Monthly Archives: April 2012

Snake Season, Narcisse, MB

Reposting because this annual event is occurring right now! Find other interesting Manitoba excursions on my Day Tripper page.

Reid Dickie

April 2002

It is one of those late April anomalies: 25 degrees C with a warm south wind, the kind of day that entices red-sided garter snakes from their cool winter dens.

In the Interlake on Highway 17, just north of the village of Narcisse, one of the largest populations of garter snakes in Canada is beginning its spring mating ritual. That is what I’ve come to see.

I’ve come to face a fear too. Ever since a small lime-green snake wriggled out of a crate of bananas in our general store when I was five years old and startled me to hysteria, I’ve feared snakes. Raised in a rural area but long a city dweller, I’ve recently reawakened my connection to nature. Hiking and camping in remote areas, I still find bears, wolverines and black widow spiders frighten me much less than snakes. The dry rustle of a snake in the grass raises the hairs on my neck instantly. Today is a good day to face that fear.

In the parking lot, a friendly Conservation officer gives out pamphlets and information about the snakes. An easy 3 km trail is designed so four snake dens can be viewed. At the first site, a snow fence separates the many human visitors from the den opening.

The sinkhole is in a stand of poplars, its rocky entrance covered with bright green moss in contrast to the brown wintered leaves and the darker highlighted greens of the snakes as they slide with keen grace.

Having overwintered below the frost line in deep caves eroded into the limestone bedrock, garter snakes emerge to mate. Starting in mid April for about four weeks, male snakes gather at the mouth of the dens waiting for females. As each female emerges, she is immediately beset with eager males, forming a mating ball.

Female garter snakes are easy to spot as they are thicker and longer than males. As I stand and watch, a female emerges from the darkness. With amazing speed dozens of males slither to engulf her. Moving over dry leaves and twigs, the snakes make a low static crackle, the appropriate soundtrack to their urgent impassioned dance.

Hundreds of males swarm about the female, a frenzied tangle that moves across the ground, over stones and around trees. Two more mating balls suddenly appear, snakes seem to materialize out of nowhere.

The snakes have drawn a good crowd on this warm Sunday. Small children react with either silent awe or curious delight. A German man, talking excitedly, holds a snake up to his companion who looks on in disgust. A white-haired woman squeals in fear, saying how much she dislikes snakes. Her shrieks mix with the joyous cries of her grandchildren as they interact with the critters. A crackle of ancient fear arises in me when a small male slithers over the toe of my boot.

Oblivious to our fears and our presence the preoccupied snakes mate on. The Eros of all those fleshy bodies entwined in procreativity is almost palpable. The spring air is rich with the aromas of thawed earth. The trees are early budding; the poplars give off their sticky smell.

It is a pleasant stroll along the trail in the warm sun. At each den, mating balls have formed, the biological imperative fully engaged. At one stop, a large ball of snakes has climbed four feet up a poplar sapling. Like a drop of water, the ball splashes snakes when it falls. Within a few seconds the ball re-forms and rolls away.

Once mated, female garter snakes disperse over an area of 30,000 hectares to have their live young in one of the many marshes or rocky bluffs that make excellent snake habitat. Some travel 25 kms or more from the dens. When all the females have mated and gone, the males leave as well.

Because they are cold-blooded, snakes must follow the cycle of the seasons closely. Adult garter snakes return to their hibernation dens when the weather begins to cool in September. Juvenile snakes stay where they summer, finding an animal burrow or crevasse that reaches below the frost line. The next fall they will migrate to a den and join thousands of their kind to overwinter.

If a mating ball has a hundred snakes in it, I try to imagine what it must look like with tens of thousands of snakes in a sleeping heap deep underground. That image leaves a thin film of sweat on my scalp as I sidestep a garter snake on my way to the car.

Did I face my fear? It was a beginning. Will I return to the snake dens? Yes, I must.

It was only a beginning.

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Filed under Day Tripping, Life and Life Only, Natural Places, PRAIRIES

The Changing Light – Subtle, Relentless, Pure

Afternoon turns into night. Time lapse photography from the porch of Yurt #4 at Spruce Woods Provincial Park. Click pic to watch my video

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Filed under Film, Images, Linda, Parks, Sacred Places

Manitoba Heritage – All Saints Anglican Church, Stonewall area

Reid Dickie

All Saints Victoria Anglican Church, Stonewall area

One of the many distinguishing features of this little wooden church is that it was among the first Anglican churches in Manitoba built away from the river-oriented Red River Settlement. Constructed in 1877, the church is also a rare remaining example of dovetail log construction, a technique that replaced the earlier Red River frame method. Limited resources of the time yielded a humble and unpretentious place of worship with a modest bell- cote.

Typical of Anglican churches of the time, All Saints Victoria Anglican has a symmetrical rectangular shape with gable ends and a matching gabled porch, a simple bell-cote with a shingled pyramidal roof and sensible, reserved Gothic Revival details.

The trios of pointed side windows, divided by wooden tracery creating further points, and their red and blue top lights are central and simple characteristics of Gothic Revival.  I especially like this picture of the matching headstone and pointed arch windows.

On a well-treed lot and surrounded on three sides by graves of many of the area pioneers dating back to the first settlements, the little church is located about 7 kms north of where the divided Hwy #7 highway ends and half a kilometre west of the highway. Coming in from the south, there is a road sign denoting the site’s heritage value and directing you to it. No such sign exists coming in from the north.

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Filed under Churches, Heritage Buildings, Manitoba Heritage, Pioneers

Eastlake Stick Bargeboard, Brandon

Reid Dickie

Called bargeboard, or less commonly vergeboard, the gable ends of many Queen Anne Revival houses built in Canada sported these elaborately carved, ornate Carpenter Gothic details.

I was driving down 2nd Street near Princess in Brandon and a row of old two-storeys caught my eye. Three of them had very similar Eastlake Stick style bargeboards under their front gables. Not all bargeboards are as complex as these three examples. Highly decorative, Eastlake Stick follows the notions of British architect and furniture designer Charles Eastlake (1836-1906). Often employing dowels, balls and other lathed shapes, the style lends flare and excitement to otherwise modest houses. Click the pics to enlarge

Brandon has a fine example of Eastlake Stick style – the Paterson/Matheson House at 1039 Louise Ave. My post about this house is on my Houses page.

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Filed under Heritage Buildings, Houses, Local History, Manitoba Heritage

Manitoba Heritage – Lorne Terrace

Lorne Terrace, 1133-37 Lorne Avenue, Brandon, MB

Reid Dickie

Before apartment blocks became the norm for dense urban housing, row houses or terraces served a similar purpose. Originating in Europe in the 16th century, a row of identical or mirror-image houses that shared side walls made more efficient use of city land than detached houses. Row houses spread around the world and an excellent example can be found in downtown Brandon, MB. Located at the corner of Lorne Avenue and 11th Street, Lorne Terrace was built in 1892 and originally divided into four separate and quite luxurious, for the time, units. Today the terrace has 14 apartments.

Lorne Terrace was built by Bell Brothers Construction Company which had a reputation for top-quality materials and workmanship and attention to detail. Over four decades, Bell Brothers constructed many notable buildings in Brandon, some of which are now precious heritage sites. The Terrace is one of them.

The first thing that strikes you about Lorne Terrace is its substantial rectangular massing in fine buff brick laid in standard running bond with a medium-pitch hipped roof, cross gables on the front and rear and hipped dormers on all sides. Now drink in the symmetry of the front facade.

The pair of entrances feature identical gabled porches and arched hood moulds that replicate the ones under the third floor gable peaks. The fenestration offers a variety of openings: singles, pairs and trios of windows abound including the two lovely Palladian-style openings on the main floor between the entrances, both with raised brick hood moulds.

The craftsmanship of the brick detailing on the terrace is exceptional. Study the brickwork below each gable and you will discover an array of stylings from dog-toothing where the corners of the bricks protrude, to soldier, sailor and rowlock courses to a basket weave pattern right above the paired windows with blind arches and hood moulds highlighting the opening. In this picture you can also see the painted wooden bracket with a bit of scrollwork on the inside corner of the front gable. Several raised brick stringcourses, including the sills, wrap around the building.

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Filed under Heritage Buildings, Local History, Manitoba Heritage

Shoal Lake August 19, 1889

Reid Dickie

Shirtless, Rainer Slate stumbled through the open front door of Batter’s Apothecary in Shoal Lake, fell face down onto the oiled wooden floor and passed out. Borden Batter paused at his mortar and pestle, peered over his round glasses and surveyed the prone lout.

“Glynnis!” he shouted. “Someone’s here to see you!”

Glynnis knew exactly who her visitor was by the tone in Batter’s voice. With sweat trickling into her eyes from a mid August heatwave and a swollen lip she’d bit minutes earlier throbbing angrily, Glynnis paused, listened and slumped her shoulders in resignation.

“Idiot,” she groaned to herself.

She felt only slight relief at getting away from the stubborn nut press that was supposed to extract oil from almonds for salves and unguents but fought her every turn. Glynnis split the heavy brocade curtain, peered into the store and saw her half-naked unconscious husband.

“Idiot,” she said stepping around him. She bent and turned him over; a small trickle of blood ran from his lip.

“Rainer. Rainer!” She shook the unconscious man, his big head lolled back and forth on his broad shoulders, tongue slavering his chin.

“Rainer!” she shouted. There was a flicker on Rainer’s face, a sliver of consciousness passed through him. She shook him again. Blood from his lip spattered on his bare chest.

“Wake up!”

Borden Batter stood over the sorry pair, pudgy hands on his hips protecting his kidneys from the sad tableau he saw below him.

“Rather like a large drunk puppy, wun’tcha say, Glynnis? I can smell the hooch from here. The Portuguese have a saying…”

She cut him off. “No more sayings Borden! You’re not helping. Rainer! Rainer!” Her voice become more frantic, her cut lip turned purple.

Rainer’s eyes flickered open ever so briefly then their brown richness disappeared again into stupor.

“Idiot.”

She let his head drop heavily on the floor. It landed hard with a loud thud.

The knock seemed to bring Rainer around.

“What’s burning?” he asked, sniffing the air, becoming more alert with each whiff. “Smells like wood smoke. You smell it too?” He was trying to get to his feet.

Glynnis and Borden both sniffed but smelled nothing, no smoke.

Rainer slumped back down onto his side. “The fire is making me warm and sleepy,” he said. He started to curl into a fetal position but Borden interceded.

“Oh no, you’re not passing out here again, ever!” Borden gave a quick boot to Rainer’s shoulder. This caused his body to unfurl enough that Glynnis could get him to his feet.

“Out the door. Come on, Glynnis. Let’s move him outside.”

“Yes, yes.” The disgust in her voice was undisguised.

Between the two of them, they managed to deposit unconscious Rainer with his back against the alley side of the livery stable two doors down. Before he turned back to his store, Borden Batter peered over his spectacles at Glynnis.

“You’ll never get out of here if you stay with him and he keeps up like this. As sure as there are pork chop bones at an Anglican picnic, you’ll be stuck in a shack with him and his gruesome family all your life. With how many babies? Oh, right, none. Because this one,” he pointed a haughty thumb at Rainer Slate, “can’t plant a seed.” Borden pursed his thin lips into a smile, which evolved into a leer as he walked past her.

“Don’t malinger. Store’s open,” he spat.

At that moment Glynnis couldn’t decide which of these two men she despised more.

“Ouch.” Coming to, Rainer suddenly grabbed the back of his head.

“That was five minutes ago. You’re just feeling it now? That’s how drunk you are? Idiot. Where’s your shirt?” Glynnis could barely look at her husband.

“Something’s burning.”

“Don’t get going on about that again. Nothing is…”

“If it’s not burning now, it will be.”

“You are just trying to spook me, Rainer Slate, you devil. You always have been good at that.” She ran her hand over his chest.

“I smell smoke. There is something else mixed with the smoky aroma, something subterranean, mysterious, even sinister. Something that tastes like it came out of a thousand-year-old bottle. Elegant mischief. I can’t actually name it. I am not able to name it.” He gently rubbed the back of his head. A small lump was forming. “Ouch.”

Glynnis was more than a little spooked now. Subterranean? Sinister? Elegant mischief? She had heard her husband speak mainly in monosyllables in the four years she had been married to him and the year she knew him before that. He was an uneducated lout, a description Borden Batter had applied, accurately, pathetically, to her hapless husband on every appropriate occasion.

“Why can’t you name it,” she asked, curious where this would go.

“Smelling the smoke is a memory. A memory from the future. A burning bush with berries hanging red and delicious, temptation’s fruit luring us back and forth, swinging like a pendulum.”

Slate suddenly stopped talking, his mouth agape. He looked at his wife. She saw a little fear in his eyes.

“Somebody is going to burn down Shoal Lake.”

He said it without thought or inflection, a voice from a subtle wise place within him.

“Somebody is going to burn down Shoal Lake.” His words echoed in the narrow alley.

“Damn that hurts.” He rubbed the growing lump on the back of his head and pulled his hand back to see if he was bleeding. There was a small red smear on his fingertips. “I’m bleeding. How did I get this?” he asked Glynnis.

“I don’t know,” hoping her disgusted tone would hide the lie. It didn’t.

“You’re lying.”

“You must have gotten it when you fell in the store. Luck had it, there were no customers when you came in. Or dropped in.”

He knew she was still lying but chose to let it go. He laughed instead.

“I did drop in, didn’t I?” He smiled his unabashedly cute smile at her, which always melted Glynnis’ heart in an involuntary way she’d come to recognize as love.

Glynnis stared at her handsome half-naked man.

“I have such a headache,” Slate said wrapping his hands around his head as if it was a delicate glass bowl.

“Who’s going to burn down Shoal Lake?” she asked.

“I don’t know who but it’s because of politics, land, jealousy, greed, the usual reasons. I must lie down.”

Slate rolled onto his side and stretched out on the rutted dirt in the alley. He carefully placed his head to avoid contact with the swelling and closed his eyes.

Glynnis made no effort to keep her husband conscious. She let him go, let him sink to wherever he needed to be at that moment. She was spooked, truly, abundantly spooked. Who was this unconscious man at her feet who looked like her husband but talked like a professor? How can a fool be cured? What change had occurred in the past few minutes? What will happen next? These questions all suddenly, overwhelmingly, flooded into Glynnis’ mind.

She had to sit on her folded legs to accommodate the dizziness. She touched her husband’s trousers. They were damp and crumbly. She tasted the contents of a thousand-year-old bottle. Her vision became hazy, details dissolved in a fog of unrecognizable shapes. She heard a fond humming that made her feel nostalgic and happy. Some old songs all in a jumble, tumbling, crumbling then…she passed out.

“GLYNNIS!”

It was the shrill voice of Borden Batter at his most furious. His hands gripped his sides so tightly his knuckles turned white.

“GLYNNIS! WAKE UP!”

***

Three weeks later, on September 10 1889, a stiff northwest wind propelled a fire from one end of North Railway Avenue to the other, wiping out eight businesses including two hotels, livery stable, general store and Batter’s Apothecary. The fire changed the shape and destiny of Shoal Lake, provoking businesses to open along Station Road, south of the tracks.

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Filed under Fiction, Local History, Pioneers

New Feature: My Bad Adolescent Poetry

Reid Dickie

Astute readers of this blog o’ mine will have noticed something new along the extreme right hand sidebar – namely My Bad Adolescent Poetry. In 1970, at age 21, I had accrued enough cash to hand print up a few hundred copies of my poetry. The title of the collection was Prism Prisons – a god-awful yet appropriate name for the horny, angsty stuff it contained, which I’d written between the ages of 15 and 20.

I printed the body of the book on a Gestetner machine and had the cover (of my own design) printed by a Brandon company. I think the textured orange card was free and they just charged me for the printing. I sold a few, very few and the rest moldered away in our various garages over the decades until one fateful garbage day number 4 when Prism Prisons achieved its ultimate purpose, its destiny – landfill!

Alas, a few copies did manage to survive and, even though their location is a closely guarded secret, I, as author, poet, was able to liberate one copy, one precious…actually I kept four of them and they are on the bottom level of my bookshelf. As a lark, I will share my adolescent agonies with you on the new sidebar. I’ll change these frequently. If they get too stinky, please tell me and I’ll stop. Thank you, truthful reader. Be happy, Reid

Watch a DickTool Co video called Evidence of Winter to see what became of some copies of Prism Prisons.

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Filed under Art Actions, Blog Life, dicktool co, Humour, Life and Life Only

Wakpa Tanka Lookout – Miniota

Reid Dickie

For thousands of years the valley of the Assiniboine River provided food, water and shelter. Along its banks are numerous known and unknown former campsites where evidence of habitation can be found.

In 1992, pipeline crews discovered a rare campsite on the banks of the Assiniboine near Miniota, MB, rare because the site was used only once before it was covered with river sediment from flooding. The archies thoroughly dug the site and preserved dozens of artifacts dating back 1000 years to the Avonlea people. Today a viewing platform and information board perched high above the river offer access to a millennium of river history.

Called Wakpa Tanka Lookout, the site provides a panoramic view of the river valley, which includes an oxbow of the Assiniboine. Translated from Dakota, Wakpa Tanka means “great river.” A sturdy well-constructed kiosk provides written and pictoral background on the site’s history and details about the grand valley view before you.

Also at the site is the trailhead for the Silver Bend Trail, a trail with exceptional vistas of the Assiniboine valley. Signage along the trail speaks of aboriginal peoples and settlers offering insight into their daily lives. Steamboats plied the river delivering supplies to settlements along the banks.

The site is easy to find. Access to the trailhead and Wakpa Tanka Lookout is off Hwy #83 about a mile and a half north of Miniota. By the highway is a sign for Silver Bend Trail. Turn west onto a good gravel road, drive over a small wooden trestle bridge and into the site. This trestle bridge, which spans CNR tracks, is a rarity in Manitoba as it is completely constructed of wood, even the driving surface.

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Filed under Day Tripping, Local History, Manitoba Heritage, Natural Places, Prairie People, Roadside Attractions

Convergence – 35 Years Ago Today

Reid Dickie

As John Lennon would say, today is a “red lettuce” day in the history of Linda and Reid. On this date, 35 years ago, we formally amalgamated our households and our lives by moving into a small house at 729 Lorette Avenue in Winnipeg. Since we had fallen madly in love, the move was inevitable. It was an usually hot April day, at least for back then, as the temperature soared into the 80s. Sweat was pouring off us and my friend Ted who helped with the move but we managed to clear out two apartments and find space for our combined stuff in the little house.

The house had been a rental property for some time before we moved in and had been reasonably well-maintained. I think we paid $130 a month for it which was appropriate. It became our “one-and-a-half-storey utopia” as we called it, alternating with “the boxcar” because it was long, narrow and open. This picture shows 729 Lorette in 2010 just before it was demolished. It hadn’t been lived in or heated for several years and was deemed “unihabitable.” It had served its purpose, satisfied intent and provided all its shelter.

About Lorette Avenue: it’s a Winnipeg anomaly, a “hermaphrodite street,” as Guy Maddin calls it in My Winnipeg (See this movie please). The front yards of one side of the street, our side, face backyards across the street. This odd bit of urban planning goes on for a couple of blocks then shifts over a block then dissolves into correct property lines. “No one speaks of Lorette Avenue,” again from My Winnipeg. This is the view directly across from 729 Lorette today.

Putting Lorette Avenue’s hermaphroditic charm to use, during the hot summer of 1978 I shot a fast frame Super 8 film out our front window into the backyards across the street. It wound up with a great Pere Ubu soundtrack, a song called Go, and is a popular choice on my DickTool channel on YouTube. Catch a glimpse of Lorette back then.

Linda and I lived on Lorette for two years, making our early art together – photography, films, collage, video. You can find the detailed chronological history of our artlife on my DTC Art page. Some of our strangest video art ensued from the Lorette house. Videos shot on Lorette include Cheap Grace, No Shirt No Shoes No Service, The Yard, Evidence of Winter and Video Shoes. The Super 8, Passionate Leave, was also shot there.

The little house was demolished and replaced with a spanky new duplex over the past year. This is what stands at 729 Lorette Avenue today.

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Filed under Accommodations, Art Actions, BEAUTY, dicktool co, Family, Linda, Love, video art, Winnipeg

Alexander Ridge Park

Reid Dickie

Most Manitobans know we live on a flood plain due to the regular reminders of our rivers. Many don’t know that we live on a lake bottom, Lake Agassiz to be exact, which accounts for the flatness of the land. For several thousand years this massive lake harboured the meltwater from glaciers, some of them a mile and half thick, that covered the province during the last Ice Age which lasted about 85,000 years. Other than the thousands of lakes that dot the province, most of them remnants of Lake Agassiz, we still have a few beaches remaining to remind us of the huge glacial lake.

In eastern Manitoba there is evidence of various lakewater levels along the edge of the Canadian Shield. In the western part of the province, the Manitoba Escarpment formed the boundary of the big lake. There still remain a few places where the beaches of the lake are visible. You can clearly see evidence of numerous levels of the lake on the Arden Ridge off Hwy #16. Spirit Sands in Spruce Woods Provincial Park is, in fact, the delta of a huge river that drained meltwater into Lake Agassiz at that spot. Around Riding Mountain National Park there are still beach ridges visible. The park offers a short hike that takes you along the ridges.

Just a few miles west of Miami, MB as you climb up the Manitoba Escarpment on Hwy #23, an opportunity to drink in the vistas of the old lake bottom has been created. Called Alexander Ridge Park and located almost at the top of the escarpment, the site features grand views of the flatland below and a satisfying roadside stop. The top picture is one of the long views of the plains below offered from the park. Signage explains the origins of the park and its lighthouse theme, picnic tables await and a wooden lookout tower enhances your 20-mile view of the plains. Several Sea Buckthorn bushes flourish in the well-maintained park. Last fall they were loaded with bright orange berries.

A worthwhile roadside stop but you have to be vigilant to find it. Located on the north side of Hwy #23 is a large sign with a lighthouse on it that identifies the park but you have to doubleback on a side road to get into the place.

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Filed under Day Tripping, Manitoba Heritage, Natural Places, Parks, Pioneers, Roadside Attractions

Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church, Kosiw, MB

Reid Dickie

Located in the Kosiw district south-southwest of Dauphin, MB, near the northern boundary of Riding Mountain National Park, the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church of Sts. Peter and Paul is a fine interpretation of a type of traditional church architecture found in Western Ukraine. Overlooking pastoral rolling farmland, the cruciform wooden church with its five, eight-sided, metal-covered banyas (onion domes), including the large two-tiered central dome that opens into the church below, has served area pioneers and their descendents since 1921. The figure of the arched sash windows is doubly replicated in the attractive entrance to the place. On the same sheltered grounds is a well constructed wooden belltower, typically separate from the church proper, housing two bells. Watch my one-minute video of the church.

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Filed under Churches, Ghost Towns, Heritage Buildings, Manitoba Heritage, Spirit, Uncategorized

“Waste Land” – Another Great Doc!

Reid Dickie

I have another documentary to recommend. Three years in the making, Waste Land follows Brazilian-born Brooklyn artist Vik Muniz back to his native Brazil and to the biggest garbage dump in the world, Jardim Gramacho, just outside of Rio de Janeiro. Muniz returns home to create images of the catadores, a group of about 2500 people who climb mountains of trash to pull recyclable materials out of the tons of garbage deposited daily. Vik’s original plan had been to “paint” the catadores but wound up having the garbage pickers create large images of themselves out of garbage and photographing the results. The despair and the dignity of the catadores is obvious and heartfelt throughout as is the transformational power of art. Suddenly given self-images and seeing their faces on the walls of an art gallery changes the lives of everyone involved in the process. Uplifting and provocative, Waste Land, directed by Lucy Walker, will inspire your imagination and invigorate your spirit. Click the pic to see the trailer.

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Filed under Art Actions, BEAUTY, Film, Hope, Old Souls, Pioneers, Soul Building, Spirit

Friendship Between a Man and 38 Lions

His name is Kevin Richardson. He is a lion whisperer.

Click pic to watch video

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Filed under Critters, Old Souls, shaman, Spirit

Stunning Video: The Hidden Beauty of Pollination

Watch hummingbirds, bees, butterflies and bats “at work” in this beautiful creation by Louie Schwartzberg. Click any picture to start.

 

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Filed under BEAUTY, Birds, Critters, Wisdom

Manitoba Heritage – Union Point United Church

Reid Dickie

Union Point United Church, Hwy #75

Two lanes of Hwy #75 flow northward and two lanes flow southward and between them is this pretty little Gothic wooden church, the last remnant of a ghost town. Situated a few kilometers south of Ste. Agathe, MB in the Rural Municipality of Morris, Union Point United Church is a dramatic, albeit final, vestige of a pioneer settlement called Union Point. A few dozen headstones near the church also memorialize the community; the oldest stones read 1879.

According to Manitoba wood carver Warren Breyfogle, who was born on his grandparent’s farm at Union Point, the community was so named because it was the stopping place for both the paddlewheel boats that plied the nearby Red River and for the stage coaches that traveled north and south along the river between Winnipeg and the U. S.

The first Union Point Church, originally serving a  Presbyterian congregation, was built here in 1887. Destroyed by fire in 1939, the present building replaced it in 1940.

Simple Gothic details abound on this little church: the rectangular shape, the pointed windows all around and complementary tracery, similar pointed openings in the off-centre steeple with its steeply pitched roof and wooden pinnacle pointing heavenward, off-centre entrance with pointed arch over the doorway and the octaflor stained glass window above the trio of lancet windows. Classic materials were used to build the church: clapboard siding and plain wood trim, all painted white, exposed rafter tails and buff brick chimney. Watch my 2:09 video of Union Point United.

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Filed under Churches, Day Tripping, Ghost Towns, Manitoba Heritage, Pioneers

Letter from a Friend

’ello Hila,
 
I’ve narrowed it down to a dozen or twenty causes of my recent inertia and I thought this Day of Fools (as if we need our own day!) would be an appropriate time to share them with you as a cathartic gesture, to purge some of this hoo-haw but not to burden you with it. Instead we shall purge together, a community of two expressing our Radical Compassion to the universe, the unity we all crave, and spewing it into the Abyss which, with a wink, dissolves our petty meh-inducing meanderings, thus relieving us of our death dread – for now – and explaining why this moment is the only one we have, or is it this one? or maybe this one….?
 
Here is my list of inertia-causing evils now afoot in the worlds:
  • sectarian Bavarian contrarians
  • HAARP
  • Harper 
  • chemtrails
  • zebra mussels
  • Fukushima radiation
  • Monsanto bees
  • DU
  • hydrogen baggage clowns
  • Lady Gaga – NWO tool
  • bliss-tampering indigo spirits
  • anti-vomiting agents
  • sweetness inhibitors
  • MSG after which we pant and pant and can’t get enough in our pants
  • Kyle Kushman
  • overdue kitty litter fumes
  • sweatless sweat lodges
  • too much Manchu Wok
  • lichen
  • fluoride in the water

I’m so glad you understand.  

Let’s dance together in the half moonlight now!
 
Randy Rhino
 

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Spruce Woods Park Today

Reid Dickie

Last Friday I took a drive out to Spruce Woods Park to see how the little park overwintered. Park workers have cleaned up most of the debris that cluttered the ditches. The plastic and metal grid dams that were washed away and strewn about the park have been removed. Some infill in wash-out areas, such as around the park sign and in ditches where water stood all last year, has been done. The huge pile of trees next to the bridge has been removed, likely providing the park with firewood for the next five years. The low road to the campground is still impassable and there remains plenty of evidence of the flood’s impact on the landscape. 

According to Manitoba Parks, the entire lower campground (bays 1 – 7) and all the campground buildings at Kiche Manitou in Spruce Woods were completely destroyed by the floodwaters. Currently the department is assessing damages and planning reconstruction, however, the lower campground will NOT be open for the 2012 season. The upper campground and yurts will still be available.

I stopped at the trailhead of Spirit Sands and took a few pictures. Though they never moved all last summer, the three covered wagons await their horses and a flood of tourists to carry out to the dunes. Other than the lower campground closure and most of the trail system needing repairs, the park will  operate more or less as usual this year. I’m looking forward to watching the natural changes the park will undergo this summer.

The status of several other provincial parks damaged by flooding last year remains uncertain. The department is reporting that availability of parks around Lake Manitoba inundated by high lake levels will vary. Since its campground and park infrastructure were completely destroyed, camping at St. Ambroise Park will not be offered this year. Also on the lake, Watchorn Park was damaged badly and assessments are currently underway, but it’s uncertain whether camping will be available this year. The campgrounds at Rainbow Beach and Manipogo Parks are now under repair with the intent that they’ll be open on May 11. Lundar Beach Park suffered extensive damage and, although repairs are underway, availability of camping this summer is uncertain. Slowly our parks will bounce back.

There have been changes this year in Manitoba Parks. Camping fees have increased slightly, between $1.05 and $3.15 depending on services offered. Park entry fees will be charged this year, ending three pleasant years of free park entry. Annual permits are just $30, amongst the lowest in Canada. Three-day passes are $8 and single day is $4. Permits are required after May 1 and can be purchased by mid-April at any Manitoba conservation office including campground offices, large stores like Canadian Tire and small stores that cater to fishers and hunters.

The Manitoba Provincial Parks Reservation System kicks into life tomorrow, April 2, 2012 at 7:30 a.m.  They should have the latest information on campground availability around the province. In Winnipeg call 948-3333, elsewhere toll-free 1-888-482-2267. Their website is manitobaparks.com

The mighty Assiniboine that caused havoc last year at this time is a much more peaceful river today as you can see. Here it’s rounding the bend at Spirit Sands trailhead. I’ll have many more reports on Spruce Woods Park and my other travels this summer on my blog. Stay tuned. Happy trails!

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Filed under Accommodations, Carberry, Day Tripping, Flood, Natural Places, Parks, Spirit