Friday 31 July 2015

Connecting with nature.

How each of us connects to nature is as unique as leaves on a tree with no hard and fast rules for how it should be done.   What does matter is that we make the time to connect.

It may be outside in a favorite quite place,  walking your dog or enjoying a picnic with family & friends.  Even in a noisy bustling park connections can still be made.  

Helping our minds and bodies disconnect from everyday pressures is a gift we can give to ourselves. 

Tuesday 28 July 2015

Lughnasadh Ceremony on August 1st

We will hold our Lughnasadh Ceremony in the afternoon on August 1st.

Lughnasadh is the first of the Harvest Celebrations.  You can read more about it here: Lughnasadh

Harvest has indeed started here; in and around Calgary.  My fridge is filled with Saskatoon Berries and a giant zucchini from a friends garden.  The farmer's markets are loaded with local produce.

Contact us by email at

Sunday 26 July 2015

Elliston Park and Stonehenge?

Today we met for our Druid walk at Elliston Park, in South East Calgary.  It was a perfect sunny morning,  not too hot, not yet raining, and no bugs.   I am almost afraid to ask, but where are the mosquitoes?  

Elliston Park - Calgary

Starting from the west parking lot  at 10:00 am,  we followed the path going sunwise around the man made storm water retention pond aka LAKE, First we came to a rose garden.  It was quite surprising to see and smell so  many  roses in bloom,

Roses blooming at Elliston Park - Calgary

I have to admit, I didn't spend much time with the roses, only because I was excited to get on to the Interactive Sundial.   Not really knowing what to expect, we walked on a bit further until we got to possibly the most Druid Appropriate feature of the park.

The Elliston Park Analemmatic Sundial by Rober Bailey and Ken Miklos  is fascinating.  You stand on the embedded horseshoe beside the current month, in the center of the sundial.   Your shadow is is then cast towards the small cement numbered pillars, to tell the time.    In the picture below you can the shadow lands just past the number 10!  You would stand in a different place each month.   

10:00 am on the sun dial!
Possibly even more interesting are the two small engraved circles to the right and left of the sun dial center.   These circles indicate the sunrise and sunset  points at the Summer Solstice, the Equinox, and the Winter Solstice.  Plans must be made to come back to the sundial on one of the Solstices. This is a modern stone circle,  with INSTRUCTIONS on how it was made here:

Sunset marker - Elliston Park

Sunrise Marker - Elliston Park
The Sun, complete with directional markers and a wonderful quote; "Nothing without sun" add even more interest!   

Nothing Without Sun,   by Bill Erikson

No Wind, No Cloud, No Rain, No Grain
No Sea, No Wave, No Light, No Sight,
No Beauty to Behold, No Tales to Betold,
Nothing Without the Sun

Brass Sun - Elliston Park Sun Dial

The park is also interesting because of the trees!  This is the site of the first Calgary Birthplace forest.   The trees look good and are just big enough now to provide shade for our walk.  There were plenty of birds as well.
Oak and Pine in Elliston Park
I am not sure about this feature, but my guess is local artists contributed designs to be cast in cement for several benches on the east side of the lake.   I will try to find some more information.  We appreciated the benches and would like to know more.

Benches with cement castings

I have several pictures of the lake and the little forest of trees that surround the park.  The sky was amazing.    This park is the site of the annual Globalfest Fireworks Competition in August.  You can just imagine how fireworks would look reflected in the water.

Elliston Park - Calgary

Elliston Park - Calgary

Elliston Park - Calgary

Elliston Park - Calgary

I can't stop thinking how nice it will be to come back on one of the Solstices and watch the sun rise (or set) on the indicated line.

The next Druid walk will be at Birth Place Forest in Silver Springs, with special attention paid to the Labyrinth on August 23,  2015 at 10:00 am..

Elliston Park Druid Walk - WEST Parking lot.

We will meet in the WEST parking lot, off of 60th Street SE at 10:00 Sunday July 26, 2015.

Thursday 23 July 2015

July 26 Druid Walk at Elliston Park at 10:00am

Our next Druid Walk will be Sunday July 26th at 10:00 AM.  The park this time is a newer one,  Elliston Park in South East Calgary. We will meet in the parking lot and go from there.  

In 2001 the City of Calgary planted 7600 trees in the park as the start  of the Birth Place Forest Program.  Besides the trees and the pond, I am most interested to see/experience the interactive sundial!

As always, dress for the weather, and bring water, bug spray etc etc.

Summer blessings to all,

Sunday 5 July 2015

Druid Walk in Twelve Mile Coulée, Calgary Alberta

On the hottest day of the summer thus far, we headed down the path into the Twelve Mile Coulee. The Coulee is named for being 12 miles from Fort Calgary, on the NW stage coach line to Cochrane, and is now bordered by suburban homes.  
Once you step onto the path however, you quickly leave behind the suburbs, and step into a mixture of prairie and forested landscape. The trails are natural, not made by the Parks department,  and have most likely been traveled for thousands of years by the people and animals who lived here.  It is a wonderful feeling,  when all around us in Calgary is so 'new'.

12 Mile Coulee - just a bit of water left

The creek runs fast in the early spring, but now is partially dried up.  We had no trouble crossing back and forth, sometimes on stepping stones, sometimes through the dried bed itself.

12 Mile Coulee - along the top
The trail along the top of the valley is beautiful, with all kinds of bushes and wild flowers along the way.  We headed for shade as much as possible on this 30 C morning.  Next time maybe start earlier!

Shady part of the trail - 12 Mile Coulee
There are even more kinds of bushes and wildflowers in the shady bottom of the coulee.  It is amazing to see the shade loving plants versus the sun lovers.  Of all  the city walks I have been on, this one has the most variety by far.

12 Mile Coulee - Some welcome shade on a hot day.
We started near the north end and headed south following the paths, with cameras at the ready.  I could hear frogs croaking, but did not see any. There lots of butterflies and a few dragonflies as well. I was excited to see lots of Tiger Lilies.

Western Red Lily - Tiger Lily in 12 Mile Coulee

It is important to watch where you are going!  There are exposed roots and rocks along the bottom.  It is tempting to look at plants and flowers and search for birds, but footing must not be ignored.

Roots and Rocks but no Water

The sandstone outcroppings attracted our attention, and provided a shady spot for a break.  This would be a good place to stop for lunch, if on a picnic.

12 Mile Coulee - Rock Outcrop
Sandstone Outcropping in 12 Mile Coulee

The plants and terrain was fascinating, making for a wonderful hike.  The trails are  narrow and we met a few other hikers.  I saw plenty of  mountain bike tracks, but no bikers on this day.

Dry creek, trees and shrubs in 12 Mile Coulee
The wildflowers along the trail were really stunning.  I didn't take pictures of all of them, (it would have added another hour or so to get pictures of each)   I have never before seen Lady's Slippers in bloom.   There are several different Native American myths about the Lady's Slippers,  Here is a nice one.

Yellow Lady's Slippers Orchards - 12 Mile Coulee

Wild roses, Alberta's provincial flower, were blooming on the valley sides.  There were so many you could smell them before you could see them.

Wild Roses in the sun, 12 Mile Coulee

I was surprised to come across some Wild Saskatoon Berry shrubs.  The berries are not ripe yet, but they look promising!  

Wild Saskatoon Berries in 12 Mile Coulee
Shrubs in 12 Mile Coulee
Pretty purple wildflowers

This park really sums up the variety of plants we have here, and I am so glad to have experienced the 12 Mile Coulee.  I will be back again and again.  (I bet there are crocuses here in the spring, too.)