Bad Pictures – Big Heart

The sky is growing very dark.  It is a bit past noon on Friday.  The long weekend looms ahead of me.  I’ve got lists of arts events on my calendar, ones that I began skipping last night and will probably continue to skip through the weekend.  I have no idea why, apart from the fact that I feel so content…since the broken foot, the forced recovery period, the slower Max walks, the stopping and looking at birds, the filling of the bird feeder, the moving out of clutter.  The process has made me peaceful, but I’m not sleeping.

Today, Frank’s Flats looks like this.

Kath's Canon September 4, 2015 frank's 027Autumn is definitely moving in…my favourite season.  I even delight in the chill of the air, the kind that leaves your nose dripping.

I think the papa osprey is pushing his kids out of the nest. (I just learned recently that the female leaves the nest experience first, so it must be papa who has been teaching the kids to fish). This morning, one of the kids (female) was crying on this side of the highway, from atop a pole…no sibs at the nest as I passed by, on the other side of the highway….no sibs fishing the neighbour hood pond.  I think Dad’s saying, “Adios”.  Now what’s a kid to do?

It’s an unbelievable thing that this family will begin an epic migration and that the monogamous couple will reunite again, barring any tragic events.  This map illustrates known migration routes…so for those of you who grew weary of my amazement by these raptors this past season, know that these lives are miracles…one couple, three juveniles.  I can only wish them well.  It looks like they are heading for South America.

migration-paths Osprey I’ve learned the voice of the osprey amid the huge number of voices in this one landscape. This morning, I heard the sad vocalization by this little lady and grabbed a shot from a huge distance away just to record the moment.  I like that I turn my head at the sound of an osprey.   I like this little place in the world.  I was pleased to hear one of the youngster coyotes articulating this morning, although in the lush green of summer, they’ve managed to be very discreet and invisible.  While I have not been a professional archivist and photographer, I have intimately grown to love my time behind the lens.  If you wish to see some beautiful photos, likely of some of the same birds, look here.  I particularly love the captures of the Night Heron and the Great Blue Heron.

Kath's Canon September 4, 2015 frank's 024For the past two weeks I’ve been given many opportunities and moments to observe the Great Blue Herons and it seems that this would be every where I would go, even a siting while visiting my dear friend out in Chestermere.

I thought that I was in amaze-butts-ville because one lone heron was hanging out at Frank’s Flats, that is until two days ago.  I observed at least five in a marshland area that I could only catch from the highway.  I’d have to do a hike down into that space, probably next year.

The truly remarkable thing is that in a single day, I saw hawks soaring and learning to fly, ducks, mergansers and coots running on water for their experiments in flying (circling the pond at low level as though they were playing) and then seeing them take flight, fourteen pelicans, flashing white black white black in a triangle overhead…and then finally, observing the spectacle of two great blue herons, dodging one another in the wind, flying…weaving…playing…skimming water…reaching up…I’d never seen anything like it.  The camera just sat against my chest.  I love moments when, in today’s archive-focused-world, the camera is put on the shelf because the world ‘is your oyster’.

I’m going to post the crazy bad photo that I DID take…because I wanted to have an image that said, September 3, this happened. “Two great and fragile giants with huge wing spans were given to me to watch and enjoy.”

Kath's Canon September 2 Rumble and Franks September 3, 2015 105

September 3, 2015, I watched two herons in flight for approximately five minutes…dodging one another…staying in flight…a wonder!

It’s not that I know anything about totemic animals apart from the fact that a huge number of cultures listen to, speak to and are impacted by the creatures that share this planet with us…whether they fly or creep or roam or swim…but I do know that all of this and them, are grace…holy…

We have not taken very good care of any of this and these.

Whether in July, you notice and think about the Dragonflies that hover at your feet or in August you are looking at the Great Blue Herons, it all has a significance to your life, your heart and your mind.  Nature has taught me much these past two months and I am filled with gratitude for her lessons.  God is manifest and all is Holy.

A Mostly Full Moon

The past week at Frank’s Flats,  Max and I have encountered winter…the biting cold of it, but also the slushy warmth of winter’s low sun on the horizon.  It’s difficult to hold on to just how beautiful it is and how different from the lazy late evenings of summer.

Long shadows cast over the sea of white, where even blades of dried grass become giants stretched out on blue violet snow.  Each evening, the colours of things are subject to the sorts of clouds that celebrate the last rays of day and then melt into a pool of cerulean, ultramarine and lavender.

I dawdled at the beginning of our hike last night, snapping photographs of animal prints mostly.  Max kept running ahead and then bounding back, trying to distract me from the wonder of the light on the expanse of the pond.

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DSC_1547We set out on our hike too late last night and I had left my coyote-stick back at the car.  Sure enough, Max became agitated and, picking up a scent, began his fast, snout-to-the-ground zzzzz back and forth and back and forth along the fence. Then, FREEZE!  He stood utterly still in his tracks.  I stayed utterly still in my tracks.  And there, nose to nose, but separated from us by the fence, a large male stared intensely at us.  And as if tagged, Max woke from his stillness and barked madly.  As the coyote loped away from the fence…two meters…then five…then ten, I couldn’t help but take note of its beauty.

Grateful that he had a healthy thick coat and bright intent eyes and carried lots of weight for the challenges that lie ahead, I shouted out to Max.  COME!  MAX, COME!  Like a bullet, he flew through the snow banks and followed me as I attempted to walk in a steady and calm manner.  (I’ve let these animals see my fear before, only to be stalked for long distances by several coyotes.)  When Max did his about-face to charge the fence once again, our buddy had already turned himself around to follow us…but with the appearance, once again, of this loud herding monster of mine, the coyote headed into the scrub and disappeared.

DSC_1553My experiences of Frank’s Flats often bring to mind Barbara Kingsolver’s novel, Prodigal Summer, where the reader encounters “three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives inhabiting the forested mountains and struggling small farms of southern Appalachia. At the heart of these intertwined narratives is a den of coyotes that have recently migrated into the region. A reclusive wildlife biologist, watches the forest from her outpost in an isolated mountain cabin.”

Books like this one remind why I love Frank’s Flats so much and wish to be a steward of this small, but engaging ecosystem.

Tonight, the very same location was bathed in a soft blue light and until the sun set, the landscape flattened out.  Truly looking INTO the sky, it has been an every-evening- occurrence to see a hugely animated world of winged figures, flying in close formation, one formation after another and heading in the very same direction…ducks and geese…more and more ducks…making the journey that agitates everything within them. What a truly amazing sight!

Leaving Frank’s Flats, the sky to the west.

DSC_1567The moon on the eastern horizon, as I pulled off of the highway and steered home looked something like this…almost full…pink…and swimming behind blue cloud.

Veiled Moon Photograph by P-M Heden, TWAN

Veiled Moon: Photograph by P-M Heden, TWAN

Once pulled up to my front drive, she was a pure and bright golden ball in the darkening sky.  Tomorrow night sees the December full moon.  I wonder what beauty nature will hold for me as I greet another day.

Mothers, tonight, hold your children.  They are beautiful.  They are your own.  You are blessed.

 

 

 

 

My Feathered Friends

Bird Business!

Mr. and Mrs. moved in some time in April, but little did they know that two huge and blustery spring storms would move in.  I think something happened that one or both sparrows didn’t survive because I didn’t see them again.  Some time in May a new couple occupied the cozy apartment and have been seriously nesting since the melt and the warm sun has been shining.

Mr. and Mrs. May 25, 2014b Mr. and Mrs. May 25 2014And, yes!  I was the one who supported last year’s vent with duct tape as previous tenants were losing offspring early after hatching, given that the bottom two flaps are missing on the vent. You know the song…

I’ve been surprised at the front yard nest a couple of times this year.

Early in May, I had a visit from a single male Rose Breasted Grosbeak.  I was so excited to see the brilliant red chest of this bird and the stark black and white.

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Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

I was also surprised by three pairs of American Goldfinches.  Their songs were beautiful and they hovered in front of the picture window, looking at themselves.  I’ve heard them a few times since, in a neighbour’s flowering tree, but don’t have any idea if they are in transit or if they will settle on this area.

American Goldfinch

P1160935 P1160933 P1160929 P1160927 P1160924 P1160922 P1160921 I anticipate many stories surrounding events at the bird feeders and at Frank’s Flats where I routinely watch the water birds and their interactions.  The three eaglets at Duke’s Farms are also very ready to fledge, although they have had something happen, recently, with one of their cameras and will not be able to remedy the situation until after the babes have gone.

It is an awesome thing to have opportunity to watch birds.

Stanley Kunitz Comes to Mind

There is another fresh blanket of snow on the ground.  I have some regret that I chose not to struggle across the city streets to the last of Lawrence Hill’s sessions offered through One Book/One Calgary, but on the other hand, as I stepped out into the grey-white of today with Max, I was and am also grateful for the cozy secure feeling I have about staying home…and writing.

Above us, v after huge V formation, another and another and yet another of geese surged forward and south to some instinctual winter homeland.  I stopped dead in my tracks, so in awe of the sound of it.

And then I remembered the Stanley Kunitz poem I used to share with my students in September…a particular line about the perturbation of the light…I felt every zinging line of the poem as I looked over head.  Given my blessed proximity to the river, I will never get over the powerful movement to and from the water’s edge at certain times of the day and evening.

Geese

End of Summer By Stanley Kunitz

An agitation of the air,

A perturbation of the light

Admonished me the unloved year

Would turn on its hinge that night.

 

I stood in the disenchanted field

Amid the stubble and the stones,

Amazed, while a small worm lisped to me

The song of my marrow-bones.

 

Blue poured into summer blue,

A hawk broke from his cloudless tower,

The roof of the silo blazed, and I knew

That part of my life was over.

 

Already the iron door of the north

Clangs open: birds, leaves, snows

Order their populations forth,

And a cruel wind blows.

Meeting Karsten Heuer

Teacher’s Convention this year was inspiring.  For one thing, I was privileged to meet Karsten Heuer who exemplifies, for me, someone who truly LIVES a connection with nature, along with his wife, Leanne Allison and his son, Zev.  Through a vast landscape that straddles the northern Yukon and Alaska, Karsten and Leanne joined a migratory herd of 123,000 caribou on a five month journey.  I purchased the film Being Caribou for our school some years ago and shared it with many students over the years.  I sat in the dimly lit theater, viewing powerful images and listening to Karsten’s story of landscape and found myself in tears more than once. Once concluded, I brought my own copy of the book, Being Caribou, forward for Karsten’s signing.

 

I left one of my postcards for him to share with his son, Zev.

Although the time we shared was fleeting, I felt a deep connection for Karsten’s work and for his passion.  It was a very special moment.

Park's Canada Post Card: Initiative for the sake of the Woodland Caribou

Cross-Canada Driving

Buffalo Pound Provincial Park

So, another trip is in the works.   We grew up making this trip on Mom and Dad’s airforce-moves and there is something absolutely magical about revisiting that west->east migration.  The artist Rene Derouin has been captivated by a lifetime migration north^south, from his home along the St. Lawrence River to Mexico City and back again. (I LOVE HIS WORK !) My life journey, the one that comes naturally to me, has been west ->east and west again.  Not many will tell you that they love the Trans Canada highway, but for me, it’s a beautiful place.  Every province offers its particular beauty.

I’ve decided to share the planning of this journey because ultimately the writing and research will get me excited.  And I AM truly excited!  I will be minimalist camping, as per usual and am seeking out new and wonderful places to see along the way.  Two years ago, departing from Raymond, Alberta, I made it to Buffalo Pound Provincial Park, just north of Moose Jaw, for my first night.  It was exquisite and nothing could be better than the grilled chicken and fresh vegetables my daughter prepared for us, while we sipped on cold Coronas!  

So, this summer, the first leg of the journey will be Calgary to Moose Jaw OR beyond.  I had earlier invited your thoughts and suggestions, but of course I’ve just realized that you don’t read this blog, so this is really for me to explore alone.  Alright…a few minutes of searching the web!  Gillian, your thoughts about your husband’s thoughts on blogging were ‘magical’!  I’m still wearing a smile over it! 

Early Morning Water-Watching With Max