Noctilucent

Probably should have spent more time figuring things out on earth instead of looking at clouds and stars. Rivers of fish hiding behind every rock. To see it on ground you have to see it above.

Plenty of folks say God is up there. Looking down. Religion, and lately, science casts judgement with offers of redemption.

The sky is full of giant birds spreading their wings, prehistoric animals, white water fast and falling, chimneys puffing and faces that can’t be quite made out. Ghosts maybe.

Perhaps God took off and who could blame him.

I said to my daughter, ‘Do you see that elephant?’

She looked up and said, ‘Yes, I do.’

It felt good, even if I should have taught her different.

Weekend

Fawns trot through the yard after their mother.

Spent a relaxing day in the garden. Pulled the pea vines. The peas were great this year. We even froze a few bags for winter.

The grasshoppers are sure at it. Luckily they haven’t done much damage to the garden.

Waxing moon above the Akisqunuk Range.

A young buck came around trimming the flowers and stepping on the plants, breaking off a prized patty pan squash.

Plenty of deer around for this time of year.

Catching my eye on the other side of the garden fence.

A half waxing moon came up in broad daylight. The sky was blue and lent the perfect backdrop.

Getting tall.

My proposal for a new week is; Saturday and Sunday off, Monday and Tuesday on, Wednesday off, Thursday and Friday on. 2 off 2 on 1 off 2 on, AKA 2 2 1 2. Hump day is now a mini weekend. I say fuck the 5 day work week.

Greening up.

Night Walk

Willow and I were up early for a walk under the stars. It has been clear for awhile, unfortunately we picked a morning that was cloudy with a few stars poking through here and there.

Using the lights of the Valley bottom to illuminate the trees. Pleiades and Mars can be seen above the trees in the centre.

Willow decided to drag her face through a patch of burrs and is now covered in them. She has been patient but not overly pleased with me picking them out.

An old shack nestled in the wetlands.

Late July

Willow having a cool down bath, looking somewhat vulnerable, not quite the way the small rodents see her.

We were up early to beat the heat. We headed for the backroads in search of berries. Our first stop yielded a half bucket each. They were small. By 10:30 I was ready to call it a day. The heat was picking up. Lisa said we should try further up the mountain. We hit a cut block where the berries were bigger and more plentiful. Willow ran rampant chasing rodents. We picked, filling our buckets, admiring the view of valley bottoms and towering mountains. I gave up figuring we had enough. Lisa kept going, thinking every berry was for her grandchildren. They love the jam.

More grass hoppers than I can remember. Damn aliens I say. Just look at them. The armour, the big eyes, antenna, the jumping. They have always been easy to catch. I’d hook a #8 hook under their shoulder pads and put a couple split shot sinkers a foot above, the fish were happy until I brought them in.

Once done we were both hot and thirsty. Willow was laying in the shade, tongue hanging out.

Four buckets total.

Lisa preparing a batch of berries to be frozen.

Venus & Crescent Moon

A thin crescent moon with faint earthshine. Venus shines in the dawn. The communication tower can be seen on top of the original Pinto mountain.

Was up in the middle of the night admiring the stars. This morning a brilliant conjunction of Venus and a waning crescent moon rose above the mountain horizon. A spectacular sight, enough to take your breath, and one that cannot be captured properly with a camera.

A reminder that I must start getting out more to put myself in position to see such splendour. I have been delinquent, as of late, in my nighttime excursions.

Backroads

A brilliant day.

We were up early. It was a stretch. Decided to look for berries. Stretch, because it’s early. Still a ride into the bush is always welcome and never a waste regardless of season.

The bush changes. Seasons are earlier or later. Logging roads prop up confusing the shit out of me. I’m on one, then another, while looking for the old road I used to remember.

Willow chasing a rodent down a small hole. Willow does her best to dig and expand the hole.

Lisa says, no sense getting mad about it. She is right of course. Sometimes I turn down the right road that’s now a goat trail, a better route having been carved out of the land. Usually, and amazingly, we end up where we want to go.

Thousands of chipmunks took their turns driving Willow crazy.

The berries look like they will be on time this year. We were early but happy.

Mid July

Yellow Columbine.

Was up early to watch a near full waning moon hoover above mountain tops catching the days first rays of sun. It’s been good to have time off to relax. Lisa pointed out the last time we had time off in the summer, our son Hunter could stand on my hand, about 26 years ago. That was when we would head down to Montana.

It’s getting hot. The garden is going full tilt. Another 5 days and the peas should fill out. Cooper and Scarlett are going to like that.

Tomorrow I plan to stick close to home, weed the garden, make sure everything is watered, pick the rest of the garlic scapes and make pesto. Lisa also wants olive tapenade and salads galore. It is too hot to turn the oven on to cook in the house. 

So far the skies are clear, blue, smoke free. With luck they will stay that way.

Spiders

A tiny spider on a wild orchid.

There is a unique spider that has taken up residence outside our basement door. Unique, because he is almost entirely white and has two spots on its belly that look like eyes, possibly to scare off predators; it works with me.

It spins perfect webs in the corner of the doorframe. More than once I have dragged my head through them leaving the basement, which causes me to quickly turn to make sure the spider is still in it’s corner and not on the web around my head.

I’ve since learned to mind its presence ducking as I enter and exit. 

The spider outside the basement door.

It captures a grasshopper a day. The grasshoppers are getting larger as it warms up. Yesterday it caught one that was bigger than itself. The spider came down and immobilized it in a hurry. The grasshopper made a mess out of the web. The spider wrapped and cradled it and then proceeded to suck the juice out of it.

This morning, I thought, after such a catch the spider may take the night off from spinning another web, but come morning another perfect web was strung in the corner of the doorframe.

It reminded me of a spider my father and I watched during a summer long ago. Like this one it grew to a large size. We named it, though I can’t remember what it was. It strung its web on the beams above the door of our log cabin. Come fall its web would have frost on it. In the afternoon it would come out and sun itself in the middle of the web. 

When it looked like it could not possibly live any longer due to the cold, my father brought out the .22 Winchester bolt action rifle. We backed up about 50 yards or so. I can’t remember if he got the first shot or I did. The spider had grown to about the size of a quarter and didn’t stand a chance. One shot was all it took.

I can guarantee this spider won’t suffer the same fate. Discharging rifles in town is frowned upon. Maybe a bird will ignore those eyes on its belly and have a meal. If so, the bird may be surprised it tastes like grasshopper.

Hunting Knife

My father’s old hunting knife was left to my brother. My brother Ron passed away last fall. His wife Leslie was going through stuff and came across it and passed it on to me. I had almost forgot it. It brought back a lot of memories of hunting and being with my father and brother.

Although it was my father’s knife my brother and I took our turns packing it and sometimes playing with it. My brother was exceptionally good at handling knives, throwing and catching them, laying his palm flat and stabbing between his fingers until the knife was a blur. My father didn’t see this.

Later my father got a new hunting knife, a gift from my mother, much nicer, expensive and shiny. My father’s rule was a good knife had to be christened with blood before it was properly broken in. That fall we were out early and bagged a deer. The new knife didn’t see much action after that as food became more plentiful.

This old knife would have been used to skin and dress many animals, most before I started hunting. It was an important tool in our family. Sharpened more at the tip for skinning, the last animal a bear.

The knife is a Solingen with an elk carved into the stag handle. From information I could find, it was made during WWII. It may seem unusual German knives were imported during that time, but maybe not, German knives and rifles were sought after for their quality. I like to think it was a gift from his father, presented to my dad when he returned from the war. Of course, this is more likely my romantic notions getting the better of me. There is only three people that would know the origins of this knife, my grandfather, father and brother who remembered everything.    

I own several Solingen/Boker knives and they are among my favourites. 

The blade of this knife has a patina on the blade that I am fond of. It is due to the high carbon content of the blade and just the way I remember it when I was a kid. I thought about cleaning it up and putting a razor edge on it, but decided against it. It is still plenty sharp. I am sure some of the dark dirt in the stag handle is ink from my father’s hands, dirty from toiling with the type and presses in the newspaper shop.

It is a wonderful keepsake full of memories. I am happy my Sister-in Law Leslie decided to give it to me.

Cooper saw me typing this today and the photograph. He liked it. I asked if he wanted the knife. He said he did. He may change his mind, but for now, it makes me feel good I could pass it on.

Day one

Fishing hole.

The first day of a week off. Willow and I headed out for some fishing. I expected the bush to be busy. To my delight it wasn’t, not sure why. We stopped at the first lake and put the boat in. Caught a couple nice Cut Throat Trout that we turned loose. We had left over roast at home in the fridge. I was using a barbless hook and they came off easy.

Willow saying, ‘Let’s get this show on the road’.

An Eagle sat on a tree, also fishing, we kept an eye on each other. The fish were deep but came up with my hook. I didn’t want to get into a spitting match over who’s fish it was in case I hooked one the Eagle was interested in. This has happened to me before. I have a policy never to hook Eagles or Beavers while fishing.

A dandy! It threw the hook into my finger. Good thing it was barbless.

I never saw a soul until the fire marshall rolled up on me. They check to make sure people put out their camp fires. Low and behold it was a teacher I worked with at the School District. He also taught our kids. He was one of the good ones, probably the best. We had a good talk. We called it after the mosquitos had had their fill.

The garden is producing. Willow is asleep. The sprinkler is going. I am sunburnt. Sometimes you get lucky.