foto friday – sitting on top of the world

valley

Well maybe it’s not the very top but it’s high enough that the air is pretty thin for someone who normally lives close to sea level.

We’re coming up on the 100th anniversary of the US National Park Service.

August 25 will mark a century of responsible and visionary commitment to the management of the United States National Parks. A commendable and rare job. National Parks may turn out to be the most overlooked and important contribution America has made to the world.

In 1864 the US Congress gave the Yosemite Valley to California so it could avoid the fate of Niagara Falls.  They watched as a natural wonder was overwhelmed by the basest of commercial endeavours – extracting money from tourists in as many annoying,  tasteless and unimaginative ways possible. As a result they sought to find a better way and their vision payed off.

I am forever grateful for the commitment and courage that went into all the national, provincial, state and municipal parks that played such a large part in my life.

Without doubt, the most formative, valuable and  important experiences I have known are associated with a park of some sort.

Whether the public gardens in Nîmes, The Villa Borghese  or the NCC parks in Ottawa.  The wilds of  Gros Morne and  Bruce peninsula or the  Chandra Bose botanical gardens – it’s all the same.

Somehow, humankind managed a brief moment of clarity and wisdom and set aside a small piece of the natural world for contemplative enjoyment free of commercial pursuit. We no longer build temples or cathedrals. Our monuments are sparse, mishapen and generally not up to the task. And we don’t understand consecration or blessings any more. But occasionally we are respectful enough of creation to create a park, and this is a good thing.

There is nowhere on earth that says ‘parks’ better than Colorado. And to that end, I will be posting pictures from parks in the region in hopes that it inspires and encourages others to make use of the parks close to them.

If you have a favorite park, let me know in the comments below.

alpine-meadow

sklydrive

ridgeline

lookout-3500m

 

picture tuesday – Papineau-Labelle

 

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Lac Chat QC
lac-du-sourd
Lac du Sourd QC
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Lac Gagnon QC

Things happen fast this time of year. In a few short weeks,  the intense sunshine and brilliant blue skies have evaporated what’s left of the snow. The fluffy white mounds have disappeared and left a chaos of branches, dead leaves, reeds and grass. Only the moss busy soaking in melt-water hints at the vibrant greens to come.

On the deeper lakes the remaining ice has turned to slush and stirred by the wind will soon be gone.  Already the shallower lakes are liquid and beginning the long tedious job of getting warm. And no matter how hot the sun, you still feel the cold chill rising up from the water.

A two or three-hour drive north of Ottawa takes you to the middle of the Sepaq Papineau-Labelle. A wildlife reserve created 45 years ago to encourage Québec citizens to fully take part in nature. Close at hand but a world apart. Within moments of leaving a main route you find yourself alone on the kind of gravel road that stretches for thousands of kilometres across the north of Canada. Remote and removed from civilization and always intensely close to a complex tangled world teeming with surprise and waiting to be explored.

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Papineau-Labelle QC

papineau-labelle-rte-4-01

papineau-labelle-rte-4-03
Papineau-Labelle QC

 

Réserve faunique de Papineau-Labelle