Alberta snapshot: Wedge Pond.

WPFPNormandeau

Don’t let that perfect blue sky fool you. We took a ridiculously cold (and quick!) snowshoe around Wedge Pond in Kananaskis Country on December 23. The snow was blowing from the tops of the peaks and the humidity in the air was literally (and I mean literally) breathtaking.  Given the assault by Jack Frost, we weren’t even halfheartedly debating whether or not to cut the trip short…and then my hubby saw two wolves on another part of the trail.  They were skittish and promptly vanished, but we suddenly got to worrying a bit (especially when the tree branches were cracking just so), and besides, there was hot chocolate and Irish Cream waiting at home.

 

Alberta snapshot: Cross Conservation Area.

CCAFPNormandeau

This is one of my favourite not-Rocky-Mountain (!) views from the top of the lookout hill at the Cross Conservation Area, a nature preserve southwest of the Calgary city limits.  I took this photo on 14 December of 2017 (still adjusting to that being last year!). At that point, the weather was dry and warm and completely lacking in snow, which is a bit rare (although not unheard of) for us.  We were promptly walloped with frigid temperatures and significant snowfall over the holiday season, but we certainly haven’t had anything to complain about in the face of the much more significant and devastating recent weather events in other parts of the world.

Alberta snapshot: Chester Lake.

CLFPNormandeau1a

I completely understand why this is considered one of the finest snowshoe treks in Kananaskis Country, in the Canadian Rockies.  My hubby and I did this one a week ago, and we were fortunate to share this utterly incredible space with a few cheeky gray jays and a moose that gave our salt-flecked truck a helpful (!) scrub.  😉

CLFPNormandeau2Photo credit: R. Normandeau

 

 

Lichen the mystery.

LJCFPNormandeau

I am struggling to ID this colourful lichen, so I’m calling out for assistance: is there anyone out there familiar with lichens in Alberta (or perhaps North America) who can help me with a name for this?  While hiking in Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park this fall, a group of us found a prolific brilliant yellow growth on several trees in one particular location.  (This was above the upper falls, en route to the Ink Pots).  It actually looked as if the trees were glowing, like they had been spray painted gold.  There was a trickle of a mineral-laden spring nearby and we wonder if that has something to do with the unusual growth on specimens in just that area, but we really can’t explain it.  I am familiar with old man’s beard lichen and wolf lichen (and know that the latter can sometimes be bright yellow in colour) – but this doesn’t appear to be either of those.  Thanks in advance if you can help out on this one; even if I don’t get a positive ID, it’s still a fascinating find.

FP2LJCNormandeau

Alberta snapshot: West Bragg Creek.

WBCFPNormandeau

Well, we couldn’t be faulted for trying. We had the snowshoes with us yesterday, but the trails at West Bragg Creek are only just snow-covered and heavily compacted by foot and fat bike traffic.  We had a lovely hike instead, despite the crazy high (but warm!) winds – in this shot, it looks pretty peaceful, actually. You don’t see the snow spiraling up off the ground or the ice crystals that blasted us (or the fact that I could barely stand upright enough to keep the horizon from wobbling in my viewfinder).  Gotta love the weather in Alberta!

Alberta snapshot: Chain Lakes.

IMG_2051

If I recall properly, there are three lakes in the province of Alberta that share the name “Chain Lakes.”  This is the southern one, near Nanton.  I checked into the area’s history and apparently it used to be three small, linked lakes that drained into the nearby Oldman River via Willow Creek.  When the south and north dams were built in 1966, this long (over 10 km), narrow (>500 m) sliver of a lake was created.

I took this rather moody photo from our boat, on a cool evening this past August. The skies were heavy with forest fire smoke.

November blog fun.

2102034

It has been quite a few months since I’ve done one of these posts – let’s launch into it right away, shall we?

Have difficulty pronouncing plant names?  Me, too.  I even mangle them when I’m very consciously thinking about how not to – actually, that’s when the tongue-tangling gets truly terrific. This pronounciation guide may help.  At the very least, it’s interesting reading.

You may not live in New England (I don’t!) but your region may include some of the same plant species.  Or, you might just want to have fun with a fully interactive dichotomous key.  I’m here to help – I found this great link from GoBotany that will helpfully ID all 3,500 taxa in New England. I played with it a bit and, as expected, found that we share some of the same plant species here in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Here is another ID tool – this one for bird feathers.  It is from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, so it won’t likely be conclusive in other locations.  As we share many of the same bird species in Canada, it may work in a limited fashion for us.

It’s Canada’s sesquicentennial this year and Mercury Filmworks has created an animated short to illustrate Canada, coast-to-coast.  The artwork is vibrant and fun, and there are some delightful references to some of our most famous pop culture icons.

Here’s another post that celebrates Canada’s history – this time of the Rocky Mountains.  Take a look at this small collection of photos of people working, playing, and living in the mountains – it’s an eye-opening trip!

If you enjoy reading science fiction and you’re particularly interested in the work of writers during the 1950’s, ’60’s, and ’70’s, you may wish to check out this gem: the complete run of IF Magazine from 1952 to 1974 is available to read for free, here.  Some big names wrote for and edited this magazine and if you’re a fan of the genre, you will recognize some of them.  I love that these stories won’t be forgotten.

Writers and film buffs might have fun with this incredibly comprehensive list of narrative devices and tropes.  How many of these do you recognize in your favourite movie or book?  How many of these have you used in your own writing?

Finally, libraries and museums such as the Met, the New York Public Library, and the Smithsonian have made a ton of images from their collections available for everyone to download and…well…colour.  I believe the whole sharing to Twitter part is over with for the year, but you can still access the images for your own use. #ColorOurCollections will likely return in 2018, so watch for it.  Many of these are botanical prints, so that’s rather lovely for anyone who is interested in that sort of thing (me, me!).

Clipart credit.