Category Archives: Observations

Sunday in the Park with Stella (again)

It seems my only substantial walks these days are with Stella. I didn’t used to need a dog to go for a walk – but a walk is a walk and Stella is always good company.

Stella’s mom (my sister Sharon) and I wandered around Terwillegar with about a thousand other dogs. I’ve never seen so many dogs – tall dogs, short dogs, brown, black and blond dogs, racing dogs, ambling dogs, ball-dogs like Stella. Everybody getting along, everybody happy to be outdoors on a beautiful day.

In my estimation, we are having another crap winter, by which I mean a roller coaster of freeze and melt, and a lot of grey, overcast days which always leave me feeling blue and lazy. My memory could be faulty, but we’ve had more “warm” winter days in the last two or three years – where the melting snow leaves giant swaths of ice once the temperature falls (which is always does) – than we ever used to have. Maybe a bit of a melt in late January or February, but really only one or two episodes. Now, rain is a regular feature of our winters. On the surface, this would appear to be a good thing, but also on the surface is ice. Lots and lots of ice.

Sharon retrieving the ball that Stella lost down the hill.

My dream winter would be short and mild, and by mild I mean around -5C to -10C. Not too warm, not too cold, with just enough snow and lots of blue skies. Not what we get these days, which is black ice, grey skies, and annoyingly timed snow (like when I’m driving).

I also think that because I walk a lot less than what I used to, I’m not out finding ways to enjoy it. In 25 years of walking in the ravines and river valley of this city, I’m not sure I ever had one walk I regretted. I always found something beautiful, even on days when all colour seems sapped from the landscape. That’s what’s missing. I’m not out actively hunting for beauty.

Well, today was beautiful. Yes it was.

About 0C. 

Monday in the Woods at Lunch

Below the High Level Bridge

A much-needed walk today at noon on a 55 minute loop through Emily Murphy Park. I blew a couple of opportunities to walk this weekend – stuff to do, I guess – but I knew it would be nice today as well, so I brought my spikes and off I went at lunch. The blue sky and sun were amazing, but down in the woods, it was pretty frosty. About -7C. Later in the afternoon, it was 4C. Although we are gaining light (32 minutes since the solstice) the days are still so short it takes a long time to warm up. Once I was walking up Emily Murphy hill, I had my gloves off.

Approaching the LRT Bridge…whatever it’s called

On the trail that runs parallel to the river, my phone died. The cold sucked its will to live. I know the feeling, but -7? I think I need a new battery. Or a new phone.

I didn’t walk much after Christmas. It was super cold, and as per usual, I was super lazy. On January 2, I was back at work, and we had a record breaking day at 7.9C! It was a drippy, beautiful day. I went for another lunch time walk just around campus. We’ve had so many freeze-thaw events it’s virtually impossible to walk in the river valley and ravines without micro-spikes. Or even the sidewalks some days.

A January 2 walk around campus on a record-breaking day.

Moments before my camera died just before the trail into Emily Murphy Park

12:00-12:55/-7 or thereabouts, 4 above later.

Christmas Eve Day

Stella makes her case for a walk

I write this more than a week past my last ‘good’ walk and on my last day of work for the year. It’s Christmas Eve, and while I am here until noon, there is not much going on, so…

And also, this may prove to be my one and only post from December 2018, but I hope not. Surely there will be some walking opportunities over my week off? You see, that’s the difference between Donna pre and post 2011, when I moved over to the south side. Before, I would create the walking opportunities. It was very rare that I didn’t walk five or six times a week, even if it was just the short 25 minute commute home to Mill Creek. Now, I seem to wait for the perfect weather, or I don’t think about it at all. Sigh…

Stella and I in Whitemud Ravine

Funny how habits, ingrained habits, can vanish if the circumstances change. I moved out of my very walkable neighbourhood in 2011 to move in with Sharon’s family for a year, and I stayed for six. And now, back on my own for eight months, I’m still struggling to regain my old habit of making a daily walk my top priority.

In any case, last Friday, December 14, my office gifted us with a day off, a ‘shopping day’, and so while I did hit a mall at some point, I still managed to drive over to my sister’s place to take her dog, Stella, for a walk in a deserted Whitemud Ravine. It was almost creepy how deserted it was, and gloomy. It was book-ended by two beautiful blue sky days, but Friday was overcast and it felt very dark in the woods. Glad I had Stella with me for this reason, and a million more.

We had a good time. I wore my micro-spikes and they were extremely helpful. The trails are quite icy from the warm weather and occasional rain mixed with snow, which seems to be the norm these days. Stella, as usual, wore her naturally spiky nails.

A walk is a walk, though, and we had a good time.

I don’t remember what the temperature was, but not too cold. Probably around -2C.

Maybe it’s Not Winter?

A cyclist makes their way along a snow lined bike path near 89 Avenue and 109 Street Thursday morning (photo: Edmonton Journal/David Bloom)

This is a weather report with no walking but a soupçon of whining. My last post suggested that maybe winter had finally begun in the sense that the snow would stay. Well, it didn’t. On Thursday, it was raining and most of the snow was gone. The temperature the previous day reached 11C. The ice pancakes on the river dissolved into syrupy darkness.

Today, or should I say, last night, the rain turned to snow and this morning it was a winter wonderland. Hard to say how many centimetres but in the full dollop range. It’s beautiful, but a bit treacherous on the roads and sidewalks because of yesterday’s rain.

But that snow won’t last either. It’s supposed to be above zero and raining on Sunday, and then well above zero all next week. Our wonky ‘winter’ continues.

I wish it would be one or the other, although if I had to choose, I’d take snowless. Until Christmas.

-13C/at work. No walking today. 

Today’s Edmonton Journal headline “Edmonton Weather: Snowfall warning lifted … it’ll all be gone by next week.”

This Is Probably Winter

Last year, it snowed and stayed on November 1, not leaving until the following April. This year, we made it an additional day. Woohoo! It snowed on Friday, November 2 and by snow I mean a blanket-the-entire-landscape deluge. I was dog-sitting on Friday and Saturday, and when I came home from work on Friday, I had to shovel what felt like two feet of heavy, wet snow off the driveway and sidewalk. Saturday morning, after walking Stella, I had to unbury my car. On a positive note, it was sunny and the streets cleared by afternoon. Stella and I went on another, longer walk to the power line and she had a great time. She loves the snow! Even more, she loves burying her ball in the snow. As a friend on Instagram commented, “I buries it, and then I digs it up.”


Today, it’s been raining but will turn to snow later this afternoon, covering what will no doubt be a thin but deadly layer of ice. There is still a lot of snow but the streets and sidewalks are clear. My only walk was to London Drugs and the grocery store. An hour later, I was soaked from head to toe from the rain and some thoughtful person who drove into a puddle and splashed me. Thanks asshole.

I’m not looking forward to the icy walks. And the dark (today was the end of daylights savings). I just have to remember Stella, and how much fun she has in the snow. BE. LIKE. STELLA.


1C (7C on Saturday)

Monday Glow

An absolutely stunning walk home yesterday. I started walking at 5:00 pm so the sun was close to setting, spreading a golden glow over every leaf and branch. By the time I reached the ‘new’ trail below Ezio Faraone Park (just past a very windy High Level Bridge), it was incredible.

Too bad I didn’t have my real camera with me (she said, blaming her phone).

Clearly, the squirrel was posing, but I couldn’t really get a close up. The squirrel was disappointed. He knew he looked gorgeous and gilded in that light.

Probably my last walk along this route before Daylight Savings kicks in on the weekend. Maybe Thursday. Anyway, it felt like I was walking in gold all the way home.

50 minutes/9C