Sun dog, foggy trail and 2023

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, January 5, 2023

Photos of a sun dog and a foggy trail to end one year and start the next? Why not? In fact, two of our longtime coffee companions have inspired this week’s column with their eyes and cameras.

Robin Phillips, a Cochrane accountant, was just reaching his goal of running 700 km over the past year. Driving south of Cochrane on Dec. 21, he encountered a midday sun dog and pulled out his iPhone 12 for a shot. Most graciously, he is sharing with us the accompanying photo.

I asked him how that experience made him feel.

“The winter solstice this past year was at exactly 2:47 pm that day,” he said, “so I remember thinking that it was a sign of hope, as we’d soon be returning towards the sun.”

Hope? What a contrast that is to a photo our writer/editor son James is sharing with us. He and his wife Aina were visiting from Toronto the week after Christmas. They’re quite the walkers, and their first day along Cochrane’s wonderful trails was totally fogged in. But the world does, indeed, have a certain mysterious beauty about it when you can only see a few trees ahead of you at a time (attached photo).

I asked him what stood out to him from his experience in the midst of the fog. “The quietness,” he said.

Hope and quietness – hmmmm…. The combination of their photos brought to mind the wisdom about sun dogs shared with me by Stoney Nakoda Elder Helmer Twoyoungmen. Sun dogs are all about hope and purpose in this life, he says. The rays refer to community in all its diversity, while the arch across the top speaks of the presence of Wakâ (the Great Spirit, Creator), who embraces the community.

In the light of Helmer’s wisdom, James’s and Robin’s photos remind me that, though we cannot really see very far ahead at any one time in life’s mysterious journey, we have hope. The words of the prophet Isaiah come to mind, that by walking in step with the overarching presence of the Creator, we will find “quietness and confidence” (Isaiah 32:17).

So, may we in our journey through 2023 find quietness and confidence.


© 2023 Warren Harbeck

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