On Antelope Street

Our cabin, along with 305 other residences in Hidden Valley Alberta, was destroyed in the flood of June 2013. All that is left of it is rubble, but we have many wonderful memories and hundreds of photos taken by our family – the Antelope Street Photographers.

poplar trees road golf fairway Alberta

I chose the name Antelope Street because that was the street where our cabin was. It was a gravel road that branched off the main drive. At that intersection it was a broad thoroughfare lined with grand old poplar trees and pretty little houses. By the time it got down to where our house was, however, it had narrowed somewhat. Past our place, it rambled on a bit further, then turned into a path that wandered down to the river. I can’t begin to count how many times we all walked that road, either westward to the privacy and serenity of the river or eastward to join family and the community.

The spirit of the cabin lives on in the LEGO world, thanks to the thoughtful creativity of my youngest daughter! She has not only recreated the building,  she has captured the essence of the forest and of each of the five people who are our immediate family.

LEGO house minifigures

Meet the people – on the far left is our Youngest Daughter. With her nurses scrubs and hairless hairstyle (she survived chemo, but her hair didn’t) she was, and always will be the go-to gal for all our owies. Next to her is The Car Guy. Master of the BBQ,  he has a hot dog ready to grill. In the doorway of the cabin is our Eldest Daughter. With a Chef’s hat and a measuring cup in hand, she is the Queen of the Kitchen.  The light haired lady is Me – note that my legs are shorter than any of the rest of the family. My wheelbarrow is nearby. To the far right is our Middle Daughter. Her long hair is in a pony tail and she has a cup of cabin coffee in her hand. She knows what fuels some members of this group in the morning!

The trim color of the cabin was a beautiful blue. The main entry into the cabin was a sliding patio door. Surrounding the cabin were huge old poplar trees – many with bare broken branches where the Canada Geese landed  in the spring.

A few brightly coloured LEGO bricks and simple minifigures have captured the essence of this special  place in a way that all the photos never could. Thanks so much J!

A mountain is composed of tiny grains of earth. The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water. Even so, life is but an endless series of little details, actions, speeches, and thoughts. And the consequences whether good or bad of even the least of them are far-reaching.
- Swami Sivananda -

Have you ever built a diorama and if so, what part of the great big world were you trying to capture?

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My greatest LEGO story: The Businessman and the Oranges

In Hidden Valley

2012-Sunflower 3In Hidden Valley the sunflowers grew
Between the poplars, fresh with dew.
They marked our divots; and in the sky
The crows, still cawing as they fly,
Break the calm that lies below.

We are the scattered. Short days ago
We laughed, played late, watched bonfires glow.
Then the river rose and now our homes lie
Silent in Hidden Valley.

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Dedicated to the 305 Hidden Valley families who lost their homes in the flood of 2013. For further information about this disaster, go to the website Hidden Valley, Alberta.

Inspired by the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ by the Canadian WWI soldier, John McCrae

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WWI Memorial – A Brooding Soldier

My Family In Flanders Fields 

Weekly Photo Challenge: One Shot, Two Ways

Our eyes are side by side – we just naturally look at life in a horizontal perspective!

2013-Golf cart sunflower1

In the aftermath of the Flood at Hidden Valley, Alberta, a few things that were once vertically aligned are now in a horizontal position. This golf cart near the 4th green has become a little greenhouse for what looks like a sunflower plant!

2013-Golf cart sunflower2

I turned the camera and took a vertical shot of the 4th fairway. It is now a lush forest of new poplar saplings and – a few more sunflower plants.

2013-Corn2

I continued walking along the 4th, past the Half Way house, then to the 6th green and bunkers. In addition to much more beach area, I found a corn plant.

2013-Corn1

This vertical photo shows the lush green growth of the grass – and a few more of the many corn plants in that area!

The Car Guy and I think that bird feed must have been scattered by the flood waters. The wet, nutrient rich silt encouraged the seeds to germinate and grow very quickly.  If these plants manage to set seed, then Hidden Valley could become a non-typical source of food for the birds for many years to come.

There are many other plants blooming in the Valley right now – I’ll post some photos in a few days.

All of our homes may have been destroyed, but the plant life is thriving. In a few years, it will be hard to tell that our Community was ever there.

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Links to this week’s Photo Challenge:

Messages – Muddy and Otherwise

There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.
- Carl Sandburg -

A slippery, gooey, contaminated mud coated just everything in Hidden Valley. When it dried, it formed sheets that cracked as they hardened. Such was the case at Kevin’s house, where his mailbox announced

2013-Kevin mailbox

You’ve got mail – a Letter from your Mudder!

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Hidden Valley was a unique little place – a community on a First Nation’s reserve but with mostly non-First Nation residents.  Many partnerships and friendships were formed between the two entities, and these should have been enough to ensure a new lease. It wasn’t. The “No to a Lease” group continued to grouse about our existence, even after we had been obliterated.

Lately though, some members of Siksika Nation have voiced their disapproval of the people who “bash” us. It takes courage to speak the way they have and we thank them for saying the things we will not say ourselves.

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An entire sand bar was deposited on our Hidden Valley lot.  In some places it must be several feet deep. Inside the house – not so lucky. Mud and mold just like everyone else.

This coming week-end, the Car Guy and the Son-in-Law will attempt to rescue the lawnmower, one (or both) metal garden sheds, and perhaps the golf carts. We don’t really need the lawnmower or the golf carts. If we did, these items would have lived at the Red House, not at the cabin. But, they have engines, and in the Car Guy’s world, no engine should die without at least one resuscitation attempt.

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I golfed with my girlfriends yesterday at the “One Tough Nine”. We were a threesome of Women of a Certain Age, but became a foursome when the Course Marshall (a man with a very odd sense of humour) attached a Much Younger Male golfer to our group. Midway through the game, MYM spotted the Hidden Valley tag on my golf bag. “Hidden Valley,” he said sadly. “See, I have the same tag as you.”

The Hidden Valley Golf Course may be disappearing under a forest of baby poplars, but golfing memories will continue to be told thanks to connections we make with our bag tags!

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Antelope Street Photographers - I’ve been putting this label on my photos ever since I started this blog. I chose the name because Antelope Street is where our cabin is/was. Most of the photos in this blog are mine, but a few are by family members, friends, and lately – other Hidden Valley residents who have let me use their work. Thanks go today to Kevin for the photo of his mailbox!

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To see all the stories and photos of the situation at Siksika/Hidden Valley, click on this link: Alberta Flooding.

Note to the Human Vultures

It seems to me the vultures have stopped circling.
- Geoffrey Becker -

Toonaday vultureHidden Valley has been a beehive of activity since the go ahead to enter the flood zone was given by Health Canada and The Siksika Nation. The predominantly senior population have donned safety equipment and entered their properties. For most of them, the recovery of a few precious items is the most they can hope for. A few others are trying to salvage pieces of their home so that they can rebuild elsewhere.

The sole road into the area is manned by security guards. This isn’t new. Hidden Valley might appear to be rather remote and isolated, but there have always been Human Vultures who knew how to bypass security. For the most part, they were more an annoyance than anything, but last March, the species know as Vandalis vulturus  caused extensive damage to 25 homes. A few of the homeowners had not yet moved back in before the flood hit.

Other vultures have been circling over our flood disaster zone for several weeks now – watching, waiting, and finally swooping in to pick up unguarded items. These vultures belong to the species Thiefus cowardesis vulturus and they seem to prefer to gobble up satellite dishes, though a set of golf clubs and a lawnmower have also apparently been on the menu.

The Provincus governmentus vulturus belong to the group of birds that are particularly good at preening. They act much like a mosquito except they suck tax dollars. There are, however, a few eagles who live with this group and though they are very hard to find, Hidden Valley is diligently hunting them in hopes that they will come to the rescue of those who are most in need.

Also disturbing are the members of the Insurancis vulturus, a species that sucks yearly insurance premiums instead of blood. So far, their cry can be heard right across our community – “Denied, denied, denied!”

Yet to descend, (or perhaps they have already and we’ve been fleeced without knowing it), are the Federalis vulturus. Six days after we were allowed to enter our properties, Health Canada (a federal department) finally released a letter advising us to ‘stay away from our properties until appropriate measures are put into place‘ to ensure our safety. Of course, they probably already knew we had entered, so they followed up with a few cautionary notes so that they could say that they had warned us.

The Car Guy and I made a preliminary trip to our cabin to assess the damage and one subsequent trip to bring home a few more little things. We found our two golf carts and The Car Guy has talked to a cart repair shop about availability of parts should we decide to haul the carts home, repair them, and sell them. Hopefully there is not a  Cartstealis vulturus operating at Hidden Valley!

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To see all my stories and photos of the situation at Siksika/Hidden Valley, click on this link: Alberta Flooding.

Hidden Valley – Re-entry

There’s no such thing as a 100-year flood.
- Andrew Cuomo -

2011-Cabin

Our Cabin before the flood – of 2013 …  after being rebuilt by the previous owners after the floods of 1995 and 2005.

2013-Yard front

Our place after the flood. The cabin was lifted by the water,  rotated almost 90 degrees, and then set back down in a different location.

2013-Cabin front

The front of the cabin – the sunroom was torn off, leaving only its roof.

2013-Deck cabin back

The back of the cabin came to rest against one of the outbuildings in the neighbour’s yard. The blue bench in the foreground of this photo was part of the deck that was attached to the back of our cabin. This deck is now on the far side of the neighbour’s yard. There is a row of flat rocks on the top rail of this blue bench – I put the rocks there, and they did not move though the deck floated more than 60 feet and turned a full 180 degrees. (We’ll rescue the rocks!)

2013-Deck bikes

The same deck as above, other side of it – four bicycles, two fell off the bench, but all of them stayed fairly high and dry. In the background, the hot tub – it started off next to this deck, but on the opposite corner.

2013-Deck floor

The upended shed – this boot and the tin of pop were in the shed – which was padlocked. The shed door is open now, but we don’t know what is in it because it is too high off the ground to see inside.

2013-Wood stool

The Car Guy and his dad made these little tables. There were ten of them, and we found five of them in our yard!

2013-Cabin inside

The inside of the cabin – kitchen to the left, living room to the right. The only thing we salvaged was the big ceramic bowl on the floor in the foreground of this photo.  It had a bit of mud on the bottom edge, but was absolutely clean otherwise.

Black colored mold is forming on many surfaces. The loft room upstairs is dry, but I don’t think we’ll salvage more than a few things from there. The mold is starting to creep up into areas that are not water damaged. Everything upstairs is exactly as I left it – even the piles of books on the dresser didn’t move.

2013-Putting green

The little putting green by the clubhouse – a small forest of trees are already starting to claim the land – and it has only been three and a half weeks since the flood!

It felt very strange to be so sad about my cabin, yet so cheered that the little piece of land that my cabin sat on was still a beautiful wooded paradise. At the front of the lot, the bulldozer had roughly scraped away a driveway, but at the back, the saskatoons were heavy with fruit. The familiar old trees that were growing nearly parallel to the ground – they had been chopped down. But the tall old poplars that threatened to fall on the cabin – they were still standing. The birds were singing, and all my neighbours were in their yards and houses, right where they would have been if this had been a normal day. It was so oddly reassuring.

On the drive home I said to The Car Guy – just suppose someone waved a magic wand and said – here is a new lease, we have a new utility system – please come back. I started to picture where I would put a house this time. I thought about how we would build a cabin that would float like a houseboat. People who don’t know better would say, “Why would you build on this flood plain again!” And I would smile and say, “You don’t understand what it means to ‘love a piece of land’. You don’t understand what ties a group of people to a place. ” Instead of moving off the flood plain, maybe a better solution is to figure out what is the best way to live on a flood plain.

The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.
- Sarah Ban Breathnach -

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NOTE: This story was written on July 15, 2013.  Former Hidden Valley owners who want up to date information about the ongoing concerns of the residents can go to the website Hidden Valley, Alberta.

To see all my stories and photos of the situation at Siksika/Hidden Valley, click on this link: Alberta Flooding.