no choice but to accept what we can’t control. I’m hoping that the coyotes/eagles are able to make good use of its sacrifice.
This, it turns out, was quite a day. Blessings to those of you who have sent wishes today. Blessings on my father.
It was 1973 and I was fresh out of High School. Somewhere in my archives, this morning, once receiving a message from a Lethbridge friend, I found, without too much looking, a copy of the University paper, the Meliorist. I laughed out loud as I read the profiles for our Mugwump Party. And guess what? We got in! I served my first year as part of the student council. This is where I met dear friend, artist and intellectual, Phil. I wanted to publish bits of this quickly and move on to the list of things to do for today.
How would I describe my importance to Mugwump, as I look back?
First Year Votes
No Fear of Speaking
Also, Easily Influenced
As I look at the profiles of these folk, I still feel very proud of these gentlemen. They DID influence me and my thinking about a lot of matters. It was through 73-77 that I formulated values and ideas that I still hold. The U of L was a perfect fit for me. I know that Phil continues to be a very strong artist (I own one of his wonderful pieces) and an involved activist. I wonder what the others have been up to.
My feet are still cold. But, now I’m dry and in a minute, I’m going to pour a glass of wine.
I started my day by posting a whole number of paintings I’ve done over the last years, some of them exhibited in a beautiful little gallery in Lethbridge by my cousin, Jo, and her then-partner. I threw images out to Bookface Land (coined by my friend, Doug M) in order to cause people to think…not about the art, but about our planet and I sort of hoped they would think about the planet in terms of the subjects being vulnerable pieces of that planet.
I called this work, A Covenant Series, and for those of you who are not ‘into’ religion, I think it is obvious by that title, that I am. At the very least, I’d have to say that my life is rooted in scripture. The painting, above, is titled Genesis and at the base of all of the pieces in this body of work, I have submerged actual passages from scripture. You see, I’m not afraid to admit that I am religious. In today’s world, religious people can even be a little refreshing. It’s way more acceptable, however, today, to say that you are spiritual. In that way, a lot of hard stuff can be avoided, like the horrific actions of people on other people, often in the name of religion. Let’s start with residential schools!
Back to the subject of this post…
Human beings, as a species, have a responsibility to be stewards of the earth, water and air, as well as every living creature on/in them, and that includes caring for one another. If you’re NOT religious, I think that this makes sense as well. Don’t you think?
Long story/short, I have, along the way, painted some of my own fears down onto panels…fears of losing beautiful parts of our world. Sometimes these paintings expressed themselves as landscapes. Sometimes, particular species were investigated. Most recently, I’ve been focused on a single bush through a year.
And as several readers know, I have been very caught up in the life of a family of Bald Eagles at the edge of the Bow River. We are so very blessed.
In the novel, The Diviners by Margaret Laurence, Morag, the protagonist is sitting and conversing with her young daughter, Piquette. Piquette, a Metis, turns to her writer-mother and asks what a buffalo is. The conversation between the two of them has always impacted me, as has the connection that Morag has with her river. The fact that this child had lost connection with such an iconic animal and that she looked to her mother to describe it, caused me to think that I must begin documenting…the landscape…the river…animals. I became a crazy lady, visiting places like Maycroft Crossing in order to see the Old Man River before the dam. It seemed I needed to be able to collect and document life as it was for the sake of my children.
Curtis Running Rabbit-Lefthand delivered a powerful Land Acknowledgement and then offered a very few words. His words created the one point in the afternoon of speeches that made me cry. No, there was one other young female University student who also caused me to cry, speaking of the things that make her afraid. Curtis talked about us being Treaty people. In the context of this entire day, for me, it was exceptional.
Treaty and Covenant. The one thing I know for sure anymore is that I am hell bent on protecting my grandson. And, as I explore what this means, I feel like I can’t make very many promises. I can’t promise him that he will have a beautiful world full of the magic of so many species of animals and birds and insects once he is a man, the age of his father. I can’t make promises because the world isn’t sustainable. Destructive fires are burning. Children, the world over, are starving. Traumatic climate events are more frequent. Consumption is unreasonable. And human beings are in a denial stew (something that I believe rises up out of fear).
What I am empowered to do, however, is to have my grandson see me as a Treaty person. I want him to know that I will do everything in my power to care for the planet and the people in it. I will be an exemplar for him. I will stand up to injustice. I will speak the truth.
I’m proud of those Calgarians who showed up today. I’m proud of those participants in our great nation, Canada, who are listening to young people as they demand action. I am grateful to people the world over who have a concern for the health of our world.
The weather today in Calgary was crappy. And tonight we get snow. But, my heart is warm and I am determined in my walk, more so tonight than any other time on my journey.
This week has been filled with the magic of flight, whether that is metaphoric or quite literal. This is the time of the season when every variety of wee bird or raptor seems to be in flight training and this year’s observations are even more magical because this is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 space mission and the successful landing on the moon.
Here, a wee Northern Flicker, sound asleep OR knocked out on a paved pathway near the edge of the Bow River. I thought he may have come to a sad ending, having likely fledged from a nearby tree, but, at my prompting, he stirred, panicked and disappeared into the wild flowers, a place that increased his possibilities, I’m sure.
Every new life is extremely vulnerable right now in the river environment and the adults of every species are doing phenomenal things, given the brutal thunder storms, hail and huge winds. Finally, these past two days, we have had a reprieve from awful weather.
I was just 14 years old and living with my air force family on CFB Hornell Heights perched on a hill above North Bay, Ontario when the space program was initiating such wild adventures into the unknown. That summer I would have just finished up my grade eight year with Mrs. Penner at Paul Davoud School and would be beginning grade nine at Widdifield in the city, the following autumn. Mom would have already sewn me summer pop tops and jam jam shorts. I was excited for time at the base swimming pool and my little sister would have been two years old. We had a black and white television set and I would have been snipping out important news stories from the North Bay Nugget and pasting them into my scrap book. (some of them are featured below)
In my record box, (bright green floral vinyl), I had my single-play records including Revolution and I Want to Hold Your Hand by the Beatles. It was the first summer that I would, under my brother’s chaperone, be allowed to attend Teen Town dances.
My entire family was excited about the Apollo Space Mission.
We watched the moon landing, together, on the television. I remember the images. I remember looking up at the moon that night, the silhouette of the huge lilac bush outside my window, and being afraid for those men, so far from home. It was truly unbelievable.
Well, this past weekend, we shared in the memory of that experience, now 50 years ago. On July 20, I read poetry and watched the second eaglet fledge. For me, the day was a celebration of flight.
On the evening of July 19, there was a tremendous storm brewing. I watched, with great amusement as Mr. and Mrs. both fed Jr. #1, the little guy that had fledged three days before. He’s doing well, having flown across the river, and having practiced moving about to a variety of places. Over those few days I was captivated by several close visits, as well as a variety of shenanigans across from me on the river. (most amusing being a middle-aged couple manning kayaks, one that capsized and the other that became grounded minutes before a huge deluge…the two, totally unaware of a family of three Bald Eagles feasting within meters of them). The male Bald Eagle stared at the adult male with a look that made me laugh. I’m posting some of my recent photos, here.
On July 20, 2019, I witnessed the fledge of Jr. #2. I considered this a huge gift on such a special anniversary.
July 16, 2019 (a visit to the river with summer guests, Angela and Preston)
July 17, 2019 (Mom and Dad spent lots of time the first two days prompting Jr. #1 to get up higher. The fledgling seems to ball, especially on Day 1 and the adults patiently convince him/her that they can be relied upon for food, for guidance and for presence.)
July 18, 2019
Meals on the run…sharing treats with Jr….I’m just so surprised that Mr. came directly to me.
July 19, 2020
Second Fledge and little buddy is the one located in the vertical tree. Junior #1 doesn’t like that the attention has moved away from him.
July 21, 2019
Three visits to the river. On the second, I didn’t have my camera, but I did have the company of Deb Sharpe. Together we watched the siblings reunited on the tree root across from us. Jr. #1 had remained there throughout the night. Mr. and Mrs. shared the big tree on my side of the river to watch the pair of youngsters. It was just so beautiful. The icing on the cake is that one of the adults soared with the Year-old Juvenile that made a visit as well, chasing him, first, out of the territory.
On my evening stroll, I listened to a bag piper sending out his beautiful songs to the river…
Other species have been evident and beautiful…and new songs have been sung. I’ve watched, but not documented American Goldfinch and have really enjoyed the Grey Catbirds, Cedar Waxwings and Eastern Kingbirds. I’ve also really had fun speaking with different people who enjoy my love for the river.
It is a remarkable thing that human beings have traveled into the far reaches of space through manned missions as well as through the use of technology that brings images and science back to us from Mars. It is for us to celebrate the abilities of humanity to accomplish wondrous achievements such as this. However, it is equally as important to recognize the charm and amazing intuitive lessons that are given by other species. It is essential that we connect with this wonder so that we become better stewards of the magic.
I’m wrapping up this post with a song that my mother used to sing to me…among others…but, this one is a good one for this celebration.