Remembrance Day 2019: Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium

Yesterday I heard two presenters say that Remembrance Day is not to be confused with Veteran’s Day.  Armistice Day is on 11 November and is also known as Remembrance Day. It marks the day World War One ended, at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month, in 1918. A two-minute silence is held at 11am to remember the people who have died in wars.

Like everyone else, I am disappointed that the Don Cherry fiasco stole so much from the highlights of a beautiful day remembering those soldiers in our families and in our Nation who offered the ultimate sacrifice in past wars, Afghanistan and because of selfless service.

I was really pleased about attending the commemoration at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium this year and taking in the various rituals, but indoors, while cozy warm.  Last year, we headed to the cenotaph downtown and it got a bit cold at times, although it was also an amazing experience.  Next year, the field of crosses.

The seats were assigned, as we arrived.  This created a sense of calm and order.  Beautiful music was provided by the HMCS Tecumseh Band along with Jeanette Embree, Detachment Commander, CF Recruiting Center, Director of Music, Royal Canadian Navy Reserve.  What a lovely repertoire.

I thought about my Dad while singing this hymn.  I used to sit next to Mom in the Protestant Chapel pews while Dad directed or sang in the choir.  I felt them beside me yesterday…and I felt surrounded by my family, many who have served.  My Great Uncle Joseph Gallant gave the ultimate sacrifice, as did my Great Grandfather John Moors.  This hymn was a perfect one to bring everyone home to me.

While we were prompted to save our applause until the very end of the laying of the wreaths, two of our Veterans from the Colonel Belcher caused our hearts to stir and we broke into wild applause.  I cried my face off at these points in the service, as well as during the Last Post.  Our friend, Helena, laid a wreath on behalf of the Alberta Retired Teachers.  We were very proud of her for representing us.

After the commemorative service, and as we were leaving, I noticed that Ralph MacLean, the 97 year old Veteran who had served with Canadians in Hong Kong in 1941.  Please follow the link and listen to his story on the Memory Project.  Through various circumstances and very quickly, I connected with Ralph’s son, daughter and grandson, author of Forgiveness, author Mark Sakamoto.  

I won’t soon forget the kind hearts of Ralph’s family.

I had the opportunity to exchange quite a number of stories with Ralph and I feel that it was a huge blessing to meet him.  I will be visiting him at the Colonel Belcher.

As I took my evening walk, slow around the circle because Max is ailing badly, I took in the beauty of the day, my friendships with Janet and Pat, my children, the freedoms I enjoy.  I thought about my family and their huge military connections.  I contemplated including their photographs here…but, I’m leaving the images of their faces and my research in my heart.  I’ll leave it all up to peace…the sky…the river.  I will always Remember.

 

 

Nothing Could Have Prepared Me For This Day

Today’s Facebook ‘wall’ is plastered with various news blips on the topic of the cuts happening here in Alberta. I’ve made those posts.  But, rather than deleting them, I’m going to take a moment to consider what this day has actually been and been about.  Only moments ago, I brushed my teeth.  I stepped out onto the back deck and looked up at the moon.  I am taking pause and thinking about my day…my actual day…not about that veneer, that public explosion that happens for us if we dig too deep into the chaos that is today in the news.

My morning began like this.

I sat down, with coffee, and pin pointed the Barrow in Furness address where Mary Eleanor Haddow, my great grandmother, was born in the early 1800s.  I then scrolled Instagram, up on the red couch, while stroking Max’s head redundantly for almost a half hour.  I dreamed about making one more trip to England so that I might visit such places and walk Blackfriar’s road and travel, again, to France to stand at my Great Grandfather’s resting place in Etaples and maybe even get myself to Ortona, Italy.

I went to my computer station, in order to print out this map and while cropping it, my sister and I exchanged a few messages with one another.  She sent me a photograph of her and her three pup companions and I sent her a photograph of me and Max.  I love yous were shared.

I decided that Max’s injury had been quiet enough for a few days that I would take him to the river.  The air was so mild and the light, so beautiful.  We took our time; it was more a stroll than a walk, but it was so incredible.I really felt huge gratitude as the day opened up to me.

I dropped Max back to the car and then went for a last look to see if I could sight any of the coyotes.  I spotted several deer across the river, but no coyotes.  And then, the magic of friendship was enjoyed, as I saw Jeff making his observations along the pathway.  As is pretty usual, we ended up talking about cameras and such.  Today I learned about the Polaroid Cube and the Zoom Audio Recorder.

Lunch consisted of a lovely little Greek Salad at home.

After doing just a few things around the house and checking in on all things political (lol), I made a quick stop at the Dollarama Store to pick up some small canvas boards.  I felt a need to paint some poppies with my grandson before Remembrance Day.  There was a bit of a wait for him to wake up from his nap, so over two cups of hot tea, I had a nice visit with Linda and Erin.

Then, this.

I decided to stop at the river, again, on my way home, just to see if I could make any eagle sightings.  At the edge of the Bow, everything  was wildly alive, although the colour was muted which contributed to the magic of everything.  A loud cacophony of sound filled the air as hundreds of Canada Geese found their way to the river.  I was overcome.  And there, in the midst of the geese, one eagle flew assertively in and out of their crowds.  It was amazing.  I managed to capture a brief moment.  But, let’s face it,  no images were going to be focused because the light just wasn’t there.  I didn’t know what to do with my feelings about the scope and beauty in that moment, so as has become habit, I snapped photographs.

I spotted brilliant white southeast on the river, and so, took a quick peek through my camera’s viewfinder to identify the white birds and happily discovered the presence of Swans or Snow Geese, interspersed with the Canada Geese.  A quick and fuzzy snap and I was off and rushing to the location where I enjoyed watching them making their disappearance around the point and onto the river.  Darkness was settling over everything, apart from soft pink directly west.  I headed back.

 

As I pulled out of the parking lot, I saw Doug and Shirley Anne’s car, stopped, opened my window and together, we marveled at the wonder we had just seen.  The three of us felt very blessed and it was just so nice to know that I had shared the magic with friends.

Upon my return home, my son and I headed out to the Saigon Royal Restaurant for a steaming pot of Jasmine Tea and a big bowl of Pho.  I started watching for a text message from my Dad who, I knew, was on the road from Ottawa to Belleville, earlier in the day.  He promised he would text, but I convinced myself that he would struggle with that as per usual and that he is well and safe and enjoying the traditions of the Mistletoe Market this weekend.

At home, Max and I walked the neighbourhood circle and then James and I watched some cop shows on his big screen.

Just a short while ago, I stepped out on the deck and snapped a few photographs of the moon.  While I didn’t capture them, there were three soft rings of colour surrounding her tonight.  Those colours and the lovely still air remind me of the beauty that is ours.  I am grateful.  And one never knows what a single day might bring.

Imaginairium: Wordfest 2019

The days are getting crisp…things are going to sleep for the winter.  I’m not writing as much, but I AM reading.  When this weather arrives, it’s wonderful to curl up and read.  In preparation for Wordfest, I read Birth House for the second time and loved it just a much or more than the first.

Birth House by Ami McKay is right up there among my favourite books.  I’ve read a lot of books by this time and so, there can never be a favourite, but there are heaps of favourites.  I couldn’t afford the time or the money for a lot of sessions at Wordfest’s annual event, however, I made certain to register for two of the sessions where Ami would be speaking and I purchased her most recent book, a memoir, Daughter of Family G.

The first session was delightful, a Cabinet of Curiosities, and featured a number of writers including Ami.  These authors each brought a single object to share, an item that connected with their books, process or lives.  It was an intriguing grouping, covering a big array of topics and styles of writing.  I picked up a few books that night.

Anthony De Sa shared a GI Joe camo jacket.  He shared a heartfelt story that I will not soon forget about Christmas at home and a loving gesture from his mother.  I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place.  Anthony is writer of Children of the Moon.  This is now in my collection and I am looking forward to reading it.  Eloquent!

Marina Endicott shared her first Greek book.  It was a book that her Greek Teacher gave to her.  “Wherever you go, there you find your teacher’.  Her teacher, she shared, was her first home.

Cecil Foster writes for his grandmother.  His talismans are ideas.  As he writes, he takes pause and contemplates what might make his grandmother laugh or what might make her cry.  The material, he described, doesn’t really matter.  The idea matters.  He lifted a glass at the conclusion of his presentation and made a toast to his grandmother.  His most recent book is on my ‘to read’ list, They Call Me George.

Michael Christie’s new book, Greenwood, is also in my collection.  He shared with us the story of building his new home on Galiano Island and about how, during a huge storm on the family’s first days in the house, blew over a tree that crashed into the family Subaru.  He shared a slice/coin of the big branch that caused the destruction.  His reading caused me to weep.

A magnificent novel of inheritance, sacrifice, nature and love that takes its structure from the nested growth rings of a tree, Greenwood spans generations to tell the story of a family living and dying in the shadows cast by its own secrets. With this breathtaking feat of storytelling, Michael Christie masterfully reveals the tangled knot of lies, omissions and half-truths that exists at the root of every family’s origin story. (From McClelland ​​​​​​& Stewart)

Ami McKay shared something her mother/grandmother said, “All of the flowers that our blooming in our todays are to be enjoyed because of the seeds that were planted in our yesterdays.”

Terry Fallis was very animated and shared several items via Powerpoint imagery; his fountain pen collection, a framed image of Robertson Davies and an old typewriter that he keeps close by.

And finally, Anosh Irani shared a map of one district in Bombay.  His story and the poetic gifts that he shared that evening, were beautiful.  I purchased his book, The Parcel.

What a tremendous evening.  Thank you, Wordfest.

The next day, I had the opportunity to hear Ami McKay talk about her family, in detail, and her struggles and strength as both connect with her life.  The initial disease suffered by my brother was Colorectal Cancer and so I was very interested in what Ami shared about her family’s journey with Lynch Syndrome.  I really appreciated the time that Ami took with me personally as I found myself first in line to have my books signed by her.  This was an inspiring book talk and I am presently 100 pages in to the book, Daughter of Family G: A Memoir of Cancer Genes, Love and Fate

I met Aracely outside of the Memorial Branch library.  Aracely is the moderator for the book discussions that I enjoy at the Fish Creek Library once a month.  She is smart, fun and very generous.  She is also in love with reading!  I was swooped up by her enthusiasm and headed over to the Central Branch for the Humble the Poet presentation.  Am I ever glad I went!  Such a timely and inspiring talk!  While I didn’t purchase it that evening, I’ve added Things No One Else Can Teach Us, to my list.

Good to meet dear friends, Diane, Bill, Catherine and Bob, sitting directly behind me.

Wordfest never disappoints.  I hope that next year I have it in my schedule to take in even more of the book talks.  They open up the mind, the heart and put you in touch with other big time readers!  Thank you, Wordfest!

Esker Foundation is a Power House!

Some weekends, in Alberta, there is NO LIMIT to the number of events available to me, given that I’m interested in live music, books, art, theater and dance.  This past weekend was one of those for me.  I really wanted to see Billy MacCarroll’s Aftermath opening at Jarvis Hall, but will have to attend on my own.  The Glenbow opened its Sybil Adrews: Art and Life and ExtraOrdinary Objects exhibits.  The Bee Kingdom were hosting an open house…didn’t make that despite all of my good intentions.  A big one, Dave More: A Painter’s Gift, guest-curated by Mary-Beth Laviolette, happened in Red Deer on Sunday.  I’m happy to know that The Edge Gallery Calgary location is hosting an exhibit of David’s works, Hidden Within, opening on October 26 1-4.  And as I write this, I am reminded that I would love to see the recent works by Michael Corner that are on exhibit at The Edge Gallery in Canmore.  So…that list should demonstrate the dilemma.  And I know that it is only a beginning…we are so blessed in this province.

Did I mention that at the same time Wordfest was happening?  More on that later.

If you haven’t, try to make space to visit the Esker Foundation’s current exhibits and if possible, attend some of the engaging and inspiring programs.  Presently, Jeffrey Gibson: Time Carriers and Nep Sidhu: Divine of Form, Formed in the Divine (Medicine for a Nightmare) creates a rich dreamscape of texture and voice for the viewer. The work feels like a bridge between space and time, contributing to a bigger knowledge/experience of culture and collaboration. I find these exhibits intoxicating.

Almost soothing, the piece, Kablusiak: Qiniqtuaq located in the project space is best-seen in the night time as it becomes animated by the warm light of the projection and its complexities are more successfully captured.

On Friday evening, Jeffrey Gibson generously moved through a brief history of major bodies of work, beginning with the Punching Bag series and continuing to talk about abstraction, collaboration and garments.  It was very kind of Jeffrey to take the time to chat with us beyond question period, given that the garments and drums were being de-installed for the next day’s performance.  From Esker, Karen and I drove to cSPACE via a random path selected by Google Maps. (another story)  We were able to enjoy the work of artist and friend, Louise Lacey-Rokosh.  I met Louise some years ago at Gorilla House and I have enjoyed following her work.

I was blessed to have the opportunity to also enjoy Jeffrey Gibson’s performance piece, To Name Another, a piece that left me in tears three different times.  Did I take note of the words that most moved me?  No…  I think that the complete engagement in the sound/movement experience took all of us to a deeper place.  And while this might sound a little strange, that’s okay.

I continue to have a sense of wonder about the work that is on display and am looking forward to learning more about Nep Sidhu’s work and process.

Thanks to my sister-friends, Karen and Linda, for sharing in parts of this immersive journey with me this past weekend.   I enjoyed the yummy Ruben sandwich on the Spolumbos patio with you, Karen, on a perfect autumn day.  And Linda, I’m so happy that we had a chance to share deep fried dill pickles and a terrific Blues Jam and the Can.

A few images follow…I regret that I am missing the titles of the works below.  I will backtrack and complete the information as I collect it.  Initially, I have posted photos of some of the titles available that are linked to the subjects or interests of the artists presently on exhibit.  I really appreciate how the Esker always provides a reading list.

 

Autumn Mash Up

I am a single woman, in the last decades of my life, and sometimes I lay my head down on my pillow at the end of a busy day and wonder about being solitary in the world.  My life plays through my mind like a thin thread of film, projected on the dark wall across from me.  I am both in awe and fearful.  My life, alone, is a peaceful one.  Perhaps this is what was always meant to be.  But that acceptance and peace does not necessarily keep me from looking at the connection that others have in their partnered lives.

Autumn often causes this rerun, the movie of over sixty autumns that I can remember.  In every other autumn I would not have written the previous paragraph down, especially not in this format, perhaps in a private journal.  But, now, how does it really matter?

I remember a moment in a single engine Cessna, somewhere over Wisconsin.  We were flying north into Duluth when we got into difficulty and with time, our cloud ceiling was at 200 and then 100 and our pilot was requesting permission to land on a highway, the only visual reference we had.  Knowing that there were towers in the area and knowing that our pilot only had visual rating was frightening.  I clung to my then-partner’s hands, both of them.  Averting the first option, the wings bowed deeply sideways into the white cloud as we banked to go south and out of the fog/cloud.  When we came around,  the tree tops were an arm’s length from the plane’s belly.  I remember them as though it was yesterday.  They were conifers.  I kept saying, “The trees.  The trees.”  Not yelling and not particularly panicked.  This was a nightmare.  I had time to think, “I wonder how Mom and Dad will find me.”  I let go of my partner’s hand.  Instinctively I knew, ‘in the end I face this all alone.’

And I do.

Winter is coming.  A family of bald eagles has taught me much these past months but for several weeks, the juveniles have been distant, sent out of this territory to hunt, fish and find their own way.  The female came to some demise and is now gone.  The male has sheltered and fed the young.  A new sub adult has made herself known and has done multiple demonstrations for the juveniles.  She is a beautiful strong huntress.  The male has been close to her, but it seems that they are always in some wild discussion, resistant and yet set on a path.  Who knows what spring will bring.  It was only in the first snowfall that the youngsters returned to their nesting territory, bleating to the cold wind, about their fears and their challenges.  It was the day before yesterday’s snow that both the male and female arrived and consoled me with their familiar roosts in their favourite tree branches.  These beautiful raptors act as a unit, but live deeply their singular lives…it is what they must do to survive and for the species to survive.

These photographs were taken over these few weeks of Autumn..in no particular order.  They capture the prayers and the beauty and the journey of a single woman in a very beautiful world.

 

What I Didn’t Photograph in an Hour

Max and I walked at the Bow River when the light was flat.  The sky was cool white-grey on warm white-grey and I thought that it was interesting that I could see one thick layer on top of the other and that there was no part of white that seemed transparent.  The sky was a panel of two colours, layered.  In front of the panel, brilliant white snowflakes fell, angled, to the ground.  The wind was bitter.  I pulled my hoodie up over my ears and hair and soon after, also the hood to my coat.  My cheeks were cold, but the wind was to my back, definitely pushing us from the north.  We were walking in a blizzard.  The landscape was softened in a white fog and the river was umber/ultramarine dark.

I stood still beside Lauren’s bench and looked at my phone.  A string of little bells had set off earlier and I knew that it was my daughter.  Some people write about things in very lengthy threads.  Some break their ideas into little bits and send them like jewels across time and space and through this abstract world of possibility and connection.  My daughter’s loving messages came to me…I typed, in return…

“Teachers earn their wage.”

“I’m worried about my eagles, especially the youngsters.”

“I’m booking off tomorrow.”

“I love you.”

She replied, “Love you too”

At her ‘love you too’  (and you likely won’t believe this), one of the juveniles, deepest umber and back etched in a layer of snow, flew directly in front of and past me, over the churning river, heading south on the cold wind, his wing span, forgotten.  Yesterday, in autumn, I saw both Dad and his new woman and that had given me a lot of peace.  I know that everything is natural to these raptors, but in my depth of gratitude for what pleasure they have brought to me, I am concerned, in the same way as a person is concerned for any creature that faces such a brutal winter.

Max spooked.  He and I saw the white-tail at the same time.  She thought she needed to bolt, but I assured her very quickly by moving Max and I the opposite direction and instantaneously averted my eyes and forced my excited dog to submit to me.  We walked closer to the water.

I found it interesting that the gulls were so active, weaving in and out of one another and skimming the surface of the water.  These gulls have a huge wing span.  And they seem very hardy, performing every sort of maneuver, often directly into the wind.  I stood still, very close to the river’s edge, and watched them.  Max nuzzled his snout deep into the cold snow, now and then, eating a bit.

While foot falls seemed swallowed by the snow and sounds were muffled, airplanes overhead were loud and interfered with the great mystery that is always lurking around each bend, the unknown, the hidden…waiting through every season, especially when a woman and her dog are alone, unremarkable, quiet.

My Canon was warm next to my chest and zipped under my winter jacket.  My phone rested in my right hand pocket.  I grabbed it and snapped three photographs of the distinctive textures of shrubs, still fully leaved, having lost the sense of autumn far too quickly.

A cacophony erupted from the east and over our heads, flew, in perfect formation and with winged concavity in synchronized motion, a huge number of Canada geese.  I would have snapped a photograph.  Such a beautiful pattern against the backdrop of our second big snow.  They strategically came to rest in the shallow channel of water that separates the small island from me.  A loud bit of sorting, their voices raised havoc on the river, the gulls, now, engaged in the mix up.

Once stepping into the deep woods, I turned my eyes upward in order to look for the dark form of the juvenile, but he did not reappear, so he must have gone beyond.  The snow pelted my face, not as much flakes as crystals.  I naturally opened my mouth.  I brought my face down, in gratitude, for having seen him at all.  The sky was turning a darker shade of grey and so I continued through the tall grass, now weighted down with snow and fallen across the worn path of summer.

Eastern starlings, many of them, lifted up and out of the golden brown canopy in unison, seeming alarmed but uncertain of where to alight.  It was as though they were of one mind…but, what part of that machine would decide/move/land and why would all of the others follow?  They disappeared.  I wondered if I had actually witnessed this.

Heading back on the groomed pathway and then once again, cutting through the trees, I saw her surrounded in the shrubs and wearing an aura or a crown of golden leaves.  Her eyes were deep black, dark pools of gentleness, her nose, just as dark.  I cautioned Max.  She stood perfectly still in an almost-grey silhouette.  I spoke assuring words for absolutely no reason until we had passed.

These are the moments at the river.

This is a culmination of an hour, not snapping photographs.  This is how people used to remember.

Gramma’s Treasured Time

I had a couple of weeks where I had a chance to spend the days with my grandson and don’t want to be remiss in acknowledging that time.  I look back on those days with a warm and happy heart.  He is changing so fast and so much and he is just such a funny person.  I love to talk with him.  I treasure every moment.  A collection of images for our times shared will be included here…but first…

All of the poems I read on the internet…poems for grandsons…were stupid.  The intentions were lovely and they were very very sweet.  But, none of them suited my grandson.  ‘Perhaps one day I will try to write a poem for you, my wonderful magical Steven.’  For now, the poem that best suited our little boy who loves ants and lady bugs and spiders is this one, written by William Carlos Williams, for his grandson.  It is titled, The Turtle.  I apologize that these bits are unclear.

I love you, Steven.

 

Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah

Yoga is stilling the fluctuations of the mind”

This, borrowed directly from a beautiful relation’s blog post this morning.

Several events unfolded yesterday that were totally out of my control.  These events did NOT happen to me, but happened to two of my children.  As every mother knows, when things spin out of control for a child, it is a natural outcome to want to swoop in and save them from the experience and the outcome.  Even at not intervening yesterday, I was thrown into a ‘spazz’, as Alyssa writes.  I haven’t learned in life to ‘still the fluctuations of my mind’…but as I read these bits this morning, I certainly can see the value in doing so.

So, thank you for the words and as this morning feels full of calm, it is easier for me to look back over yesterday, with a clear perspective.  I am thankful for conversations with Adrienne and with Karen.  I am grateful for the engaged presence of Shawn.  I am thankful for a full night of sleep.  It is a celebration that I rolled over and looked at my clock lit up in the darkness of morning, to discover that indeed, I had slept until 6:30, instead of a week-long frustration of 2:00 am wake ups.  I apologize that I went a little off grid yesterday and was a grumpy-pants with some of the peeps in my life.  Today is a new day.  And I hope that when, next time, there are circumstances beyond our/my control, that I will climb up onto that strong branch and look down upon the situation, with a degree of separation.

The Bald Eagles have left their typical routines at the edge of the Bow River and both juveniles are absent.  It is very quiet as autumn approaches.  Here are the last photographs of Mr. who after a summer of raising two juveniles on his own, is remarkable and held, by me, in high regard. Here are the last photographs of the juvenile that really resisted leaving his home, the nest and its territory.

Mornings are darker and the sun fades earlier.  I am experiencing some loss of the rich sights and sounds of summer.  With the full moon, I feel that I am entering the next season and I am assured that it, also, will be beautiful.

I’ve received some recent e mails from my friend that fill me to the brim with the love of nature.  It is interesting and I do contend that one needn’t go very far in order to enter into the mysteries of the natural world.  And so, I share these words, without permission to illustrate that point.  (sorry, friend)

One day. “You would have liked the view from my kitchen window. As I unloaded my groceries I thought of you.  Blue jays came calling.  Flying among the shrubs and trees.  Perhaps finishing off the few apples, raspberries and saskatoons that are still on the branches.  If i took pictures there could have been some good ones.”

Another. “So, I cleaned bathrooms, quick vacuum, suppers ready and now im going to watch tennis.  But this morning there were lots of robins.  Don’t they leave, shouldn’t they be gone.  And a couple of flickers eating ants in my lawn, good thing, but they do stir up the roots, not so good.”

And finally. “Went out to my gardens today with the intentions of moving some lilies around.  My tiger lilies in front are too tall and some Asiatic in the back get hidden.  Planted them with good planning at the time, i thought, but the ways of gardening you need to change things.  However, the ground was a bit too wet.  Did pick mushrooms, again, in my lawn.  Heard Mr. Hole the other day say mushrooms in the lawn are a good thing!

Deadheaded a few perennials and cut down most of my delphiniums as the leaves have now turned brown.

Lots of perennials still in bloom, fall asters beginning to blossom.   Sending a couple of pics.  My primula is back in bloom again.  It is one crazy plant, blooms for about 3 months in spring, rests for a couple and then starts again.  None of my other primulas do this.  So, don’t know if its location or variety and of course haven’t the tag anymore.  Even with the summer blooms gone there is still so many shades of green to enjoy.

And, wished you were here to identify a bird that was out the whole time with me.  Googled and think it was a downy woodpecker.  Cant say I’ve ever seen one in my yard like that before.  White breast, black and white feathers and no everyone is was not a magpie.  Rat a tat tat on my bamboo stakes the whole time.  Bamboo is strong, I would have thought its beak would get sore.

Still lots of robins and blue jays in the gardens.  And everyday a lone flicker comes to eat the ants.  Wonder if it is the same one and why doesn’t it tell its friends to come feast at my place.  So, I have put up with ants and aphids in hopes that the birds can live without my use of pesticides.”

I feel blessed with the beauty of these descriptions of ordinary moments, that truly ARE extraordinary!  Thank you, friend, for taking me to the peaceful sanctuary of your garden through words.

Now, I’m posting just a couple of your photographs, without permission.  Get back to me if you wish me to remove any/all of your creative material.  I’m celebrating your connection with nature and the beauty of your garden this morning.

Photo Credit PT

Photo Credit: PT

Today, I’m going to try to be more mindful.  I’m going to demonstrate calm.  I hope that I can be here, in a healthy capacity, for those who need me.

Days on the River

Early mornings on the river now reveal just how circular my own journey is and how natural death is to life. All life blooms, but also fades.  In youth, I ran toward the next Christmas and to the next Halloween and to the next grade and the next teacher and to a boyfriend and to a husband. Never would I suffer divorce. Never, in my imagination, would my mother die.  My brother would not die.  My life long friends would remain at my side always. The abundance of living well, seemed endless.

In reality, the magic that perches at the edge of the river demonstrates again and again that life transforms.  I look down at my own hands at this keyboard this morning and see this transformation in my self. I have no choice but to accept it, while at the same time, I have the opportunity to create magic in others and to watch life unfold in my children and in my grandson.  I also have the choice to embrace the beauty of another fading summer.

My circular walks at the river have healed me throughout this lush green often-wet summer.  I have watched closely as the adult Bald Eagles tended two eggs at their nest, saw them through the biting cold of spring when at last those eggs hatched and almost two months later two beautiful fledglings found their place in a brutal world.

Having watched this mating pair over several seasons, it was sad to watch the disappearance of Mrs., a week after the second youngster fledged.  She was such an inspiring raptor and was vigilant with the two young eagles, demonstrating fiercely, the skills that were intuitive and essential for their start in life.  She may have been evicted or killed and within days, a sub adult began to dominate the territory, eventually captivating Mr. who diligently fed and raised up his two progeny.

These days those same juveniles soar high above me, carving huge circles into a deep blue sky, utterly celebrating what it means to be Bald Eagles.  I sometimes find myself weeping at the enormous beauty of this passage of time as manifested in one little family at the river.

I no longer hear the sounds of the Red-Winged Blackbirds.  Theirs is the first song of spring.  And now, they are gone.  Where only a month ago the Yellow Warblers’ very particular song filled the woods, there is only the occasional flash of bright yellow in the low brush.  Mating and fledging behind them now, where do they disappear?  The sounds of geese returns after a month of silence.  The adult Mallards begin to separate from the juveniles now, after so many weeks of being alert and startling so easily.  The American Pelicans no longer rest in great numbers in the quiet eddies of the Bow.  The changes happen in subtle ways.  One beauty is replaced by another.

Now, the Cedar Waxwing juveniles are practicing flight in great numbers and every evening they are making loops out over the water and back, out and back, lighting in bare branches.  Adults remain vigilant.  Yellow Rumped Warblers have increased in numbers, likely just passing through, and Downy Woodpeckers, Nuthatches and Northern Flickers take up residence.  Many of them will winter here.

Wild Asters are in bloom for a second time and the Thistles are in seed.  Small water bugs fly thick and hover above the racing water.  The fish jump. Conversations with the fishermen include stories of Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout and Pike.  They pull out their phones and scroll through their photographs, proudly telling me their fishing narratives.  They  humour me with observations of the eagles.

The native grasses are now beyond my shoulders and the closeness creates that feeling of being watched, a mystical feeling of not being alone.  Sometimes, I look to the left and deer are perfectly still and their eyes meet mine.  Their eyes are pools of dark liquid, staring.  They do not move. We are captivated by one another.  If I move at all they flinch or huff and spook into the trees. The coyotes sulk into the tall growth and disappear.  It is in this stillness where I discover life, abundantly.  I look up and a juvenile eagle is peering at me.  The Grey Catbirds, now gone, would remain absolutely still as I slipped by.  The Eastern Kingbirds, showmen as they are, perform their antics with seemingly no fear.  Their numbers are also dwindling at the river’s edge.

Once, the stillness was broken by the loud slap of a beaver in the quiet eddy to the south.  Another time, with my back to the water, I heard a powerful bang and quickly pivoted around to see an Osprey lift up and out of the water, huge fish clutched in its talons.  The sounds at the river are mesmerizing…and now, with the tall grasses turning gold, those sounds can be very soft and comforting.

 

Tansy is changing from brilliant yellow to brown.  Leaves drift silently to the ground from the highest canopy.  I am in awe that summer is at an end.

Over the coming weeks, the Bald Eagles will eek out their place on the river.  Mr. will no longer provide the two youngsters with food.  He will evict them and they will begin their struggle to survive through another bitterly cold winter.  I don’t have any idea how to end this post because life at the river has no real end.  It is a place of beginnings.

I know this.  I know that we must challenge everything in the world that does not steward the land and the earth and the air.  Life is a brutal thing.  Death is brutal.  We must protect the little ones.  We must leave my grandson this beauty…I can not imagine him not knowing what a world of abundance we were given.

Bergen Rocks and soooo Much More!

Yesterday saw us traveling north on Highway 2 to do a bit of an exploration of Olds, Alberta.  Both Pat and I had heard a CBC radio interview about the Highway 27 Sculpture Pathway and both wanted to see it.  Cayley just came along for the ride.  What a beautiful day!!

It seemed that we sailed there…when sister-friends are together, conversation seems to carry them and quickly!  A short jaunt on a sunny summer day, Calgarians can be in Olds in an hour tops.

There was a lovely walkway, edged with beautiful landscaping.  All three of us agreed that at some point the city will have to relax the parking restrictions on at least one side of the blvd that edges the park.   Pat parked her car, with permission, in front of a very welcoming real estate office on the 27. We enjoyed our casual engagement with the sculpture, as well as sharing a personal critique of the sculptures.  Read about the beginnings of this vision here.

From the sculpture garden, we began our exploration of Olds, first looking at the residential areas and then locating the amenities, including churches, sporting facilities and other venues of interest.  We started off at Centennial Park.

Noteworthy, I thought, was the Horseshoe Pitch.

The Centennial Park offered a splash park (presently closed), a series of historical plaques informing us of the relevance of various buildings, early settlers and businesses.

I was very enthusiastic about the building facades…

A particularly interesting venue was Pandora’s Boox, providing for opportunities to game, read and drink nice teas and coffee.  Housed in a 1910 Bank building, this space had great charm and seemed to be a bit of a hub.

 

I also absolutely loved this little shop…a real community self care spot.  I was grateful for the tour offered up by the proprietor.  Awesome, Olds Town Square.

By the time we located and explored the large number of churches and saw the various parts of the town, it was time to eat and we decided to try out the Mad Greeks.

Nummers!  Good choice!  Cayley and I enjoyed a regular meat Donair, combined with a Greek Salad at 11.00.  Pat enjoyed a massive Caesar Salad with a side of Garlic Toast, followed by a very light cheese cake.  Fresh food produced by a lovely couple.

From lunch, well, we met up with City TV, of course!  Ranked last by Macleans???  Mountain View County???  Are you kidding???

Small town Albertans react to list saying they live in Canada’s worst community

This little interview was followed by a bit more of a shop wander and then off we were to discover Olds College and their Botonical gardens.  Amazing stuff, people!

This is a destination that every Albertan would enjoy!  I felt like yesterday was a really relaxing day and that I had the opportunity to see new things.  We followed our walk at Olds College with an icy cold lemonade from Tim Horton’s and east and south we headed.  Thank you, Pat!  Another great adventure!