Gramma Searches for Wood Ducks!

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!

Sculture!

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.

Bidge

Dutt


Goose

Bidge (I love this photograph, by the way)

Wode Guk! (please click on photos to enjoy larger images) Lifers, for me!

Wok. Wok. Goose.

Can 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!

Firsts

This morning, I enjoyed a first…first walk along the river shared with Max, my grandson and my daughter.  It was a beautiful experience for me, so have to quickly archive.

The day began with a coffee on the red couch. Max stared longingly outside…but I wasn’t up for a rush, given that I’m struggling with a really bad cold right now and feel quite the ache all over.

Maxman April 26, 2018

I took a look at the male House Sparrow who also seemed despairing, perched for two full days on my back fence, looking at the vent where he once made a home.

And yes!  That sign does read Be Aware of The Dog, as opposed to Beware of Dog…a gift from my dear friend, Pat.  It makes perfect sense if you one day meet Max.

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At the base of the vent, all of the wee items of bric-a-brac collected over the years have been emptied out.

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No sign of Northern Flicker this morning.

All this aside, once out of my pajamas and into my sloppy clothes, I did a little bit of texting with my buddy, Wendy and headed to the river.

Near the Magpie Tree and saying ‘hi’ to Max.

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Mother Bald Eagle across the river from us…we should have hatching this week.

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Stopping at the Chickadee Wood.

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Stopping quite a bit to watch the fast moving water…the river is different from lake water or the swimming pool water…it makes noise.  Steven was enthralled.

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And the male Bald Eagle gave us a real surprise!  He rarely perches on this side of the river and I noticed him just as we were stepping toward this tree.  I quickly grabbed a couple of photographs, but directed Erin to follow me, away from the location…so as not to crowd him.  Sadly, before I could set up to take a well-focused photograph, he lifted off right in front of us and flew across the river.

I told Erin that it was a real blessing for Steven that this gentleman was waiting for us…a very unusual and amazing experience.

When an eagle appears, you are on notice to be courageous and stretch your limits. Do not accept the status quo, but rather reach higher and become more than you believe you are capable of. Look at things from a new, higher perspective. Be patient with the present; know that the future holds possibilities that you may not yet be able to see. You are about to take flight.

History

The indigenous peoples saw the Eagle as a symbol for great strength, leadership and vision. As if to seemingly mirror this, the eagle has been used as a ‘banner’ by many of the great empires throughout history, from Babylon to Egypt, through to Rome and even the United States. In early Christianity the eagle was seen as a symbol of hope and strength, representing salvation. The eagle appears twice in the book of Revelation; both times in a context that suggests it is on the side of God. In Islam, the eagle represents warlike ferocity, nobility and dominion.

In ancient Aztec tradition, the chief god told people to settle at a place where they find an eagle perched on a cactus eating a snake. This place is now Mexico City. Zeus changed into the form of the sacred eagle to help himself control thunder and lightning. The eagle was a strong emblem in the Roman Empire. The Hittites drew upon a double-headed eagle so that they would never be surprised. The Pueblo Indians associated the eagle with the energies of the sun – physical and spiritual – as well as symbols of greater sight and perception.

It may not be coincidence that such different cultures across thousands of years have adopted the same symbol.

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It was a magical morning, being with these two!

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Home building and insect eating.

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After our walk and as we returned to the parking lot, I looked up from the edge of the river, and saw Mr. perched nearer the nest and directly across from me.  I stooped and found a river stone to give to my grandson…a moment of today’s first.   In the water, the stone was golden smooth.  I love this little boy with my whole heart and my heart sings that I had  this opportunity.

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Cutting Myself Some Slack

I have to admit, I’m not at the top of my game lately.  A person can be confronted by and, possibly, absorb a lot of gut-wrenching stuff via the media, daily. (the state of Syria, regional economics, pipelines, the American debates and election, unemployment and the economy, involvement of Russia in global agitation, the status of North Korea regarding armaments, the state of our environment and the care for dwindling species…these are just a few concerning factors that spewed out the tips of my fingers at the keyboard…free flow)  If that ‘removed’ material isn’t enough, then there are also the daily stressors that one must face, sometimes alone, and these can really nail a person down, both in body and spirit.  The important thing is to do something about it by changing patterns and practices.

This past weekend was one of those weekends for me.  Not really ‘into’ any interactions with my wider circle, I focused on ‘being’ with smaller groups, staying closer to home and eating good food.  Quality time with my daughter and my ‘real life’ friends was very healing.  I am grateful for that sense that the rest of the world can motor on at warp speed while I take a little vacation from the nonsense that becomes my whirling life.  What we’re trying to prove, I don’t exactly know.  What I’ve been doing, I do.

The weekend began with a gathering of my hiking YaYas and our ritual gathering photo op with prop.  Thanks to Cathy for hosting.  What a relief it is to talk and talk and talk and laugh.  And wow…those hugs at the end of an evening!

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Walking the circle of the pond at Frank’s Flats…always calms me and makes me live more deliberately or consciously.  Walking, itself, causes the lungs to fill up and with ‘real’ air.  The light filters in and replaces worry or dischord.

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Contemplating my closest companion…our friendship…activity.  There are many funny moments created by my Max-Man.  This weekend, I was grateful for my fur-boys, both dogs, Laurie-Dog and Max-Man and cats, Piper, Edgar and Peanut.

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On our Saturday afternoon walk, a flock of fourteen Trumpeter swans flew overhead. There is nothing like their sound pulling out of a blue sky.  I didn’t care about zooming or panning, obviously, but I can not look at this patch of blue, without remembering what that was like.  I always consider these events to be Holy events and I have been graced with the blessing of many such moments.img_2378

On Sunday morning, I went to early Mass.  For me, the peace that comes with this celebration can’t be replaced with anything else.  I was also very grateful to be embraced by the MacDonalds in the parking lot, afterwards. Such good people.

Off to the grocery store, I filled my basket with cheeses, beautiful squash, vegetables and fruit and some Kaslo sourdough pasta.  I had selected a lovely Cannelloni recipe to prepare for dinner.

Sunday offers the opportunity for people to recline and have a little snooze, or as my Dad calls them, a Sizz under the Fuzzy.  I had one of those and then…

I drove to Hull’s Wood…a part of my life, here, in Calgary’s fringe.  Jess has begun her teaching of this semester’s Pow Wow dancing.  I highly recommend this practice to all of my readers.  We began with the peacefulness of a smudge ceremony and the blessing of sweetgrass and sage.  Then…cardio…then practice.  This week, some basics in handling a single hoop.

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I had missed a few openings on the weekend.  I especially wanted to see the exhibit, For You and Me hosted by the Paul Kuhn Gallery, curated by artist, Ashleigh Bartlett.  As well, I had wished to offer my support of Mark Vasquez-Mackay and Rich Theroux for their opening, Mindfulness at the Rumble House.

I decided, on the way home from Pow Wow dancing that I would stop off at the Queensland Community Center and spend some time with Mark’s mural on the building.  On a perfect autumn day, it was a wonderful option for viewing art and giving one of my peeps, some support.

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At home, Cayley and I made Cannelloni together.  It was fun to share the kitchen and I’d like to do that more often.  The process of cooking can be a very relaxing thing.  When I went to my room in search of my bedroom slippers, I noticed that my daughter had also folded my clothes from the dryer.  Kindness from others is likely  the best medicine out there, for anything that might ail you as an individual…it is also the best medicine for the world.

I would like my readers to share what it is that they do to relax, to find their center…to be at peace.  We don’t have to control everything all of the time.  But, how do we let go of that need to control everything?

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury: Chapter 21

OH!  To have had an audio tape!  I used to make my own tapes.  I read aloud late at night, staying slightly ahead of the students.  Dandelion Wine is my favourite book.  Take a listen, if you have 9 hours to spend, just sitting still, or while you’re working in your studio, just listen.  You will learn to take pause, if you let this book’s lessons sink through the tough shell that has become your busy life and settle on your heart.

This post is about Chapter 21 and Douglas’s loss of his dear friend, John Huff.  I guess if you are the daughter of a military man, this might even mean more.

Taking your time and noticing is what this post is all about.  As one pours on the years, one realizes that in order to slow things down, one needs to start noticing.

I was hot and sweaty and cleaning out the paint buckets that I had used with grade ones, painting that day, when I heard my cell phone ding.

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My friend, Michael, had sent a text that he’d like to drop by.  I thought immediately that we might go to the pond, with Max, and enjoy what was left of the beautiful day.  I rushed, swirling the pink water out of brushes and buckets, returned my tools to the storage closet and was out and on my way.

Mike was sitting on the steps when I arrived and Max’s nose was lifted, sniffing against the window.

A quick change into play clothes and we were off to the pond!  Michael patiently observed the life and light of the water, the clouds and the life surrounding this special place.  It was so nice to have a witness to Frank’s Flats and the place that I know so well.

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Michael is always taking amazing photographs, but rarely appears in any of them.  I like that he looks out at the world!  No selfies for this guy!  So, on this outing, I would be witness to his life!

We enjoyed the explorations of baby coots. I took my photo of the bush. And then we were on our way for the next adventure.  Some time ago, I had seen one remarkable photograph on Michael’s social media archive.  He told me that it was taken at McKinnon’s Flats.  I asked if ever he went back, would I be able to join him?  This was the day.  Here’s the photograph that inspired the request!

Michael Collette Mackinnon's flats

Photo Credit: Michael Colette

I didn’t stay left on 22X and so we ended up going north on Stoney Trail.  That was okay!  Meant to be!  We began our slow enjoyable zig zag across the rural landscape, making our way, with ease, back south to McKinnon’s Flats.  I saw a bird I had never seen!  And the light and wonder of it all was very enjoyable.

The sandpiper…

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Michael’s photograph….from this location…truly captured the magic!

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Photo Credit: Michael Collette

The panorama view that opened up as we began our descent into the valley, at river’s edge, was spectacular.  Next time, I will document that.  It took my breath away.

Once at the river’s edge, Michael pulled out our picnic food.  A refreshing potato salad filled with the flavours of fresh veg and lovely dressing…and an icy cold hibiscus drink, so refreshing!  Max observed, but was hungry to be free of his leash and to explore the water’s edge.  It wasn’t long until I did just that.

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The stretch of walk we took, saw zillions of little moths lighting up the already-electric air.  We chatted about photography and light and the sky the entire way.  Out of nowhere about 75 striking white pelicans, hung on the air just above our heads.  I grabbed my camera and snapped this wee instant as a documentation of the memory, that in no way, captures the intensity of the moment.  We decided, standing still above the river, that this moment was meant just for the two of us…two good friends enjoying evening light.

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In order to really gather up my life, I need to do this.  Slow down.  Watch light.  Treasure friendship, my children, my family.  Listen to music.  Make art. Write.

I am grateful for the inspired invitation to go for a Sunday drive on Friday.  Everything that I had planned for the evening, went out the window.  And it was exactly as it should be.  My life is a blessed life.

Slow down

 

The Train Visits the Pond 10:00 – 11:30

Walking the very same path each day, in order to document the atmosphere surrounding a single Dogwood bush at a pond’s edge, for a year, gives me the opportunity to observe what happens in nature; and on the flip side, it causes me to notice what’s happening outside of the changes in the natural world.

Bush February 16, 2016 1056 beauty, warmth, time

If I do a morning visit, say between 10 and 11:30,  I get to wave to the train.  Max barks and runs excitedly.  I stand still as it passes because the markings on the bellies of each car, inevitably cause me to wonder.  I know that graffiti can really annoy people, especially if it appears on historical sites.  That annoys me also.  But, given mobility, I think it’s interesting to think about the personalities that lie on the other end of the marks.  I wonder about the place, time and character behind each tag.  I wonder about the journey that the text has taken.  In fact, I wonder so much that I will likely research some of them.  Life is learning, right?  I’ve got a lifetime of wondering ahead of me.

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Today, I decided to just snap away as the train went by…loud roar on the tracks…bells serving as warnings for the city pedestrians, down the line a short distance.  I have some favourites in this series.  Finding a neat song to play at the same time…just a sec.

 

 

Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area…Getting a Taste

Last evening, before my pond walk with Max, I headed west and south to the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area.  We will be taking our grade threes on a field trip to the location and in order to be fully prepared, a session is required for all instructors.  I attended with friends and colleagues, Jenn and Emily.  Lots of laughs and beautiful sunshine were shared.  Having a brand new camera meant that my head was sometimes out of range once we were outdoors.  But certainly I learned a lot about the conservation area from Maureen, the presenting educator, while we were inside.  (I have to say that the three yellow finches at the feeder located right outside the classroom were a little bit of a distraction.) From their website, this.

“Sandy Cross is the son of A.E. Cross (one of the Calgary Stampede’s “Big Four”) and Helen Rothney Macleod.  Sandy started purchasing land south of Calgary in 1945 for what would become Rothney Farm and eventually the Cross Conservation Area. In 1987, Sandy and his wife Ann donated nearly 2,000 acres of their land to the Province of Alberta. At the time, it was the largest private land donation in Canadian history and was operated by the Nature Conservancy of Canada.”

The land is spectacular and the approach that is taken in regards the sustaining the ecosystems is, by my standard, fabulous.  What a beautiful start to Thursday evening!

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From the Conservation Area, I swung home and picked up Max.  The sun was beginning to set and the birds seemed to be very active at Frank’s Flats.  I played a little with my camera and while they certainly aren’t perfectly focused, I will never forget my encounter with the male Black-crowned Night Heron and his mate.  Beautiful call…huge wing span…and a circle on the blue sky before alighting onto the brush below.  I also had a visit with the osprey…trying to capture the front of the male, but shooting into sunshine.

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This far away.  Mrs. Kept low in the nest at the neighbouring platform....but, as I drove passed on 22X coming home, I saw her tending her eggs and sorting things out.

This far away. Mrs. kept low in the nest at the neighbouring platform….but, as I drove past on 22X, I saw her tending her eggs and sorting things out.

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Mrs. eye-balling me.

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Max-man, my forever-friend…smelling like a post-winter pond….but, very very happy.

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Birds Carrying Sticks

It was so cold and windy this morning, that I didn’t capture photos so much as I observed and sat with and enjoyed nature and her glory.

Spotted carrying sticks…osprey, heron, crow and hawk.

Birds are nesting and it is wondrous.  Nothing gives me more peace then seeing their instinctual determination.  I’m going to post a couple of my phone photos (YUCK!  I take them just to maintain an archive) and a few that I snapple from the web.  I saw a new couple today.

My photo of a Canvasback couple…lol.

Cell May 1, 2015 Birds Osprey Franks 009Here’s the real deal…Photo Credit: Craig Turner through the Chesapeake Conservancy.

CanvasbackI watched the osprey nesting for a good hour early this morning.  I remained in the car as it seems this is a very important time in the nesting schedule.  Max sat quietly the whole time.  The male kept leaving and coming back with more small twigs and tucking them in around the female.  It was so beautiful.  This was the period of time when I saw the heron gathering, as well as the hawk and crow.  It was so beautiful.

My sad little photo archive.

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As I rolled away very slowly, five vehicles pulled up some distance away…the tripods and cameras came out and Calgary’s finest, the bird watchers and photographers were lined up and at it.  They seemed to be focusing on the huge gaggle of gulls that had arrived, as well as the variety of water ducks and geese.  I will watch the Birds Calgary blog site closely over the next while and hope to see some wonderful photographs.

The Enmax Osprey cam is on the nest located near the zoo…you can view activity here.

In the meantime, my grade threes continue to watch, daily, the activities at Duke Farm’s Live Eagle cam, recently noticing that the dark feathers are coming into replace the white baby fuzz on our two eaglets.  The student drawings are scientific observations and so darned sweet!

Cell April 26 and 27 Osprey Elm Tree 010Today, the pond and Frank’s Flats were overwhelmed with bird sounds and activities.  Max was on leash for much of the time because things are ‘happening’ and I don’t want him to create havoc.  The red winged blackbirds are busy courting; the crows are hanging closely around the nests and feeding areas of other like-minded hunters.  I saw one crow incessantly pick away at the osprey, perched on a telephone pole, tearing apart a ground squirrel.  What an amazing world we live in!

Diamond T Loop Kananaskis

I went on a nice walk with a couple of friends out in Kananaskis Country.  There was no shortage of beautiful texture and colour in the aspen and fir forest.  A couple of nights of heavy rain and the trail has been left wet and muddy.  I enjoyed getting out into that mountain air, exerting myself enough to get a sweat-on.  There is nothing comparable!  So, a great day!  I made an effort to collect some photographs of mushrooms and surrounding vegetation.

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Watching the Air Change: End of October

I love the smell of the air, although it is now so cold on the cheeks!  The birds and all that surrounds the gardens are softer and the green disappears.

Sparrows

 

The angel continues to stand vigil…the garden becomes a variety of textures and remains beautiful.

Angel

 Northern Flicker and Sparrows dare not solicit.

Northern Flicker

 River-walking.

Reflection

 

My mind goes somewhere else as I edge the river.

Textures...no sound, but a single chickadee.

 

This guy flew off with his prey shortly after I tried snapping a photo of him.  Off he went, mouse in his claws!

This guy flew off with his prey as I watched.

 

 Ahhhhhh….

Bow River

 The homes on our circle have been transforming gradually.  The crime scene tape is everywhere and there are more bones than bodies!

Bones everywhere!

 

More of Autumn: An Afternoon Given to Walking and Light and Wonder

Looking West From the Top of Campbell Hill

Amazing Texture and Movement

More On Looking Up

 And finally….a self portrait. 

Forever Wishing for a 'Real' Photographer's Autumn Interpretation of My Pooch & Me