Flowery Friday.

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One of my favourite sights of spring: larch trees in flower. The upright pink ones are the elegant, showy females in their rosy party dresses – the males are the compact pollen-bearers, in tidy yellow-brown suits, clinging to the undersides of the branches.  You can see a couple of females and a male in this photo I snapped late last week.

The largesse (largeness?) of spring.

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Infinity is just so big that by comparison bigness itself looks really titchy.

~Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe 

O riotous spring!  My hayfever has hayfever, and the three of us (because of course the two hayfevers are their own monstrous entities) have a cold on top of it all.

But it’s cause for celebration! Why, you may ask? Well, let me tell you:

  1. I’m fairly certain I’m a walking medical miracle. I mean, hayfever + hayfever + cold and I’m still functioning-ish? My allergist needs to get on publishing that research – he could be retiring to the Caymans in no time.
  2. Although it’s probably reasonable to state that we had a more “accurate” winter than we usually do (lots of cold and snow versus a ton of Chinooks and dry, exposed earth), it felt impossibly huge and long and draggy and we. are. officially. (probably. sort. of. maybe). done. with. it.
  3. The photo says it all. The Prairie crocuses are blooming like mad all over the sunny slopes and despite the incessant sneezing and sniffling, life is pretty awesome.

 

Alberta snapshot: Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary.

If you’ve been following Flowery Prose for a while, you may remember that in July of 2016 my brother, my hubby, and I took a trip out to the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, near Cochrane, Alberta. We had such an amazing time on the interactive tour that we decided to go again in early March of this year.  What a treat!  The wolfdogs were still sporting their fluffy winter coats and the absence of green grass and leaves on the trees gave us a different perspective than we had in the summer.  The Sanctuary has taken in more wolfdogs since we were last there, and staff and volunteers have built more enclosures to comfortably house them.

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The ravens love to steal the excess treats from the wolfdogs. The birds and wolfdogs are very tolerant of one another…aside from an occasional bit of stink eye.  😉 

We did the interactive tour once again and had a blast feeding and meeting some of the beautiful residents of the Sanctuary, as well as learning more about wolfdogs and the unfortunate reasons a rescue like this is so badly needed.  The highlight of the trip, however, was when the wolfdogs all spontaneously set up a chorus of howling, joining together to sing for us.  My brother was quick on the draw with his cellphone and he generously allowed me to share with you the audiofile he recorded:

Audio courtesy D. Mueller.

So wonderful!  If you’re interested in learning more about – and/or supporting – the work that the Sanctuary does, click here.  If you plan to travel in this part of Alberta, it’s a highly recommended stop – the staff are incredible and it is guaranteed that you will totally fall in love with the wolfdogs. ♥

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Alberta snapshot: Ice falls at Fish Creek Provincial Park, Calgary.

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No need to leave the city to find ice falls! A quick wintery stroll in Fish Creek Provincial Park in early March yielded this frosty view.  (If you live in or are visiting Calgary next winter and you’re looking to check these out, head to the ranch house off of Bow Bottom Trail SE and hike across the first bridge you see from the parking lot.  Follow the river to see the falls, or climb above them to reach some cool caves).

It seems that the big spring melt may finally (!) be on its way, so this area will be taking on a more liquid form very soon….

Tuesday tidbits.

If you embroider and are on the hunt for new patterns, I recently discovered that the DMC website has about a zillion five hundred or so available for free.  Download away and enjoy stitching!

My favourite recipe of this past week?  Judi’s Sweet Potato and Apple Latkes, found here.  They are the ultimate in comfort food and are a breeze to make.  I could probably eat these every day.  I’m totally not exaggerating here; they are that tasty.

It’s a few years old now (it was published in 2013), but if you haven’t already checked out Deborah Madison’s cookbook Vegetable Literacy, go grab a copy from the library pronto.  If you have a passion for cooking and gardening, you’ll delight in this breathtakingly-photographed tome.  The recipes look amazing but I can’t stop drooling at (on?) the pictures. (And this one of the reasons why we sometimes find water-damaged books at the library, lol). Take a look at the author describing her book in this video.

The Spring issue of The Gardener for Canadian Climates will be out shortly on newsstands across Canada and a couple of articles I wrote are inside: “Carrot Cousins” and ” Preventing Common Lawn Problems.”  The magazine also features the annual Plant Picks section, which I always love contributing to.  And will you get a load of that cover?  WOW.  We don’t have many print gardening magazines left in Canada, and I would encourage gardening enthusiasts to support this amazing publication if possible.

Do you have any “tidbits” you want to share this week? – favourite or new recipes, interesting links or news items you’ve come across, fascinating blog posts you or someone else have put up?  Feel free to mention them in the comments!  

 

Alberta snapshot: Sawmill snowshoe.

Although it is *technically* spring in this part of the world, we’re still pretty much in full-on winter mode, so to show you some photos from a snowshoeing trip we took a few weeks ago seems sort of appropriate.  Nothing “flowery” here, not at the moment.

But we have mountains! This is Sawmill, just off the Smith-Dorrien Trail close to where it intersects with Highway 40. It was a new snowshoe jaunt for us, a 5.3 kilometre loop with very little elevation. The most recent snowfall had occurred the day before, and the wind had blown hard, crusty dunes over much of the broken trail.

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And in other parts, there were tracks. We think these were from a bobcat:

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We figured we could rule out a cougar because the tracks were too small, and we decided a lynx could also be slotted into the too-large side of the scale. (I know, we ought to have placed an object for size comparison, but we didn’t think of it at the time). The tracks were slightly larger than those of a domestic housecat, which also lends credence to the bobcat ID. I’ve never seen one, but they are small!

We later found even smaller tracks running (but only in very brief intervals) in front of the larger ones and we believe the mother bobcat was likely carrying a kitten and set it down into the snow at certain spots.  I did some research and it seems possible that bobcats could have young at the time of year we were out, while lynx will supposedly birth closer to April or May.  Here are what we think may be bobcat kitten tracks:

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I would definitely welcome any input on the ID of the cat tracks – maybe someone reading this can offer more insight? Does our imagined mother-kitten scenario seem plausible, or could there be another explanation?

At least, this next set of tracks could be identified with absolute certainty.  My hubby offered the correct nomenclature: Polus pokysnowus.  😉

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And on that note…have a wonderful weekend! Hope there is a little less snow where you are….

Looking for some colour….

We’re in “dirty snow” mode here in Calgary, that eye-dulling time of year when EVERYTHING is grey and all the potholes and garbage buried for the past five months start materializing once again.  We are guaranteed to get a minimum of 16.275 mini-snowstorms yet before June – two before the end of this week! – so the greyness will be tempered by layers of fresh, sparkling white, but right now, my brain is absolutely crying out for some colour.

So, I turned to the blogosphere, and I am immensely comforted by the fact that there is a nice bit of colour going on elsewhere in the world.  For example:

Words and Herbs

Gardening Nirvana

Automatic Gardening and Real Gluten Free Food

Cynthia Reyes

Imagery of Light

Duver Diary

Natuurfreak

Garden in a City

A New Day: Living Life Almost Gracefully

Frank King Photos

….just to name a few.*

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And then at work, I noticed that all of the pink and red Pelargoniums that one of my co-workers has saved over the winter are blooming merrily away in the huge bay windows we have in the building. Overwintered P.‘s always surprise me with their transformations: they get so robust, it’s as if they’re working with a personal trainer, and they bloom like every sip of sunshine and speck of sugar in every single cell is bursting to get out. There are about eight of them in the library right now, part of a larger collection of both ‘Regal’ and the – ahem! – less regal (but just as delightful) P.‘s that are snowbirding in my co-worker’s home. It seems strange to me that these plants are so showstoppingly vibrant in this setting, yet the customers appear to rarely spare them a glance.  I would love to poll people and ask if they noticed the flowers.  Do you find you actually see the indoor plants in public spaces, like libraries, shopping malls, medical clinics, offices etc.?  Maybe most people don’t unless the arrangements are particularly bold.  Or maybe gardeners take notice more often because we’re keyed to look for plants?  What do you think?

*Please add your links to your “colourful” blog posts to the comments – the more, the merrier!  Share away!