Saturday, September 13, 2008

River Of Heaven

Charting a course Through The Canyons of the City

The weatherman was true to his word, I mentally remarked to myself as I left the house at sometime after 5:00am. The skies had cleared overnight and with the constellation Orion visible to the south and Polaris shinning bright in the north sky, I looked forward with anticipation to a day of exploration and hopefully great photos. I loaded my camera gear into my truck and with a quick stop for coffee, I threaded my way through the deserted streets of the city. Using my GPS, I charted a course that would take me south on Highway 2 to Nanton. With my various radios murmuring softly in the background and Radio Australia on the speaker, I cleared Calgary's outskirts and was pleased to see a very clear sky with the milky way visible in the heavens above. This reminded me of a passage from the book "Burnham's Celestial Handbook" that I have in my library. "Look now upon the River Of Heaven, Sky-Road of the Immortals,
White with the star frost of a billion years..." I love these words describing the Milky Way Galaxy that our planet resides in. I was fortunate enough to have a daughter who fell in love with astronomy at the age of ten. I was the designated driver for her weekly classes in astronomy. This progressed to week-end star gazing and once Jennifer joined the "Astronomical Society Of Canada" our forays progressed to attending star-parties such as one of the best in Canada that takes place on the summit of Mount Kobau in southern British Columbia. Before long I realized I also enjoyed astronomy and I became a member as well. Jennifer is now all grown up and has moved on, however I fondly remember those times where we spent all night under the heavens looking at the stars and beyond. I did come away from that time with something else that I enjoy very much, a telescope that I built during that period of time that I call "Starship." My telescope is a unusual design and was featured in "Sky and Telescope" magazine. "Turn right 1 kilometer ahead on to Highway 543 west" my female navigator's voice droned from the speaker of my GPS. This snapped me back to the present and with a quick glance at my GPS, I began slowing for the turn west and the climb to the summit of the 543. The dawn was fast approaching with sunrise due at 7:13am. So with that in mind, I quickened the pace as I had a stop in mind to shoot photos of the sun breaking the horizon with shadows created that would extend out over the plains creating wonderful landscape images. I rushed westward, briefly making stops where I would scramble to set up my camera on the tripod, to capture images that were in abundance in all directions as the light slowly and softly advanced forward towards the Rockies that lie just to the west. Just beyond the summit of the 543, lies a series of tiny ponds that I have come to think of as my own, as they have given me many fine photographs over the years. Today was no exception with a fine mist hanging over the surface of the water as they came into view promising more fine captures. Moving on with the Rockies gleaming in the morning sun from a fresh dusting of snow overnight, I was reminded once more by my female navigator's voice coming from my GPS of the up coming junction, where the 543 joins Highway 22 at Chain Lakes. I would turn north towards Longview, but not before I spent some time shooting photographs along Willow Creek that flows from the dam on Chain Lakes. Once more underway and with several more stops made, I found myself making the approach into Longview, but first upon crossing the Highwood, I pulled over and with my camera in hand, I went for a hike along the river wishing that I had brought my fly-fishing gear along. Several fisherman were working the various pools and riffles in the early morning sun, giving me the opportunity to shoot photographs not unlike those that appear in "Fly-Fishing The West"
Underway once more and with the sun climbing higher into the morning sky, I knew that the magic time of day was gone, when the sun performs her magic for photographers, who try to show this through photographs that capture this brief moment in time. With the memories safely stored on my memory cards, I charted a course for home, vowing to return to this most magical of places lying along the eastern slopes of the Alberta Rockies.

Of Course - all photographs expand

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