A perfect fall day...23 degrees Celsius in sunny Jasper.
This afternoon, my art class drives to Lac Beauvert, about 5 miles from where we are staying in the Jasper area. This lake is glorious. The reflections and the fall colours are perfection this time of year and we are soaking up the Indian summer weather that we've been blessed with these last few days.
There are a few new people in my art group for this workshop, and they've been expressing some grave fears about bears and such. One of the new members mentions that she's been in the Jasper area many times and so far, no wildlife sightings at all.
Of course, the more intrepid among the old-timers in the group have been giving them the gears about the dangers of our local bears and wolves, coyotes, fox, cougars...and so on.
One of the local residents explains to the new members in graphic detail that bull elk are so much more dangerous at this time of year than any bear could ever be...those big bad boys are in their mating season, or in rut, and they get very aggressive with anyone or anything that comes between them and their girlfriends. Very aggressive.
So, we are seated around the lake shore on the opposite side of the lake from Jasper Park Lodge, painting ourselves silly this afternoon. While we are salivating over the beauty of the geese on the lake, the ducks and loons in the lakeshore waters and every so often, gently giving it to those people who are worrying about the dangerous wildlife, guess who wanders into the parking lot right, beside our lakeshore painting area?
This yummy mummy elk!
She's obviously a little renegade, because the rest of the herd are sticking pretty close to Big Daddy...
Within minutes, our group of new students find themselves surrounded by this herd of 14 cows...and yes, Big Daddy is riding herd on them... while they walk calmly among those glued-to-their-lawn-chairs and very terrified artists!
The herd walks down to the lake's edge, steps gingerly and gently into the water and drinks their fill. Then they turn around, walk back up the shoreline into the forest, to be snuggly-close to their lord and master...all but one.
That little rebel walks in the opposite direction, right into the parking lot beside us and stands watching those scared watercolourists painting. Well, maybe they are not painting right at that moment...
Finally, giving her head a flirtatious toss, she ambles slowly towards the rest of the herd, taking her own sweet time and looking for all the world like an independent career woman out for an afternoon stroll after her ritual cappuccino!
The new members of our art workshop are quite excited and very overwhelmed by the attention they've just received from one of God's most beautiful creatures...late last night in the studio, they were still talking about the day's adventure. Funny thing, no more has been heard about those many trips to Jasper and having never seen any wildlife while in this area!
Today is a truly magical day. This herd of elk graces us with their presence and doesn't cause anyone any harm. Rather, they seem vaguely curious about these interlopers who dare to sit in the center of the direct route to the elks' own personal drinking fountain!
By the way, I have one decent painting in the works from this day, so that is the icing on the cake for me. If, with any sort of good luck, it turns out, I'll share the images with you in a few days.
"A country is known by the way it treats its animals." ~ Jawaharlal Nehru