Hidden in Hedley

Gingerly, I stepped down the stairs, gripping the handrail.  It was clear to me why Coral, owner of Coral’s Cabins, didn’t want me to enter the lower yard.  The stone steps were rustic—varying in height, sharp in places and deceptively smooth in others.  Halfway down, the stairs turned, and the railing ended.  I transferred my grip to a small pine tree.  Just a few more steps and I would be on level ground.  A few steps after that I would arrive at the small table next to the footbridge.

I could have stayed up at the cabin.  There was a small table on the deck.  But this table was bigger, and I wanted to spread out my various writing and art supplies. Plus, this was the only place I could get a photo of the cabin itself, if I dared to venture out onto the bridge that spanned the “bubbling brook,” as the webpage describes it.

It was worth the effort.  I spent the afternoon scribbling in my notebooks, enjoying the fresh, woodsy air, the butterflies dancing with cottonwood fluff, and the slightly less deafening sound of the waterfalls. 

I found Coral’s Cabins last year when I was on-line searching for places to get away for a weekend.  But the season was almost over, and the cabin was fully booked.  I had to wait until reservations re-opened in April to book my stay.  From the start, it was meant to be a solo trip.  The cabin only has one bed.  The idea of going away on my own and spending an entire weekend just writing and maybe a little painting was ideal. I spent hours planning—what I needed to bring, what meals to prepare in advance, even a list of possible things I wanted to write about. For so many years, I worked seven-days/week and never went anywhere.  Now that I have the opportunity to go places, the planning itself is part of the joy.

As the date grew closer, however, I started to worry.  Lately, I’ve had to be extremely careful of what I do. It seems I only have so much gas in the tank, and if I overdo it at all, I’m wiped out for days.  Going alone didn’t seem like such a good idea anymore.  So, I invited Bear to join me.

Poor Bear. It’s always about the sleeping arrangements.  Because there was only one bed, we brought along an air mattress and sleeping bag.  There was a leak in the mattress.  By morning, he was straight-up lying on the floor.  The second night, he decided to sleep in the car.

But I was grateful for his presence.  While I had prepped all the meals in advance, he’s the one who did all the cooking on the barbeque.

And he was very respectful of my purpose in coming.  He left me alone while I was writing, and even did a little writing of his own.  How lucky am I?

Even with all the writing, there was plenty of downtime. Most of that time was spent on the deck, watching the spectacular waterfalls.  There was so much to see.  As the sun changed position in the sky, or moved in and out of the clouds, different areas of the falls would be illuminated, and different facets revealed. The earsplitting roar of cascading water at first seemed to block any thoughts from my head, but after a time, became somewhat soothing, and thinking resumed.  

There were Swallowtail and Mourning Cloak butterflies, and of course, there were birds—Robins, Warblers and Steller’s Jays.  But the most fascinating of all were the American Dippers.

I’ve seen American Dippers before.  My first was in the dead of winter in Alberta, at a place called Big Hill Springs, where the water never completely freezes over.  There, with ice all around, I saw my first Dipper and marveled at his ability to withstand the frigid temperatures. But I’ve never really had the chance to observe these birds.

From my vantage point on the deck, I watched a pair of Dippers as they flew and fished.  I began to wonder if they had a nest in the falls, as there seemed to be a place they continued to return to.  I looked it up and learned that yes, Dippers do like to build nests in waterfalls.  I was fascinated to learn that they build their nests in two layers.  The inside layer is your basic stick and grass nest, but the outside layer is made of moss, so that any moisture from the falls is absorbed and the inside of the nest stays dry.

I couldn’t tell which was the male and which was the female, but as I looked more closely at my photos, I realized one of the two had only one leg.

Huh. 

Here I was complaining about how little use I get from my legs anymore, and this tiny bird continues doing all the things a bird does, with only one leg. They don’t complain, they adapt.

I could learn a thing or two about life from the birds.

While I was contemplating the meaning of life through the eyes of a bird, a snippet of a conversation I had with my doctor popped into my head.

“The goal is to lose enough weight so you can have the surgery,” he said, referring to a procedure to repair damage from degenerative disc arthritis.

Wait a second…

How did I forget that?  How could I have forgotten that all my mobility issues might be resolved, if I can just accomplish this one thing? I know it won’t be easy, especially because I’m unable to exercise, and I refuse to bow down to the diet industry—the only industry I can think of where profit is derived from failure.  But with a little common sense and some creative visualization, I might be able to make this happen.

Move over.  I’ve got plans to make.

*A note on Coral’s Cabins

This is an amazing place to stay, beautifully appointed and lovingly taken care of.  One look at the falls and you will never want to come home.

Author: Featherstone Creative

Sally Quon is a photographer and writer living in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, where she is blessed to live, love and grow on the traditional and unceded territory of the Syilx people. Her photography has appeared in Canadian Geographic Magazine and in Nature Alberta’s various birding brochures. Sally was recently published in Chicken Soup for the Soul - The Forgiveness Fix and was long listed for the Vallum Chapbook Award. She is an associate member of the League of Canadian Poets. One of her photos was chosen for inclusion in the Photographer’s Forum “Best of 2018” Collection. She has two beautiful, almost grown children and a cat who loves her.

9 thoughts on “Hidden in Hedley”

  1. Lovely photos and narrative, as usual, Sally! I always feel like I’ve taken a little trip after I finish reading one of your posts. So glad you had a safe, relaxing time, with space to write, photograph, and study the birds. I’ve never heard of American dippers before–amazing!

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  2. Fabulous meditation on a literary journey, physically and mentally. Really enjoyed your dipper observations. Best wishes for success on your own physical journey!

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  3. Had to read this again! I have noticed the Coral Cabins many times as we drive past them … but we’re always in a hurry … still, I’ve often thought it would be fun (especially when heading home from the coast, and it’s into the evening hours) to just stop and stay overnight and finish the trip the next day. Now that I’ve read this, I want to purposely go there and stay for a few days … and write! I really must!

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