Happy New Year Diamond Valley! Was it a quiet holiday for most? Missing family and friends at a time when we usually get together for Christmas was a bittersweet feeling. I think most of us are glad that we’ve seen the last of 2020 and are hopeful this year will be better. Hopefully the dreaded virus will run its course and we can get back to hugging and live music and our seniors can live like they deserve to. We can get back to school and work as well. I do hope we are realizing what is important in life as we continue to work towards a COVID-19 free world! So, here’s a look at what is happening in our towns and around, and all the best for you in the new year!
We had not too bad of a winter so far, and we are fortunate to have such a winter wonderland to play in. The ice rinks are closed at this time in town, but Sandy McNabb’s outdoor rink should be open for skating as of December 7. However, their outdoor shelters will be closed. Our Kananaskis has 37 km. of cross- country ski trails ranging from 1-6 km. in length. For those who like going a little faster, go to nordiqalberta.ca/race- calendar and check out Loppet cross country skiing. For those even more daring, there is back country skiing, also known as alpine touring, or heli- skiing. This is skiing in the back country on unmarked or unpatrolled areas either inside or outside a ski resort’s boundaries, and can include the use of snowcats or helicopters to get you to the top. Visit backcountryskiingcanada.com for more info on this sport.
Fat biking or snow biking is riding on bikes on snow. Tires are 4-5 inches wide, to allow for riding on soft surfaces such as snow, and we have trails for this type of biking as well. You can find out more at albertaparks.ca/fat-biking. There are also many hiking trails in the Kananaskis as well as snow shoe trails. I found good information at travelalberta. ca/12 best winter hikes and snowshoe trips in Alberta. And, of course we have the very Canadian snowmobile. Within Kananaskis snowmobiling is restricted to trails at McLean Creek, Sibbald Flats, Cataract Creek, Powderface Trail, and Big Elbow Loop. Find out more at altasnowmobile.ab.ca.
Another very Canadian winter sport is ice fishing. You must have a fishing license, however, Family Day weekend in February is a free fishing weekend for all. I experienced ice fishing at Chain Lakes a few years back. Everyone drives right onto the ice, and when someone drives close by, the whole surface groans and shifts and is pretty freaky until you get used to it. I didn’t. But people were building fires, roasting hotdogs, and generally having a good time while fishing. For the top 5 ice fishing spots in the Calgary area, check out angers atlas.com.
It should go without saying that all the above activities must be planned with safety in mind. Winter conditions bring warnings. On all marked and unmarked trails, keep in mind tree stumps and rocks hidden under the snow. Check for weather and avalanche warnings. Ice on our rivers must be thoroughly checked for soft spots before walking on. Storm ponds are not safe as the water contains road salt and other contaminants that change the stability of the ice. Stay off any ice if the temperature gets too warm. And carry extra layers of clothing, socks, and high energy foods, insulated blankets, and waterproof matches. Always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back. Cell phone service is patchy the more you get into the Foothills. For more valuable safety tips, visit myhealth.alberta.ca.
For those of us who are not so into these types of sports and prefer to stay warm inside, this is the year to get cracking on daily exercise! All Foothills residents are welcome to use the free exercise classes at Okotoks.ca. Mondays are Yoga, Tuesdays are family friendly POUND, Wednesdays offer family ZUMBA, and Thursdays are 55+ fitness classes. Each class will run at least 4 weeks. And just getting out and shoveling your neighbour’s sidewalk is great exercise as well. Walk the Friendship Trail or down by the river, or just around the block or to the post office. Walk up and down your stairs if you have some. The point being just get off the couch and move. I had a Yoga DVD sitting on my coffee table for 6 months. I finally actually put it in the DVD player and am doing it daily, and I wonder why I waited so long. Well, you can’t just rush into these things! Feels good, and helps as my full -time job is on hiatus right now, and exercise is good for the mind and soul as well as the body. Be creative and you too can get into a healthy routine!
Around town, the Sheep River Library is closed for now but offers curb side service. Go online to choose your reading material and you can order it up that way. While at the Library’s website, make sure to check out their Sheep River Ramblers 2020 Photo Contest Winners Gallery. The Sheep Creek Arts Council in Turner Valley has some classes lined up to start in January, provided they are allowed to do so, and go through March. These include Mosaic birds and Mosaic balls, and learning how to sew a skirt. Painting classes include using a palette knife, doing a still life painting, acrylics, and how to paint a barn. Knitting classes include making a cowl, how to knit two socks at a time, and how to darn socks. I remember my Mom darning our socks. There is also beginner and intermediate quilting classes on cathedral windows and an art/landscape quilt class. Some of these classes may be taught by ZOOM if we are not allowed to meet in person. For more info, and to register or renew your $20/year membership to this amazing arts council, visit sheepcreekarts.ca.
Family and Support Services (FCSS) would like to hear Foothills Seniors Stories about how you got on during this pandemic. Project SOS (Share Our Stories) has been running for a few months, and the stories will be shared online at Okotoks.ca/project sos, or on Facebook. More great reading about the recent history of our area can be found in the book Stories of the High River Flood compiled by Jane Russell and Doreen Needham, with 237 stories from residents there. The Flood of 2013 by Naheed Nenshi and the Calgary Herald is another great book. Also worth a look is Abandoned Alberta by Joe Chowaniec, which is chock full of amazing photography of the hint of times past. The Stories of the High River Flood can be found online or at the Museum of the Highwood in High River. And we would love to hear your stories as well about any and all history, anecdotes, people, and not for profit organizations right here in the High Country News. Let me know!
Kindergarten registration in the Foothills occurs in January. The Education Act requires that children be 5 years of age on or before December 31, 2021 to be eligible for kindergarten for the 21-22 school year. Or for Junior Kindergarten, your child must be 4 years of age on or before Dec. 31, 2021. Didn’t we used to call that nursery school? Kindergarten in the Foothills covers 7 expectations: Early Literacy, Early Numeracy, Citizenship ad Identity, Environment and Community Awareness, Personal and Social Responsibility, Physical Skills and Well Being, and Creative Expression. For more information or to register, as registration is online, go to fsd38. ab.ca/Registration. The kids are back to school January 4, except senior high students which will be working from home. Best of luck to all our students in the coming year.
With all the businesses who have been locked down and lost so much, it is good to see that new construction and new businesses are coming to town despite restrictions. There is a new 16 unit affordable housing complex coming to Black Diamond, being added to the Main Street Village. Lo and behold, we are apparently getting a Dairy Queen across from the AG, and I’ve heard tell of a possible A&W, perhaps by the Tim Horton’s. They have just about finished the building on Government Road across the street from the Hotel, it is supposed to be residential leases on the top and businesses on the bottom. Curious to see what businesses will move in there, perhaps the bakery? And Turner Valley hopefully will get some new businesses this year. Good luck to those struggling to stay open during these times, good times are on the way if we can hang in there.
Robbie Burns Day is January 25 this year. Burns is recognized the world over for his poems and lyrics focusing on universal themes of love and nature. Burns suppers are celebrated on this day with traditional dishes of haggis ad whisky and recitals of his best-loved work. Have your own Robbie Burns Day and serve sausage instead of haggis, because I don’t know a single person who actually likes the sheep’s stomach dish. In England they call a sausage and yellow/orange root vegetable dish “Neeps and Tatties”, which is pretty tasty. Recite poetry and lyrics with a bit of pomp and circumstance and you have created a new tradition for an otherwise quiet and cold month.
If you have any stories or news that you would like to see in the next month’s High Country News, please drop me a line at email@example.com. We would love to hear from you! The deadline for this issue is January 15.
Stay warm and safe! All the best in the coming year,