Edmonton Tourist: Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park

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My pal Captain and I headed North West to Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park as part of our first in a series of exploring Alberta Provincial Parks. This park was created to protect Big Lake from urban sprawl. It is a stopping point for over 230 species of migratory birds. I had often heard about Big Lake but could never figure out how to reach it without bushwacking. Now that its an Alberta Park, I knew it would be easily accessible. But I didn’t count on it being completely accessible! So if you have mobility issues or restrictions, this is the park for you.

The first thing I noticed was this was not a picnic or recreation park. It is intended as a bird sanctuary. It is a stopping point for birds as they migrate north. There have been over 235 species for birds recorded here. As someone who has an irrational fear of birds, I didn’t know what to expect. But I found watching the different birds peaceful. Who doesn’t need more peace in their life?

I am making an effort to be more mindful in my day. This means just being present and not thinking about the future or problems or even memories. The more I practice this, the more simple it becomes. During this walk I watched swallows dart around snatching up mosquitos. They are such an elegant bird and I understand why my grandfather wanted them in his yeard so badly. Their song is lovely and they keep the yard free of mosquitos. I saw a falcon, swallows, ducks, gulls, muskrat, beaver and other bird species I couldn’t identify.

I expected Cap to yank me off the boardwalk, as he had at Hermitage Park and at Elk Island, but this boardwalk doesn’t float. It feels permanent and sturdy so it was nice to stop and view birds or plant life.

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There are different levels as well. The ducks didn’t event notice Cap and he left them be. At some points, we were quite close to the water. A few ponds were filled with duckweed and Cap thought it was grass to walk on. I had to pull him back a couple of times. My dog does not like bugs or being wet. He has turned into a city boy.

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As we made our way off the boardwalk to the gravel path, we turned west toward Big Lake. The largest body of water at the provincial park.

 

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Here is where I noticed the grey gravel path merged with a paved path. The paved path headed east along the water. Having never been here before I struck up a conversation with some people asking them of the paved path looped around back to the Provincial Park parking lot. That was a big NOPE. I was asked aren’t you from around here? Also a big NOPE. You see, Lois Hole was a St. Albert native. This park is located just west of St. Albert. You can follow the path into the city and walk along the Sturgeon River the entire length of the city.

I had been to St. Albert a few times, I have family here and I went to Hole’s Greenhouse long before Lois Hole was appointed the 15th Lieutenant Governor and that was where I met her for the first time. She was a lovely lady who hugged you as introduced yourself to her. She taught me about zinnias and calendula. She helped me with my ladybug conservation garden and warned me about the use of sprays in the garden. A few bugs and weeds never hurt anyone.  Everyone who met her was enamoured with her. I think to name this park after Lois Hole was a lovely tribute.

Cap and I walked along the river until he complained of being tired. He was on his way to walking 8k that day. An hour with his papa bear and now an hour and a half with me. Poor little city boy. We turned back and he immediately went into hunting mode and smelled something in the bulrushes. Likely a nest of younglings. He was determined to drag me to the shore so he could snack, but I won and righted him back on the path. He listens to me well and usually protective. I have been feeling far dizzier than usual lately so he leans against me for support and he won’t tug on the lead. He will walk at a slower pace and is careful not to tangle my legs. He did that once and I fell hard. I layed on the ground for a while and he sat beside me waiting patiently for me to rise. That was the last time he did that. He does it regularly to my daughter and laughs the whole time. But to me, he is gentle now that I am older and less stable.

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We eventually made it back to the car. This park does not have shade so keep that in mind as you go exploring. Protect yourself from mosquitos, bring water, watch for coyotes – their scat was around, and take time to stop and sit to watch the birds. This is a lovely place. It may have been my first visit but it won’t be my last.

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The Important Things

IMG_0178I have experienced a shift. Things that used to be important to me just aren’t any longer. I know people who talk about their bucket list in terms of things to buy or things to acquire. The bigger the house, the more expensive the car, the size of a diamond engagement ring – all really important to these people. I am not sure what it means to them. I did go through that phase. There was a list of things I want to own, certain jewelry I wanted to possess and when I had them, I didn’t feel better/stronger/smarter, I felt less than. Things didn’t fill my well like you hope it might.

When I spend time with people who are still in this phase or mentality, it makes me feel sad. As if I am wasting my time. I could be learning, doing experiencing or helping, but instead, I am watching and listening to values that are not reflected in me. I consciously spend less time in that environment because I never want to be like that again.

This takes me down a path of thinking about values. What do I value and what do I want? I have spent the last ten years thinking about what I don’t want. Now that I am 52, I don’t want to be around angry and mean people. I don’t want to condone abusive behaviour. I don’t want to waste money on stuff that has no purpose. I don’t want to hurt people. I don’t want to see crimes against humanity and spend time with people who justify it. I just don’t.

What do I want? This was a harder list to come up with.

  1. I want to show kindness to people. It’s not always easy but I try my best.
  2. I want to support ethical businesses. Are they fundraising for white extremists? Are they providing a living wage to their employees? Are they abusing the environment?  I don’t know all the answers but when I learn that our values don’t match – I look elsewhere.
  3. I want to laugh. This is what feels best. We are living in dark times and I enjoy dark humour – but… It’s a big but. I never again want to hear or participate with someone making a joke at another person’s expense. Laughing at a person for what they are or how they look is never funny, nor is it reasonable to judge and roll their eyes because people prefer a pink Maserati or their shorts are really short. What people do and who they are should be respected. It goes back to kindness. This also applies to self-deprecating humour. Just because someone laughs at you doesn’t mean you should beat them to the punch. Your soul doesn’t know the difference. Be kind to yourself and laugh at real things that are funny.
  4. I want to experience nature things. The world is full of magical things. Some can be explained by science and some things science can’t explain yet. I want to experience those things. The vortex energy of Kamloops, Sedona and Mount Shasta sound cool. The midnight sun in the Yukon and Alaska – it was cool in the NWT, experiencing it as an aware adult is my net big thing. The strange tides of the Bay of Fundy. The lava flow of Big Island. The Blue Lagoon of Iceland. Ice Canyon walks in Jasper. Berry picking on the shores of Fraser River. I want to dip my toe in all the great lakes and watch a beaver build a dam.
  5. I want to experience man-made things that interest me. Sea Glass Beach in California. Judy Blume’s nonprofit book shop (NON-PROFIT! Why can’t all book shops be not for profit? Why can’t all stores be not for profit?) Writing-on-stone provincial park. Star Wars Galaxy Edge. Cavendish PEI. Souris PEI. I want to take the train from Vancouver to Halifax. I want to explore Ottawa and see Parliament Hill – I’ve seen the White House but never important places in my own country.
  6. I want to meet people and ask them their story. You can fall in love with anyone if they let understand them. I hope this will lead me to find my people. So far, I have not found many, only three and I live with them. I need to let people in more. I will see where this takes me.
  7. I want to learn new things, take classes, watch people who excel at their craft, listen to instructions and absorb all of it.
  8. I want to make food that is so delicious you’d think it was the nectar of the gods. My pies are close but my dinners are not.
  9. I want to sleep through the night and wake up without an alarm. I have done this a handful of times. It was delicious. The weight of worry sometimes impedes this. I am getting better at letting go.
  10. I want to experience being a grandma. I miss baby cuddles and the smell of baby heads. I miss little laughs and the surprised look of wonder. If I somehow miss out on that experience, I will take myself to the nearest place looking for grandmas to hang out with wee ones and read all the best books.
  11. I want to live in peace. I think we are all meant to. So let’s agree to disagree. Let’s look for good instead of judging the bad. Let’s spend time with people who celebrate good. Let’s lie less and truth tell more. Let’s be sensitive to people’s feelings and respect them. It’s okay to remove people from your life who bring conflict and don’t allow for peace. Don’t be deliberate with hate. Be deliberate with kindness. Look at who you surround yourself with. Everyone deserves peace.

Edmonton Tourist: Alberta Parks

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Lois Hole Cenntenial Park

Now that I have finished my City of Edmonton River Valley Parks series, I felt like I needed a new project. I have chosen to explore Alberta Provincial Parks around Edmonton, or at least go to parks that are day trips. Provincial parks are not the same as National parks. They are governed by different levels of government and Alberta parks have free day use. National Parks you need a parks permit for day use. There are more differences, but you can look that up for yourself.

Around my city, there are quite a few Alberta Provincial Parks within an hour of the city. If I drive a smidge farther say an hour and a half, there are even more. I know I have been to a few parks, but there are so many I have never been to at all and those are the ones I am going to focus on. I did some research and used this list It is provided by Alberta parks and helped me locate the park based on the nearby town. Looking at the different parks, I know I want to visit parks that promote day use. There is no point going to Nanton because it is only a campground. I want to see and experience these places. I have added the following to my list:

  • Thunder Lake
  • Long Lake
  • AspenBeach
  • Coal Lake
  • Cooking Lake
  • JJ Collett
  • Lois Hole Centennial Park

I have been to these places but its been decades so I think they deserve another visit:

  • Wabamun Lake
  • Pigeon Lake
  • Pembina River
  • Strathcona Science Park
  • Miquelon Lake

Occasionally I will do overnight trips at head to parks that are farther south but I will get to that another time. For now, my list is full of local day trips. Hopefully, I can get through most of the list by next summer. My first report will be Lois Hole, Centennial Park. It is located west of St. Albert and only a 30-minute drive. I think it’s a great place to start. Next up will be Pigeon Lake, I have a work thing and will be there all weekend so, obviously, I will report back on that lake.

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Wish me luck and throw out some suggestions for your favourite Alberta Provincial Park.

 

Write More

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I was listening to a podcast today on the healing power of journaling. I have to agree, there is something magical about engaging in a daily practice of writing. I am not talking about Dear Diary, The boy (YOU KNOW WHO!!!!) who sits in front of me in math class borrowed my pencil, I thought I would die. As a 13-year-old, this was important journaling. But as an adult, I find journaling to be very cathartic and informative in a different way.

I became a committed journaler the first time my heart was broken. I poured my anger, hopes and dreams onto pages and squirrelled them away, never to be seen by human eyes again. It was a way for me to let the flow of thoughts out of my head and onto a surface that I could read as an outsider. Sometimes those thoughts didn’t make sense, just random rambling feelings that needed to get out of my brain. More often than not, the words tumbled out and I would read them and be shocked about my thoughts of feelings. It was as if I wasn’t the author but had a young girl lived within who was writing profound thoughts. Reading it back helped me sort through thoughts and feelings in ways I didn’t know I needed.

There is something magical about flow. Cursive writing becomes butchered when I handwrite but is a very fluid way. The words become strung together and become a secret code that only I can read. This was helpful when my exhusband found my journals and was reading them. I worried about him ever finding the pages and then fearing his wrath. I vowed never to write anything down that you didn’t want anyone to read. Looking back I think I wanted him to read the entries. That is ultimately what helped with my transition. Words have a way of knowing what you need.

Editing your entries are unproductive. Write with a reckless abandon. You don’t have to know what you need to write about, it will just come. I find in these times I write what I need, not what I want. When I look over my thoughts, sometimes profound words of wisdom pop up and I highlight those words to be used in projects or write the words on my arms and legs for daily reminders that my soul knows me better than I know myself and it makes sense to listen to her. She has not steered me wrong yet. It is only when I listen to others that I get into trouble. Through journaling and meditation, I am learning to trust myself, my gut is never wrong. It leads me down roads that I have to travel. The reason may not be clear until later, but its always a good one.

As I have aged, I find I write more observation and how it makes me feel rather than judgements. I watch behaviour as if I am a therapist and then think about the why. I struggle with acceptance and values, morals and obligations. I just know what I want in my life and what I don’t. Journaling has taught me that. Through observation, I have also learned you are who you surround yourself with. I want to surround myself with nice people who treat vulnerable people with respect and protect them from harm. Simple, kind and honest people are who I seek out. Life is not that complicated.

I find I write more when I am sad or angry. When I am happy I am not that inspired and I will engage in photography instead. Photos capture my happy feelings in ways descriptive words cannot. But deep melancholy and soulful thoughts just flow from my pen when I am struggling with people and actions. I have written volumes of journal entries this year but I have also taken thousands of photos. Life is funny.

Writing it out helps you figure that out.

 

Saskatoon Berry Crumble

When I was little I went camping at Miquelon Lake Provincial Park with my aunt and uncle. It was just before they had their first baby. I guess they were trying out what it would be like to camp with kids. Obviously exhausting – have you met me and my brother? Imagine two Tasmanian devils spinning around like a Bugs Bunny cartoon for three days. My uncle took us on a hike to pick berries while my aunt ‘made lunch’ a euphemism for “OMG I am going to wring their necks if I don’t get some quiet time and NOW.” Or she just dropped to her knees and fell asleep. Either way, we are A LOT.

This moment in my life was the first time I ever picked berries and ate them off the tree without fear of being poisoned. I always thought I would die by quicksand or fruit poisoning. Obviously, I watched a lot of Gilligan’s Island and Disney movies. I found some raspberries that day, but mostly saskatoons (also known as June or serviceberries). We went back for lunch and had a bowl of berries with thick heavy cream. Damn – that is the best way to eat them. Or one of the best.

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I came home on Friday to a one-gallon pail of saskatoons sitting on the kitchen counter! The hubs took a pail to the dog park and spent about an hour cleaning off only one bush. (The City of Edmonton has planted various fruit trees around the city. I have found crab apple, pear and saskatoons. I have heard of a secret grove of Apricots in the river valley that I am still looking for – although it may be a myth.) I immediately went to work cleaning the berries.

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Back in the dark days, I had a friend who canned just about all her food. She would harvest berries and wild mushrooms, then work in her garden to supply food for most of the winter. She taught me about cleaning berries to minimize the amount of protein or bugs found in your desserts. Her method was simple, in the pail of berries add two tablespoons of vinegar and fill with water until the berries just begin to float. Let soak for one hour. The spiders will immediately climb to the top. I scooped them out and set them outside. FREE THE SPIDERS PEOPLE! Then any little flies or worms will also float to the top but they will be dead – drowned or pickled – whichever – I skimmed those off then rinsed the berries one handful at a time and placed them in a colander to drain. Once completed I placed on a clean towel to dry.

At this point, you can do one of two things, place in the fridge to chill and use up during the week or place on a parchment-lined cookie tin to freeze individually. Then place in an air-tight container. They will keep in your freezer for at least six months – may be longer but they don’t last that long in my house. If you just put berries in a bag and freeze before you individualize them, they will juice and you bet a big block of berries. You then have to use them all at once when they thaw. Individually, you can have one or ninety.

I decided to make a pie. But I didn’t feel like making a crust. So I made a crustless pie and called it crumble. After eating my crustless pie, I decided I will likely never make crusts again because they are never as delicious and straight-up filling. Here is my recipe for Saskatoon Crumble, or use your favourite pie crust and make a few pies.

Saskatoon Berry Crumble (or pie)

This recipe uses 1 gallon of berries. It divides well. Most berries can be substituted.

Ingredients:

Filling

  • one gallon of cleaned berries
  • 2 cups of white sugar
  • 8 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp of kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp of butter – not margarine or oil or spray – butter.

Mix together the sugar, flour, salt and zest of lemon. I add a layer of berries and a layer of dry ingredients and give them a toss to evenly coat the berries. I do this in stages to coat everything.

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Butter a 9 x 13 pan or larger if you have one. Get into all the corners and up the sides. If you skip this step or aren’t thorough, you will be frustrated with berry stickage.

Pour your berries into the pan in an even layer. I used two smaller pans so I could give some to my papa bear. But this will make four human-sized square pans for freezing, sharing or eating – the choice is yours.

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Streusel Topping

I use this recipe for peach pie, apple pie, strawberry- rhubarb and all my cobblers. I think a double crust is too much crust. When I make a pie I use 1/4 of this recipe. I increased it by 4 for this crumble thing.

  • 1 cup of butter – not margarine – use the good stuff. I like salted but unsalted is fine – just add a pinch of salt to the bowl.
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 2 cups of flour.

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Everything goes into the bowl and get your hands in there. You want this to be a crumble so don’t mix it with a spoon. Use your thumb and forefinger and mash/slide the two together. You want the butter-sugar mixture to look like small peas or coarse sand.

Pour over your berries and lightly pat it to the berries so it forms a crust. Alternatively, you could just use your hands to distribute evenly and call it a day. I prefer a crust-like texture and have deep regret that I didn’t do this. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet because you will get spillage and berry pops. If you can’t be bothered, that’s your deal and at Christmas, you will wonder why your oven is smoking. Your welcome.

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Bake in a pre-heated 375 Degree oven for 35 – 45 minutes.

Serve warm with ice cream or heavy cream or plain. I also like it cold for breakfast.

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Let me know what you think. The lemon zest is the secret ingredient.

 

Guilty

I had a deep conversation about guilt that has me thinking about things from different perspectives.  My dad always asks me, “Why do you feel guilty?”

Good question Dad.

I grew up with expectations. When those expectations weren’t met, I then experienced guilt. Guilt is shrouded in shoulds. And when you don’t do something you should the guilt comes roaring in. But where do the shoulds come from?

Death, Sex and Money had an episode with Ellen Burnstein. She talked about shoulds and always gave herself a Shouldless day every month. Shoulds were her ego and brain telling her what needs to get done. Expectations placed on herself by herself after interpreting needs and expectation from the people in her circle. When she didn’t live up to those expectations then the guilt would creep in. That’s why Shouldless days were so decedent to her. An entire day free of expectations and shoulds. Sounds like heaven.

Okay, Ellen, that makes sense. The automatic response from me is to eliminate a life without expectations from others. Sounds like a dream except how am I going to keep my family afloat when I don’t meet my work expectations and obligations?  As much as retirement is my dream come true, I am not able to swing the no paycheck part yet. Quite frankly, I haven’t met many people who can do that yet. So work is a SHOULD. I should go to work and do my best so I can get paid. WWMRD? What would Mister Rogers Do? I think I will call it an obligation. I agreed to work every day and in exchange, I will receive a paycheck. No guilt, no should. Should is gone.

There is a situation where I think, “I should call this person”, but the strain and stress of it holds me back. I feel calmer and more at peace when I don’t. So why do I think this? Easy – expectations of society saying “Respect your elders.” Guilt appears. What if this person dies and I don’t make amends? Go away guilt, you have no idea how traumatic it is for me. Dear society, you haven’t experienced the same reality as me so – no, you don’t get a say. The telephone works both way. WWMRD? I think he would wish them well, not speak badly about them and be understanding of my fear. He would expect me to be kind but also be kind to myself because I matter too. So calling this person is a SHOULD. I should call this person but it always hurts me. I agree that I matter and do not have to feel obligated. Should is gone.

I have an ugly situation where I think things about a friend but I am not 100% sure they are true. I can just go by the results of several incidents and it feels true. I want to believe I am wrong.  Because of this, I think I should apologize. By doing that I let go of my boundaries that I worked so hard to build. In this case, I want to see actions not words. But I should let it flow under the bridge because they are going through a really tough time. Guilt appears. If I do that, nothing will ever change and the same thing will keep happening as it has for years. WWMRD? He would not harbour ill feelings and would say prayers and send love to this person. Let them know he loves them and is there for them when they have it figured out. He would remind me that I matter too and this isn’t okay for me. That is why I have boundaries. So apologizing is a SHOULD. I should call this person but I am not respected – ever. I am last on their list and the first person to be cut out. I agree with Mister Rogers, I matter and do not have to feel guilty or obligated. Should is gone.

I suppose, in the end, all that matters is if I hold onto resentment and ill feelings. That is no way to live. Goodbye guilt, goodbye shoulds, I send you on your way and wish you well. Asking WWMRD always brings me peace. Thanks, Fred, you are one of the best helpers.

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Edmonton Tourist: Bountiful Farmers’ Market

There is a new indoor market in Edmonton I was curious about it. I have been to other cities with indoor markets like Seattle or Vancouver. I like the atmosphere of these places. Edmonton has a year-round indoor market in Old Strathcona. The Strathcona Farmers Market is busy and bustling with long-time favourite vendors. The new Bountiful Market is similar but not as bustling as the other ones I had been to. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the lack of people crashing into me. I think this is because of the wide isles. The number of people there had to be as many as found in Strathcona. The cars were parked as far as the eye could see in either direction on 97 street plus the parking lot was full.

The place smelled clean and not of fish or farm. It was bright and airy with a variety of stalls that I hadn’t seen before. Often you go to the City market or 124 street and you can find the same vendors. This all seemed new.

I arrived as it opened with my pal Andie in tow. Our first stop was coffee for here but I just looked around and chatted with her when she wasn’t chatting with people she already knew. People say I know a lot of people but Andie knows twice as many as me. The crowds hadn’t begun to build so it was easy to talk to vendors. I liked the way the stalls were built. Each had a frame and a sign. It was consistent and pretty. I had no idea how important that was until I experienced it. It made the space inviting.

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Most vendors were set up for taste samples. I tried everything from gin – deep regret that I didn’t buy it. I will need to go back to buy some- to gelato. There were pretzels and perogies plus endless fruit and vegetables. The flower vendor had the loveliest peonies available. It made me think of a friend of mine and her lovely garden. She should consider selling cut flowers at different markets.

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We stopped often and spoke to everyone. I sampled things that were delicious and tried some things that I wish never entered my mouth. But that’s how it goes and why you should taste before you buy. My taste isn’t for everyone.

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It excites me that we have another indoor market in Edmonton and on the south side that’s close to me. Soon all the stalls should be filled and then this place will really be hopping!

You can find it here:

  • 3696 97 Street, Edmonton
  • 9am – 5pm every Friday, Saturday, Sunday — all year.

For more information visit Bountiful Farmers’ Market and say hey to the Trouble Monk people, their gin is delicious.

Mister Roger and His Helpers

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Did you see the new trailer for A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood starring Tom Hanks? I did. I cried.

Did you see, Won’t you be my Neighbour? A documentary about Mister Rogers? I did. I cried.

I am surprised to see so many people happy and excited about this story and talk about Fred Rogers’ legacy. When I was a kid, people (adults and peers) called me a baby for watching it. I didn’t care. I watched it until I was 12. This was the first time I remember doing my own thing and not being influenced by others. I didn’t get influenced by people’s opinions until I was older, then I made the mistake of listening to people. That was stupid. I accepted really bad advice and it destroyed me. I have been working hard every day since to get me back.

When I was little, I mean LITTLE like three or four, my mom dropped me off at the childminders while she worked downstairs. I liked that I could see my mom whenever I wanted. I liked that I was free to go on imaginary adventures or go on errands with the adults looking after me. I liked having access to the red cookie tin in the cupboard. What I didn’t like was the teenager who was also there. He was mean. And by mean, I mean abusive. Verbally and emotionally, never physically. He called me stupid and ugly. He was angry all the time. He was scary. My brother and I were never rescued from him, we were told to ignore him, but what do little kids know about that? We learned to fight back. But those words of self-depreciation linger in the brain for decades. Mister Rogers rescued me.

PBS, channel 9 out of Spokane, played Sesame Street, The Electric Company, Zoom and Mister Rogers. I fell in love with Kermit the Frog and Super Grover, Morgan Freeman and Rita Moreno, learned nifty facts and felt peaceful with Mister Rogers.

I cry thinking about how safe I felt with him and he was on TV – not even in the room. But the way he looked into the camera and directly at me, made me feel special. He told me I was special. He was deliberate with kindness and gentle words. I remember him talking about being scared and looking for helpers. When I was five and began kindergarten, I was able to go to my great grandmother’s home after school. She sat with me every day after school to hear about my day. She asked me questions to understand my story better. We had tea and digestive biscuits with cheese and sometimes peanut butter pirate cookies. But every time I was in her presence she would look me in the eye and make me feel special. The same way Mister Rogers did. Now I had two adults who told me I was special and I mattered. I can transport myself back into my ‘Little’ Gram’s kitchen in an instant. She had her spot at the large round table that no one ever sat in and I sat beside her. I can still smell Red Rose Tea steeping in the corning wear teapot. I remember looking out into the back yard and seeing the rusty old swing set. Later on, that window was covered up by a three-season addition and it made the kitchen dark, but it still felt the same.

Maya Angelou said once you forget the things people do but you always remember how they made you feel. Mister Rogers and Little Gram made me feel important and special. I think my Little Gram was one of Mister Rogers’ helpers.

Maya Angelou told Oprah once, “You will never know what your legacy is.” Mister Rogers’ knew he made a difference to children but the vast reach of his influence he never truly knew. If a little girl in a small town in Alberta was affected by him, imagine how far his reach was after decades of being on TV. I am sure it is infinite.

As an adult, I take the time to listen to kids and ask questions to understand the story better. I let people know they are special and they matter, especially to me. Knowing you matter is one thing, but knowing you matter to someone is extra special. I have become one of Mister Rogers’ Helpers. If you need me, I am here. If you are abusive, I wish you well and send you on your way because kindness matters.

Think about your words. You may think they are kind – but would you like them to be spoken to you? Kindness matters, it’s your legacy. You have no idea how many people you will touch that are influenced by your words. Thank you, Mister Rogers.

Edmonton Tourist: Hermitage Park

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Forever ago I pledged to visit all the River Valley parks the city of Edmonton has to offer. My criteria were based on parks that were outlined here. Looking at that list, Buena Vista and Gallager didn’t make my cut because I wanted the park to be a destination for more than one activity. Buena Vista is a dog park and I could never go there in spite of Captain my beloved Labrador Husky. He gets distracted easily and I can’t trust that he won’t run off or hurt someone. So, he is never off-leash in my presence. I have walked past Buena Vista numerous times on my run from Hawrlak to Laurier. It looks like all the dogs who visit love it there. Gallager is another odd park, it is a hill with a view and is where Folk Fest is held every year. I have been there but I decided not to include it in my parks series.

I finally made it to Hermitage Park. Why did it take me so long? Well, it is far from my house. It is located in North East Edmonton and I just don’t get there very often. In the late 80’s I lived 5 minutes away by bike, do you think I ever visited? Not a chance. Strange how life takes you places.

I had no idea how to find this place but happily, the City had well-placed signs to help me locate it. Did you know it has a fishing lake? This would have been a place my grandpa would have loved. Yet, we never went.

Captain and I went on a Friday afternoon. I took some of the overtime I had and decided we needed to enjoy some sunshine after the copious amounts of rain we have had this year. The roads in the park are TERRIBLE. They are covered in potholes, flooded and are in general bad condition. I parked at the far south end in a gravel lot. This park has been around for 40ish years and there is still a gravel lot?

Cap and I hopped onto the paved bike path and began walking north.

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Heading south would have taken us under the train trestle and into Rundle park.  We walked a few minutes and found a dock. IMG_3595.jpg

I had no idea you could fish here. They keep it stocked with lake trout. It was a floating dock and Cap hated every minute we walked on it.

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But it gave us great views of the water. When we walked backed at the end of the day, a family of 6 was fishing. They were hoping to catch dinner.

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Cap was happy to be off the floating dock and back on solid ground. We discovered where the largest goose population in Edmonton is.

 

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There had to be a dozen different flocks or gaggles. This was a great location for ducks too. Strangely, Cap didn’t try to eat one bird as is his usual habit. He did enjoy scaring them by walking up to them and forcing them into the water. He had the biggest smile on his face.

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So many feathers and so loud! The point birds were directing everyone into the water, especially the younglings. Captain just walked on by.

There were several ponds, I think I counted five. Only one was stocked with fish. We walked to the top of the hill and found picnic tables and fire pits. We sat for a bit to enjoy the view.

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Further north was an off-leash dog park and some public art that we didn’t make it to because our day was running short. So we walked back along the road to check out some of the other ponds and explore the wildlife that lived there. I thought I might see muskrats but only found more ducks. The large trees provided lovely shade along the walk.

Hermitage is a lovely park but it is just too out of the way for me to visit often. If I ever decide to go fishing again, I would definitely visit here. Too bad we missed out grandpa.