Author Archives: Donna

Really, I’ve Walked

Stella eyeing Nuthatch

Oh Facebook, robbing this blog of content. Must be the instant gratification of FB. I never know who is reading this blog, if anyone. No matter, it’s kind of a personal journal anyway, with pretty pictures. As always, I want to spread the word of how magnificent the green spaces of our city are, but the blog also serves as a record of my existence, of my adventures small and large, of the dogs in my life, and of the passage of time. That’s enough. But readers are good too.

So here is my walk from Sunday, June 2 with Stella, in a hot and sunny Whitemud Ravine.

I think it was about 22C

Two Walks in Peak Spring

I just want to eat it…

Another post that includes two walks: last Thursday’s walk home (May 23), and today’s noon walk (May 29). It’s been a gorgeous week of peak spring colours, scents and temperatures. Today it’s supposed to get up to 32C, which is why I walked at noon, but otherwise, it’s been lovely.

May 23: My walk home was sure purdy! A moment of excitement when I witnessed a stand off between a dark-eyed junco and a chipmunk. Not sure what that was about. My money was on the junco, which seemed like a bit of a bastard, but they disappeared into the long grass so I will never know how it turned out. Oh wait, maybe they weren’t fighting?

Today (May 29): A half hour lunchtime walk along Saskatchewan Drive, preceded by a beautiful walk to the LRT this morning. I’ve been doing this for awhile, and it’s much nicer than taking the bus. Takes about 25 minutes or so (the bus takes 10) and the route along 102 Avenue is far more beautiful, green, peaceful (other than the morning birdsong), and restorative than standing on a hot, crowded, germ-infested bus.

Lilacs from today’s walk, a week later than the other photos

Victoria Day in Mill Creek Ravine

It’s probably been six months since I’ve walked through Mill Creek Ravine. There was a time when that would have been unimaginable. That gorgeous green space running through the middle of Edmonton was just a few blocks from where I lived in Strathcona for almost two decades, and for most of that time, I was down in the ravine at least three or four times a week. I know it extremely well, in all seasons, but it’s ‘out of my way’ now in Oliver, so I have to make a special effort to get there, as I did on the Monday of the Victoria Day long weekend.

As per usual in spring, especially this spring, it was a very windy day, but once I was in the ravine, the winds became gentle, and my eyes were able to take in the amazing lime-green landscape before me. It’s about a week away from peak spring, so the leaves are still sticky juveniles and the blossoms have yet to go full petal. The creek itself is low, and in some places, the rock bed is exposed. It can go either way in spring. Sometimes Mill Creek floods, but this year, we’ve had little rain, and the creek is mostly a trickle, especially at the south end.  Still, every single dog I passed was wet, so they were finding a way. Towards the north end, the creek was more robust, and spectacularly rejuvenating to my soul. I posted a video on Instagram, saying that I went to church on Monday morning, and I meant it. Nature is truly my church. No where do I feel more at peace than in the river valley and ravines of this city.

Trestle bridge in Mill Creek Ravine

I am tree root

In June, I will have to find alternative routes for walking, especially on my commutes, as the river valley will be well and truly wormified by the annual green caterpillar infestation. It will definitely be a challenge since the part of the river valley that is most infested lies between my work at the University of Alberta and my home in downtown Edmonton (Oliver). Stupid worms. I’ve been dealing with them since 2003. If it isn’t the constant construction in the river valley interrupting my commutes, it’s those gruesome greenies.

Frog Bog!

Lily of the Valley

But back to Mill Creek. On the upper trail, I walked by the frog bog, and while there was water (yay!) and the bubble and chirp of frogs (double yay!), I didn’t see any of them, nor were they performing that weird, love-sick frog song – just regular, I’m-not-in-the-mood frog songs (to my non-expert in amphibious song-making ear). Also, I could see that the lily-of-the-valley plants were spreading but not yet in bloom. It’s the only place in the city that I’ve ever seen wild lily-of-the-valley.

May Day flowers (I think)

About 16C (in the morning)

Easter Monday in Whitemud

Stella surveys her territory

On the whole, this April has been very nice, with the exception of this weekend. It snowed Saturday and Sunday, worse in Calgary than here, but still, enough to whiten the ground and temporarily displace thoughts of spring. I was dog-sitting while Kate was in Calgary (driving in harrowing white-out road conditions) and Sharon and Vic were (and still are) in Scottsdale.

Stella of course loved the snow, but it was very cold and very windy, so in the afternoon we only walked for about 45 minutes, with two smaller walks Friday night and Saturday morning.

This post isn’t about the weekend, however, but Easter Monday, April 22 when my car was at the dealer getting its summer gear on and Stella and I had two hours to romp in Whitemud Ravine.

It was a beautiful walk! The ravine is snow/ice free and trails were open and wonderfully soft underfoot. Stella seemed very happy to have so much to smell, and she had her first dip of the year in the creek (along with two annoyed geese). The area  where she had her swim, by the rickety boardwalk, has been cleared of trees and bushes. Apparently, both the boardwalk and the stairs will be replaced. I hope they do it in a timely fashion. Many trails in our river valley and ravines are in need of maintenance or repair, but so often, the areas are just blocked off.

The geese were NOT happy

During our walk, I was able to get a few chickadees to eat out of my hand, always so cheering. Unfortunately, it’s been so dry there were no frogs in the bog, parts of which was either frozen or dry. The rest of the walk was uneventful, although that final part through Westbrook I think was a bit hard on Stella. She seemed disappointed that none of the cars at the trail head were mine. The walk through the neighbourhood added an extra half hour, for a total of about two hours.

It was about 21C, I believe. We had one day in April that was 23C!

Stella on Saturday

 

Sidewalk Flowers

Guess who’s baaaaaack! On a long and gorgeous walk on Sunday, I found a few dandelions poking their friendly little yellow faces out of some brown grass and a few cracks in the cement sidewalks. It’s no secret that I love dandelions, and it was very cheering to see this lovely andfor bees, very important first flower of spring.

In 2015, I wrote about dandelions in one of my favourite children’s picture books of all time, Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson, with illustrations by Sydney Smith. Read the review here.

On my two-hour walk a butterfly passed amiably by, as did some sort of buzzing insect. A bee? Hope so. My 12,000+ step walk took me into the river valley, Rossdale, over the beautiful Walt Jr Bridge, and then back again. I may have picked up a bit of a wind or sun burn. By the end of it, I felt like me. I felt like this is exactly what I should be doing on a sunny Sunday. Having said that, it was tiring, and so I took a short nap under a sun beam on my couch after I got home. All in all, a fantastic afternoon.

Bridge in Rossdale

View of the river just past the bridge in Rossdale

I can’t stress enough how wonderful this walk was, simply because this time last April, there was still a lot of snow and being new to the neighbourhood, I had yet to discover some the of paths I took today. This year, the river is far more open, and yesterday, the trails were packed with people biking, walking, and even skateboarding. We deserve this after the winter we had, especially February.

Walterdale Bridge, also fondly known as Walt Jr

1:15-3:00 pm/15C.

Windy Friday

A windy but refreshing walk home yesterday (Friday). It was much warmer in the woods than street-level, and the sun was only briefly out, but a walk is a walk. The river is breaking up at a faster rate than last spring, and next week is all in the teens, so the unpaved river valley trails ought to be open soon.

9C