Into the woods

Last week my daughter and I went on a hike on a nature trail here in town. I love the woods. I hope you do too. Here are a few photos from our little adventure.

Does anyone else see a face here? Admittedly I have a vivid imagination.
Mushroom growing out of a tree trunk – fantastic!
A promise of wild strawberries – they grow abundantly on the edges of the trail
The Birchwood trail goes on for many miles through the city
Another mushroom! A very oddly shaped mushroom!
At some points the trail is a narrow footpath
Almost looks like something out of a sci-fi movie but this is no special effects job – nature does it well with no help at all
One minute it was sunny but off and on the clouds moved in
A fairy hoop – the woods are magical
More mushrooms!
I kept seeing them everywhere – maybe I was hungry….
While there are many level areas the Cougar Trail can be quite arduous as well – lots of hills!
Another “monster”
Evidence of insects – it was too low to the ground to be wood peckers
What do you see?

I hope you enjoyed the hike. Come back soon and we will go again. Thanks for visiting.

But where’s the Water?

When Dad moved our family from Newfoundland to Ontario when I was a child it was a bit of a shock. We moved from a very rural area to a small town in Ontario and the question we children kept asking was, “But where is the water?” All these years later I have moved back to Newfoundland (twice) before eventually moving to Alberta where I now live. Alberta is a beautiful province, actually, Canada is a beautiful country, no matter where you live. But there is something about spring and summer that has me yearning for ocean breezes and the scent of brine in the air. Forgive my nostalgia for simpler times and the sweetness of childhood memories. Allow me to share with you a few of the things I miss about the island.

First of all, the view of the ocean from atop the hill where our house was situated, as well as the woods where I often played as a child. As spring turns to summer I still miss the water.

Port au Port West, NL, Canada – photo by Barra Studio

Can you see why we asked, where is the water? No matter where we went there was always a view of the bay, and depending where you were, you could watch big waves crashing along Bay St. George or enjoy the calmer waters of Port au Port Bay. In any case we were surrounded by water – no wonder we looked for it and were happier once our parents found a few lakes to take us to.

Mr. Walter Martin’s house, down the hill and across the road from where I lived as a child

Mr. Martin, as we called him, was actually related to us. He was our great grandfather’s step brother. I don’t know why we addressed him as Mister, but we did. I loved going down the hill to visit him. He was a dear, sweet man. He had built a stairway down to the rocky beach. If we were going down to the beach it was the safest way to get there as the cliff was quite steep below his home. Once on the beach there were large overhanging sheets of slate that formed a natural shelter from the elements. This house is long gone now, so I am very glad to have this photograph of it.

Mayflowers are a springtime delight, my thanks to Kathy Marche for kindly sending me this photo

Picking flowers in the woods, especially Mayflowers in spring, is another favorite memory. I have never seen them in any other place I’ve lived. Sometimes they were hard to find, particularly early in the season as they tend to hide under their foliage. As the season progresses they are a bit easier to see. I remember the delightful scent of these flowers and how often we would gather them for our Mom.

As the season progresses the pink hue fades to white
Wild roses are prolific along roadsides and on the edges of forest paths all across the island of Newfoundland. Although most are pink from time to time you may see white as well.

The rose pictured above also grows wild here in Alberta and out here it is aptly named the Alberta Rose. Every time I walk in the woods I am reminded again of my childhood home by these sweet-smelling flowers. Their scent is so much stronger than their domestic cousins.

I am happy here in Alberta. The people here are wonderful and it is a beautiful province. One of the things that also remind me of “back home” is the ring of hills surrounding the city. Newfoundland is very hilly, so in addition to the roses, I feel like a little bit of Newfoundland has been transplanted here. And although I do miss the ocean I am gratified to have several water sources nearby from the small pond behind the building to rivers and lakes within a short drive from here. It may not be quite the same as Newfoundland but it is home – even if there is no brine in the air!

Serenity Sunday: Back to the mountains

These photos were some I took driving out of Canmore, Alberta in May of 2016. It was a beautiful day. I feel so blessed to have been able to stand and gaze at these impressive peaks in the foothills of the Rockies.

Clouds kiss the mountain tops
A little bit of snow hangs on
in higher altitudes snow stays late into spring
which makes Banff a favorite of skiers
Three humps…. a different angle
It is so awe-inspiring as we drive out of the mountains. I took this one looking back from where we’d been and where we cannot wait to go again….
Close up …
Awesome views!
Glaciers carved furrows into the land
Further down the highway and ponds are plentiful
Even from a distance the foothills are beautiful
Farewell to the mountains, until I can come again….

Wildlife surprises

Over the past month we were traveling to Lac La Biche so my husband could have his dialysis treatments after a massive flood in the city caused water issues at our local hospital. It’s a three and a half hour drive to get to Lac La Biche through countryside, most of it wooded. It’s a beautiful drive, though I am glad we no longer have to make it three times a week! I always take my camera because you never know what you might see. Most of the wildlife I have been fortunate to see disappear quickly into the brush. But on a couple of drives I was lucky enough to capture a few shots of deer and a coyote. I was pretty excited and the quality is not top notch. Nevertheless here they are:

These deer were in a farmer’s field near Lac La Biche and it was such a joy to stop and watch them for a while
A doe, a deer, a female deer
There was a group of maybe a dozen deer, but this one was less alarmed by my presence as others
Such beautiful animals
Wile E. Coyote
This guy wandered out of the woods and loped along seemingly undisturbed by my presence
Lots of swampland and small ponds where beavers have been at work
Duck and geese have returned to hatch their eggs before returning south again
Although I waited patiently there was no sign of the beavers who built the dams

I have been hoping to capture an image of a black bear but have yet to see one this year. When I do I hope it will be while I am in the car and not while I am walking the nature trails that crisscross the city. In the past I have also seen red fox, but again not yet this year.

Spring blessings of birds

I took a little walk this morning and captured a few photos around a pond not far from home. I was a little disappointed that were not more variety of ducks and birds but I did enjoy what I did see and hear. I especially love listening to the song of red-winged black birds, although I love them all. Thought I’d share these for your pleasure (at least I hope it is a pleasure for you all).

This little sparrow was very active flitting among the reeds around the pond
So quick and so busy on this windy but warm spring day
I love the sheen of colors and he had lots to sing about too
Grackles were plentiful around the ponds
Red-winged black birds seemed to be in competition with the grackles
Their wings are so vibrant!
Mr. blackbird added his harmonies to the cacophony of song
While a pair of ducks took in the symphony and grabbed a bite to eat now and then

Serenity Sunday: Fort McMurray, AB a.k.a. Fort Mac a.k.a. HOME!

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the horrific wildfires that swept this city I call home. It is also a week since the horrific floods caused another evacuation of approximately thirteen thousand people from their homes. I live in an area of the city that was, by and large, not affected by the floods, except for things like a boil water advisory and the inconvenience of having to leave home in order for my hubby to receive dialysis treatments. So, today, I have chosen to feature the beauty of this city.

Fort McMurray is criss-crossed by five rivers where water fowl and shore birds build their habitat. Sand pipers are common along the Snye, an area downtown where float planes land and the people launch boats for a trip down the river.
Ducks are frequent migratory visitors, returning home every spring
A Common golden-eyed with her brood, taken June 2016 just after we were allowed to return to the city we call home
Murals and artwork are common in the parks
Downtown on the Snye
Water pumps enabled fire fighters to save the downtown core during the wildfires. Unfortunately these same waters that once saved homes ultimately destroyed many when rivers overflowed banks just a week ago. Thankfully the waters have receded and damages are being slowly assessed.
There are many park benches for people to rest and enjoy the beauty of nature
taken in the subdivision known as Wood Buffalo Village after the wildfires in June 2016
Leading back downtown, thankfully the bridges that cross over the rivers were not damaged in the flooding – thanks to brilliant engineers!
Another river scene near downtown – this is actually not far from where I work
It’s hard to believe looking at this photo, but large chucks of ice on the rising river came up just a foot or so below the bridge
The Snye is a busy place, as you can see, it is a well-loved feature of this city
Saprae Creek was one of the areas hit hard by the wildfires. taken June 2016
A view of the Clearwater River taken from Draper, an area hard hit by flooding
Besides rivers there are several walking trails through Fort McMurray, this one is in the area called Thickwood and is part of the Birch wood trails system
A bridge across a creek on the Birch Wood Trail
Nature is a wonderful healer
Despite road blocks, the city continues to face the challenges it faces, whether fire or flood; pandemic or economic travails
Sometimes the journey is all uphill, but it will make us stronger, and hopefully even more resilient
In Wood Buffalo Village nature bumps up against the city and seems to thrive
The Fort McMurray Golf Course lays nestled in the hills along the Athabasca River

Fort McMurray is facing many challenges as I write this: a downturn in the economy. a pandemic, and the clean up of all the devastation caused by the recent flooding in many sections of the city. I have no idea what lays ahead for us as a city, as a province, as a country, but I know the tenacity of fellow citizens and the strength portrayed through the wildfires will be much needed as we move forward and keep on keeping on.

More trials and tribulations for Fort Mac

Every year in Fort McMurray the ice breaks on the rivers that criss-cross the city. Most years it’s not a problem. Unfortunately this year it’s a problem – a big problem. The Mayor has asked the federal government to send in the military to help. Scenes of flooded streets and news of mandatory evacuations have filled my social media feeds. We live in an area of town that is not affected by this newest dilemma. Unfortunately my daughter as well as my brother and his family live downtown where the flooding is bad. Certain low-lying areas have already been evacuated. My family members have bags packed in preparation, just to be on the safe side. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but there is a distinct possibility. Pictures my daughter sent me show water encroaching on her street. It’s a worry. We cannot get to her as the highway that leads downtown has been temporarily closed to traffic.

I had been wondering about this. As spring gets underway so too does the annual natural disaster season. Tornadoes in the south, and flooding everywhere on the continent are not unusual fare at this time of year. As if the pandemic wasn’t enough of a challenge in and of itself! Below is a video of the flooding, it really is amazing what water can do.

There are five rivers that flow through the city. They are the Athabasca, Clearwater, Horse, Christina, and Hangingstone Rivers. There is also a waterway called The Syne which is used for float plane take offs and landings amongst other things.

The city has been facing the challenges of the pandemic as well as being hit hard by the downturn in the oil industry, which has hit the town hard economically. And now this. So, I ask for prayers and positive thoughts for this city I call home.

Serenity Sunday: Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Revisiting Banff National Park, if only through my photographs and memories. These were taken in May 2016 when we were evacuated from Fort McMurray due to the wildfires. There was a lot of stress at the time as we didn’t know if the house we lived in was still standing or when we might be able to go home. Banff was a much needed break. I remember how beautiful the mountains were and how comforted I was just taking in the views. It truly was balm for my soul.

We stayed in the small town of Canmore, which is actually inside of Banff National Park
This is a view from our hotel window
It was a very cool and overcast day, not the best weather for taking photos
The mountain peaks were still snow-capped and there was a fair amount of fog
a small stream flowing down the mountain side
The buildings in the town proper are quite beautiful

taken from downtown Banff, which is, of course, encircled by mountains
I was wishing the sun would come out, but even on a cold, foggy day the Rockies are amazing
Rivers run through the park rushing over the land in rapids and cascades
taken from the opposite direction – so beautiful there
taken from the car as we drove into the park
You may be able to make out the hawk flying out of the fog. I took this from the car so it’s not great quality but I was trying to capture the hawk…..
I would have liked to hike up into the mountains, sadly I was unable to take the opportunity at that time
Craggy peaks, covered in snow

I am not a professional photographer, but I hope you enjoyed this little trip in the Rockies with me. If you ever get the chance to visit Banff you will not be disappointed. My photos hardly do justice to this national treasure. I am so grateful I was able to see the mountains and hope to return one day soon.

Snow days and Sunshine

It has been a fantastic week weather-wise. The temperatures have been more in line with early spring and the sun has been shining more often than not. Such a wonderful reprieve in the dead of winter.

Blue skies on a bright sunny day
Pretty in Pink
Sunsets were glorious, this one taken on February 1st made it hard to believe it’s winter in the frozen north
Pristine poetry – the trees were decorated nicely by Mother Nature

Hope you’ve enjoyed the view from my back yard, so to speak. Until next time, cheers!

When the sun rising grabs you

Isn’t it funny how something so simple can lift you so high? I woke up with worrisome thoughts in my head. It took a while to shake it off. Then I went outside and was treated to the miracle of sunrise. I have seen so many beautiful sunrises and sunsets, but sometimes they really get me. It’s like this morning’s arrival of the sun grabbed me by the lapels and shouted, “Hey, it’s a new day – appreciate me!” And I do. Here is a shot of the sun cresting the horizon and turning the skies to pinks and crimson. Wherever you are and whatever you’re at I wish you blessings.

It’s a brand new day – enjoy it! The sun rising over Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada