the scent of poplars

He invented a rainbow but lightning struck it
shattered it into the lake-lap of a mountain
so big his mind slowed when he looked at it

—from “Bushed”, by Earle Birney

We are making our way home the slow route, via Waterton Lakes and then along the Crows Nest highway. We just walked around the village of Waterton after a long drive down from Edmonton and even more refreshing than the sight of the mountains all around and the cool lake across the road from our digs is the scent of poplars. So greeny and sweet. I must’ve camped here as a child—my parents often talked of the park and I remember them camping here in their old age, in the years when they were revisiting all their favourite places. So the scent of the trees is familiar and almost a palimpsest.

My father would have loved the a bighorn sheep grazing on someone’s grass. And later, we saw a whole herd of sheep on a lawn as we walked out to dinner (fabulous Alberta beef with potato and leek gnocchi, followed by Saskatoon berry pie, made by Hutterite women). Also a rainbow arcing over Vimy Mountain. And magpies, brown-headed cowbirds, deer idly browsing on poplars. But the internet connection, as promised, is weak, so I can’t post pictures. They sound like every postcard you’ve ever seen of mountain towns, though, don’t they?

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