Tag Archives: Whitemud Ravine

And then this happened…

I made a Chelsea and Andy in honour of their wedding

This is going to be a photo post, because it’s so nice and pretty today (Sunday) but Friday and Saturday were pure rubbish. Once again, it snowed. It snowed hard. Snowed so hard I had to shovel my car out.

I am dog-sitting Stella for four days because most of my family is in California for my step-niece Chelsea’s wedding. Even though I went for two walks a day with the doggo in the heavy wet snow, which did not make me happy, I will admit to a small frolic in the snow on Saturday. It wasn’t until all the snow melted (6cm plus) on Sunday morning that we went for a proper walk in Whitemud Ravine. Landscape-wise, it was like the snow hadn’t happened at all. Mentally…I’m still scarred.

Snow or no snow, ball is still ball

Whitemud Creek Ravine, the next day

First full day of Autumn in Whitemud Ravine

It was about 6C. 

 

Sizzling Sunday

I like your thinking Stella

This has got to be a record-breaking July in terms of hot, miserable weather. OK, maybe not miserable if you like temperatures upwards of 30C, but definitely miserable if, like me, you’re not into full on – who knew I had pores there – body sweat. At least it’s not horribly dry, thanks to some spectacular thunderstorms.

For the last week, Sharon and Vic have been away on yet another adventure, this time to Colombia, so I spent most of the weekend at their place playing with Stella (and Kate, and oh yeah the cat Wanda). My niece says that I bring ‘enrichment” to Stella’s life when her parents are away. I’m sure that’s true, if you count long walks in the ravine, doggie pool-play (if it’s hot, which it always is), and the delivery of treats, in this case a fresh bag of Beggin’ Strips. Stella looks sooo forlorn inside the house. She’s definitely an outdoorsy girl, whereas Kate is decidedly indoorsy, referring to the sun as “the day-star” – and in no way is this complimentary.

On Sunday, I drove over early to gather the dog for a hike in Whitemud Ravine. Even at 9:00 am, it was warm, but once we dived into the woods, the temperature dropped by about five degrees. Stella is so damn happy in the ravine, as am I, although my ears don’t bounce as I trot along the trail (and really, I don’t trot). Nor do I stop to smell everything, but the overall scent is magnificent.

Spot the snout

Finding time for these sorts of walks has been more challenging than I expected. I guess my life is a little more complicated now, and happily so. And even though I live two blocks off the river valley, there is no escaping the traffic, either on Victoria Trail, River Road, the truly awful Groat Bridge construction site, or even down Jasper into Louise McKinney and beyond. This is true also of my commutes. When I lived in Mill Creek, it was fairly easy to avoid major roads on my way home.

After work, once I was in the river valley (usually off Saskatchewan Drive), any number of gorgeous trails could take me home, and depending on the route I chose, would double as an incredibly good workout. I might have to cross traffic on or under the Walterdale Bridge, the Low Level Bridge or 99th Street, but for the most part, my entire commute was in the woods. Now, I live on the other side of the river, and it’s not so easy to find these beautiful, trail-based commutes.

It is better than nothing, however, and even when I lived two blocks off Mill Creek Ravine, my routes were always being diverted by construction projects. Now, it’s even worse, with the new Waterdale Bridge construction site and the Valley Line LRT. So even as I wax poetic about my old routes –¬†those routes, at least for several more years, no longer exist.

Tree falls in the wind, beaver’s delight

Back to Whitemud Ravine. It was a good walk, with a good dog, and we both very much enjoyed it. Stella got to sample the creek water at two different spots, and tangentially, through some slimy stick throwing and Stella’s all-encompassing body shakes, so did I.

Coupla ravens

9:30-11:30/26C

Sunday Monday

Sharon and gang went out to Elk Island on Sunday morning, and because I had stuff to do, I didn’t go with them and instead, walked in Whitemud Ravine sans dog around noon. I love walking with dogs, but it’s tough to take photos, especially with Stella who doesn’t really stand still. She’s got a lot of puppy curiosity, even though she’s six.

It was a pretty great walk, although hot. I walked through to the other end of the powerline, around the houses, and then into Whitemud Ravine, exiting at the Aspen Gardens trail head. About an hour plus.

Whitemud frog(less) bog

This morning, Sharon, Stella and I drove to Westbrook, and then walked in the ravine for an hour. Stella had a dip in the creek.

I should probably mention that I’ve been back at Sharon’s for a week while repairs to the ceiling and walls in my kitchen and master bathroom are completed. I’m calling it the #Sexwater2018 incident. The jacuzzi tub in the condo above me overflowed (it may have had two people in it at the time) and I had water pouring from my ceilings in the bathroom and kitchen. And so, several weeks later, I’m out while they do the repairs. I should be back tomorrow. I miss my place, especially as I have only been there for a little more than two months, but it’s been nice to spend some time walking with Stella again. She was away with Sharon in Scottsdale for all of February, and one of the last times I walked with her before I moved out, we both wiped out on the ice. There is no ice now, just green, pink and purple. And brown creek water.

17C (but will be 28C)

Walking with Stella

Whitemud Creek after 40mm(?) of rain last night

This post, on the first Sunday of my last summer vacation week, is just a bunch of photos from my walks with Stella in Whitemud over the last week.

Torrential storm last night, so the creek was high and the foliage glistening with water droplets. It’s been a wet late July and early August. I am savouring every moment of summer.

Last Thursday evening

Spring Sprung’d

Western Tanager

It’s exploding out there. Not peak pink yet, but days away.

Went for a short walk in Whitemud Ravine via the Aspen Gardens entrance. Funny, Sharon and I were just talking about warblers (she’s taking a class) and I spotted one about ten minutes in. For years, I’ve been seeing yellow birds, but have never been able to capture them on film. I got lucky today.

A Western Tanager!

OK, not a warbler, but I’ve always thought the yellow birds were warblers. It’s far away, so the shot isn’t as clear as I’d like, but I’m very pleased I’ve finally bagged the mighty, tiny and ubiquitous yellow bird, which prior to this has never been named. Hello western tanager!

Many years ago, I very clearly remember seeing a tanager just off the little wooden staircase in Mill Creek, although I didn’t know what it was at the time. Red head, yellow body. I thought someone has lost a tropical bird. At the time I identified it as a scarlet tanager. Who knows if that’s what I saw back then, but this guy for sure is a westie.

Other than that, hot and sunny in the ravine.

23C/1:40 – 2:40 pm.

 

Goodbye my friend

Maggie in green

Hello want to go for a walk

Hello want to go for a walk?

Maggie wasn’t even my dog.

At the end of summer in 2011, I moved into my sister’s basement for what I thought would be about a year while they were on sabbatical – ostensibly to help with my two nieces, who were 18 and 20 at the time, and their dog Maggie. I have always been a dog person and I loved Maggie. I had been their designated dog sitter for years, and thankfully, my sister and brother-in-law traveled a lot. Every post-Christmas ski trip. Every summer holiday. A weekend here and there.

Maggie and I, in the woods.

She was a champion walker and my best dog pal. My snack buddy. My frequent bed partner. My mood lifter. On Tuesday, she passed away. Fourteen and a half years old. An old dog, yes, and very arthritic, but up until her last week, happy to frolic in the park behind the house; eager to eat rabbit shit and smell every pee hole in the snow. To the very end, a dedicated blanket messer-upper and family room ‘tapper’ (she liked to go around the room and tap the surface of things with her paw). The best part of my day was when I was walked up the street after work and my sister would open the door and Maggie would come running down the driveway. Always joyful. She was a joyful dog.

Maggie smiling

She had been in decline for a couple of years. Early in her life, she was full of energy, or as Sharon described it, full of the hybrid vigour that comes with being a mutt. I remember once, when she was still quite young, I was dog sitting during a couple of weeks of incredibly hot and humid weather. I got up at 5:00 to walk her for an hour in the cool of the ravine, and then left her in the house all day while I went to work, and then walked her again for another hour or more later in the evening. She needed it. I’m not sure I did (especially at 5:00 in the morning). We both loved to go for walks. We could walk for hours.

Maggie in Whitemud Creek

About three years ago, she began to hesitate, slowly at first. Sometimes she refused to go up a hill. Some days she would walk more slowly than usual. Sometimes she’d just stop. Our walks gradually became shorter, more destination oriented. We would drive her to Terwillegar off-leash because she loved the river, or the creek, or any pool or bog or puddle. She had a habit of sitting down in the water, no matter how dirty or shallow or icy. It always made us laugh, and I think she knew that.

Any water will do

Any water will do

I had been a solo walker for many years. I was used to walking at a fast pace, with few or no stops. Walking with Maggie over the years, but especially these last five years, I learned to walk more slowly. To stop and listen and drink in the landscape while she nosed about in the bush. I even wrote a post once about her snout. Such an admirable snout.

Her favourite bed

Her favourite bed

One of my favourite memories of Maggie did not involve walking but sitting on the stairs of the deck. She would sit beside me and I’d put my arm around her. She’d lean in a bit, her hot fur weight against me. I could smell her doggy scent, hear her light panting. Occasionally she’d look around and give me a quick lick on the face. I was truly present in those moments. Just sitting there, with her. We did that a lot. Not my dog but yet so deeply bonded. To be in the company of a dog, especially a dog like her, is really something.

In the last couple of years of her life, she was prescribed many medications: for her fading eyesight and her aging heart and her arthritis, creeping inexorably down her back and legs. Cubes of glucosamine, or as the kids called it, her medicinal jujubes. I was in charge (or at least, I took charge) of administering these concoctions. “Shooting” her and “pilling” her, multiple times a day. Making sure she ate something with her pills. Making sure her water bowl was full. Even now, five days since she’s been gone, I can’t stop looking over where her dish should be, anxious that she doesn’t have any water.

Maggie blue sky

Last week Maggie was having more trouble than usual getting up. She was wobbly and sometimes she fell, and once she fell off my bed. She seemed to be listing to one side, her right side, and she just didn’t seem herself. She stopped eating her kibble, and few of her snacks. Milk bones were left untouched on the floor. She was also drooling, which was unlike her. Maggie was a barker and a licker, not a drooler. But also the most gentle dog that I’ve ever known.

She did not have a mean bone in her body.

Maggie Bonk

Maggie snowface

The day she passed, Kate called me at work. Maggie had fallen and could not get up. When I arrived home half an hour later, Maggie was on the floor in the hallway wrapped in a blanket, wagging her tail and lifting her head. She tried really hard to get up. I told her it was OK. We put her bed into the back of the car and drove her to the vet. My other sister Joanne joined us there. (Sharon, her beloved mum, was in Scottsdale and her dad in Australia.) I ran my fingers through her fur and kissed her and told her I loved her. On the table she leaned very hard into me. All three of us were crying. The vet and the assistants were all very kind. They knew Maggie and loved her too. The vet even kissed her, which I will always remember. He said, this is the day. She had suffered a stroke, probably several, and had another one in the doctor’s office after they had taken her away to give her a sedative. He brought us into the room with her and she was calm. Her eyes were closed. We were there when he administered the final drug and she passed away. It was hard and peaceful.

Maggie in the fall

I am thankful that so many of our walks have been recorded in this blog. All the photographs and wonderful memories. Maggie had a long and happy life for a dog, somewhere in the vicinity of 80-90 human years. I knew her days were coming to an end, we all did, but that didn’t prepare any of us for what feels like a sudden absence. This week hasn’t been easy. I see her everywhere. All of my routines have been disrupted. I miss her snoring. I miss her happy barks when one of her pack members arrived home. I miss her helicopter tail. I miss the tap of her paws on tile. I feel badly for Sharon and Vic, who just happened to be away on the day. I am glad, however, that it wasn’t in the middle of the night. We were there with her, and for her, and her suffering was short.

Maggie in snow

A weird thing happened. When our family dog Happy died in 1983, Cyndi Lauper’s song Time After Time, a hit on radio at the time, became inextricably tied to the memory of her death. To this day, the song, and in particular the lyrics, always makes me think of Happy, lagging behind on walks, peaceful and slow in old age. I was not as close to Happy as I was to Maggie, but I did love her. When we got home on Tuesday from the vet, steeped in grief, I went downstairs to my bathroom and turned on the radio. It was playing Time After Time.

Sometimes you picture me
I’m walking too far ahead
You’re calling to me, I can’t hear
What you’ve said
Then you say, go slow
I fall behind
The second hand unwinds

If you’re lost you can look and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall I will catch you, I will be waiting
Time after time

Maggie in the field