Early December

_LME9439-Pano-smThe sky above Lake Windermere. Pleiades directly above Taurus. The lights of Windermere and Fairmont. A satellite streaks at the top of the frame.

The snow still hasn’t started to fly in earnest. It’s coming, it always does. Meanwhile, I’m still getting used to the cold. My toque goes on in the morning and doesn’t come off until bed. Lisa even wore hers through the weekend. She looks cute in a toque.

_LME9441.segComet 46P/Wirtanen can be seen in the leading photo. This is it enlarged. It looks like a green smudge. Throughout December it will rise in the eastern sky towards Pleiades. 

Our house can be chilly. We believe in putting on a sweater before turning up the heat. The woodpile is holding up. It has some good wood in it. Fir, tamarack, pine and even juniper. It’s good to mix it up. If you are cold and need it warm quick, pine is the way to go. If you want it slow and hot, fir. If you are going to bed and want some embers in the morning, then tamarack. If you are staying up, maybe you’ve had some wine or smoke, juniper will set the mood with it’s wonderful smell and light.

Every know and again I’ll get a few blocks of spruce. It’s light put hard to split due to it’s twisted grain. If it freezes hard in November the trees crack like gunshots. When splitting, it is not uncommon to come across a worm, pale white, as big as a finger, hiding in the wood. It always crosses my mind maybe someday I’ll be happy to come across this protein.

Speaking of protein. I made mincemeat on the weekend. Currents, raisins, apple, brown sugar, sherry, suet, orange and lemon peel and every spice in the cabinet. I think those old-timers knew how to cook.

Lisa makes wonderful pastry and has promised me tarts.

Winter is looking better all the time.

Late November

_LME9394.sm

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.

ghosts

RCE_1580

There are ghosts everywhere. In the trees and clouds, between mountains, deep in the holler, along the coolies beside the creek, overgrown tangled in willow, littered with deadfalls: each and every overhead cliff, an ancient snag ready and able to hang the guilty.

RCE_1573

Not that I believe in them. Ghosts I mean.

RCE_1575

Most are wondering around. Possibly lost. They don’t say much. Nor me back to them. A courteous nod is about it. Most of the times they are surprised, as I, to have run into each other.

Long ago they’d nudge me awake. My mother used to want to know what they were wearing. I used to be afraid at first. I’d listen to the radio until I was asleep. She would ask, was he wearing an army uniform, a plaid shirt, a tam? Don’t be afraid she’d say. They’re not here to hurt you.

DSC_5286

They’re here to tell you something, she’d say.

I didn’t believe.

The ghosts kept appearing, in the creek bottoms. At night they were among the stars. I’d feel them go through me, in a rush, taking my breath into the sky above the crags.

We got used to each other. They don’t talk, but sometimes I will. I tell them I don’t believe. Then tell them the creek is low, the snow will be early, there is a moose in the upper basin that comes out in the morning to walk the slough, it better keep it’s head down until the end of hunting season.

Animals curve where they shouldn’t. Same as people. Ghosts blend in. Once you see them you will always see them. 

If you believe in that stuff.

RCE_1577

mid October

_LME8912Willow checks out the snow.

The local elections have come and gone. It worked out as I figured. Still there is some hope.

It has been decided to borrow money to buy a parcel of property at river’s edge. The choice was who to develop the land a private business or the District. The choice of leaving the land alone was not on the ballot.

Plastic bags will be banned in retail stores within the District of Invermere. This is a good thing. Still, it rings hollow. We know how to make a difference to the environment. How about banning motorboats that cover the lakes in summer or the second homes that surround the same lakes. Can there be a bigger waste or polluter than either or?

RCE_1562

Back in the old days there was always one guy who built his outhouse over the river. He did it because he didn’t have to dig a hole and his shit sailed away with the current. As for the folks downstream, he didn’t care or even know they existed.

We are not much different today. All those motorboats and vacation homes with treated docks are the same as that old outhouse. We still don’t care about who lives downstream.

Now we carry our groceries to our cars in fabric bags made in India and figure we’ve made a difference.

RCE_1543.jpg

There goes the winter kale.

***

These late October days have been wonderful. Sky blue and rivers clear. The snow is coming along with the chill. Lisa and I are never really ready for it. Probably less so as we grow old.

RCE_1553

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.

RCE_1548B

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.

Clearing

_LME8804-sm.jpgThe Milky Way dips below the horizon, leaving the night to the brilliant winter stars.

Willow and I took for the benches, beyond the ruck, into the burn. We arrived early. The Moon wasn’t down and Orion wasn’t up. We neither had a cup of coffee or a beer to expedite the wait. Willow occupied herself looking for mice. I thought about hunting. How I could have filled the freezer by now, instead I’m foolishly after stars.

_LME8818-Pano.jpgIt was an exceptional fall day. No clouds, cool but with sunshine. Today cannnabis is legal for recreational use in Canada. It is the step in the right direction to give people the right to do what they have been doing all along. Growing, packaging, advertising, pricing distribution and tax collecting will now be handled and approved by government and friends.

_LME8794-smA meteor streaks beside Mars before it follows the moon over the eastern ridge. 

It is odd to see folks so long in favour of prohibition now on the other side, espousing and controlling the market they see as lucrative.

_LME8820-smAlong the fence line, into the darkness, chasing the night.

Wouldn’t it be funny if everybody just grew their own.

More small gardens would be a good thing.

It took the moon to go down before the sky was dark enough to make out The Milky Way.

_LME8799-smOrion rises, in pursuit of Taurus and Pleiades. The trees limbs point to Orion’s Belt.

Very fine night.

 

 

western stars

_LME8765-Pano.smHazy nights often reveal colour from both Earth and the stars. The green and purples are from space. The orange is from earth, artificial light bouncing off clouds. Mars shows red near the horizon left. A rock sculpture is in the foreground, I damned near tripped over it and lit it with my cell phone so it could be seen in the photo. Lots of light, man made and natural.

Willow and I escaped the valley bottom and headed west. Usually it’s east for us to watch the stars come up. Once we got situated it was plain to see the stars were trying to shine through cloud.

Since February, The Milky Way has swung from right in front of me to over my shoulder. Willow’s nose was down; smelling rodents, sweating, busy all night making nests for winter. All of us attached to those stars whether we know it or not.

The stars seem to be going by faster now. They say that happens when you get older. The beer goes quicker near the bottom of the keg. Same with a full tank of gas. It seems to stay full forever, but the last quarter goes quick.

In the east, Orion (Wintermaker) is coming up sideways, turning face on, to guide us through cold.