Category Archives: Observations

Maybe Spring Has Sprung

Look Stella, no snow in Whitemud Ravine!

I worked from home last Friday because I needed a bubble to complete an onerous task. The work itself isn’t the problem; it’s the quantity of it. A 48-page set of speaking notes for an upcoming event. Long story short, the uninterrupted time was invaluable. However, at noon, I dived into the woods with the dog. I spent the day with Stella because no one was home at my sister’s, and both of us needed the walk and the company.

Surprisingly, Whitemud Ravine was virtually snow-free. A few patches here and there, but clear on all the paths, and not muddy. I expected a lot more, because spring proper only started a couple of days earlier. Before that, mostly awful weather. The trails were beautiful and it was soul-restoring to be back walking them.

Frogless bog

Frogless bog (detail)

I wanted to see if the frogs had returned to one of the little bogs in the ravine, but alas, no froggies. No real spring smells either, but Stella’s snout was working overtime ferreting out other scents. She seemed very happy to be in the woods. She’s not the trouble-free dog that Maggie was, in the sense that she’s not entirely trustworthy. I can’t take her off the leash, and she randomly barks or lunges at other dogs, and sometimes people. Most of the time, she is pretty good, but unpredictable. Maggie was easy, but she was also old, and generally much more of a people person. Stella is more insecure and introverted. The poor dog was abandoned at the age of six, and Sharon thinks she might not have been adequately socialized with other dogs, so it’s not surprising Stella has a few issues.

Still, she’s a beautiful doggo and a wonderful walking buddy.

Snow goose? Duck? Dunno…

And you are?


A River Revealed

Monday, April 23

Thursday, April 19

Wednesday, April 4

And suddenly, the river is open! Suddenly, in terms of what amounts to a weekend. Not suddenly, when you realize spring arrived on March 20, notable only for its absence. Still, I am grateful for the beautiful day and weekend we had, which consisted of rain (but not snow) on Saturday and hurricane-force winds (but sunny!) on Sunday. I was going to take Stella for a walk on Sunday, but she was limping and I was working, so we played in the backyard instead.

Today, for my 40 minute walk home – gorgeous, warm and calm. I took the Groat Bridge route to see what this first day of a three-year construction project would like, and it was no problem. The pedestrian path is not yet affected, but it will be. As for the traffic, it’s one lane each way. This won’t be a fun rehabilitation, but hopefully, this route will be accessible in some form for the duration. I will be taking other routes for the rest of summer.



New Walk

Emily Murphy

These photos were taken on two separate days, one bluer than the other. My iPhone camera died for some inexplicable reason half way through my first official river valley walk home in the new ‘hood last week. I think it was just too damn cold. Today, I walked the same route and my camera was warm and compliant.

A frozen April river

I have to say, it’s not a great commute but it’s a commute, on foot, and that’s what matters. The problem is that it’s mostly in traffic. Down Saskatchewan Drive, over the Groat Bridge, up Victoria trail and then a set of stairs to 121st. It takes 40 minutes and less than 10,000 steps. This, I think, will be a walk I take in the winter and when I need a good, but not a great walk home. Once the river valley trails melt, I’ll take the woods. I also need a new pair of running shoes. I used a really old pair today because I threw out my shoes from two years ago that developed toe holes and were basically unwearable (or so my toes tell me). I usually try to get a new pair of running shoes every year, but I just didn’t last year.

I am not sure I feel settled. I haven’t landed yet in my new place, if that makes any sense. It feels like a home, and a nice home, but not my home. I don’t know why. I think I need to walk around more, get acquainted with the access points to the river valley. I kinda know them, but further east (Strathcona) and further west (in Glenora), not Oliver. I think it will come. I hope it will come.

A view from Oliver

The weather in April and most of March has been horrendous. Until today. It was above zero for the first time since the beginning of the month. I haven’t walked much, or really, at all. This weekend, I think the book dust from the boxes set off some sort of reaction and I was woozy all day Sunday. I walked to the grocery store, and the blue sky and warmth-averse sunshine felt great, but I had to make it short. This is worrisome. Am I just dead dog tired of packing and unpacking boxes (yes); am I really allergic to dust (probably not); or am I having some sort of psychological reaction to my acquisitive book habits that seem less of a good thing now that I’m having to sort, shelve, recycle and possibly re-home them? I feel overwhelmed, and strangely antagonistic to my horde.

But I digress.

I feel much better today. I hope this is the beginning of…or the return of…a new walking phase in my life. And possibly fewer books.


A Dubious Saturday

Was over at my sister’s place on Saturday to take Stella for a walk. The original intention was to drive us to the Whitemud trail head in Westbrook and hit the ravine under blue skies (wishful thinking), but the meteorological gods had different plans, presenting us with life-sucking rain-snow, grey skies and low visibility. Actually, the whole day kind of sucked. I was supposed to take delivery of my beautiful new sofa in the morning, but it was too big for the elevator and the stairs too narrow, so I had to switch it out for a love seat, which will arrive (hopefully) next Saturday. In any case, with my sister away for the weekend, I thought a walk with the doggie, who I miss terribly, would turn the day around but within three minutes I wiped out on the ice. Seconds later, Stella wiped out in front of me. I hadn’t even managed to haul myself off the ground yet. I landed on my elbow and my cell phone went flying. Luckily, no broken bones, but it hurt like hell. (The bruise is turning out quite nicely, however.) Poor Stella, she limped for a bit, but managed to walk it off within a few minutes. The next day, Sharon and I noticed that she had also cut herself under her chin!

This winter gets a D-. Do you hear that winter? Multiple freeze-thaw cycles, icy sidewalks and long stretches of frigid weather. You could say that’s a typical winter, but not really. The ice has been particularly treacherous this year, and long-lasting.  I, along with every Edmontonian, will be so fucking glad when this winter shuffles off to whence it came.

After the fall, the rest of the walk was OK. Stella had fun running after the ball, and at one point, she just dropped to the ground and starting rolling around, luxuriating in her snow bath. During her month-long vacay in Scottsdale with Sharon in February, her daily routine involved a play n’ splash in a local public fountain. She LOVES water, but she also loves snow. Burying her ball, leaping into the snowbanks. She’s an outdoorsy girl.

I haven’t quite returned to my daily walking commutes. There have been after-work things to do, so in the nine work-days I have had in my new place thus far, I’ve only walked home about three. Bad Donna. When I do start walking in the river valley this week, it will be with spikes.

-1C/one hour


Shoescape from my very first blog post in April, 2010

Well, I finally launched myself out of my sister’s basement (hoisted might be a better word) and moved back into a walkable neighbourhood. It took six years, most of them very happy but largely unwalkable (from a commuter standpoint). I’m not going to belly gaze too much on that one. I already know I’m prone to inertia when it comes to major life changes, and the location in south Edmonton with my family – furry and non-furry alike – was just comfortable enough, and my career, at times, too precarious to make any sudden moves.

And so, six years later…

Instead of moving back into my familiar haunt in Old Strathcona, however, I’ve opted for downtown, in Oliver. It’s even more walkable, but alas, it is not two blocks from my beloved Mill Creek Ravine or ten minutes from my (also beloved) Whitemud Ravine. But, what it lacks in immediate ravine access it more than makes up for in walkability to work, amenities and the river valley. I just moved in last week, so between a spare room half-filled with boxes (mostly books), and building new bookcases for said books, I’ve not had much time to explore the ‘hood, although I am vaguely familiar with it.

I walked home once last week, and it was great. Not through the river valley, but across the High Level Bridge and then along the path that snakes around the edge of downtown above the river. It took about 45 minutes. Eventually, I will take the various river valley routes home, but it’s just been too busy. I don’t feel that relaxed at the moment. Far from it. There’s always a thousand things to do, in the evening, at work, and especially at home. I need a week off to get everything sorted.

It’s strange to be on my own again, which sounds crazy coming from a person who has done just that for most of my adult life. I am only about a 20 minute walk (or five minute drive) from Tom, and my sisters are short(ish) drives away, but when I come home, it’s just me. No Molly. No Maggie, or Stella, or Wanda. I might have to cat up. It’s awfully quiet.

I am looking forward to some actual leisure time that’s not about opening boxes or frowning at the visible consequences of my acquisitive book habits. Wandering in the neighbourhood. Walking instead of driving to stores. Walking to Tom’s. Walking in the river valley. Discovering new routes and pathways. Being in nature every day. Watching the river. Watching the seasons. Ending my work days in the woods, not underground waiting for the train.

Of course, there have been hundreds of walks since I moved in with my sister, and many of them have been in the company of either Maggie, or Stella, which has been a wonderful gift. I’ve learned the intricacies and intimacies of Whitemud Ravine, a total joy. And even with Tom, I’ve “discovered” the beautiful trails in and around Glenora. What I haven’t done, and what I’ve missed terribly, is my commute at the end of the day, on foot. It’s taken a big toll on my life, mentally and physically. Yeah, I periodically managed to find a way, but nothing sustainable over six years.

Oliver is my doorway back into the thing that dramatically changed my life for the better almost 25 years ago. Walking.

Walking home.

Hello January

It’s been awhile. Little walking other than neighbourhood dog walks December and early January. It’s been too cold, too slippery, or too much effort. I’ve also been suffering from a series of colds. A head cold Christmas Eve day, lasting for about a week. And then, last week, a chest cold which may have been my head cold part II, which I still have. Lots of people seem to be getting two colds in a row, or one long and winding cold. It’s been a month of hacks, sneezing and phlegm. And rolls and rolls of Halls.

Anyway, a nice long walk at Terwilleger with Sharon and Stella. Frosty, a bit overcast, but nice to get out and stretch my atrophied everything.

Even though it was nicer and bluer out than the photographs might suggest, it was very wintery in the way the white, low sun spotlighted through the frost-covered branches. That eye-level sun is a dead giveway it’s winter. Still.