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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Flood peak.

As we approached the bridge over Sturgeon Creek, we came across a military convoy of heavy trucks all emblazoned with "Student Driver" tags. We followed them west on Saskatchewan avenue until Hamilton where they stopped. It looked to us like they were going to deploy, but when the half dozen soldiers who got out all jumped back in their trucks and drove away down Hamilton, we got out and started walking. I suppose they can't afford radios? The term "sneaker net" comes to mind. I know it's not a perfect fit, but it does describe what happened.

We walked quite some way past the barricaded road before we got anywhere near water. Our first sign, was a large puddle on the street that lay directly upon a sewer drain hole. Water would normally flow down into the sewer, but in this spot the drain must have been below the waterline, because it was not going anywhere.

We continued to walk towards the creek and eventually came to some yellow caution tape strung across the road. It was now strung across the flowing water of the creek, which looked now like a large fast flowing river.

We were not alone. There were about 20 people watching the spectacle from various vantage points along either shore and also from atop the railway bridge that runs just north of Saskatchewan avenue.

We climbed up to the bridge for an overlook of the space between the two bridges. The water was boiling and swirling, with debris popping up and disappearing constantly. One thing that sparked my imagination was a life preserver of the sort that is usually kept in a clear doored box on the railings of many bridges in Winnipeg. I couldn't help myself from thinking how a person would have a hell of a time if they ended up in the water between the bridges.

We climbed down the rail ballast and skirted around the water on the road, for a look from a different angle. I was setting up my tripod for a shot of the water coming over the road when a large splash happened right beside us. At first I thought that it was a fish. Then I thought that it might have been someone throwing something into the water. That idea didn't sit well with me, as my equipment was perilously close to the splash, and I feared it might be damaged. Then we saw the culprit. A large beaver was swimming towards the flow of water coming across the road! I have heard that the sound of running water is irresistible to beavers. They have a built in instinct to dam the
water that is making the noise. He must have been about 2 feet from my camera when he noticed we were there.

I suppose our beaver got a little nervous and turned around and headed downstream, so of course I decided I needed to get a shot of him. We followed in hot pursuit.

We finally caught up to her beside a floating pad of chewed branches in the middle of the creek. There she sat, while I shot some frames, and the next thing we knew, she was joined by two more beavers.

Next we headed to Ness avenue to see how far up the water had come from our previous visit. It had risen considerably! We could no longer walk across the bridge. While the depth of water was only a foot or two, the current would have certainly knocked us off our feet and swept us into the creek.

The light was fading fast, so we didn't hang around for very long. We headed down to Grant's Old Mill for some sunset photos, which I think turned out pretty well.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sturgeon Creek on the Rise

I caught these photos just as Sturgeon creek started to trickle over top of Ness avenue on Tuesday, Apr 14th.

As you can see, there were a fair number of onlookers, as well as the press. I'm sure that this fact was helped out by it being well into the double digits temperature wise. I heard several mothers admonish their children to not get so near to the water. I found myself wondering if the engineering of the bridge was up to snuff as I walked from one side of the bridge to the other, my shoes partway submerged in the creek-water. What also struck me was the collections of debris, and garbage in the eddies and swirls of the current. Just remember the next time you think about tossing away that McDonalds cup. It doesn't just disappear.

Monday, April 13, 2009

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Photo walk.

a I started out on Sunday, April 5th with high hopes of catching some signs of spring. It was sunny and that fact certainly lifted my spirits. This year's Winter in Winnipeg seems to have dragged on longer than usual. But I'm no meteorologist. The weather was a lot colder and windier than I had hoped. My hope tricked me into leaving my hoodie at home, and I flirted with frostbite. But I had a glorious day, and I have some photos to post of some of the interesting things I found.

First, let me introduce to you something that you have probably had experience with at one point or another if you spend any time walking in nature. Especially if you have a dog.

As far as I have been able to narrow it down, this is called a "Common Burdock". I have dug up a few interesting things on the web about this plant. In Manitoba, it is a non-native species of biannual weed. It originally comes from Europe and Asia. Certain parts of it are edible, other parts are poisonous. The "burs" inspired the invention of Velcro. Nature did it first!

The burs, are used by the plant to spread it's seed by attaching them to animals as hitch hikers. Strangely enough however, on occasion it has been known to snare small species of birds, who get caught on the burs. As small as they are, the birds can not remove themselves, and the burs remain attached to the parent plant. The birds die of starvation unable to extricate themselves.

There were definitely some hints of spring as I walked about. I saw melt water running into the Red River, which was still quite frozen in most parts. I did see some geese eventually land in the tiny open spots on the river near me. I think they were as confused as I was about the cold. I had to stop and shoot this group of icicles shining in the sun. I watched the drips like watching a clock counting down to spring a second at a time.

I also made my way over to the Manitoba Legislature.
The river walk is closed, as it is mostly under water and ice, but I spent some time photographing and reading various placards to be found around the main building. The artistry is really quite interesting. One day I fully intend to take advantage of an internal tour of the building.

One thing that really caught my eye was the Egyptian looking sphinx perched atop the north end of the building. There are supposedly many secrets locked in the architecture of this building, and I'm sure that the sphinx have something to hide, but I don't know what. It brings to mind the adventures of Robert Langdon in "The De Vinci Code".

Secrets aside, nothing can take away from the sheer beauty of the building, and the artwork it contains. Take the golden boy for example. I drive by him every day on the way to work, but seldom take a moment to really have a look.

He is guilded in 23.75 karat gold. He weighs 1650 kg (3,640 lb). He was modeled after the Roman messenger god of trade, profit and commerce Mercury. He was purchased from French sculptor Charles Gardet, of Paris. The golden boy had an adventure in WWI. On his trip to Canada, his ship was commandiered to serve in the war. He made several trips across the Atlantic ocean before finally landing in Halifax and being placed on the building in 1919.

Just as my self guided "tour" of the legislature was wrapping up, I heard sirens from all over the place, and saw two marked police vehicles and a "ghost car" whiz by, which I figured might make a nice action shot, so I snapped up the chance. It was a spur of the moment decision, which turned out great. Not perfect, due to the unpredictability of the subject, but I am fairly happy with the outcome. I will try again if the chance ever arises again.

Thanks for reading!