Floral notes: July (belated).

If you’ve ever spent any time in the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, you have probably visited the town of Banff, located in the National Park that bears its name.  My hubby and I don’t travel to the townsite often even though it’s not very far away, but we decided to make the trip a few weeks ago so we could summit Tunnel Mountain, which overlooks the town.  Instead of driving and worrying about where we would park in the busy tourist-filled town, we took a commuter bus operated by On-It Regional Transit.  For ten dollars each way, we were able to board the bus near our home and relax enjoy the incredible scenery nap all the way to our destination and back. The On-It buses operate between Calgary, Canmore, and Banff and have a regular weekend schedule with several routes running during the summer.  It’s definitely a great option if you don’t want to drive from Calgary and back.

As for Tunnel Mountain…we had fun doing this quick trek under cloudy conditions.  It’s a short peak, relatively speaking, topping out at 1,692 metres. (It’s a 4.3 kilometre trip return, with a 300 metre elevation gain). Despite the name, the mountain doesn’t actually have a tunnel.  When the Canadian Pacific Railway was working to push tracks through the area in 1882, they wanted to blast right through the mountain.  While it was a shorter route than what was eventually constructed, it would have been far more costly, in dollars and labour, to build the tunnel.  So the mountain doesn’t have a big hole in it…but the name has stuck. (The mountain’s Indigenous names include Sleeping Buffalo, Iinii Istako, and Eyarhey Tatanga Woweyahgey Wakân).

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(I wasn’t asked or compensated to provide a review of the On-It service – we just loved it so much I wanted to talk about it!).   🙂

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There is a brand new story up at Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction, the online flash fiction magazine I publish six times a year.  Check out Ed Ahern’s bittersweet “The Spring” here.  

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We have a very cool art exhibit going on at the library branch where I work, a sample of multi-media work by children participating in art classes at the Wildflower Arts Centre.  These kids are aged 5 through 14 and it is amazing to see such talent!  Paint, charcoal, fibre, paper (collage and mâché)…the creativity is fantastic!

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Reading highlights for the month: the hilarious and action-packed YA novel The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, by F.C. Lee.  Think Chinese mythology meets California high school – it has Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibes but it’s way loonier and, quite frankly, a bit more juvenile.  But it’s silly good fun and I can’t wait for the next book…hopefully it is published soon.

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Another YA offering: M.T. Anderson’s Landscape with Invisible Hand. I laughed, I cried, I despaired. I think I was supposed to eventually feel hopeful, but that’s actually the point where the tears appeared.  This is a satirical (and just plain devastating) story of an alien invasion of Earth that has some startling, wayyyyyy too-close-to-home consequences.

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Soundtrack for the month: The 1990 grunge album “Uncle Anesthesia” by Screaming Trees; the newly-released single “Half-Light” by Madrugada.

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Early in the month, my hubby and I took a tour of the Coutts Centre for Western Heritage, near the town of Nanton, Alberta.  This amazing place is the family homestead of Dr. Jim Coutts (1938 – 2013), a prominent southern Alberta lawyer, businessman, and art collector – and in addition to all the artifacts and buildings onsite, it boasts the most incredible gardens filled with predominantly native prairie plants.  Truthfully, I hope no one noticed me while I was wandering around the grounds, because I believe my lower jaw was firmly positioned somewhere around my ankles and I may have been drooling a little.  If you happen to find yourself in that part of the province during the growing season and plants are your thing, make it a must-do pit stop – it really shouldn’t be missed.  And, if the gardens aren’t enough (what!?), the place boasts what is likely the only example in Canada of a camera obscura built from a 1920’s-era grain bin.

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These. Poppies. Seriously. 

Re: my vegetable garden.  Things are just sort of making an appearance, finally, after thousands of days of rain. I have golf ball-sized kohlrabi!  I have really diminutive turnips!  I have the smallest, most perfectly round pumpkins you’ll ever see…the kohlrabi are actually larger and at this rate, it will be about a year before I can harvest them, LOL.  The zucchini fruit might be more than five centimetres long next week…we’ll see.  I’m heartened by this new grand emergence of things but…um…cautious.  The weather has been WEIRD…it’s mid-August already and we occasionally get frost(!) at the end of the month, so you can see where I’m coming from.  I am harvesting dill and parsley and potatoes right now, which is delightful (especially as those three things go really well together at suppertime).  And these supremely pretty bush beans, ‘Dragon Tongue’, are just coming on now.  I simply want to gawk at them – they’re almost too gorgeous to eat!

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I was very rushed before the growing season began this year and I failed to get a handle on them as the months flew by. Next year, I am planning to do more winter sowing – it truly provides the jump start often needed in this climate.  If my personal assistant, Smudge, deigns to allow me to do so, I’ll start some seeds indoors as well…but she has an annoying habit of constantly snacking while at work.  😉

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Smudge’s Sage Advice: It’s important to actively track your prey in case it goes somewhere.  Even if it can’t, really.  ♥

 

 

Snowshoe trek: Wintour.

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Between my work schedule and the weird weather around here (no snow, then extreme cold), snowshoeing isn’t really happening this year. My hubby and I have managed one trip so far, in January.  Due to the huge avalanche risk nearly everywhere on our side of the Rockies at the time, we headed for a safe place: the first few kilometers of Wintour, in Kananaskis Country.  In the couple of hours we were out there, we heard the thundering crack of EIGHT avalanches in the peaks several kilometers west and east of us. That gives you a bit of an idea of just how risky it would have been to head out into the backcountry that day!

 

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….

Alberta snapshot: Death Valley, Sandy McNabb.

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The afternoon of the very same Tuesday I shot that frosty photo of Twin Valley Reservoir (see here), my hubby and I intended to do some snowshoeing at Sandy McNabb, in Sheep River Provincial Park.  The snowshoeing part of that was thwarted by temperatures that had risen to nearly plus 10 degrees Celsius and the accompanying heavy slush on the trail, so we hiked instead (and were grateful for waterproof boots!). The trails at Sandy McNabb were previously unfamiliar to us, but we’ll be back in the summer, for sure! During the winter, most of the trails are designated for cross-country skiing, so snowshoers, hikers, equestrians, and fat-bikers have to be aware of which ones are multi-use.  We chose Death Valley/Death Valley Loop, and despite the ominous moniker, it was an enjoyable, fairly easy 6 kilometre trek through primarily forested area.  We were even fortunate enough to make the distant acquaintance of one of the local residents. So fun!

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Photo credit: R. Normandeau.