Late November

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A proud raven, with a shiny red piece of meat in it’s beak, flew and perched on our roof. I distracted Willow, so she wouldn’t see, but she caught a whiff. The barking started, the raven took off into the grey November sky. 

Used the last of the summer onions today. The ones I plucked out of the dry earth when the sky was shrouded in smoke from forest fires. They were tucked away and it was lucky I’d found them.

We still have plenty of beets, spuds, carrots, garlic and smoke. The firewood is also plenty, more than holding up.

November, when the ground is either froze or not, can be harsh. The light continues to diminish, colours disappear and are replaced by grey. It can rain or snow and footing must be tested.

There’ll come a day, sure as hell, we’ll suffer shortages.  But for now, thank God, it’s only money.

***

Rode into the bush tonight just to make sure the stars were still up there. It’s been awhile since the sky has cleared. Sure enough there they were between breaks in the clouds. They were all out of place from the last time I looked. It is reassuring to become aligned once again.

We were treated to two owls hooting back and forth. The one who started first sounded like a dog barking. Willow’s hackles went up. Her circle got smaller and she barked back. Then another owl started. It was the the barking owl, the barking dog and then the hooting owl, over and over, for about ten minutes. Finally, between the three of them, they must have worked out their differences and stopped the chatter. Quiet returned. Willow’s circle grew.

***

Down in the valley or up in the mountains, at my age, I’m lucky, I walk where I want, I’m either not worth the bother or too much trouble. Willow stays alert just in case my bluff is called.

Late Fall

_LME8964BCresting the summit.

We have had a few beautiful days. It only seemed right to get into the mountains one more time before the snow started falling in earnest.

_LME8843BMorning light touches the mountain tops. Willow scans the trail ahead.

Willow, Maynard and I set out early and were on the trail before sun up. We climbed up quickly through the bush. I studied the places I was going to have difficulty with coming down. The snow was crisp, but it would be icy directly under the trees come afternoon. Some of the ice would be unavoidable. There was a day I would hop, skip and jump down the trail.

_LME8981BMaynard and Willow walk the ridge. 

Now I am more economical, to put it kindly. Not to many waisted steps. Some of those steps are damn slow. It reminds me that I have to stay in shape so I can show these places to Cooper and Scarlett.

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In some places the snow was hard and others I broke through. On the ridge the snow was windblown hard or blown off the rocks so the going was relative easy.

_LME8953B.jpgLooking back along the windy ridge.

Willow led the way. Maynard stayed right with me.

The sky and sun was brilliant. The next snowstorm will make the ridge inaccessible.

_LME8891BHypnotizing Maynard and Willow with a piece of cheese.

When we got back to the truck I had a cold coffee waiting for me. It hit the spot. The hounds slept the way home. Very fine day.

postcard

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We always saved something for cold harvest. We chipped carrots out of frozen ground. Chewed on seeds come winter. He thought the dill ones could hide whiskey breath from his mother. This on account the birds wouldn’t eat them. He tried to explain it one day, I didn’t get it. He was wrong; about dill masking the smell of whiskey though. We saw his mother chase him out of the house after he’d eaten a bushel of them. He was mostly wrong most of the time. But sometimes he could be dead on. Thats why we liked him, I guess.

late July wedding

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Smokey skies but nothing like last year at this time. There s a few fires burning close by. The garden is bone dry and I’m up late trying to get some water on it with a hose and antique cast sprinkler. It is low and does a good job.

Lisa and I photographed a wedding today. It has been awhile since we have done one. We used to do a lot. We were very good at it. We both like doing them. Some photographers dislike doing them, thinking they should be shooting for National Geographic instead. I always felt we were documenting the start of the Bride and Grooms family history. Someday the pictures would be looked at by their grandkids. We wanted them to see the day as it was. The love, the awkwardness at times, the heat or cold and their friends and family. We also wanted to show their connection to the land and each other.

Like I said it’s been awhile but it was like riding a bike. Lisa didn’t miss a shot during the ceremony and moved things along during the portraits making sure the kids and elderly were done first so they could seek shade.

It all came back in a hurry. The beautiful couple with their two small kids was dearly in love. We were honoured to document and share their day. The endeared themselves to Lisa and I when they confessed their rings cost $13 each on Etsy.

Talking about being in love. Hunter and Bree are out from Calgary. I cooked a few steaks on the BBQ with fresh potatoes, carrots and squash from the garden. It was a feast. It is good to have them out.

The valley is busy. Plenty of traffic. Crazy drivers. All in a hurry to have fun. Ambulances going out all day and medic helicopters coming in to take the wounded back to Calgary.

I am getting used to it as I get older. There was a time everything about the crowds burned my ass. Now I’m glad they stay shopping in the valley bottom. There is still plenty of room on the backroads.

The moon is bright same as mars. Very fine day.

mountain lady’s slipper

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Willow and I made time after supper for a run behind Swansea. She ran rampant, smelling rabbits on her tongue. I poked around looked for blossoms and signs to confirm it was indeed the middle of June.

Work is good and plenty of it at this time of year. Lisa and I were side by side today hammering the computers. It feels good to be back in business for ourselves again.

There was a time I could put in 16 hour days, even longer sometimes, sometimes even with a couple beer under my belt, but not now. Occasionally, I wish I still possessed that focus, most of the time I’m glad I don’t, it can catch up to you.

It feels good to be making practical things, not art or anything magnificent, but products that make peoples lives easier or happier. That’s what we are good at, working, putting our noses to the grindstone. Nothing more, but more than enough.

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Was up early this morning. Mars was blazing over the lake. Right now Mars is close to Earth in our respective orbits around the sun. How close is Mars? It is so close, Willow stood up and barked at Rover.

Boooooo!

wild orchid

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While on the mountain last weekend I noticed the Yellow Orchids were close to opening. They appear quickly and disappear just as quickly. Willow and I made a quick trip this evening and there they were, near a spring on a slope.

Willow dipped her paws in the soft ground.

The Yellow Orchid is rare around here. We used to run pictures of them in the newspaper, but never disclosed the location they were found. Once they are picked they disappear.

The flower nurtures the roots, the pods spread seeds, the seeds have to land on the right kind of moss, the moisture and decay has to be just right, sometimes they take several years to germinate. It is a miracle the wild orchid exists at all.

That’s the thing about life. Regardless of the obstacles, it not only endures, but flourishes.

When Willow got back in the truck, after tramping through the creek bottom, she smelled like fishy mud. And she still does.

Shoots

Lisa and I had breakfast on the mountain. We stopped on an old logging landing. The view faced back into the valley bottom. Those guys tear the shit out of the place.

Logging used to employ a lot of men in the bush. Now it’s a few men in large machines that can clearcut an entire mountain in a few weeks.

It doesn’t take long and the mountain tries to hide the scar. New plants grow. It is similar after a forest fire. But the timber is slow to come back. Much slower than the 50 years the government says.

RCE_9956Strawberry blossoms.

RCE_9965Yarrow shoots.

RCE_9967Young nodding onion.

RCE_9957Oregon grape blossoms.

RCE_9971Last year’s yarrow. The best and safest way to forage for edible plants is to look for last year’s plants.

RCE_9977Young pine, the government says will be ready to chop down again in 50 years.