Category Archives: Observations

A Buttermilk Sky (walk #3)

On Saturday (July 22), Tom and I went for pizza, and then for what turned out to be a most beautiful walk in and around his neighbourhood of Glenora.

We started off by walking to the fountain in Alexander Circle, which in itself, is a sight to behold.

The grand, century-old houses, the fountain and the ubiquitous “gardens in bloom” signs signify that you’ve entered the rarefied world of old money and tasteful garden cherubim.

No hand-crafted Godzilla water features, in other words, like you would see in my beloved Mill Creek neighbourhood.

Definitely NOT in Glenora

Picturesque fountains aside, after reading a few of the inscriptions on the benches, we turned east into the ravine on our way to the river which is just a short 20 minute walk from the top of the hill down a gorgeous, green trail. It runs adjacent to Groat Road, but all you can hear are the birds.

The sky was unbelievable! The clouds had taken on a particularly lovely formation, like puffs of cotton speckled across the blue expanse. We stopped multiple times to look and Tom said the phenomenon is called a Buttermilk Sky (because of the ‘curdled” appearance of the clouds). I had never heard this before, and while it’s unusual for Tom to comment on such things, I took him at his word. Buttermilk Sky. I like it. Although I don’t think of buttermilk as curdled, only something that I would never willingly drink unless its dissolved in pancakes and covered in maple syrup.

At the river, we turned west into MacKinnon Ravine. No relation. It was such a gorgeous evening. We were walking late, about 7:30, so for most of it we were in the cool shade, although the sun was still high(ish) and hot.

After about 15 minutes, the trail turned steeply up over the bridge and back into Glenora. The entire walk was a little more than an hour, and spectacularly beautiful. We will do this one again.

25C/7:30 – 9:00(ish) 


Smoke on the Water (walks #1 & 2)

The bridge…in Glenora over MacKinnon Ravine.

Once again, I’m behind on my blogposts, but happily, not my walks. Now to write three posts.

Wednesday evening (July 19), I went over to Tom’s for a walk. The sky was filled with smoke and the sun was an orange orb. You could look right at it without setting your retinas on fire. We walked our usual loop around Glenora. Other than the sun and smoke, nothing remarkable.

The next day, Thursday, I spent my lunch hour walking around a smoke-filled river valley. All week we’ve had a smoke advisory because of the forest fires in BC. It’s not as bad as it was in 2010, but it still makes for some ethereal landscapes.

Emily Murphy Road

The hour-long walk was great, although I didn’t bust 10,000 steps. I walked down Saskatchewan Drive to Emily Murphy and then hung a right through the trail along the river. Usually that path is wet and humid but it’s been very dry of late after a wet spring. Even scanning the horizon, the hills and boulevards on the way to Hawrelak are yellow, in contrast with the spruce trees and the green bushes (of various leafage).

Lots of colour in the river valley, as long as you don’t look up

Because I am writing this a few days after the fact, I can’t remember what the temperature was, but the heat was tempered by the sheath of smoke. Probably about 22C.


Related Reading: A Schmoke and a Pancake (2010)

Welcome, Stella

A week and two days ago Stella came into our lives. A six-year-old rescue from the Humane Society, Stella, who was inexplicably named Laccy, is a sweet doggie everyone has fallen madly in love with. Except for the cat. Wanda is tolerant. Lots of sniffing and a bit of hissing, but overall, they seem to get along very well.

Stella is a champion ball retriever and water splasher. She plays hard and sleeps hard. She loves her pack and is starting to trust that we aren’t going anywhere, or more to the point, she isn’t going anywhere. Stella has found her forever home.

Not much is known about her, other than her previous owners gave her up because they were moving to an apartment and couldn’t keep her. I would move heaven and earth to keep a dog like Stella.

Today was my first ravine walk with Stella. She did awesome. She’s not an instigator and mostly ignores people and other dogs, but will introduce herself if required. She is friendly. A bit wary but that seems to be lessening. Her absolute place of happiness is the water, so we let her play around in the creek under the third bridge in Whitemud Ravine, which was Maggie’s favourite bridge.

It’s so nice to walk with a dog again. I miss Maggie very much, but Stella is making up for some of that loss. It’s always better with a dog. Always.

10:00-11:00ish/22C. (We are in the middle of a heatwave. Yesterday it was 30, and probably today too.)

Morning in Whitemud Ravine

Went for a cool(ish), windy and relatively uneventful walk in Whitemud Creek Ravine this morning. After a wet evening, the ravine was damp and fragrant. Brought some nuts and seeds with me, but couldn’t get any chickadee action. The bird song in the canopy was beautiful but not a lot of sightings, and only one insistent squirrel who demanded a second helping of peanuts. The areas where I left nuts on the first part of the walk was left untouched as I made my way back an hour later. Not sure where everybody was.

There were other walkers, and quite a few dogs, including one stray. I think he was a stray. He just showed up out of the bush. A shepherd-cross, I think, with no tail. He seemed tired, but he wouldn’t come near. I followed him for awhile and called and whistled, but he took off running. I hope he knows the way home, or that someone is better at calling him over than I was. I can’t stop thinking about him. Stay safe, doggie.

By the time I emerged out out of the ravine, it was warmer but still windy with a glorious blue sky overhead.

9:30 – 11:00/19C


Owls for lunch!

Great Horned Owl & babe enjoying a meal of indeterminate species

Once again, I am writing after the fact. Or, after the walk to be more exact. This particular adventure took place on Thursday morning, June 7. Knowing that I would be unable to go for long walks for the next several days because of Tom’s hernia surgery (now complete and successful!), I jumped into the ravine around 9:00, before the heat set in.

I entered via the stairs in Whitemud North, and while I was intending to walk all the way to Snow Valley, the trail was cut off about 3/4’s of the way because of bank re-construction. On the way back, while battling mosquitoes, I saw a guy with a lot of camera equipment pointed up into the canopy. I said, “owls?” and he said, “yes!”. He then helped me find the mama Great Horned Owl and babe enjoying a meal of something very dead. I think it might have been a squirrel since the claws didn’t seem that long. I didn’t actually see what they were doing because they were too far away, but my camera caught some awesome photos (for me)! Also, I’ve never photographed owls and have barely seen them in my 20+ years of trekking in the river valley and ravines. So yay. Big yay!! And thank you photographer dude for being so nice and helpful.

Hey, watch it!

Because squirrels

Dark-eyed, really dark-eyed junco

Hot ‘n Buggy

Another late afternoon walk in Whitemud Ravine, via Rainbow Valley Road. It was very humid in the bush, and the mosquitoes were flying. I could barely stop to take a photo without being quickly and definitively occupied by the imperial forces.

There were lots of people on the trails, but still many moments of solitude. Green solitude. It’s so lush and alive in the woods, and everywhere.

Mice can swim? Who knew?

3:38 to 5:15/24C