Nothing but blue sky.

Happy Monday!  I can’t believe it’s already the 20th of January…the first month of 2014 is flying by!  My hubby and I managed to get out and soak up some sunshine on Friday afternoon at the Cross Conservation Area, just south of the city limits (you’ll remember me writing about previous walks in January of last year and again in September).  We really regretted that we hadn’t brought our snowshoes, as the crusty deep snow was a bit of a slog with boots on.  Last year when we went around this time, the informal pathways were more defined, with less accumulated snow.  Oh well, the extra exercise was definitely good for me – I think I’m still packing around all that holiday baking!  😉

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All this sun and the steadily increasing daylight hours are definitely putting me into a gardening frame of mind…I placed a couple of orders for various herb seeds last week, and all the important dates (meetings, bed clean-up, maintenance days) for the community garden are now inked onto my calendar.  I just harvested some fenugreek microgreens (YUM!) and I’ll put up some basil this week – I haven’t grown as many MG this winter as I usually do and I miss them.  It’s nearly time to start the ground cherries, too…maybe this is the year I will finally have success with them.

Enjoy your week!  What projects (gardening or otherwise) do you have lined up for the next little while? 

(If you want to read a bit about the history of the Cross Conservation Area, I’ve written a post about it here).

Snowshoe trek.

The weather has been absolutely beautiful these past few days, with above freezing temperatures and lots of bright sun. It won’t last, but we’ll take it while we can get it! 🙂

On Friday, my hubby and I made a day trip out to the mountains to enjoy the scenery and do a little snowshoeing. The Elkwood Trail in Kananaskis Country was our first destination (we later did a short trek near Lower Kananaskis Lake as well). This well-marked track runs through a large campground in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, and encompasses an interpretive loop around Marl Lake. Stands of white spruce and lodgepole pine predominate, and we had to imagine what the trail will look like once the wildflowers awaken from their slumber. But, in the meantime, there were plenty of other interesting sights to enjoy….

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(Photo credit:  R. Normandeau)

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(Photo credit:  R. Normandeau)

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(Photo credit:  R. Normandeau)

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Happy Monday! I hope you are enjoying the sunshine wherever you are!

Related posts:

Elkwood Snowshoe Loop – Kananaskis – Hiking Alberta (Hiking With Barry – Wilderness Adventure)

Winter interest. (floweryprose.com)

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?