Nature teaches us lessons. It is a powerful thing to walk along the Bow River’s edge. I observe and learn about so many elements of nature through those observations. I struggle as I watch my beautiful border collie, Max, decline in his abilities and in his health. But then, I step out into the landscape that he and I have enjoyed for so many years together, alone, and I am witness to how the land, water, animals and birds have also changed over these years. I need to be grateful for the journey and for the ever-changing characteristics in all things, even myself. As the years go by, I am grateful for the shifts and the adaptations and the spectacles of my life. I am grateful for my time at the river today. Here are the beauties that allowed me close into their world. I was still and so they moved around me and allowed me to be a witness to a -5 day at the river.
I will share from youngest to oldest…I was engaged by all of them today…a very rare thing.
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.
The snow has been coming down steadily since last evening and this morning there was a thick blanket. It’s beautiful, but it is also a bit overwhelming as one anticipates the many months of darkness and cold.
The weekend, however, held many blessings. I spent the past months contacting people, media and organizations about the importance of recognizing that on September 28th each year, we are to remember and recognize over 100,000 children who were brought to Canada to serve as indentured servants across the nation. My great grandfather was one. This year marks 150 years since the arrival of the first of these children.
I really enjoy my friendships in this group, including Bruce, Hazel, Connie, Donna and Anna and really appreciate all of their hard work and their dedication. I am also grateful to my daughter, Erin, who attended but who also dragged chairs around, assisting where she could and Kelly, Hazel’s daughter, for her wonderful support in loading, displaying and just generally being helpful and included.
Five descendants shared their family narrative with the large group of people who came out on a dreary bad-weather day. Every generation was represented and questions were thoughtful and engaged the panel. There was lots of time for socializing and connecting with one another. A very special artifact for the group in Western Canada, of course, is the Memory Quilt that was lovingly constructed by Hazel.
As I drove home late in the afternoon, I felt grateful for the presentations and grateful for the people I worked with.
In the evening, I turned on my porch light, but unlike other nights, I took a moment to pause and think about the injustice that was perpetrated on so many innocents. I hope to, over time, help in educating the public about this part of Canada’s history.
The Beacons of Light, in recognition of 150 years included the lighting of the Calgary Tower and last night’s lighting of Reconciliation Bridge. Thanks to Bruce Skilling for his photograph of the bridge.
Photo Credit: Bruce Skilling
Photo Credit: Anna Webber
Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors
Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors
Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors
Photo Credit: Connie Falk
Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors
Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors
Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors
Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors
Photo Credit: Session Attendee
Photo Credit: Session Attendee
Photo Credit: Bruce Skilling
Photo Credit: Bruce Skilling
If you would like to be included in our contacts, have any questions at all or would like to suggest venues and activities, we’d love to hear from you. You may contact me through this blog or through the e mail connected to this blog. We also invite you to peruse our Facebook page, although our group is primarily made up of descendants living in the west. We are most agreeable to helping you with your research questions.
Finally, I will try to post Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s remarks.
Autumn means chasing this guy around, trying to grab a focused photograph. Some people play football. This is my sport. I could spend hours listening for him and then high-tailing it to his next location. He plays catch-me-if-you-can and I can be heard in the woods, laughing out loud. If anyone else was around they would wonder. First, readers, take note of the Belted Kingfisher’s interesting sound.
Twice in the past two days, the Kingfisher has taken a place of importance, the high Y branch of the Bald Eagle family’s favourite tree. First time, both Juveniles went at him. I think that perhaps the Kingfisher was consuming a meal and the young eagles get pretty scrappy with the food of other river hunters. Next time, the Sub Adult flew in, I suppose just to claim her dominance.
My visuals are all very unfocused, but I’m logging these here as a part of my birder journals. This morning, in the fog, I also watched an Osprey dive, almost vertically, off of a tree and pounce upon a young Cormorant as he fished. Life on the river is a bit of a dog-eat-dog world. When I returned home, I saw that I got an unfocused capture of the Osprey leaving the tree.
The two juvenile Bald Eagles swooped into the scene, evicting the Kingfisher from prime territory.
He arrived at my side of the river, for only moments and I snapped this photograph, directly into the light.
Another visit to the river, and again, he chose prime branches. Are you kidding?
In she swooped…and look, where the little guy ended up!
This morning, in the fog.
Life carries on, in all forms, at the river, but very different from only weeks ago. The Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers are in greater numbers, as are the White Breasted Nuthatches. The Northern Flickers swoosh down and up onto the Elms. This afternoon, the subdued landscape was broken by a huge frenzy of vocalizations of coyotes on the island and the howls were returned in unison by the coyotes on this side of the river. It was absolutely magical!
Osprey taking a dive, not for a fish, but for the Cormorant catching the fish! (Horrible photo alert!)
Juvenile Cormorant. Doug Newman pointed out one time that some Cormorant species have bright blue eyes in this stage. This is the best that I’ve been able to capture that.
And, what exactly is this? Has this wee babe been abandoned by Mom? What is it?
The elegance of the young American Robins, at this time, fills my heart, whenever I see them.
This past week might have been impacted by bad-weather days, but nature continues to amaze me, regardless.
The female Mallard keeps her kids in line.
I will continue to attempt a good capture of the Belted Kingfisher during the coming week.
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.
My son, Pat and I attended the first Thursday event on August 1st. Recently, this exhibit includes the work by the amazing Nick Cave. I’m so happy that we had opportunity to enjoy this work. Very provocative, unique and obviously born of tremendous industry. There is also such depth of meaning and I’ve tried to include some of the background here.
First Thursday was a most wonderful evening. I enjoyed the company of both Pat and James. We wandered the gift shop for a while and I found some lovely books for my grandson, things that I’m certain he will enjoy.
I loved the conversation and the company. Another great night in YYC! I’ve heard many people complain that Calgary is a tough city for making connections or sharing in community. My own experience is one where I simply don’t have enough time to take in all of the events that are absolutely accessible. While the sprawl does create a physical distance between many of my friends and myself, it is always a good idea to meet in the middle.
I still enjoyed my time at the river, but at this time, already began to suspect that something was up with the female Bald Eagle. Dad seemed to have assumed all of the duties and there was even the appearance of a sub Adult, maybe 3 or 4 years of age. I took a close up shot of Dad’s talons to confirm that it was him, although I’ve become accustomed to his handsome face.
The first eaglet fledged five days ago. I made no siting of him yesterday or the day before and no vocalizations, so I was growing worried that he had come to some demise. Last night, it poured rain…it’s just been that sort of summer. If I wasn’t going to get out to Ptarmigan Cirque this morning with my guests from Louisiana (Preston and Angela) due to severe thunder storms, then I was going to get them down to the Bow River to hopefully site Mr. and Mrs.
Initially, we spotted Dad on the horizontal branch on the dead tree across the way. It was pretty obvious it had been a rough night. I took my guests south on the river to see if Mama was on this side in her favourite hang out.
Along the way, I pointed out the American Pelicans and the spot where the juvenile Northern Flickers had been eagerly waiting to fledge.
No Mrs. Hmmm….I thought to myself, “Where can she be?”
I talked to Preston and Angela about skat…pointing out the coyote poop and its contents. By this time, we were soaked to the knees, although the rain had stopped and there was just a sprinkle. The colour and texture of mammal skat is very much impacted by what they have available for food. Just yesterday I found some skat that contained a lot of animal content, likely rabbit fur and the dark colouring was reflective of old blood. To me, this didn’t look so much like the coyote poop I most often observe on my circle.
The skat pictured below contains more berry content and a different texture. This is what I generally think of as coyote skat. I’m pretty certain that yesterday’s sampling (if you do a search, this will be confirmed) was Bobcat skat.
(I’m off topic, right?) It my readers are out in nature a lot, it is important to be able to recognize or identify these clues so that you are somewhat aware of what animals you are sharing space with at the time. This can contribute to your safety in certain situations. But moving on.
By the time we had done our circle and returned to the edge of the river, Mrs. was perched a short distance from Mr. but in an unusual spot for her…balancing on the top of one of the high branches of a tree across from us. We watched both of them for some time and I was feeling very grateful that at the very least Preston was able to see the two adults that I blither on about constantly on social media.
The adults consistently stared downward and so Preston and I talked about what might have happened to the fledgling. Given the silence, I believed that the youngster was at the very least injured, and at the worst, gone. I got a big hug from Preston as we silently acknowledged that the first fledge had come to some sort of end and the adults were doing some grieving. I took the lead as we carried on north along the very edge of the water.
As we came out of the tall grass and made our way onto the bike path, going south, I noticed through the trees that Mom was no longer there. I shouted to the other two that I was going to walk ahead and go down to her roosting tree on our side to see if i could get them a better look. As I came through the clearing and faced the water, my mouth must have fallen open as I saw the juvenile, with much grace and strength, fly directly for me….I shouted out, “He’s coming right into my arms!” And he alighted into a tree branch just above my head.
I was exuberant! (understatement) Quickly, I readied my camera and started snapping. Then, hurriedly, I surmised that he must have followed Mama and I shared that I was heading south on the river to see if I might see her in her favourite tree. Dad remained aloof on the horizontal branch right across from us.
Before launching off, I quickly said to Preston, “I’m still not convinced that this is fledge #1…I will check the nest for Junior #2 once I’ve located Mom.
I rushed ahead and Preston and Angela followed, but when I got to the tree, no Mama. From where I stood, Angela and Preston said, “Look. Is that Mrs?” I did a pivot and there in the tree neighbouring Junior, Mom sat and surveyed all. Back we went.
At this point and after confirming that, indeed, Junior #2 was still disgruntled and sitting on the nest across from us, in my private thoughts, I was thinking how grateful I was that we had such a private showing of these two raptors and that indeed, Junior #1 was safe. I was also thinking how happy I was that we weren’t at Ptarmigan Cirque.
I was snapping photographs of the two when things became even more dramatic and Dad headed for his family. Alighting shoulder to shoulder with the female, she became unbalanced and was knocked off, leaving Dad in her place. She headed north over the water, a tad annoyed. (But that is me personifying the situation…AGAIN.) The following photographs were taken by Preston or Angela.
Preston and Angela, with their phones at the ready, documented this bit of drama as I was just gawking at the goings-on, very much in disbelief. What a wonderful experience.
After watching Dad track a fishing Osprey within his territory for some time, and after sharing our happiness with the experience, we headed home feeling pretty satisfied with our morning in nature.
At home, I whipped up some sausages, eggs and brown beans and toast and we shared in another coffee. I’m so grateful that Junior is doing so well…thriving on the river. I hope that they will make their way back to the island where their environment is less-traveled by human beings. Some days I just feel that creation was made for my pleasure. This was one of those days.
The great thing about having some one with you when you witness such as this, is that you can share in the joy. I’m glad you were with me, Angela and Preston! Oh! And, Max!
The festivities in Cow Town include pancake breakfasts, absolutely everywhere. I’d like to thank the many businesses and the Calgary Stampede Wagon Train for the fabulous and generous contribution of such lovely events across our city. While it is not very often that I find my way down to the grounds, I DO so enjoy the spirit that is demonstrated to even the far reaches of our city at Stampede time. All three of my children participated in very dedicated fashion to the marching band in their young adult years. Now that I am not chasing them around to all of their performances, pancakes is the way I really remain connected to Stampede. Follow me over the coming days, IF YOU CAN!
So far, Auburn Bay Co-Op was a breakfast of champions shared with my friend, Hollee, from Sherwood Park, Alberta. Activities for children included face-painting, balloon sculpture and rope making. The breakfast was so very delicious and for the long winding line up, there were complimentary cheese sticks, bananas and visits with Harvey the Hound. I loved the conversations, the tail wagging of dogs and the enthusiasm of the live band that played after we were seated. A great time was had by all.
Today’s pancake breakfast was hosted by South Calgary Funeral Centre and Crematorium on Macleod Trail. Yes, I know. Initially it seemed a little odd to me, also. But, let’s face it, there IS a lot of stigma around death and dying. I have learned the last ten years just how deeply and sadly, death of loved ones can impact every moment of every day, likely for the rest of your life. However, I’ve also learned that death is a part of life and the folks that work at these funeral ‘homes’ have a tough job and they have, in my experience, chosen to do it well.
(By the way, folks, once and awhile, please speak my brother’s name. Please mention him. Remember him. And please, ask how I’m doing.)
So, off we went for pancakes at the Funeral Home!! What??? Blueberries and Whipped Cream? You’re kidding! Nummers! And, delicious orange juice! John Wayne oldies playing on a the big screen all the while. Grandson, Steven, was in his glory and consumed a full adult portion! After that, a walk around a florist fridge and back alley building equipment!
I highly recommend getting out in your city this week! There is a lot going on and most of it involves food!
Yesterday morning, there was a nip in the air and by the time afternoon arrived beautiful large snowflakes were dropping from a springtime sky. To look at them was somewhat mesmerizing as they drifted so slowly to the wet ground.
9:30 saw my Grandson and me heading north to the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. Gramma was going in search of Wood Ducks…a lifer in her long bird wish list.
The Bird Sanctuary is yet one more jewel in this city that I treasure so much. I want to, over the years, share at least once, each of these places that I’ve grown to love.
With his little bowl of rice chex in tow and his toy car, Uncle, in his drink cup, off we headed, arriving slightly before opening. We let ourselves in through the side gate and having agreed to walk and not use a stroller, we were off. My grandson was looking for Wode Guks and I was looking for Wood Ducks, but of no surprise, the Canada Geese became the main event with their flirting and honking, landings and take offs and other shenanigans. We even experienced the close-up hissing and big tongue of one dude along the way.
Wofe! Wofe! Sceery!
Walk. Train. Sky. Walk.
He carried that piece of wood along for most of the first half of the walk. I was mindful…continually scanning for predatory birds and canines, even skunks, porcupines and such. This was a very busy field trip for Gramma!
Bidge (I love this photograph, by the way)
Wode Guk! (please click on photos to enjoy larger images) Lifers, for me!
Wok. Wok. Goose.
C￼an you believe this kid?
Other birds… Redtail Hawk, Mergansers, Goldeneyes
Mr. and Mrs. Wood Duck
Warming up in the center… In in in!
Another beautiful experience, shared with my remarkable, funny, interested, cheerful, resilient boy!
I woke up this morning, intending to drive to Lethbridge to visit my Aunties, but there’s some snow and a great deal of blow! So, I decided to cook a huge feast of a breakfast for two of my adult children and to hang out, cozy, with them. Afterwards, Max needed to get his exercise, so he and I headed out in the car and steered our boat to the river. We just returned and are warming up. It was a dramatically different scene from just yesterday when the sky was blue and the earth revealed the decay that is always so familiar in the autumn. Indeed, apart from a skiff of snow on Christmas Day, everything was brown this year.
I have enjoyed the holiday because it has given me time to walk the river’s edge in daylight and observe the activities at the Bow. I have been watching the male and female Bald Eagles build up the railings on their nest. My photos are taken a great distance away and so I have no real concerns that posting these will tease out the weirdos who exist in the world to hurt and interfere with nature.
Setting geese and ducks to flight while doing a reconnaissance.
Keeping eye on a fly-fishing dude.
I Saw a Heart in the Tree
Male Bald Eagle, delivering new railing material.
Today was such a contrast to the past couple of weeks! I pulled out my camera from under my coat in order to snap a quick photograph of a young raptor before he became aware of Max and I and took flight. I had a chance to really get a good look and, according to information on line, with so much mottling, this is likely a sub-adult of maybe two or three years of age from the same parents that I’ve been watching for about four years. I got a good look at him when he took flight. Interestingly enough, he returned to a tree just a short distance from the nest, so I have a feeling he was, in all of this cold blustery wind, seeking out the warmth of home. Thing is, if Mom and Dad return at some point this afternoon, they’ll be their usual ‘hard ass’ variety of parents and aggressively send him on his way. That sort of makes me sad. I know he’s just wanting a taste of a nice fish or something. Here are my photos…very out of focus, so I wish you had been there.
With gratitude to photographer and amazing birder, Ron Dudley, I was given permission to publish this screen shot. As I experienced this Intermediate Adult today, this is what I saw when he/she was closer to me.