mid July

lake_smAbove the lake.

It seems these last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. Lisa and I still make time to get out in the bush regularly. The weather has been clear and hot. The garden is chugging right along.

Our children have been out to visit. It has been nice to have them with plenty of laughter filling the house. We helped move Lisa’s parents into a new home. Their old place was getting too large for them. Now they live just a stone’s throw from us. This is a relief for Lisa. It was so nice to see our kids taking time away from their schedules in the city to come home and make their grandparents welcome. They think the world of their Grandparents, and know how hard they have worked for everything. Lisa and I are very proud of our children.

RCE_0397Glacier Lillies. Maddy and Lisa telling Chad to pay attention,
while he takes a photo of the large peaks.

The photos in this post are from a place I find very special. Lisa, Maddy, Chad, Willow and I hiked in yesterday. It has been several years since we have been there, due to roads and bridges washed out. There was a time I would hike from wherever the road ended. But I was young and stubborn then. My Father and I even had some long hikes into Leman Lake.

RCE_0373.jpgAlpine Forget-Me-Not.

Back then the trail crossed several slides with tall skunk cabbage and elder bushes. It was closed in thick. You never knew if a bear or moose was going to be waiting for you around the next corner.

We all looked in vain for a way to cross the swift creek. While Lisa, Chad and I were looking for a deadfall across, we noticed Maddy on the other side putting her boots back on. That ended the search. We all took off our boots rolled up our pant legs and subjected our feet to freezing cold water and sharp rocks. Willow crossed enthusiastically, got caught in the current, and came out about twenty yards downstream.

RCE_0412Scorpion Weed. 

We took time to rest, along the trail. It was still steep and in some places overgrown. Lisa reminisced about hiking here while pregnant with Kelsie. Being pregnant never slowed her down. We wondered around marvelling at the sights and smells.

The hike reminded me to try to stay in good enough shape to be able to show these places to Cooper and Scarlett when they are old enough to hike the mountains on their own. That will be sooner than a blink of an eye. Yet that same, seemingly small, time will start taking a toll on my hips and knees. No doubt, just as my father, my balance will be tested on logs over the creek and I’ll curse the rain for making the rocks slippery.

willow_smWillow takes a dip.

We looked for wild flowers and porcupine quills. Maddy and Lisa alerted Chad to pay attention, because,  if I pointed out a ‘Glacier Lily’ on the way up, I may ask him what it was on the way down and he better know the answer.

RCE_0511Sky, rock, bush and water.

To experience these places with loved ones is a gift. The colour of the lake, the sky and large mountains, the smell of spring slides bringing down old spruce, the ice and snow and how I cheer it now, thinking if we could only get a few cold years the glaciers could build up again, how I am a fool to think such things are up to me, the fish and bears and all the wild flowers, the overgrown trail with so many ghosts and so much yet to show.

I always try to look extra hard before I leave, because I never know when I will see it all again.

July 5th

_LME7786-Pano_smThe Big Dipper is up there among the stars.

Someone once asked me if I’ve ever seen things that go bump in the night. They knew I spent time in the dark. I told them about the time one November it dropped down to minus 30 and the birch and spruce started going off like gunshots. That wasn’t what they were looking for.

I look for ghosts all over. Usually they show up in the rivers and streams. They don’t say much. I listen to the babble of the creek, but I can’t make heads or tails out of it. Still I know they are trying to tell me something. I appreciate the effort but I don’t get it.

_LME7782-Pano_smMars, Saturn and Jupiter.

My good dog Willow would bark if something was threatening. That’s why I like dark nights down by the water. The only sound she makes is snorting through the long grass.

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***

It was my Mother’s birthday yesterday. I visited her early this morning. I wonder about her everyday. How hard she had to work. She was born into a world where women were subservient. Yet she became a respected women that didn’t back down from men who tried to bully. She didn’t even blame them for it. She considered them pitiful.

She accomplished it after growing up poor and hard, without education. There wasn’t a book she hadn’t read or couldn’t discuss. She saw a lot. She kept the hardship to herself.

unnamed-2Isabelle and Wynanne.

My Mother was a smart beautiful women. I wonder sometimes if she ever looked at the bearded man across from her who seemed happy with the long hours and not much, the broken washing machine and the ragged kids scooting about, and thought, cripes what did I do to deserve this?

She would laugh at that. She used to laugh at everything.

getting on

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in this world
you get teeth knocked out
for no reason
or they go bad as you get old
your dink gets shorter
your balls hang lower
the cold makes your chin quiver
you start thinking
it s a young man s world
your joints swell
and give you grief
especially when the
sky spells rain
or in dry weather
the dog comes through
the hole in the screen
after rolling in something
it s a lot further down
to your laces
and a lot less further
down to everything else
girls smile at you because
you remind them of their
dear old dead dad
people ask you for advice
say you look wise
with florescent lighting
on white whiskers
adorning your jowls
everything s been broke
at least once before
what s to do
the coffee ain t hot
the beer s woodshed warm
and somewhere along the line
whiskey started upsetting
your stomach.

a rainy start to summer

_LME7756smWillow’s smile.

Very fine day to wrap up the long weekend. Most of it was spent in the shop/studio wrapping up loose ends. Because it’s a holiday there wasn’t many texts coming in. Nowadays, everybody expects texts to be answered right away. I try my best to oblige, but it takes me away from actual work. Today I made some progress.

It rained most of the day. I kept the door open, so Willow and I could enjoy it. With luck it will help minimize the forest fire danger. It was especially welcome this weekend when the bush is filled with revellers lighting large camp fires and setting off fireworks. Not that they are the biggest threat, the only forest fires this year have been started by loggers.

***

_LME7730Babies Breath above the graves.

In the evening Willow and I set off for the bush. There is a special calm after a raucous long weekend. First we went to Windermere to the old graveyard. I promised I would say  hi to Mom and Dad.

Windermere is a strange town now. It was one of the first communities in the Valley. The few historical sites that remain are surrounded by huge second homes (cabins they are called by their owners) that are occupied only six weeks a year. The town is 80% populated by second home owners. The school has remained open only by offering special programs that appeal to families throughout the valley. Otherwise it would have been closed long ago.

This is one of the weekends the second homes are occupied. I got some dirty looks driving toward the graveyard. My pick up didn’t fit in with the Cadillac SUV’s and Beamers. Plus my licence plate was the wrong colour. For all they knew I could have been casing the place.

Walking the rows between the old names. There was the Fishers, Crooks, Tegarts, Kimptons, Youngs and plenty others dating back to the 1800’s. There was also Bingo, the Best Darn Dog in the Land. Dug recently.

My Grandfather once owned a strip of land from the highway all the way down to the graveyard. It didn’t have a drop of water. The land wasn’t worth spit.  They had a ditch from Windermere Creek they got their water and  irrigated the gardens. It must have only been a trickle during summer. They raised turkeys and chickens and sold vegetables. It wasn’t easy. Long after my Grandfather sold, the land was bought and subdivided by a developer. It is now covered in large houses overlooking Lake Windermere. People that never have a thought of what came before.

***

_LME7743Indian Paintbrush.

After that Willow and I headed for the hills. The looks we got leaving were not as bad.

Once in the bush, the rain falling, we finally felt ourselves.

_LME7761Wood Lily.

late June

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There is only two things to do on Canada Day weekend. You can either get out of town, deep into the bush, or stay hunkered down at home, don’t even try to go out and get a coffee, or beer or groceries or anything else. All the locals know it. The area is taken over by revellers from the city. We’re told we need them. I certainly can’t blame them for trying to escape the city. Most have manners, but some are hell bent on partying and tearing the shit out of the countryside and waterways. The latter all have big toys, four wheel drives, ATV’s and loud motorboats. The business people jack up the prices on everything from a loaf of bread to a litre of gas. This is the good time, they say.

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We have elected to stay hunkered down. The garden needs weeding. Lisa is going to pickle the garlic scapes. I am looking forward to cracking a jar in the winter. They are going to be good. So good I probably won’t be able to stand myself.

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Willow will miss the bush this weekend but she will have plenty to bark about around here. Yesterday, she caught a young bird in the garden. She killed it, of course. Once I clued in to what was going on I stopped her from eating the small bird. She wasn’t happy with me. My old Wire-Haired, Slinky, was a master hunter, unlike rodents birds never agreed with her upsetting her stomach until she purged herself and vomited feathers. Willow is much more delicate than Slinky so I didn’t want to take a chance. There is nothing worse waking up to the sound of a dog trying to get something up.

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Thinking of Slinky, this was her least favourite weekend. All the Canada Day fireworks scared her. We would try to spend most of these weekends in the bush, so she wouldn’t have to put up with it. Willow on the other hand can sleep through thunderstorms and fireworks.

slinkSlinky. Scraped or not never slowed down.

A good rain today. The garden is coming. I got the foot long grass mowed before the skies opened up. I am hoping all the moisture will be good for the huckleberry crop. Cooper loves huckleberry jam and he is depending on me.

 

story time

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Out of my element tonight. Without my usual brand but with a mix of coloured bottles. Start with a Henry Weinhard’s Blue Boar Pale Ale. 

the boys were rolling off mt king edward
down schofield creek sliding over gumbo
raspberry devils club and birch trees
flying by the cockpit windows.

there was little george, rip and taylormade
swift was driving the 75 plymouth
gran fury station wagon.

green with brown vinyl wood paneling
chrome details hanging off
hub caps missing hood tied down
with a rope.

the perfect hunting vehicle
the carpet was torn out
with a blood stain in the back
from deer hunts gone past
little george said it was from
deflowering virgins.

The Pale Ale was pretty damn good, not a lot of skunk that usually defines these high end brews. To damn bad I only have one. Now I’m moving onto the Henry Weinhard’s Classic Dark Premium Lager. I’m sure this one will not be as accessible.

they hadn’t seen any deer
but shot their rifles anyway
they had been drinking beer
since morning and now it was
getting dark.

the old 75’s headlights were the shits
little george was pissed out of his head
and went to lay down in the back
bumping around with the spare
slurring and farting his way to dreamland.

the fury was all over the road
then a thump and bang
taylormade yelled we hit somethin
rip said it was a man swift hit the brakes
little george lurched in the back seat
started to snore
they were thirty miles from town.

three empty beer tins fell out when swift opened the door
they could see nothing it was fully dark
swift jumped back in backed up and shone the
shitty headlights into the ditch.

i see him
yelled rip
they scrambled tripping down the bank
the man turned out to be a big beige cougar
deader than a door nail.

a big bastard they wrestled the cat up the bank
and loaded him in beside little george
the cougars tongue was out
little george snored.

it was a relief they hadn’t killed anyone
swift was going to have him stuffed
they all cracked a fresh beer
and headed towards town.

The Classic Dark is gone. Tasted like burnt toast covered in molasses. But not bad. The stuff was made in Hood River, Oregon. Much more accessible than I thought it would be. I was told my poetry was the shits by a guy who introduced himself as a writer. Yes I said. He said proudly that it just ain’t accessible to everybody. Well, fuck him, I’m going to speed the drinking thing up and switch to whiskey.

they hit the outskirts
stopped at uncle ronnie’s roadhouse
where even squares can have a ball
parked out front little george was still snoring
taylormade thought he heard him growling.

they headed in drank 3 jugs
swift hit on the waitress to no effect
they wobbled back out to the plymouth
little george was still sleeping
but one problem
the cougar wasn’t dead anymore
it had shredded the seats
bits of foam were everywhere
the cat was wide eyed pacing
scratching at the virgin blood.

The whiskey tastes good and there’s no fear I’ll run out before this story is finished.

little george was snoring
foam moved around his nose on exhale
the cat was low ears back
and moved up on the drunken little george
it’s nuts hung on the side of his face
he was a big bastard.

i hope george doesn’t wake up said rip
in a fit of bravery swift swung the
gate and the cougar lept into the night
crossed the road from uncle ronnie’s neon
and disappeared into the bush.

it was a relief
the boys kept looking
into the darkened ditch
little george woke up
grabbed a rifle from the front seat
and shot a hole in the ceiling of
the 75 gran fury station wagon
swift, rip and taylormade hit the dirt
little george had foam in his hair
said he had a shit dream then
slurred what the fuck happened to
my upoholstery.

swift said we were going
to ask you the same
that last virgin must have been a real wildcat
a cougar even.

they piled in
swift drove
heading straight
towards town.

weekend news

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Lisa and I returned home this evening after spending a wonderful time with our children and grandchildren. We had a big family gathering and celebrated Tom, Cooper and Scarlett’s birthdays, all falling within just a few days of each other. It pleases Lisa and I so much to see our children happy and healthy in the lives they have made for themselves. It also pleases us to see how close they are with each other in adulthood. They are good people.

Lisa and I spent a lot of time with Cooper and Scarlett. Such gentle souls, yet both, even at years 3 and 1, filled with humour and mischievousness.

Driving home today I commented on a radio news story about public unions. I started to tell Lisa what I thought of them. Lisa listened until I was finished and then remarked, the further away from Cooper and Scarlett the crankier I was getting! That made us both laugh.

***

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On arriving home it was clear we have had plenty of rain and wind. The grass needs mowing. The wind has bent the plants in the garden and shredded the flower pots. The rain has made everything spring up, including the weeds. The lettuce is going crazy and we won’t be able to eat it fast enough.

On the way out of Calgary we stopped at Costco. I bought tuna, olives, feta, chicken and olive oil. Things that can be thrown in a bowl of greens to make a meal. The kind of meal you wish for in winter but don’t have.

***

While in the city I picked up a copy of The New York Times Sunday edition. Not that I need more American news that dominates every source here in Canada.

News is troubling. Not just the content, but how it is delivered.

I prefer newspapers. But I’m told they are going out of style! I like the long stories, the headlines and design. The quest for truth, even if the truth hurts advertising dollars.

I’m not sure if this kind of journalism exists anymore, in newspapers or anywhere else where information is used to push an agenda.

It could be the era we live in, the mix, the way the news is delivered. How truth is bent by the, almost always, editorialization that is contained in the delivery. It becomes a message instead of an unbiased report.

Both the left and right, American and Canadian news sources are guilty.

Like decades before the best bet is getting news from plenty of sources. Doing so, makes the bullshit stand out. If reading the news confirms your own beliefs you are probably being played.

Lisa and I are getting older. Our sense is dwindling right along with the longevity of newspapers. Soon we will have trouble knowing the truth. We will be ripe to be scammed. The scam hasn’t been thought of yet, but it will be brilliant in it’s simplicity.

***

With that said, I’m looking forward to the Book Review, the magazine and all the articles that can only by found in a weekend newspaper.