Winter Magic in Kananaskis Country

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“The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?”

~ J. B. Priestley

December Snow

Hooray! Finally! Finally, the snow has come! It’s been a long wait this year. I love white Decembers, especially with the glow of all the holiday lights. My partner and I have been waiting for the snow to arrive, just so we could head out to the mountains and tromp around in it. There’s nothing we love more than a snowy day in the mountains of Kananaskis Country, Alberta.

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Autumn Bliss in the Mountains

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Each moment of the year has its own beauty,
a picture which was never before and shall never be seen again.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Crisp Autumn Day

A few days ago, my partner and I enjoyed a fabulous mid-week hike in the mountains. It was one of those walks that stays with you for a long time. I’m still thinking about it today.

The morning dawned still and crisp and clear—it couldn’t have been a lovelier day for an autumn walk. We set out for Wedge Pond, in Kananaskis Country, about an hour’s drive west from home here in Calgary. The drive there is gorgeous, a treat in itself: the land covered in honeyed morning light, mist rising from the ponds, golden fields dotted with hay bales, and, in the distance, beyond the rolling foothills, the beautiful Rocky Mountains rising to meet a clear blue sky.

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Oh, Glorious Autumn!

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“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.”

~ Jim Bishop

The Autumn Colour Palette

Autumns are short here in Calgary and in the nearby Rocky Mountains. If you want to enjoy it, you have to get out there and savour every day you can—lest a particularly hard frost, unexpected snow dump or a big wind takes it all away overnight. It’s happened before: autumn can quickly disappear here by mid-September. But this year, we’ve been extra fortunate. We’ve had a bonus month of autumn—October has been a gloriously beautiful month, with most days being warm and sunny, and graced with incredible azure blue skies. The weather has been so lovely that my potted geraniums are still blooming! It’s highly unusual to have them last this late into the season. We took full advantage of the spectacular weather this whole season and got out for long walks with our cameras in the mountains and in our city parks as often as we could. Here are some of the sights we enjoyed on our autumn walks this year.

Above: Wedge Pond, Kananaskis Country, Alberta.

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The Bushy-tailed Woodrat

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“You only need sit still long enough in some attractive spot in the woods
that all its inhabitants may exhibit themselves to you by turns.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

A Delightful Encounter on Mount Indefatigable

Some years ago, as my partner and I rested on the rocks at the top of the outlier peak of Mount Indefatigable in Kananaskis Country (a beautiful mountain park in Alberta, Canada), I felt a light, slightly scratchy tickle on my bare calf. I looked down to see that it was the fellow pictured above, a cute rodent which I later identified as a Bushy-tailed Woodrat. It had the longest whiskers I’d ever seen. This little guy was intent on licking the salt minerals from my leg. I sat quietly, trying not to move or giggle. I was literally tickled pink! He continued to delicately lick my leg, totally unafraid, showing no signs of stopping until we finished our lunch and got up to continue on our mountain hike.

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Balm for the Soul: Beauty and Stillness

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Everything inside and around us wants to reflect itself in us.
We don’t have to go anywhere to obtain the truth.
We only need to be still and things will reveal themselves
in the still water of our heart.

~Thích Nhất Hạnh

Autumn at the Pond

Wedge Pond, in Kananaskis Country, is a justifiably popular destination in the summertime and I am delighted that so many people get to enjoy its beauty at the height of the summer season. But, since my partner and I prefer to go when fewer people are about, we generally choose to go off-season, when we are able to truly enjoy the quietude, serenity and beauty of this lovely mountain pond nestled in the Rocky Mountains. My favourite time to visit Wedge Pond is autumn, when the larch, poplar and aspen trees start to turn their stunning fall colours, creating ridges and valleys of gold.

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Meditation on the End of a Beautiful Day

Death is not extinguishing the light;
it is putting out the lamp because the Dawn has come.

~ Rabindranath Tagore

A Tribute to Two Beautiful Men

This time-lapse video is dedicated to two beautiful men whom I dearly love and whom I have been blessed to have in my life: my own dear father and my dear father-in-law. Two years ago, they both left this world just a few weeks apart. They each lived a long, rich and happy life and I often feel their joyous spirits around me. Continue reading

Late Summer Picnic at the Beautiful Spray Lakes

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Come on over, have a seat in one of our comfy chairs and share our picnic lunch with us as we enjoy a spectacular view of the Spray Lakes in Kananaskis Country.

After a Freak Early Blizzard, Summer Returns

Given the lovely sunshine and warm late summer temperatures we’ve been basking in this week, few would suspect that just last week we got hit with a huge blizzard which dropped some 20 cm of wet snow on Calgary! While it’s rare for us to see snow in the summer months or this early in September, it can certainly snow here in any month of the year. Happily, a quick return to summer-like temperatures made fast work of the unseasonable and unwelcome snowfall.

This past week my partner and I took advantage of the gorgeous weather and took off for a fun little day trip to the mountains of Kananaskis Country.

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The Joy of Summer Wildflowers II

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How does the Meadow flower its bloom unfold?
Because the lovely little flower is free down to its root,
and in that freedom bold.

~ William Wordsworth

More Summer Wildflowers

For me, summer and wildflowers are synonymous. And one of my favourite things to do is go out for a day to enjoy the wildflower meadows in the foothills and mountains of Kananaskis Country in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. For me, it’s pure bliss.

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A Summer Oasis: Sibbald Meadows Pond

To fully tap into the peace and beauty of Sibbald Meadows Pond, I recommend watching this video in full-screen mode.

Life at Sibbald Meadows Pond

This video is a short vignette highlighting some of the life, tranquility and beauty at Sibbald Meadows Pond, one of our favourite places to find inner replenishment. Nestled in the beautiful foothills of Kananaskis Country (see my previous post) and surrounded by aspen groves and stands of spruce and pine, Sibbald Meadows Pond is only a 45 minute drive from Calgary.

My partner gets the credit for shooting all the video footage (taken over several visits to Sibbald Meadows Pond a couple of summers back). I did all the grunt work of uploading and sorting through hours of footage and selecting the best bits to work with. We did the video editing together and my partner did all the fine-tuning and rendering.

More importantly, however, I made all the desserts for the picnic baskets we took on our various visits to Sibbald Meadows Pond (including my homemade Rhubarb Buttermilk Cake with Streusel Topping, Angel Food Cake made from scratch, and my Honey Almond Squares).

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The Joy of Summer Wildflowers

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“I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined…”

~ William Wordsworth

Wildflower Meadows

One of my favourite summertime things to do is to wander about the wildflower meadows of the foothills and mountains near Calgary. It is such a rich sensory experience. My ears delight in the beautiful symphony of sounds: the pleasant, steady drone of bees and hoverflies; the harmonies from the shimmering song of aspen leaves whispering on the breeze; and, above all that, birds sweetly singing and chirping from the meadow’s edge. A feast of bright, sunlit dabs of colour delights my eyes—wildflowers gently bobbing to and fro with the rhythm of the warm summer winds. Butterflies flit and flutter about, like delicate petals suspended in the air. Sweet, grassy, piney mountain air engulfs me, and I am utterly absorbed by the meadow. Time disappears. It’s pure bliss.

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Our Beautiful Backyard Treasure: Kananaskis Country

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“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.
The winds will blow their own freshness into you…
while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

~ John Muir

Kananaskis Country

Less than an hour from Calgary is a beautiful natural treasure called Kananaskis Country—a 4,000 square kilometer area of foothills and mountains in the Canadian Rockies. Kananaskis is an easy get-away for us. All summer long, every chance we get, we like to visit one of our many favourite places in Kananaskis Country to hike, picnic, dangle our feet in a cold mountain stream, read in a comfy chair in the dappled shade of a spruce grove at our favourite mountain pond or chase butterflies in a wildflower meadow. We feel blessed to live so close to this incredibly beautiful place.

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