Meeting the neighbours

We have a soft steady rain in Okotoks this morning.  I'm in my "office" in Birdsong Studio 2.0, essentially a desk in the third bay of the triple car garage that will be alive with colour in the next few days and weeks.  While the house is substantively ready and looking more and more normal as each box gets unpacked, the studio is still a construction zone.  I may move up to the loft when the work really begins.  The contractor may not give me a choice.

Cranberry Cottage, Elma Street, Okotoks

Having just arrived a few days ago, we are quickly discovering our new community and several of our neighbours.  Murray and Deborah live to the east.  They are lovely people.  He is a construction guy who travels quite a bit for work.  She is British and an associate designer of some kind.  Across the street is the Cranberry Cottage, owned by Rick and Arlene.  We walked over for a visit yesterday afternoon.  You wouldn't find a friendlier couple anywhere.  They run a small antique store in their front room and live in the rest of the house.  We left there with a welcome gift of a plate of muffins in hand.

It's hard to describe the neighbourhood, but imagine two blocks of vintage homes, many over a century old.  Some are still residences.  Others are professional offices and boutique stores or coffee shops.  A sidewalk runs down the south side, while on the north is a 20-foot wide grass right-of-way.  It is quaint, inviting, and very walkable.  One block over is amazing Elizabeth Street, the original "Main Street" of Okotoks, filled with family run businesses, sandwich shops, professional offices and much more.  

Just beyond Elizabeth to the south are the CP rail tracks, the MacLeod Sub according to my friend Paul O'Neil who knows more about railroading than anyone I know.  We hear the trains and its impressive whistle several times a day.  Having grown up two block from the tracks in Kamsack, Saskatchewan, hearing the sounds of the clickety-clack clickety-clack is quite soothing.  The Sheep River is just across the tracks, currently fast flowing and teeming. Residents young and old were exploring its rocky shores on their Canada Day.

Heather's family all arrived for their requisite tour of our new home yesterday.  I will hear Kathryn's "Oh my sweet God" reactions in my head for years to come.  I get the sense that this will not only be a popular Artist's retreat, it will be a popular family retreat, too. 

The Birdsong Studio Artist's Loft doesn't have any furniture it it right now, but it still has an amazing feel to it, almost like a New York loft apartment.  Heather is going to do a great job getting it set up and running on AirBnB in the next few weeks.

More boxes get unpacked and sorted every day.  Small details are coming together quickly.  I'll do my first painting since the move today.  I'm looking forward to doing a memorial portrait of Mern, our home recipient who passed away a few weeks ago in Cambodia.  Heather planted the idea of doing a Bracelets for Building display in the studio.  Mern's portrait will be front and centre.  


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