“Spring” in Calgary

Sanctuary Arrangement: Findhorn Scotland

I hope wherever you are that you are enjoying the increasing light and warmth of the spring Equinox.  I am learning that here in Calgary, the warmth and friskiness of spring is a bit unpredictable.  The week before the Equinox, it was extremely warm and the snow melted so fast that the streets of Calgary were like rivers!  Home bred Calgarians were out in their shorts and t-shirts.  I have learned that Calgarians like to capitalize on these nice chinook streaks in this way.  It is not uncommon to see flip flops or sandals being worn during these times!  Did I say how much I admire and love these slightly crazy people?  So I welcomed this spring weather and warm sun by creating a flower arrangement on my Findhorn sanctuary pot that I brought back with me this summer and welcomed the energies of spring.

The next morning, I woke up to go pee at about 6 am and I looked out my kitchen window like I usually do to check out the sunrise.  It was snowing- not surprisingly.  My alarm set in when I noticed the Calgary Tower was on fire.  Or so I thought.  I watched if for a minute or so to see if it was a controlled fire or not.  I jumped onto the Internet and saw that the tower was built to be on fire for the 1988 Calgary Olympics; this was the Olympic flame 🙂  In Alberta fashion, it was on to mark Shell Gas and Oil Company’s 100 year anniversary. Needless to say, I laughed at myself on the way back to my cozy bed happy it wasn’t a fire “problem.”

Calgary Tower Sans Flame

Calgary Tower Flamed On

Another adventure that proved how much of a Vancouverite I am happened when I left my apartment to go swimming a couple of days ago.  As I waited for the Route 2 bus, I noticed that the trees looked like lace.  I was transfixed and perplexed all at once as I tried to figure out what had caused this; it had not snowed for a few days.  From far away, some of the trees looked like white ribbon magnolia in bloom.  Anyhow, I jumped on my bus and stared in awe at all the trees as we drove down 17 Ave SW.  When I got to Killarney park, I got close to the trees and bushes and examined them only to find spike-like frost on the branches of the shrubs.  I was entranced and I entertained myself for a while touching the ice and watching it melt from the warmth of my hands.

spike-y hoar frost

That night, I was talking to my friend, Michelle, on the way to drumming and told her of this discovery of mine with great enthusiasm.  She said in a matter of fact tone of one who abhors snow or anything cold, “Oh.  That?  That’s hoar frost.”  I was thrilled.  “It has a name,” I thought, “Awesome stuff.”

From Wikipedia:

“Hoar frost is white frost or rime is the tiny solid deposition of water vapor from saturated air which occurs when the temperature of the surfaces is below freezing point. It occurs generally with clear skies. Air hoar, surface hoar, crevasse hoar and depth hoar are all types of hoar frost or technically: Radiation frost”

I lamented to Michelle that unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera on me and she promised me a picture she’d taken:

Michelle's Hoar Frost Picture

Great Film Recommendation

I just finished watching this free documentary that can be found on YouTube at this address:

I’ve never seen a film that does such a comprehensive job of evaluating the state of our world, where it is going, and what can be done.  Various scientists, psychologists, economists and the like are interviewed.  The film is relevant to everyone.  Families and educators because the first chunk of the movie is about human development and talks about the ways our socio-cultural and political environment affects us.

A feature length documentary work which presents a case for a needed transition out of the current socioeconomic monetary paradigm which governs the entire world society. This subject matter will transcend the issues of cultural relativism and traditional ideology and move to relate the core, empirical “life ground” attributes of human and social survival, extrapolating those immutable natural laws into a new sustainable social paradigm called a “Resource-Based Economy”.

Written by ArchGunner

Snowshoeing at Bragg Creek

You can see from this map that Bragg Creek is in the beautiful foothills just west of Calgary.  Michelle and I had a great day there snowshoeing with Julie of Full Circle Adventures learning more about animal tracks and ways to maneuver around in deep snow!  Julie also taught us lots about the vegetation, edible plants, how to follow animal tracks to save energy, identifying animal tracks, and more.  Here are some pics from that gorgeous day:

snow covered spruce

Michelle and I

Julie showing us life in an uprooted tree

moose tracks in the snow

resting on the riverbed

cathedral of trees

ladies making their way along the river's edge

Music Magic at an Elder’s Home

A friend of mine is away for a month and asked if I could visit her elderly mom with another friend of ours, Michelle, at a care facility every week.  Phyllis is the elder’s name.  Michelle calls me up and says, “Hey, why don’t you bring your drum?  Phyllis likes music.”  I’d never met the lady before and didn’t know what to expect as she’s got Alzheimer’s.  My 92-year-old grandma also has Alzheimer’s and I know it presents differently in people.  So, off I went on this adventure.  Well, Phyllis was quite the hoot and not afraid to speak her mind without a filter. In a world where most of us are trained to measure our words and emotions carefully, it was actually quite refreshing!  The first thing she did was lead us to some chairs that were around the corner away from all the action.  After a while of chatting about all the men in the home that she thought were trying to get into her pants, I brought out my drum and asked her if she had any favourite animals.  She mentioned a dog but seeing as I don’t know any dog songs, I asked her if she’d settle for a coyote song.  She replied with, “Ahooooooooooo.”  Now that’s the spirit!  So I started the coyote song, which, funny enough, starts similarly to Phyllis’ imitation.  Her eyes lit up as she listened and sang.  She kept saying that she couldn’t sing.  I told her that was a bunch of hooey- anyone with a voice can sing regardless of what society says.  I knew she was in her 80s so I sang some spirituals and jazz numbers.  Although she didn’t remember all the words, she knew the tunes and hummed along.  I had read an article a while back that talked about songs and music being the last thing to go in Alzheimer’s patients; it is incredible to me that we seem to be hardwired for this.   I found out later that she spent a lot of time in her life singing and even recorded an album!  Just as we were finishing our last song, several old folks had managed to wheel themselves down the hallway towards the music. When we turned the corner, I noticed they were themselves humming and singing.  I was blown away at this. I mean, I’d spent years singing for homeless people, elders, and children during my years with the Universal Gospel Choir as part of our outreach series.  I’ve witnessed the power of music many times: homeless people singing spirituals from the depths of their souls with tears streaming down their faces and children dancing a jig right in front of the choir while reaching for an elder’s hands to come dance with them.  I think what blew me away was the attentive and euphoric look on these peoples’ faces.  When the music stopped, they went back into their inner worlds.  Rather than being sad about that, it left me once again with the feeling that music- singing specifically- is an untapped resource for health in our culture.  No instrument can express feeling and the human experience like the human voice.  It can stop us in our tracks as we marvel in wonder, bring tears to our eyes, remind us of things we know, bring joy and help us feel connected with each other and the universe. Some cultures have this down pat.  I loved being in Scotland this summer where singing and dancing and playing instruments is all a part of get-togethers.  In Africa, music, singing, and dance are a part of all their gatherings- a way of life.  As a kid, I used to sing more than I spoke as a way to express myself and relieve tension in my body.  I remember fantasizing about life being a musical, creating great scenes in my imagination. What if people sang and danced through life instead of speaking words?  How would that change the world for the better? I used to think that was a whimsical childhood wish but this visit to the elder home has me re-thinking that….

My Grandma and I on her 92nd Birthday