Happy Place

Do you have a happy place? Do I? And what is a happy place, anyhow? Can a person have more than one happy place? Can a person be a happy place? How about an activity? Please, leave a comment to share your happy place(s).

So many questions…and so many answers! There are a LOT of articles out there explaining the concept of a happy place. Most of them are some variation on the definition of a happy place as somewhere that triggers feelings of joy, contentment, relaxation, creativity, satisfaction and other positive emotions. It’s a safe place where you can take a break from the stress and hassles of everyday life.

If you’d asked me about my happy place ten years ago, I’d have described one particular trail intersection in Pocaterra Cirque up in the Highwood Pass region of Kananaskis Country. No more. Now, when I think of that particular spot, I feel a deep sense of loss. I grow nostalgic for the days when alpine trails were less traveled. When people weren’t lined up like ants on hiking paths. When Nature was more lightly used and had time to recover between hiking seasons. We rarely hike in this area now, because it’s depressing to see the landscape so over worn.

So these days, I think it’s healthier for me to have many happy places. These include: nature in general, our vegetable and flower gardens, bird watching, cycling, paddling our kayak, working on a creative project, time with family and friends. Here are a few happy place moments I enjoyed in August…

1. After Some Rain

It’s been a dry summer, with many parts of Alberta experiencing drought conditions. More than a dozen districts and counties have declared agricultural disasters for 2023. Municipalities all along the Bow River and downstream of where it joins the Oldman River to form the Saskatchewan River (which empties into Hudson Bay) have imposed at least Level 1 watering restrictions. So rain in our part of the world brings happiness to a lot of people these days.

As long as it’s not heavy rain for hours on end, I like walking/hiking and even kayaking in the rain. There are usually fewer people out and about. And nothing smells as good as petrichor – that unique scent of sun-warmed forest floor when the first raindrops hit. Overnight rain followed by a sunny morning = a photographer’s playground, thanks to the wonderful bokeh possibilities created by all the water droplets.

water droplets on a branch of leaves

2. The Bow Valley

The Bow Valley is home. And it’s beautiful. Most times when we walk the Three Sisters multi-use pathway from our neighborhood to downtown Canmore, I stop somewhere in Mine Meadow to take a 360 degree panorama. The mountains have the same shape every time, but depending on the season and the light, can look very different. The highlight this particular day? The cloud formations connecting one side of the valley to the other.

flattened 360 panorama of a meadow surrounded by mountains

3. Cycling

We never got seriously into mountain biking, but we sure love our gravel bikes. Our favorite rides are some of the mountain roads around here during those times each year when they’re closed to motorized vehicles. These include Highwood Pass, the Bow Valley Parkway and Yoho Valley Road.

In August, all those roads are open to vehicles, so we mostly ride the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail. It runs right beside the TransCanada Highway between Canmore and Banff. The scenery is great. On our most recent ride, I noticed some wildflowers I’ve never seen before. Could they be chicory?

man riding bicycle along a paved pathway with blue wildflowers on one side and a highway on the other

4. Kayaking, especially at Vermilion Lakes

If I had to pick just one happy place, it would be kayaking at Vermilion Lakes, where we have spent many mornings paddling the three lakes. We stick close to the shoreline, and watch for birds – both on the water and in the surrounding trees and shrubs. Most outings we see at least one osprey and one bald eagle, along with a good variety of ducks and geese and sometimes common loons or grebes.

We have a tandem kayak. Mr. GeoK is always up front, and I always take the rear seat, which means I’m responsible for steering and for matching my paddle strokes to his. It works out well. During our second outing on Vermilion Lakes this month, we spotted a juvenile (recently fledged) Bald Eagle, a four-year old (est.) Bald Eagle, and a mature Bald Eagle in flight. Here’s Mr GeoK taking photographs of the juvenile. The four y.o. is perched about 50 meters away, at the left side of the frame.

person photographing bird perched in tree from kayak pulled into water grasses

Bonus photos = pictures of these two birds. I opted for black and white processing, as the light conditions were terrible.

5. Lego

Yes, Lego is a happy place. (Remember the lyrics from the Lego movie song?) I find building with Lego to be a form of meditation. And the set I built this month makes me happy for two other reasons: 1) it’s a birds’ nest; and 2) it reminds me of Wingspan, a board game we play with our “young adult in residence” each Sunday evening. I appreciate this opportunity each week, because when K moves out, family board game nights will be few and far between.

Lego birds' nest with three Lego birds including 2 hatchlings

There you have it. My photos for this month. Together, they represent another happy place for me – behind a camera! Every photograph provides an opportunity to truly see the subject, to appreciate it, to learn, to be creative and to share.

Now it’s time to hop on over to PJ’s blog, and check out happy places from around the world. While you’re there, please consider joining the Photo Blogging Challenge next month. The theme for September is Simple. All you need are five photographs. Whether you write a little or a lot is entirely up to you. Oh, and you need a blog of some sort. There are lots of free options out there. We are a small – but friendly – community, newcomers welcome. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Happy Place

  1. What a fabulous shot of the Bow Valley. I had to re-read the text to figure out how you did it at first, thinking that just couldn’t be the way the clouds were that day. Panorama made a lot more sense.

    Very nice set of shots for your happy places.

  2. Ha, Denise, you nailed it “behind the camera” is definitely a happy place for me as well.
    I hear you on the crowded trails spoiling it for nature lovers. Same is happening in Switzerland, as you can imagine. With the masses comes the noise, the littering and the general disrespect. Too bad.
    BTW, pictures 1 – 3 won’t load.
    Sorry to hear that your nest is becoming emptier. However, I recently learned, it’s not that you’re becoming empty nesters, but free birds. You must appreciate the analogy!
    LEGO has evolved so much. In the olden days it was just bricks.

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