Some scenes from my weekend walk around Gilbert’s Crossing. Every time I catch a glimpse of the mountain view, I am stunned by their beauty. I never get tired of looking. These pictures simply can’t show the true quality of this natural beauty. The prairies creeping up on the rolling hills, overshadowed by the snow-covered looming rocky peaks of the Castle Wilderness area. Right now the place is lush and green, as we just had a rain and snow shower go through. When I look at these sites, i am momentarily grateful for all I have, for the opportunity to take in these views, and breathe the fresh, pungent mountain air.
This week the Wolf Willow are in bloom. Their sweet smell belies their modest origins – a spindly bush covered in small, waxy, sturdy leaves can’t possible emit such a perfume. But it does. I recall the book Wolf Willow by Wallace Stegner, the 20th century writer and social geographer who so profoundly captured the simple beauty of the prairies and foothills. I think of W.O. Mitchell’s “Who has seen the wind” and his powerful descriptions of our scenery as told through the eyes of a young boy. The smell of wolf willow permeated his story, weaving its way into a Canadian classic. For years I tried to grow some on the farm, hoping to capture that part of the Canadian experience. Alas, I have a brown thumb and couldn’t keep the twigs alive. But now, the hillsides at Gilbert’s Crossing are loaded with them. When I walk by them, I stop, take a deep breath, savour the smell and realize that just for a moment, I have become part of the penultimate Canadian experience. I, like thousands of other outdoor enthusiasts, have had the opportunity to simply savour the beauty of our countryside. My bucket list is slowly being complete.