Calypso Wild Orchids

A Lady’s Slipper with an antenna that reaches to the end of the universe.

Odd day, everyone off, guarded. Arguments and discontent. Cutting off and swerving. It was good to get home. Lisa said, Let’s head up the pass. Look for Orchids.

The forest floor at spring time.

Last week they were small stems. Snow in the ravines. The Tamaracks turning lime with new needles.

This mountains are still full of snow, the sun is tilting in our favour, making the forest bloom as it has for thousands of years, hell or high water.

Willow finds Orchids.

A bit of bear shit here and there, rocks turned over and stumps torn, getting the early beetles, maybe even before they come out of hibernation.

The Lady’s Slippers were everywhere under foot, making me walk gingerly, drunk like, to avoid squashing such beauty.

Mid May

A Merlin or Pigeon Hawk enjoyed its catch, of a small song bird, on top a power pole.

Time is getting scarce, too much to do, between work and usual spring chores.

The garden is in except the tomatoes. Lettuce is up and won’t be long before we will be having fresh salads. We have about ten different varieties for a good mix.

Willow, Maynard and I spent a pleasant morning watching swallows fly in and out of the holes in the bank containing their nests.

It’s been dryer than a popcorn fart, not hot, poor weather and wind. Plenty of snow still in the mountains. We had a sprinkle last night, enough that I don’t have to water.

Douglas fir flowers.

Cloud cover for the lunar eclipse, I was disappointed. The light did turn odd through the clouds. Could well imagine this was concerning in ancient times before eclipses could be predicted.

It won’t be long before the mountains start crying.

Early April

Scarlett helping with the seedlings.

Grey days, typical for April. Lisa and I wondered the creek both Saturday and Sunday this weekend. It was good to be out.

We don’t get as much done on the weekend as we used to, but I like to think we take care of the important stuff.

Willow makes the best of her time on the trail beside the creek.

The kids came over yesterday. Scarlett hasn’t been feeling well. It was good to see she was feeling better. She and Cooper helped me take the seedlings from their starter trays and put them in individual pots. Not my favourite part of gardening. I only start plants I can’t get at the nursery. It is a necessary annoyance. Keeping plants alive until they are ready to be planted in the garden is a chore. I am depended on for water, heat and the right light. The plants should realize like everyone else in my life, I just ain’t that dependable!

Cooper helps with planting.

Haven’t found any wood ticks yet. The garden is waiting to be turned over. The ice is off the small part of the lake. Sap is in the spruce needles and smell good when squeezed between your fingers.

An Eagle, tail feathers in the sun and head in the shade, hunting the fields. Lisa had to be quick to get this shot.

Lisa and I had an argument coming out of the mountains.

Lisa said, You saw a chickadee in the trees beside the creek, coming up, maybe it will be there again.

I said, No it was a chicken.

Lisa said, You said chickadee.

I said, I know what I saw. It was a chicken, a grouse to be exact.

Lisa said, You said chickadee. I was looking for a chickadee.

I answered adamant, No I didn’t. Why would I even point out a chickadee?

Lisa said, Well that’s what you said… maybe you’re starting to stutter.

It is impossible to win an argument with Lisa.

Very fine weekend.

Willow will jump into Lisa’s arms when she asks.

Late March

Kelsie, Cooper and Scarlett called to me to complete the ring. This Fir tree would be well over 300 years old. To think of its place in history. The many forest fires it survived, drought, world wars, colonization and the epic battles of the lands first people. It resides in a place known for warring between the Ktunaxa and the Peigan Blackfeet Pikáni. This one even survived the greed of developers. This area, on the east side of Columbia Lake is now protected, the developers satiated after being handsomely paid off.

This was the time of year I’d get stuck, sometimes on the flat. Teaches me for running around on bald tires. I don’t have to do that like I used to. I’d ask Bucky which tires had the most rubber after the tread was worn off. That’s how you know a good tire. It is easy to slip slide yourself into real trouble.

An old Ranger with a mismatched box. Smelling like oil and rust, but can still deliver a half yard of well rotted manure.

I took one of these roads yesterday. The snow hard in the trees, soft where the sun hits. Four wheel drive can’t save you once the truck starts pushing snow. It gathers under the truck and before long you either need to shovel or hope for another week of warm weather.

Spring clouds with a few more snowstorms inside. I could always walk up that hill if someone was chasing me, I bet they would give up before I did.

The plants have been started inside. Tomatoes (Black Krim, Brandywine and Black Cherry), basil, some flowers and a couple varieties of cannabis. The frost is out of the ground where my garden lays and is waiting to be dug. Scarlett, Cooper and I took down the tall sunflower plants we left for the winter birds.

Scarlett smelled them before she found the Juniper Berries. It’s Spring after all, they are filling with sap. She stuffed her pockets to take to her friend Savannah, she said. Hopefully Kelsie checked her pockets before doing the wash.

***

Amazing everything said is taken seriously. The figuring consciences is that both are inside us. Bad and good. We use them to get what we want.

Kindness works almost always. But if you have to fight back, fight back harder.

*** 

Don’t think I forget every old timer like me on the road is a desperate man. It makes me drive close to the shoulder. Not to mention the middle age driving up my ass and the youngsters taking too long in the Horton’s line. For the most part everyone is respectful. But you never know when that might change. We all have reason after all.

Walking the Rails/Women’s Day

Familiar tracks.

Walked the tracks on the weekend to the old fishing holes I used to be so fond of when I was a youngster. It was about this time of year I used to throw the first lines with the hope of hooking a nice char.

The old bridge site and brush thicker than the hair on a dog’s back.

The walk is different now. For one I don’t carry a rod. Willow enjoys trotting the banks among her namesake the Red Willow lining the Columbia. We did it early in the morning before the mud thawed, saving Willow from bringing her weight home in river silt.

A couple large Swans, either Tundra or Trumpeter, flying north. At one time they were nearly hunted to extinction. Their loud honking is exceptional, as was evident on our walk. When they are shot and dying they make a soft cooing, known as the Swan song. Incredible birds and hard to sneak up on. Perhaps they tired of being shot.

There is nothing as soothing as walking railway ties. Seeing how many you can step at once walking or running. Balancing the rail, jumping from rail to rail. Giving the engineers a wave, counting cars until the red caboose. And if lucky, on the way home, the train would slow enough to swing up onto a coal car and jump off right beside our old house where it was sure to slow due to the half mile of twined track. The trick was not to let the engineer or brakeman in the caboose see you. This required walking further up river from home while tired and often late to a bend in the tracks. Sometimes the train wouldn’t come and it was a longer walk home and a scolding for not arriving on time. Admittedly the scoldings were never much in our house. Looking back I’m not sure my parents even knew I was late until I walked in.

Willow gets ready to drive away regardless if I am ready or not or if the windows have been scraped.

Now you can get fined for walking the rails by the CPR police. Luckily they are not around much. They make a concentrated effort to fine trespassers after someone throws themselves under a train, which happens more often than you think it would. They always rule it an accident.

A young Mule Deer doe gives us a look and listen.

As a twelve year old carrying a pack and fishing rod I never had a problem. If the train was going too fast I gave it a pass even if it made the walk home long. Don’t think I could run fast enough to grab the ladder now. Besides what would Willow do?

***

It is International Women’s Day. In honour, this is a video our Granddaughter Scarlett and her Mom sent Lisa and I today.

I believe her!

waiting for the sun

Cannabis flower.

Up past 8:30 perusing seed catalogues. It’s the mild weather, I guess, making me think of spring. Another cold spell is coming down the pike, they say. Still the thought of dirt being turned over and busted up has me dreaming.

I bought a 500 page seed catalogue at the bookstore. It’s from the States. Crazy vegetables, a complete chapter on eggplant, big too small, round, oblong, deep purple and green. Carrots 4 feet long, though they wouldn’t be that long in my soil unless they could grow through glacially deposited rock. Plenty types of Bok Choy, Fennel, Kale. It’s alphabetical and I’ve only made it to okra.

Flower barrel.

My garden will be the same I suppose. The turnips were a big hit last year. The tomatoes were slow. I have a theory on that. I bought them instead of starting them and I think they were mislabeled at Canadian Tire. Instead of 55 day Early Girl I got some 120 day pineapple tomatoes. I won’t make that mistake again.

Willow between onions, raspberry and zucchini.

Regardless I ripened them inside and they were still good. Not bitter.

It looks like a snowstorm has blown in. No concern, the back of winter is broken, even if it’s bad the end is near.

Gemma walking the rows. Gemma left us late last year. She hung in there as long as she could. Couldn’t have been a better dog.

early rising

A Pine Grosbeak welcomes the waxing moon.

Willow and I were up early creek bound. Willow knows when I don’t have to work by the clothes I put on. She saw the woolen shirt and was excited. It was clear, with the the moon still up. There was no way she was being left at home.

A piece of toast and we were on our way. We were only a few miles away when I realized I forgot the camera battery, having put it on the charger earlier, an essential piece of equipment if your goal is to take pictures of the night sky. A quick trip back and we were back on track.

Creek bound. This is a single 15 second image capturing 4 or 5 satellites (the one closest to the mountain top could be a meteor. They streak due to their movement during the slow shutter speed. There is a lot of them orbiting the earth. It’s getting tough to get a photo without one being caught in the frame.

Once in the creek bottom we listened for whoots. The Great Horned Owl is the first to get frisky and roost. The creek was silent but for running water. No barks from Willow to let me know we had company. Even the moon choose to go down, darkening the skies, leaving us to our own devices.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been out charting the night sky. It changes every time I look at it. It’s important to become familiar with it again.

A few photos

Water Ouzel
The short tailed American Dipper. Willow and I watched this little guy for about an hour. It seemed to enjoy performing for our entertainment. Of course, maybe it considered us the entertainment as both Willow and I got stuck in the hip high snow trying to get a closer look.
Signs of Spring
I thought these may be the earliest pussywillows until I found a post from a few years ago of pussywillows in January.
Morning Sun
A small Chickadee or Nuthatch (I love subjects you can study your entire life and still not be an expert) looks for sunflower seeds stashed in the fall.

Willow

Giving me the gears.

Willow loves laying on our laps, soaking up our warmth and attention. I have a heating pad I will sometimes use on my back when I’m sitting on the couch, if I get up she is sure to be laying on it when I return.

Proud, doing her ‘big dog’ walk.

Still, when we walk the creek she barks my attention, wades the water, encouraging me to throw a stick. She will fetch water logged branches and floating ice if I don’t comply.

Fetching driftwood.

Back home she approves of the fireplace being lit, sleeps deep, twitching now and again, perhaps dreaming of that water logged stick that got away.

Fluffing her feathers while shaking off the creek.

this & that

A nice weekend. They sure fly by. Lisa and I did manage to get out for a couple walks. Last weekend we went snowshoeing and wanted to try and get out this week but couldn’t find the time.

***

I had to replace my windshield wipers on my truck. I looked at the flyers and saw they were on sale at NAPA. I hadn’t been in there for years. The last time was not a great experience. Overpriced shit with dipshit clerks. However, that was years ago.

Time to give them another chance I thought. The first thing I noticed when I went in was the four people in there, two at the counter sitting at stools and two clerks on the business side were not wearing masks, even though they are mandated by the Provincial Government for businesses. Not a big deal I thought, even though my mask was firmly pulled snug over my nose.

Dust was on the product and shelves. I found the wipers but nothing marking the ones on sale in the flyer. A matter a fact, nothing had a price on it. I understand this is done because automotive stores have different pricing for different customers. Automotive mechanics get the lowest pricing, I expect to pay the highest. Which is okay with me as long as I get decent service.

Now this is where NAPA let me down. Even the four jokers at the counter were doing sweet bugger all not one of them asked if they could help me. A matter of fact none of them even looked in my direction. I could have been naked with dynamite strapped to my torso and I don’t think they would have even noticed. Most automotive stores have a chart beside the wipers that tell you which ones fit your vehicle, this place didn’t have that handy chart.

One of the guys kept telling his story that ‘fuck’ was every second word. I doubt he would have told it differently if I had of been standing there with my grandkids.

So I left, climbed back into the truck with Lisa, told her, regardless of new management NAPA is the same old place.

We drove up to Canadian Tire and 5 minutes later I had new wipers on the truck. Also got a better price than what NAPA advertised in their flyer.

***

The sun went down this afternoon and the sky turned red. It was brilliant while it lasted.

We are expecting some warmer weather this week. I have to say I’m looking forward to it.

***

Covid cases are spiking again. It seems the experts and government advice this time, with the Omicron strain being milder, is to let the virus run its course. The messaging through our health system and legitimate news sources (CBC) is all over the place, often contradicting themselves. 

The truth is they probably don’t know what the hell is going on anymore than any of us.

The anti-vaxxers and Covid deniers are all yelling from rooftops, ‘WE WERE RIGHT’! The vaccine didn’t work, even though it prevented death when the more virulent strains were dominant, and their other mantra ‘COVID IS NO MORE THAN A COLD’! Excuse the nearly 5.5 million people who have died worldwide from participating in the joy.

I’m not sure what I would prefer more; dyeing from Covid or listening to the noisy conspiracy theorists celebrating.

***

Perhaps the best thing to do, is stop trying to think we can save the world, or even think we can make a difference, and start laughing at it. There is plenty of comedy being peddled.