Ernst Enns, ‘custodian’ of a beautiful piece of Alberta

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, June 29, 2017

A rainbow arches across Ernst Enns’ longtime home in Grand Valley, symbolic of the friendships the globetrotting retired professor has celebrated over the years on its deck, rich with views of nature and humanity living in harmony. Photos by Warren Harbeck

Like sights, scents and sounds, places can evoke beautiful memories and feelings, too. This deeply felt sense of place certainly characterizes the emotions I experience when visiting the rural home of our globetrotting coffee companion, Ernst Enns. It’s all about an overarching rainbow of friendship based on our common humanity living in harmony with the world in which we are guests.

The retired University of Calgary professor built his home in the bucolic Grand Valley, northwest of Cochrane, 25 years ago, to the delight of those of us privileged to sit on its deck on pleasant summer afternoons and take in its amazing balance between architecture and natural setting.

In fact, that’s what some of Ernst’s friends were doing just this past Sunday. We’d come together around him one last time before he relocates to Calgary – folks in harmony with Ernst’s views on friendship grounded in the search for beauty and mutual respect (my July 6, 2011 column).

From where I was sitting I caught a view of foothills forest inverted in a friend’s glass of wine, a reminder never to grow tired of seeing the world through wonder-filled eyes. Along the deck stood Victorian lamp posts, reminders that we can be lamplighters to all around us. Then there were the brilliant blue and purple pansies leading to an equally brilliant blue and purple hoop, a sample of what all of us can do to help make our world more beautiful.

“I do not feel that I was an owner, just a custodian of this beautiful piece of Alberta,” Ernst told me. “My intention was to cherish the trees, the birds, the deer, the foxes and the myriad of smaller creatures that own this place as much as I do.

“Now that I am leaving, I hope that whoever watches over this world will say that I nurtured my patch of earth and that it is healthier and more beautiful for my having been here. Many friends have come and shared a part of my life's journey while I was here. But now my path takes me elsewhere, but not far away.”

Well, Ernst, you have nurtured your patch very well, indeed, and we your grateful friends will cherish the example you have set for us.


© 2017 Warren Harbeck

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