It feels like springtime in Alberta and the sloughs are filling up with meltwater again, even though it technically is still winter for a couple more weeks. The only sound here was that of water running in the ditch and the wind blowing through the fence wires and the grass. I was travelling with my friend Michael Chesworth on our way towards Drumheller when we came across this beautiful scene in Kneehill County. We travel with no agenda and no major goals in mind, simply enjoying our time together and the scenery along as many gravel backroads as we can find. Of course gravel roads allow us to travel slowly if we want to, and we do, and stop often without the worry of traffic, so it generally takes us a long time to get anywhere! But that is exactly how I like it!
there’s something rather strange and still
about a warm winter afternoon
when the sun has dipped until
there is only a subtle peach haze on the
and a silver sparkle on the trees
the snow is soft
with endless rills and rolls
for a change, and listen
animals smile with their gentle eyes
look and look
and take off their mitts
and adjust their hats
and breathe deeply
trying to grasp it
I wonder if warm winter afternoons
mean this much everywhere
or just here
Marilyn Cay – “Strange and Still”
Piper Creek meanders it’s way through Bower Woods late in the evening before meeting up with Waskasoo Creek in downtown Red Deer and only a kilometre or so before the water of both creeks joins the Red Deer River. In places, Piper Creek flows at an almost imperceptible pace. There are a lot of log jams formed from the very temporary, but also very strong surge of runoff from the big thunderstorms that roll through central Alberta all summer. I have watched it go from hardly a trickle to a raging torrent in only a few minutes.
Evening approaches and quiet comes to the forest called Bower Woods. Only a few squirrels and a nuthatch were making any sounds. The trails have gone silent from those who had been out enjoying an evening walk, some with their dogs, some were jogging, and a few were riding their bikes. I think it was just too beautiful outside today for many to stay indoors.
I paused here along Piper Creek and enjoyed the quiet, watching the faint blue of the sky above reflect off it’s surface, contrasting so nicely with the warm tones of autumn. A few of the trees were sporting a nice blue reflection on their bark too and there was barely a breath of wind left. A small cottontail rabbit watched me from where it thought I couldn’t see it as I walked back to my vehicle in the dark.
In the reflection of a moment’s light,
the voice within cries,
“There is God!”
Waskasoo Creek, Red Deer, Alberta
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Last night was one of the best nights I’ve spent outdoors enjoying creation. It was warm, no wind, very few insects and a major league bonus included seeing the fireflies I talked about in my last post. It didn’t stop there though!! The aurora borealis showed up and put on a nice show, so I was able to capture this image showing the reflection of the auroras in Gull Lake, which was very calm. Oh, the show wasn’t over yet – noctilucent clouds started to glow brilliantly along the horizon as you can see in the image. Listening to all the grebes, geese, ducks, loons and coyotes and even the fish making noises was an experience along with the stunning views is something everyone should put an effort into experiencing! These beautiful nights don’t last long in Alberta, so I love to take advantage of them when I can. I have a few more images that are worth posting, but I have been really busy all day already and I want a nap. Apparently things could fire up again tonight!!
[ Canon 5DmkIII, Canon EF 11-24mm L]
Hoping to catch a nice sunset I headed off to Gull Lake last night. It’s only a 30 minute drive, so a bit of a last minute desicion was no big deal. The temperature was 28ºC and the parking lot at the beach was packed solid when I arrived. I’m not one for big crowds anywhere, malls, carnivals etc. I much prefer quiet and so I didn’t haul out my cameras as they grab far too much attention. Instead I parked my butt on a bench and enjoyed the setting sun. It was interesting too, as I noticed thousands of small fish feeding on the insects on the surface of the water just like trout do and birds, both gulls and terns in turn skimming the surface picking off these fish as they surfaced. I have no idea what kind of fish they were, but I’m curious to know. While I was enjoying the warmth of the sun I got an e-mail alert about possible aurora, so I thought it would be nice to wait and see if they showed up.
Pretty much as soon as the sun disappeared below the horizon the crowds started thinning out quite quickly and I didn’t feel so conspicuous with my camera. It takes a long time to get dark at this time of year! The sun set at around 9:50pm and it takes a couple of hours for the sky to get dark. A few minutes before 11 a park warden came by to tell me they were locking up the gates and I would have to leave. I explained what I was doing and the warden said he wouldn’t kick me out of the park if I was to park outside the gate and walk back in. It’s under a kilometre to get in so I was all for the idea! He also mentioned that the evening before there had been a lot of fireflies around and that they were seen around midnight for an hour or so. This perked my interest as I have only ever seen fireflies once before while out chasing thunderstorms around this time of year a long time ago. I parked my car outside the gate and gathered together the minimum amount of gear I felt was necessary and wandered back down to the beach. The warden had given me a good tip and almost as if on que the first flash of greenish light of a firefly appeared in a small group of trees next to the beach. I set up my camera and took a twenty minute time exposure looking out over Gull Lake. As you can see the earth rotates and creates star trails in the sky, but the main attraction for me was the squiggly green lines tracing out the flight path of these amazing little insects!
[Olympus E-M5II, Panasonic 20mm f/1.7]
The water is running nicely in Piper Creek with all the warm weather we are having, although the recent dump of snow cooled things down for a few days. We also got to enjoy some fresh clean whiteness as well before it all melted again.
[ Olympus E-M5II, Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm II ]
I am calling it a late snow, as we had none on the ground last week and the weather had me thinking it was really spring just like the calendar said, but nooooooooo I was wrong!
I spent some time back in Bower Woods again this morning. 🙂
[ Olympus E-M5II, Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm II ]
White Pyramid reflecting in Waterfowl Lake, Banff National Park, AB
[ Sigma DP3 Merrill ]