I'm back, after a wonderful holiday with my mom Yvonne: we stayed in residence at the Banff Centre for the Banff International String Quartet Festival, and it was the best summer camp for adults ever.
Mom picked me up at the Calgary airport and we drove straight out to the mountains. I think Vancouver Island, where I live, is a beautiful place, but the foothills outside Calgary are the most beautiful landscape I know - rolling and austere, topped by the biggest sky I've ever seen.
After a quick hour's drive we were in the Rocky Mountains...
...and then in Banff National Park, where the Banff Centre for the Arts is located. Most of the summer programs for young people had already finished, which was a good thing because otherwise there wouldn't have been room for the 500 of us who all arrived the same day, to spend eight days listening to wonderful music in a spectacular setting.
We stayed in this building...
...and ate in this dining hall.
What a view. That's Yvonne, who is the best travelling companion ever. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to have an experience like this with my mom.
A typical day: get up, have breakfast with a few hundred other buzzing, excited chamber music fans, go to a lecture about the music we would hear that day, attend the morning's concert, have lunch, attend the afternoon's concert, have a snooze and then dinner, attend the evening's concert, and then head off to bed so it could all start over the next day.
We shared the campus with wildlife, of course - it IS a national park, after all. Fortunately we encountered no bears or cougars on our walks from dining hall to theatre, but we did meet a pair of mule deer...
...and an elk.
If you're interested, you can go to the CBC website to read their blog about the competition and hear podcasts of most of the performances.
I came home to Mucky Boots yesterday to find that fall arrived while I was away: leaves are starting to turn colour, the autumn crocus are up, and the air smells like wood smoke. How did that happen so fast?
(My dad, Jim, suggested I tell you that the picture at the top of the post is of The Three Sisters, looking down on the town of Canmore a few minutes outside of Banff, and the place where Yvonne grew up. I took the picture in the Canmore Cemetery, where many of the headstones are inscribed with pictures of The Three Sisters. When Yvonne was growing up she liked to think of that particular mountain cluster as a representation of the three girls in her family: Eldene, Yvonne and Sharon.)