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May 14, 2016


By Maryanna Gabriel 

"The mountains are calling and I must go." John Muir

The nice thing about travelling in the middle of May is that everything is open and hardly anyone is about. Waterton, in southern Alberta, was stunning. Imagine my surprise as I drove into town only to face a huge Big Horn Sheep, bold as you please, walking down the middle of the road. The sheep seemed to be milling about as if this was just what they do. As I looked at the scat later on the sidewalks I realized that, yes, they do just make themselves at home in the streets here. Overlooking the lovely town that is poised in a mountainous valley, consisting of a chain of lakes, is the striking Prince Of Wales Hotel.

Unfortunately, the hotel was closed but as I walked around the outside there were sheep wandering around there too. I read that the Blackfoot believed a wind god protects Waterton and that when the hotel was built in 1927, 100 kilometer gales lifted the hotel off of the foundation by 20 centimeters. The hotel is still operating so maybe the wind god changed his mind. The beauty in this special place filled me. I felt revived and refreshed. I retrieved from within myself what I was searching for and so was able to depart with gratitude from this stunningly beautiful shangrila. 

May 12, 2016

I Lay Me Down By Kootenai Brown

Where bison roam. 
By Maryanna Gabriel

The really interesting 
thing about when I travel is that I never quite know what is going to happen sometimes. Suddenly I found myself driving past such imaginative names as "Alberta Ranch Road" where bison roamed as I decided to head towards the southern border of Alberta. Here is some history. Mountains begin to appear above rolling ranch lands. These are the Porcupine Hills where once lived a Cree named "Charcoal" who killed his wife's lover named Medicine Pipe Stem. Cornered by the North West Mounted Police he then shot the arresting officer. In the end he was executed which seems like a lot of trouble to go to for fickle love. 

Kootenai Brown
Moving on I ventured further south enticed by the stunning panoramic views of the mountains and came upon the grave of Kootenai Brown. Kootenai Brown had carefully chosen a lovely hillside overlooking a lake framed by snow capped mountains. Not at all lonely, a wife lay to each side of him. I later learned he was a whiskey trader who settled in the Waterton Lakes after being wounded by a Blackfoot. Tired by my journey and enticed by the heat of the sun, the lovely grass, the hypnotic buzz of the cicadas, and the peace of the place, I too lay me down by Kootenai Brown and enjoyed respite from life's cares. He chose a good spot to rest.

Resting place of Kootenai Brown. 

May 9, 2016

Be Part Of The Energy

By Maryanna Gabriel

"Be Part Of The Energy"
-road sign as one enters Calgary

I have just left Alberta. It could happen to any one of us. At the blink of an eye life can change drastically. They are calling it "The Beast" a fire which fortunately today is calming down, after 100,000 towns people have been evacuated from Fort McMurray in northern Alberta. I am trying to imagine fleeing for my life, with the clothes on my back and maybe a photo album, no place to get gas, and the escape exit choked with people, with nothing to rely upon but the kindness of strangers. What really gets me is the animals in need and the story about the Syrian refugees in Alberta offering assistance... there are so many stories of Canadian courage and of those helping one another right now. Fortunately it looks as though only twenty percent of the homes have been burned at this point. I for one am donating to the Red Cross where the money will be matched by the federal government.

May 8, 2016

I Came Upon A Glade

By Maryanna Gabriel
"White coral bells
Upon a slender star,
Lilly Of The Valley decks the garden walk.
Oh don't you wish
That you could hear them ring,
 That can happen only when the fairies sing.
- Song

This delicate flower makes me think of my mother, my childhood, and now my daughters who each have them growing in their gardens. I came upon a glade of them unexpectedly in a wild garden a few days ago and picked a few. Inhaling their delicate and distinctive fragrance made me feel transported by memory. In my childhood a grove of them lived under a birch forest beside our house. They imbued me with happiness and memories of my own mother placing them artfully in a silver pitcher. Their delicacy seems to go right to the soul. In this difficult world it makes one feel as if the most amazing blossoms of the spirit are possible. I am being blessed with a very special mother's day. I hope you are too.