the row you hoe

Planting a row.

After rain, sleet and snow the day turned sunny. Since I’ve had time on my hands I’ve dug the garden. It is much better done by hand than rototiller.

This afternoon I put in two rows of peas, and one row each of lettuce/spinach/greens and beets. We have some cold weather ahead of us, but they should be able to handle it. I hope to get the carrots, onions and spuds in within the next week. This will be the earliest I have planted.

I mentioned having time on my hands. I have been in quarantine for the past thirteen days due to having close contact with someone who tested positive with Covid. Tomorrow I am out of quarantine.

It has been trying but not as much so as it has been for the people who have tested positive. I know about ten personally. I know at least twenty in quarantine.

Willow plants a rock.

The people in the valley have been lucky while we have flirted with disaster. The area has been busy with people vacationing.

The District of Invermere’s Mayor, Al Miller and Provincial, Liberal, MLA Doug Clovchok have acted less like elected officials concerned about peoples health, and more like members of the Chamber of Commerce or Welcome Wagon, encouraging tourists to visit instead of heeding the warnings, against non-essential travel from Canada’s top doctors.

The Windermere Region is hard hit.

Hopefully no one dies on their watch. Like I said, we have been lucky despite everything.

Willow couldn’t be happier to have us home each day. I’m back to work on Saturday and looking forward to it.

late march

Willow digs for mice. She had a good hole going. Snuffing and biting the thawed ground. Once and awhile she would stop and listen for movement under the ground and then furiously start digging again.

Our walk today took us up on the benches. The truck ride there was mud, snow, ice and lots of running water; melt flowing right on time.

Lisa told me sometimes she shuts her eyes when I’m driving the backroads when the trip gets hairy. She doesn’t like the feel of the truck sliding sideways or backwards. I told her at this time of year it is unavoidable.

We walked to where Ara and Slinky continue to watch the valley bottom. The tall grass was flattened from the winter snow. The new stuff was busting through. Still not enough birds for my liking.

***

On my day off I worked at a print shop. It felt good. Most of my life I’ve worked in printing or newspapers. I’ve done everything from working the darkroom to driving the paste-up pages to the press.

Working in the industry felt good. I never had to question my technique or method. I relied on experience. It was the same on my day off, like getting back on a bike.

I am a maintenance man now. Printers are a dying breed. Nobody reads anything on paper anymore. Toilets and heaters always need fixing. Every time something goes wrong I have to dial up Google to tell me how to fix it. It is usually an easy fix.

Printing on the other hand is hard, but always feels good.

This is one of those ‘good old days posts’.

***

Spring clouds from the benches.

Spring. Wind with empty tree branches flailing. Sunshine, sure, but with interruptions. Two Juncos in different locations surely must be a sign. Crows baying picking their spots. Ice melting south to north.

springing up

Canadiana.

The colours of early spring have started to take over from winter. The sky and ice are deep greys and blues. Every season displays it’s own unique colours. During the winter, clouds lose their shape and blanket the sky in solid colour. In spring the clouds form shapes, defined in varying shades of livid. The seasons in the Rockies are truly remarkable. I can’t imagine ever travelling away from here for an extended period for fear I’d miss the precious once a year performances.

Lisa and I walked to the start of Lake Windermere. Everyone calls it the ‘end’ of the lake because there is nothing down there. When people say nothing, they mean settlement. There is plenty there, cattails, geese, coyotes, cougars shallow water, clay banks, animal prints, moose, elk, snags, eagles and more.

Running tracks.

It’s a walk we usually do this time of year. I scouted places to take pictures of the dark sky. It is on foot and would require a full night and a tent. I know Willow would enjoy it.

It would seem odd setting camp down there because I’m usually in the mountains. Still, I think there could be some good pictures to be had. The Milky Way would rise over the lake and mountains at this time of year. There is also some soft level places to pitch a tent.

Hills and mountains springing up.

Willow and Maynard snuffed up the thawing smells oblivious to yesterday or tomorrow. And we consider ourselves the smart ones.

early March

An early arrived bluebird gives a look.

A perfect Spring day. Overcast, rain and snow in the morning. In the afternoon the sun came out with temperatures rising. Willow and I headed for the river to see what we could see. She snuffed up the smells thawing in the wetlands. I envied her yet was content with the sun on my face. Very fine day.

Willow tastes the wind and water.

February

A sign of spring.

Very fine weekend. Yesterday Lisa and I went skating on the lake. We got on in the south to try to avoid the ruck. Willow also enjoyed the time having no problem keeping up with us. We saw a lot of people doing the same as us, enjoying the fresh air. Many remarked on the friendliness of Willow and wondered about her breed, never having seen a Wire-Haired Weiner Dog before. Most of the people we saw and talked to were tourists. I was happy for them to be enjoying the lake and ice on skates and x-country skis.

Today we headed into the bush, staying on the roads that are open and plowed. We hiked into a spot we go to often. Last night people had started a fire and cut down live trees to feed their large bonfire. They left a mess, beer cans, food and garbage. This is not unusual. I can never understand cutting down live trees to feed a bush fire when dried wood is so readily available. We threw snow on the fire and remarked that we will have to come back, when the roads open, to clean it up. Lisa said something that worried me. She said, she is not sure if she likes this spot anymore.

So many places we once loved have been ruined or destroyed by the crowds. It is disappointing. We are pushed further, usually up the creeks and rivers as most small lake shores have been littered with campers/partiers.

With heavy hearts we turned back, looking for spring in the rising temperatures. Just like many years previous I looked for the earliest pussy willows, to our delight a few were breaking through the skin of their buds. It is amazing what a few hours of above freezing temperatures will do. Also amazing what such small things can change the spirit from dark to light. Very fine weekend.

old stories

There are plenty of stories being told, the same as it’s always been, but there is more of them. I’m old and my antenna only picks up a few.

Stories get told on the internet now, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tic Tok. I’m not a member so I don’t understand. Still I bet they are good stories.

People have sex or perform for people willing to pay. It’s a legitimate thing They are storytellers.

Lisa and I used to do the same. We would go beside the river and make love. Sometimes we would take pictures. They are some of the best photos I’ve ever taken. Fortunately or unfortunately there was no market back then.

Both Lisa and I worry about our kids discovering those negatives after we die. We talk about throwing them out but we can’t do it. Still I don’t want to shock them.

My stories are slow now, boring even. Experience is dull.

All my experience has added up to nothing. All my stories have become dull. That’s the world for you, refusing to slow down to my aged pace. Thank God.

Brrrrrr!

This photo composition is made of sixteen photos sewn together in Photoshop to achieve the extra wide angle needed to show the night sky from north to south. The original is a massive file and reveals many stars and constellations. Even in this small sample a discerning eye may be able to pick out Perseus and Cassiopeia to the left and the tail of Scorpius with red supergiant Antares over the lights of Fairmont Hot Springs in the south. Scorpius only rises once Orion is down and promises the coming of summer.

A few welcome days off in a row. Willow and I figured we would sample the chilly temperatures. We headed out at 3 in the morning to see if we could catch the return of The Milky Way.

The Milky Way rising over Nutmuq¢in (Chisel Peak).

So far we have had a mild winter and perhaps we have grown soft because -28°c felt colder than expected. Granted fumbling barehanded with a metal camera doesn’t help. Willow looked at me like I was crazy and was happy to make it back to the truck and a blasting heater.

The Milky Way was rising but the centre stays below the mountains before dawn washed the stars away. Still a wonderful viewing morning with the young moon long down refusing to interfere with the brilliance of stars.

The afternoon sun warming Jake and Dave.

That afternoon we met with good buddies Dave, Jake and Chewy for a bout of ice fishing. By then it had warmed to a much more comfortable -16°c. We picked a spot near the shallow south end of Lake Windermere, chosen for it’s distance from the ruck of the crowd. Unfortunately the fish didn’t feel the same, choosing instead to occupy the deeper portions nearer the outlet.

Willow looking for fish.

Still, it was refreshing enjoying the lake. Jake drilled his own hole in the almost 2 feet of thick ice. The dogs ran this way and that. Very fine day.

Willow criticizing my lack of fishing skill.

Mid January

Maynard stays alert, his eye out for the moose we spotted earlier. Lisa is comforted by his continued vigilance.

The lack of snow allows us to travel the backroads normally cut off at this time of year. Lisa and I took off for the logging roads early in the morning. We were rewarded by spotting a cow and calf moose. They crossed the road in front of us as we travelled higher into the Palliser.

The lack of snow also allowed us to harvest some easy down fir for firewood. It was a good size, dry as a bone, yet needed the splitting maul to bust it into smaller chunks to load.

Willow off the beaten track, chasing sticks, nose out, snuffing up the good air.

Willow and Maynard ran rampant. Willow more so, while Maynard stayed close behind me even while sawing the wood.

A light snow fell continually while the sky was clear in spots showing blue. Just one of those days you wish you could hold onto forever and bring out when things aren’t going your way.

Very fine day.

Maynard and I make our way.

2021

A lone ice shack sits on Lake Windermere at dawn.

Lisa and I rang in the New Year in a rather low key manner. We enjoyed a nice dinner of steamed crab legs, vegetables, tapenade, crackers and hot pepper Oregon grape and rose hip jelly made by my good friend Dave. After dinner we watched an episode of The Crown on Netflix. The rest of the night was spent in front of the fire listening to fireworks. The fireworks started at 6 pm and continued throughout the night. There was no official fireworks this year due to Covid, so most were set off by individuals.

The Columbia River flows by cat tails after a chinook.

It goes without saying it has been a different year. Luckily our family has been spared from the personal heartbreak and financial hardship Covid has placed on so many families and individuals.

Lots of power outages lately. Probably not the moon’s fault, more likely wind, melt and freeze.

Nixon’s place from across the Columbia. To live under mountains is special.

Not being able to see our kids and grandkids has been difficult, especially during the Christmas season. It seems odd considering how many people are not adhering  to the Provincial and Federal safety protocols. However, as I like to point out to my children, and they understand, it is about how we conduct ourselves, considering we have elderly grandparents and recognizing many other families do as well. For us that’s what it comes down to.

A chinook turns Lake Windermere’s surface rutted and unskateable.

2021 we are looking forward to getting to know you.

The old part of town, built on a mudflat. You won’t see this in a tourism or Chamber of Commerce brochure and that’s okay with me.

b/w

Tonights Moon shining through. The low cloud blankets the valley bottom most of the day. If lucky we get to see the tops of the mountains before light fades in the afternoon.
A Bald Eagle from a few days before. Lisa stayed beneath it’s perch, in an understanded truce, snapping photos and marvelling at it’s brilliance.
The woodpile, no worse for wear, staying warm insulated with a layer of snow.
Tenacity. Willow, on top of the world, smiling, listening for animals under the snow.