Half a Mile of Chaffen Creek


Following the cow trail to the banks of Chaffen Creek looked to be a relatively easy trek.  I could see a spattering of snow still holding on to the base of some of the willows. The ground for the most part was still frozen. The hardened boggy areas able to transport me on the top of the ground without worry of being sucked into ankle and knee-deep mud and water.

It is obvious that the way of the creek has no choice but to meander around large clumps of grass and earth that have been undermined and deposited from the shore by previous season’s flood waters. A stark reminder that the solid-looking creek edge may have been softened and eroded from below. Waiting for any weight from above before folding into the water.

Gravel bars and rocky faces of the bank display interesting geological layers of historic existence. Minerals, decaying plants, bones and other unknown bits of life. Some holding fast, others have been displaced and now reside at this location. For now.

It is evident that others have found the willow thickets and creek bank to their liking. Moose have been eating the young branches and sampling the early pussy willows.

Old sign that elk, deer, bear, beaver and coyotes have made their way along these same paths. Leaving evidence behind to remind me I need to continually be aware of my surroundings, even though buildings are within my line of vision.

Further along, the ice has given way to the sound of running water. The creek chortles over rocks, mud-covered twigs and raw roots. Playing hide and seek along the edge of the bank. Soon engulfed, once more, by the frozen layers of ice. Crossing the creek on the ice, at this time of year, is definitely not an option.

Natural springs erode the ground on their way to join up with the creek. As this part of the country thaws under unseasonal warmth, the saturation spreads. The devastated landscape shows new signs of sloughing along these already scarred hills .

Everywhere, gnarled roots are seen hanging along the creek bank. Sporadic grasses and other plant life trying to eek out a living by pushing through the silt ridden shores.

barbed wire, fence, Chaffen Creek, Alberta
New Fence Old Fence

New fence lines constructed to replace those damaged or washed away by tumultuous, unchecked waters that overflowed banks and created havoc in its wake. Damage by flood waters is evident everywhere.

Yet, on this day  Chaffen Creek slithers under the ice, through the willows and wild grasses on it’s way to meet with the Old Man River.  A place to learn and be taught.  Quiet and inviting until the next days of hell are unleashed by Mother Nature and all that has become common is replaced.

A Challenge

cowboy, boots, jeansEach week, I look forward to me and the size sixes making the trip to the local library to spend time with like-minded souls.

The main topic for the evening is writing. We share the fruits of our efforts. Choose a topic and write feverishly for ten minutes. We discuss the challenges of writing while  embracing the hectic days filled with life. Often the evening ends with a homework assignment.

The dilemma I faced after a two-week sabbatical was preparing my homework assignments that had been emailed to me – Use the words fatigue of abundance; and, Write something based on a line from a song that inspires you.

Time was fast running out and the decision to just write and see what happened, won out. Homework challenge was completed and that’s all that mattered.

Winter Skeletons

The snow has fallen and Jack Frost has visited on several occasions. Me and the size sixes decided to take a tour with our recording friend, the camera.

This trip had us wondering about the yard to check on the plants and bushes that grow there. It seems to be an odd time of year to take stock of what flourishes within the confines of the walks, but it tells a different story than the other seasons.

The Peonies have two spots they call home, the front bed and the rogue garden. In the late spring their tight buds appear and slowly open to fluttering petals of deep pink. The ever-present ants scurry hither and yon feeding on their sweet nectar. The blooms don’t last nearly long enough, yet the aftermath of the following seasons is gorgeous.

peony, leaf, fall, gold, brown, Ann Edall-Robson
Peony Leaves

Southern exposure is hot and merciless in the summer and in the winter. The plants that reside in this spot need to be resilient because lack of snow for insulation puts them in a precarious situation of possible winter kill. The rule of thumb for all the plants that grow for me is, if they can’t make it on their own, they should not be part of my garden. This theory has worked for years and I have some lovely blooms and green foliage that return year after year.

Monkshood will look after itself and has made a good flower bed end with their long stocks and bushy bottom leaves.

monks, hood, winter, brown, snow, Ann Edall-Robson
Monks Hood in Winter

One of the most prolific self seeding plants in the front flower bed is the beautiful Flax.  Thousands of little black seeds explode from the pods and are spread on the wind to continue propagating.

flax, seed, pods, fall, winter, brown, Ann Edall-Robson
Flax Seed Pods

Spindly skeletons are all that is left of the Daisies at this time of year.  Their blooms are few and they probably need to be moved to a place more to their liking. Note made to self to investigate another venue when the snow is gone.

daisy, shashta, fall, winter, brown, beige, Ann Edall-Roson
Daisy Skeletons

The rogue garden houses all things that have not found their forever home.  Here we have one of the Peonies, a black raspberry cane or two, some chives that have somehow migrated here, a clump of Yarrow, pink Phlox, Joe Pie Weed and numerous Hollyhocks. It is the Hollyhocks that leave us with showy dead stuff on their tall stoic stalks.

hollyhock, red, bloom, froze, frost, fall, winter, flower, bloom, Ann Edall-Robson
Frosted Hollyhock

Leaving berries on the shrubs is not laziness, but selfishness. The birds get to enjoy the fruits not harvested and we get the enjoyment of seeing these fine feathered friends visiting.

gooseberry, ripe, red, frost, snow, ice, winter, fall, fruit, Ann Edall-Robson
Frosted Gooseberry

Sparrows and finches watch from a tree above the feeders. Their noisy chatter telling me that I am intruding on their lunch or that it is time to refill the empty bins. They flit and fly from branch to branch. Leaving the leafless tree to perch on the naked lilacs and gooseberry bushes before they take flight to their next dining experience.

In a few months, tiny spring shoots will start emerging to take their place in the yard. For now, the remnants of last summer will continue to be a haven for those that wish to feed and visit here over the cold winter months.

Until the warmth of the summer sun brings back the colour of the garden, stay warm.


A dream that has come to fruition…