May blog fun.

May

So…April happened.  I hope it was a great month for you, and the first few days of May are shaping up nicely!  I actually think I could use a nice little nap to recover.  Two or three days should be nearly sufficient, I think.

While I was awake last month I found a few fascinating things to share with you – take a look!

These macro images of water droplets from Canmore photographer Martin van den Akker are absolutely incredible!

Have some money to spend on travel?  Touring these spectacular crater lakes around the world sounds like a good idea.

Do you grow any green-coloured flowers?  These are stunning and unusual examples – how about that Dianthus?

The book may be a few years old now, but if you haven’t seen French photographer Cedric Pollet’s Bark, try to track it down.  You’ll see incredible photos like this.

I’ve been seriously lax about posting stuff elsewhere, but I did manage this:

A yummy Creamed Spinach recipe on my Grit.com blog Blooms and Spoons – this is real comfort food for spring!

Finally, because I get a chuckle out of engrossing you/grossing you out with the delectations that will be available on the midway at this year’s Calgary Stampede, here goes: New Food Stampede 2016.

Which dégustation disgusts or delights you?  That rainbow grilled cheese sandwich makes both my eyes and stomach hurt….

 

Flowery Friday.

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Happy Friday!  I can’t believe I had to flip the calendar over to May this morning.  What’s up with time, anyway?  I know it seems to fly as you get older, but for me, it’s feeling pretty supersonic at this point.  (Awhile back, I came across this review of a book about the perception of time in relation to age…might make for some interesting reading).

I managed to get out to Nose Hill one morning this week and saw all the willow catkins emerging…I quickly took a few photos and rushed to get myself and my camera out of the rain shower that suddenly started right above me (and only me, as far as I could tell).  We really could use a nice, soaking rain, although everything is greening up despite the dry conditions.  I noticed our neighbour’s fantastically floriferous forsythia (too much?) on the way back from the park – it is, of course, competing with all those show-off Prunus species.  All this incredible colour and beauty is enough to make your eyes drunk.

I planted some spinach and radish seeds in the raised bed at the community garden this week – this is the earliest I’ve ever put these crops in, although many would reckon I’m actually running late.  I know some people who plant outside under cover in March – and unlike most years, we didn’t have much snow and ice in that month.  Last year, I planted my spinach on the 20 of May. Most of my garlic is up now – I just love to see those spiky green shoots splitting the soil.

What are your plans for the weekend?  I’ve got a deadline looming on an article about lacto-fermentation (BTW – do any of you do any fermenting?  I’ve been puttering around lately with several different whole leaf herb ferments – they’re easy and fun).  I’m also hoping to get out for some fresh air – I was reading a recent blog post by a local hiker, Barry Taylor, and he suggested Strathcona Ravine here in Calgary for a little nature jaunt.  I’m keen to check it out – we’ve lived here nearly two decades and I hadn’t ever heard of it before.

Before I leave you, I have to share the foodie extravaganza that is the list of midway culinary treats for this year’s Calgary Stampede.  If you thought last year’s were over the top, you haven’t seen anything yet.  I can’t believe that gigantic ice cream cone or the $100 hotdog…and we won’t talk about the cockroach offering.  I feel pretty much like I did last year – the poutines are the most tempting for me (well, except for the one with the doughnuts and the jalapenos – that just smacks of a stomach ache in a bowl).  What would you try?  Which of these is just too excessive (well, besides ALL of them)?

Alberta Snapshot: Rainy day sunset.

 

Rainy sunset in Kananaskis

 

From the archives of my blog There is a Light: A rainy sunset in Kananaskis Country, May 2012.

It’s raining here this morning, but it’s nowhere near as picturesque as the photo above – rather, it’s one of those nasty ice rains that is predicted to turn into snow this afternoon.  I’ve been absolutely swamped with work and writing projects this week so the flowerbeds and my community garden plot are still in a state of Autumn 2013 neglect…and now, on my day off, I can’t get out there to do anything.  Oh well!  I think I’ll have another cup of tea and then go for a nap….

While I put the kettle on, I’ll leave you with a few topics I’ve been musing about:

Banff-based photographer Paul Zizka has a book out called Summits & Starlight:  The Canadian Rockies (2013, Rocky Mountain Books, Alberta), with some absolutely breathtaking and unique shots of the mountains next door…I finally had a chance to go through the book and I was just astonished at the places he has visited and captured.  Check out his gallery to see what I mean – these aren’t your average roadside pics of giant rocks.

I’ve been seriously considering the idea of creating a sourdough starter…this would be my first crack at it and so any tips you bread-makers out there have would be massively appreciated!  The clincher is that I have a huge amount of red fife flour in the freezer, so I want to make my starter from that, not regular all-purpose white flour.  I found a book at work called Baking Sourdough Bread (by Göran Söderin and George Strachal, 2014 Skyhorse Publishing, Sweden) that looks like it may be able to offer up some assistance, so we’ll see how it goes.  I don’t know when I will embark on this new venture…I am in research mode right now.  🙂

Speaking of food, The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, The Calgary Stampede, has announced its midway food offerings for this year – I don’t know if scorpion pizza will have universal appeal, but poutine with perogies sure has my vote.  Peruse the madness here (and let me know in the comments what grosses you out the most…or what you’d willingly sample).

Have a wonderful weekend! 

 

Winter interest.

There’s not much winter interest going on in my flowerbeds right now…there’s a nice homogenous blanket of snow, though! Ah, when will spring ever arrive? 🙂

A few days before we received another massive dump of the white stuff, my hubby and I managed to get out for a hike at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, located southwest of the Calgary city limits. Donated by Sandy Cross (son of A.E. Cross, one of the founding members of the world-famous Calgary Stampede) and his wife Ann to the Province of Alberta in 1987 and 1996, this wildlife preserve consists of 4,800 acres of prairie land in the foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

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View from one of the outlooks at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area. (Photo credit:  R. Normandeau)

The Area is carefully managed to minimize the impact of its users on the land and on the animals that inhabit it – it is necessary to prebook hikes online in advance and pay a small day use fee upon arrival.  You cannot cross-country ski and no dogs are allowed on the property.  (You also have to park your vehicle in a separate lot and walk in).

As always, what strikes me about hiking in the winter is the way everything stands out against the snow. Animal tracks and leavings, moss and lichens, the stubble of fescue, tufts of hair caught on a barbed wire fence…these are all things you might miss in the green riot of spring and summer.

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(Photo credit:  R. Normandeau)

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We believe this patch of hair belongs to one of the many head of cattle that are currently winter grazing on the property.  (Photo credit:  R. Normandeau)

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(Photo credit:  R. Normandeau)

Do you like the term “winter interest” (with or without snow) in regards to landscape design? Is it something you consider in your own garden?

Drifting along in the Senator Patrick Burns Memorial Rock Gardens.

A couple of weekends ago, my hubby and I took a stroll through the Senator Patrick Burns Memorial Rock Gardens in Riley Park, in Calgary’s northwest.  The history of the gardens’ namesake is very interesting:  Senator Patrick Burns (1856-1937) was a hugely successful businessman, rancher, politician and philanthropist.  He was one of the so-called “Big Four” founding members and financiers of the world-famous Calgary Stampede – without him, the “greatest outdoor show on earth” wouldn’t be what it is today.  Responsible for building a meat-packing empire (Burns Foods), Patrick Burns was at heart a rancher, and at the height of his success, he owned 2,800 square kilometres (700,000 acres) of land in southern Alberta, extending all the way to the Montana border.  The gardens in Riley Park were designed and built in the 1950’s to honour Burns’ contributions to the city of Calgary and the province of Alberta.  They contain 20,000 pieces of flagstone salvaged from the senator’s 18-room Calgary mansion, which was built between 1901-03.

We hadn’t wandered through the gardens in quite a few years, and it was a special treat this go-around because most of the flowering plants were at their peak (we toured late in the season last time).  What caught my eye most, however, was the use of drift plantings alongside the stone walkways.  It’s a design tool used to draw the eye (and the body) upward and onward through the landscape, and it is used with great success here.

Do you use drift planting in your garden?

The calm.

It seems the monsoons of June may have gotten started here in southern Alberta (of course, they’re not “monsoons” in the technical sense of the word; we just typically get a lot of precipitation during this month and it feels sort of prevailing and neverending…well, at least by mid-month it does, anyway).  We’re also getting a little “July action” in the form of massive thunderstorms – these are violent outbursts that we usually see every night of some little event called the Calgary Stampede, right when the midway is filled to capacity with sweaty, screaming bodies and the concert stages are blasting live rock and country bands.  (Maybe if we get it all over with a month early, we can celebrate the Stampede’s 100th anniversary with spectacular weather.  Fingers crossed).  Last night’s storm was nasty, with lots of pelting rain, strong winds, and lightning that flashed so frequently it seemed like the sky was a giant strobe light.  I haven’t been over to my community garden plot yet today, so I’m not sure if the rain bounced my little veggie seedlings right out of the bed; hopefully there wasn’t too much damage.

These photos were taken before all that craziness hit, so there is none of that rainswept bedraggled look going on.  Some of these shots are from my garden; others are of pretty plants I’ve found during my walks in the neighbourhood.

Have a wonderful Wednesday! 

Catmint from my garden

(A few of ) my shallots

Crabapple at Barrett Park

Spruce trees down on the corner

Kohlrabi seedlings from my plot

Columbine and catmint in my flowerbed

A neighbour’s flowering almond

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A note about Blog Awards. 

A fun little thing that Wordpress bloggers have going on is a chance to be nominated by members of their community for various “blog awards” – it works sort of like a chain letter, actually, but it’s a novel way to introduce other bloggers and their sites to everyone and maybe find some new readers.  I just recently received a couple of nominations – jump over to my Virtual Bouquets tab if you want to check them out!