Because it is applied to many different kinds of places in North America, it is not surprising people in the rest of the world don't understand what I mean. My blogger friend Friko, who lives in England, has asked me, "What is a coulee?"
That is a very good question. There are many answers and, as a relative newcomer to the Canadian prairie, I find I cannot satisfactorily define "coulee" by myself.
If you click the link below, you'll find the following explanation, plus more detail, and some photographs, including one taken in southern Alberta. The best I can do is provide illustrations, below, and I didn't even take them myself.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Coulee (or coulée) is applied rather loosely to different landforms, all of which refer to a kind of valley or drainage zone.
The term is often used interchangeably in the Great Plains for any number of water features, from ponds to creeks.
Aside from those formed by volcanic eruptions, (coulees) are commonly canyons characterized by steep walls that have been shaped by erosion. These types of coulees are generally found in the northwestern United States and southwestern Canada.
Coulees provide shelter from wind and concentrated water supplies to plants which would otherwise struggle to survive in the xeric sagebrush steppe. Trees are often found along streams in coulees and at the base of their walls.
© Photos left, and right, by Richard Schear
|First three photos at the coulee|
in our neighborhood.
© Photos above, and below, by Maria Davies
|Photo taken last week by my sister-in-law at Police Point Park in the north side of the city of Medicine Hat, Alberta. The steep canyon wall runs above the south bank of the South Saskatchewan River opposite the park.|
Many coulees in this area, such as the one where Dick and Lindy walk daily, have water in them only intermittently, sometimes not at all in a dry year. The ones containing large rivers such as the South Saskatchewan, always have water, although at widely varying levels depending upon the time of year, and the whims of prairie weather.
Below, my brother Clint Davies and his wife Maria at Police Point Park.
© Photo by Richard Schear