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It has been a cool and wet few days in Calgary, even to the point where we received a skiff of snow in September!  I was cautioned that I had no room remaining on my cell phone, so yesterday I downloaded from my album onto my desktop hard drive.  The thing about downloaded photographs is that I was, once again, reminded that life has sped by, filled to the brim, even in the most simple or dark circumstances.  There is so much that I haven’t written about or recorded.

I’ve read several books since spring and would really like to update my reviews, even if they are sparse.  So, that will likely still happen.  But, for today, I feel my thoughts are incredibly influenced by the book I am presently reading, H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald.  It is my new favourite book.  I am profoundly moved by it and I’m hanging on every word.

As a result of this reading, I want to post a few photographs from recent walks at the Bow River.  Yesterday, Max and I headed out in the rain.

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When the earth is wet, there is such a rich and beautiful aroma that surrounds me while passing through the woods and beside the river.  I am at a loss for words to describe this because any description would not do the experience justice.  Also, there is a hush, apart from the drops of rain coming down from the tree canopy…it is a mystical silence…peaceful, even though I know that the entire landscape is vibrating with life in hiding.

Yesterday, stepping about in tall overgrowth, Max and I took pause…listened.  I heard a hollow clomping sound on round river stone, just to our right.  Uncertain, we remained still.  I held my breath and listened.  Max was alert.  I was alert.  A few more steps.  Stop.  A few more. Stop.  When once we began again, with a great explosion, a young deer sprung out and wildly flew deep into the trees.  Max erupted into a fit of barking and it felt like everything around us woke up!

I watched the juvenile Bald Eagle, an Osprey, a Hawk, Cormorants and Pelicans all struggle to find sustenance.  It was so amazing to watch the dynamic and to appreciate the effort involved.  At a point, the Bald Eagle, displaying his remarkable wingspan, swooped down upon an American Pelican.  He is not yet adept at his hunting and is frequently cutting corners by having others do his work for him.  Similarly, he dove into a gathering of Cormorants, investigating the possibility that there might be food among the opportunists.

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The Osprey, tucked secretly in the dark shadows of trees, swooped out aggressively, in order to give chase to the Hawk…crying out desperately as he flew so fast that I couldn’t identify him.  He had shared the east side of the river with me for a while, tearing into the hedges and thick shrubs and sage, likely in pursuit of rabbits and other small animals.  There was never a chance to get a good photograph.

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The Bald Eagle juvenile was looking intently from his low perch,  at these Killdeer…there were scores of them across the river from me.  If you’ve heard a single Killdeer, you may understand why the Bald Eagle is drawn to a location where twenty…maybe thirty…are calling out.

Can you spot two in the photograph below?

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Can you spot the Osprey here?

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I have watched the eagles for a little over a year now…given Michael’s prompting to leave the pond during the rip and tear of the Southwest Ring Road development.  I am so grateful for the life I have been able to observe at this location and for the healing experience this daily walk has begun in me.  As I write this post, I am feeling very blessed for a whole lot of reasons.  I hope that if my readers feel sometimes that life, like a sweater, is unraveling, one source of divine life and love can be found in an intimate relationship with nature.  I know that it’s helped me.  Here are a few other moments with the raptors this year.

 

 

I have been blessed by my walks at the river this weekend…I keep saying to myself, through winter, I don’t want to forget the purple.  I don’t want to forget the gold and red.  I will carry it with me.

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Peanut Meister

This little man takes the back seat to big Maxfield most of the time.  When Max and I head out the door for Frank’s Flats, Peanut takes up residence at the front window, waiting for the two of us to return and is at the door to greet us upon our return.  In the morning, he looks for me to lift my covers and welcome him in next to my warmth…he curls in and purrs and sounds so content. After no more than five minutes passes, he makes his way out to his world. In the evening, he grooms his brother Max…licks his face and his ears and then takes up his spot next to my feet.  He’s been my bud since 1998 and seen the loss of his best friend in life, Laurie-dog.  Peanut is a blessing-cat and I love him.

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The Little Watchmaker’s Shop on John Street

©Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors

©Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors

The following article appeared in the Hamilton Spec in October of 2007 and was written by P. Wilson.  This is one of the locations along John Street that really spoke to me about the passage of time.

Watchmaker’s shop defies time.

For the first time in 120 years, no one named Edwin Pass will be fixing clocks and watches on John Street South.

“I’m tired,” says Edwin J. Pass, 77, who has worked at the shop on John near Jackson since the summer of 1946.

His grandfather, Edwin K. Pass, was first. He arrived from Coventry, England, at 21, having just finished a seven-year watchmaker’s apprenticeship. In 1887, he set up his shop, right where it is today.

There were no cars then. No electricity. Even the wristwatch was not yet born.

The first Pass begat a second, Edwin S. The two worked side by side at a desk of solid cherry by the front window. Two apprentices toiled at the back.

At the end of the Second World War, young Edwin J. Pass joined his father and grandfather in the shop. All wore shirts, ties and vests, no matter how hot the day.

Grandfather died in 1955, and father 20 years later. Edwin J. has been on his own these past several decades.

The mechanical way of watches, with mosquito-sized axles and tiny balance wheels, changed when the Swiss introduced quartz precision. Now you can buy a $20 electronic watch — with no moving parts.

But Edwin J. became the man to whom Hamilton turned to fix the old mechanical marvels.

On this morning, Joe Mancinelli’s pieces are going home. The well-known union leader has a serious clock addiction. He has old clocks in the hall, in the kitchen, in the bathroom. He’s just had two 1830s English grandfather clocks overhauled at the Pass shop and will now have to find another master craftsman.

“I might have been able to coax out another few years,” Edwin says, “but I would start to shake. The quality would be gone.

“This is physically demanding work. You need a grip of steel. You need wonderful eyesight. You need very good hearing to listen to how the clock’s behaving. You need a keen sense of smell to know what kind of chemical somebody used to gum up the works. You need all your faculties.”

Edwin and wife Barbara have a daughter. She is not Edwina, but Anne, and has a good career in construction management.

So Edwin J. would be the last. He decided it should happen this year.

Back in the 1970s, urban renewal ruled. In the core, they were knocking down old theatres and stores and putting in Jackson Square.

Someone in the city hall ranks paid Edwin a visit back then and said, “You know, it’s old stores like yours that are holding this city back.”

But Edwin would not rip out the past. Not the pressed-copper ceiling. Not the front display window, with showcase mirror on lead-weighted pulleys. Not the big wood-and-glass doors. Not the fancy tiled floor.

And he left that one-ton, bank-quality, century-old Taylor safe right by the front door. It was customized at the factory by in-house artists who painted on special-request landscapes and the Pass name.

So prospective purchasers saw all this when agents brought them through. “A lot of the people were just investors,” Edwin says. “The history didn’t matter.”

Then along came Robin McKee. He is 55, has been an audio man with CHCH for some 30 years and operates a company called Historical Perceptions, which does cemetery tours, research, writing, photography.

He is not a rich man, but decided that he must make this time capsule his. He remortgaged his house near Gage Park and has bought the Pass premises for $145,000.

He plans to change nothing. He’ll sell Hamilton history exotica and, beside the old safe, he’s creating a little Pass shrine. He’s applying right away to designate the building, which makes it harder for anyone to ever tear it down.

“This is not a noble thing,” McKee says. “I’m just putting my money where my mouth is and riding the wave of downtown rejuvenation.”

The deal closes Wednesday morning. The clockmaker will head for home at noon, a quiet end to the Edwin era.

StreetBeat appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

pwilson@thespec.com 905-526-3391

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©Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors

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© Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors

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© Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors

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© Photo Credit: Kathleen Moors