Orchids

Mountain Orchid

Lisa and I had a good trip up the pass on the weekend. It has been busy.

We had an eye out for wild orchids. We caught sight of plenty of Venus Slipper’s and even a few rare Yellow Lady’s Slipper’s. The Venus was especially prolific. These small orchids are only about three to four inches high, but stand out among the moss on the damp forest floor.

Calypso Orchid.

The next two wild orchids to appear will be the showy Wood and Franklin.

On another subject, we had a light frost this morning. It doesn’t look like it damaged any of the plants, however, I had to put the run on two small buck mule deer with nub velvet horns that decided to trim two of my flower baskets.

Willow sniffing out the Orchids.

Sure a storm

I haven’t wanted to turn the news on. It’s too grim. The announcement of 215 graves found around around a Kamloops Indian Residential School seems too much to bear. Yet it shouldn’t be surprising considering our history and treatment of First Nation Peoples.

Where is my legacy in this terrible history. My school years were mostly fine. My Grandfather was shot five generations ago. It changed our trajectory. Our family became what we did because of it.

I don’t know what reconciliation looks like, to both ask for forgiveness and understand someone else’s pain. To be pushed under, held under until you beg but never given a breath.

To watch your children taken away. To who knows where. Where many would never return.

This isn’t news, everybody knew it went on.

***

When I was young we had a fight outside the school. It was the Aboriginal kids against the White kids. There was some good battles going on among the older kids.

We were in grade one but had both failed it once. I held on to Scotty and we pretended to fight. We became good friends.

Scotty’s grandfather Mose was hit on the highway. His father Ray died on the hill near our house.

Scotty and I ran into each other once and while and always had a good laugh.

Scotty died, young as well.

***

I am ashamed to turn my face against such grim history.

Bumblebees, dipshits and the real deal

It is interesting to see different animals and bugs appear and disappear. Bee species are one that have changed over the year. The most prevalent bee now is the one commercialy used to produce honey. I can never remember seeing these bees when I was a youngster. They gather pollen all over their legs and body and fly away slowly back to the nest with their bounty.

The pictures here are of a bee I’ve never seen before. The first thing I noticed was it’s size. It is the size of about a quarter. It seems to defy physics with it’s small wings allowing flight. The second thing you notice is it’s long beak that it sticks inside the flower to suck out the nectar, kind of like a hummingbird. A matter of fact, the other day, a hummingbird was doing the same in the gooseberry bushes, along side one of these giant, and there wasn’t much of a size difference

The bee would load up and fly away, After a short time it would be back. It didn’t seem aggressive. Perhaps it is a queen getting a jump on a hive.

***

A long weekend is slamming us in the face. Regardless I’m looking forward to a few days off.

The Albertans are streaming into the Valley, defying the no travel order, trying to avoid the Covid restrictions in their own province, imposed because of Alberta’s high case numbers.

Even Alberta’s Premier, Jason Kenny, says Alberta has a compliance problem.

Damn, I hate politicians.

With that said, traffic seems to be down with rec vehicles sporting Alberta plates. Very unusual heading into a long weekend.

***

Invermere Mayor, Al Miller, has even asked tourists to stay home this weekend so we may have a good summer. This is surprising. The Mayor’s mantra, up to now, has been for the ‘respectful’ Alberta tourists to defy travel restrictions and come to the Covid free, open for business, Columbia Valley. He has been acting less like a mayor and more like an old addled Welcome Wagon lady.

Surely, he can see the end is in sight and he doesn’t want to be judged by history as a complete moron.

Still give Mayor Miller his due, this time he did the right thing. It might even cost him a couple bucks in his hardware store.

***

My good neighbour Larry went planting in the bush today and found the first Calypso Orchids. Bastard!

mid may

Morning light.

Was up the pass this morning. Lisa and I got higher with the week of warm weather and snow melt. The Calypso Orchids have stems, yet no blooms. Next weekend for sure. It’s still early.

Watchful eyes.

The garden is all up. Considering I usually don’t plant until next week, we are ahead of the game. Next week I’ll plant the beans and put in the tomato and zucchini plants. Lisa and I are looking forward to a good feed of greens.

Trees before mountains.

The rhubarb is up and ready to be eaten. The sun is shining still coming up slanted and going down so. It’s a good time of year.

Willow wearing her Thunder Vest in the truck, so excited to get out in the bush.

Solar wind

Greens and purple auroras give way to approaching dawn.

Lisa called me to look at the Northern Lights at around midnight. They were spiking and visible from within town. Having been asleep for a couple hours I didn’t feel much like going out to take photos.

About 3 am I had a change of heart and Willow and I packed up the camera and headed for the dark part of Lake Windermere.

The Milky Way arches across the sky. The light of Invermere, BC can be seen to the left of the frame.

The auroras had died down yet were still visible in the northeast as a stream of solar wind hit Earth’s magnetic field.

Geese, ducks, coyotes and hooting owls provided a fitting soundtrack to the clear moonless morning. It felt good to be out looking up. Very fine start to the day.

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.