Jam

There was a time I had the bruises on the other side of my hands.

Out early to beat the heat. . . and tourists. Headed into the mountains. It’s early for huckleberries, but with this weather who knows. Took off for #2 creek. The road was rough with washboard, folks yanking trailers behind them, bouncing along, dust in clouds. Luckily we were early enough to miss them, but cursed them just the same when I hit the pot holes or sliced sideways over washboard. Lisa and Willow suggested maybe I should just slow down.

Once off the main road it was cool sailing, cedar, small creeks, fireweed lining the roads, dips and dangles instead of dust and ruts.

I’ll be your Huckleberry.

It takes awhile but then you finally arrive! It wasn’t long and we were looking up the slides for berries. The mountains were shrouded in smoke. We headed higher.

It’s early. We tried anyway and found a grove of huckleberries. We picked. I told Lisa if anyone should come up, we should pretend to make love, instead of disclosing we were picking huckleberries. In other words, get rid of them.

Fireweed.

Fortunately we were far enough away to be out of contact.

The berries were plentiful, but not large due to the hot spell. I’m holding out hope for a touch of rain. Lisa and I picked and ended up with plenty to make a few batches of jam.

For Dad, to show him, the berries are a ok.

Twin Lakes

A young man prepares to take the plunge.

It’s been over a week since a young man drowned jumping into Windermere Wells.

Much of my youth was spent trailing behind my father or on my own through thick brush, following creeks and trails to small water holes.

One of the places we spent a great deal of time was Twin Lakes, now renamed Windermere Wells. As the name suggests it was two lakes joined by a narrow area that had a bridge. I often fished the deep lake surrounded by cliffs, where as, my Father fished the bigger shallower lake.

Photo by Lisa, taken from the road passing by the lake. Notice the young man doing a backflip off the rocks. This was taken a day before a 28 yr old drowned in Twin.

The advantage to fishing the deep lake was the fish could be seen around your hook. Some would swim by, some would nudge and often they would bite.

The Lakes had to be walked into. The road leading to a mine was above the lake. Later a logging road was put in below the lake, but was nearly impassable due to mud and the creek flooding over it’s banks.

My son Hunter jumping the lower rocks when he was a youngster. I wanted him to know how to do it, because I knew he was going to do it anyway.

It was only when the gypsum mine moved and commissioned and improved the logging road that the walk to Twin was visible, allowing a shorter walk.

During the eighties off roaders pushed roads over creeks and through the brush to the shores of the lake.

It became a party spot. We stopped going. Now it is an area tourists and locals go to jump the cliffs and swim.

When we were kids we described the deep lake as bottomless. A trail ran past the lake to deliver hunters and trappers to the Kootenay Valley. My Grandfather was one who often used the trail.

Natural science labels the lake a gypsum sinkhole. There is many on the backside of Swansea, this is one of the few filled with water from Windermere Creek.

A story was told, when I was a youngster, how a pack horse fell from the bridge into the deep water never to be seen again.

Although the water is clear, once swimmers start pulling themselves up the clay/gypsum sides the water turns murky, not allowing visibility past the surface of the lake.

If a diver hits the surface awkwardly and looses their breath their friends can not rescue them in the cloudy water. Trained divers almost always have to be brought in to recover the body.

Windermere Wells is becoming increasingly popular, however care should be taken, as it is known for more than a few deaths. One every few years now.

moon

cruel the moon and sun are the same size from where I stand. the sun is bigger of course, it’s a mathematical anomaly. space tends to put things into perspective. still, what are the chances.

homemade

A regular person has to back down plenty. Thats why they head for the hills and kill cars in their backyard. Play loud music late at night, drink too much, smoke weed and take pills of dubious origin.

A regular person has to put up with injustice normalized and legal, they have to nod their head to incompetence, racism, sexism and environmental destruction. It’s part of feeding the family.

A regular person has to push it down and bottle it up. Put it in the jam or home made wine. That’s why the homemade stuff tastes so good.

Mid July

Rising above.

Been hotter than. . . well, hell! Lot’s of smoke. The sun comes up red and goes down the same. It will get worse before summer is over.

Purple flowers. Nothing like a hail storm to make everything bud.

Wind today drying everything out. Fires burning across BC will flare up and become harder to contain.

Catching rays.

The garden is bouncing back. It thought it was dead, so has been working extra hard trying to mature. I cut lettuce and let it sit to ooze out the bitter white milk. I remember, as a youngster pulling dandelions and touching my tongue to the milk of it’s cut stocks and just about dying of thirst with it’s bitterness. The lettuce is still pretty good.

Another couple weeks of +30 weather is forecasted.

maintenance

Being a  maintenance man at a busy resort is pretty easy. Toilets that don’t flush, plunging, shovelling snow, cutting lawn, making sure the pools and hot tubs are clear. There really isn’t much to it. If it gets too complicated a professional is called in.

Today I was called to a unit because a child had locked the bathroom door and shut it.

This is a call we get regularly and one I respond to with haste, because the kid is usually on the other side of the locked door upset because they are separated from his or her parents.

So I dropped what I was doing and went straight away. When I got over to their unit, the child and two parents were safely on the outside of the locked door. The Dad said the child had locked the door and pulled it shut.

I looked at the youngster who was about three years old and could tell his Dad was throwing him under the bus. Parents are always a little embarrassed about having to call the maintenance man. The dad probably had locked the door and the young fellow had simply shut the door. I asked the youngster if he had been to the pool and complimented him on the bicycle helmet he was wearing.

I got out my small screwdriver and inserted it into the hole of the privacy lock. It was being stubborn and wouldn’t unlock. Mom, Dad and child were over my shoulder.

Dad said to his son, see how much work you caused.

I said, I may need a smaller screw driver.

They said, oh yes!

I went outside to my tool bag. Was rummaging around and noticed the youngster had followed me out. As I knelt he stood close. I rooted around in my bag. I knew I didn’t have a smaller screw driver. He watched intently. I took the same screw driver I had and said, let’s go I think this one will do it.

He never said a word, but followed me back inside. He stood close while I worked away at the small hole that pops the lock open on the bathroom door. Damn, this should be an easier job! The parents were in the living room. The young fellow on my shoulder. 

I talked to him the whole time. What’s your name, how old are you, just trying to make conversation with a child that had not yet learned to speak. He just kept looking at me with those big eyes.

And then he did something. He let loose an adult size fart. One I would have been proud of. I heard the adults in the living room stop talking. They most certainly thought it was me. The child and I looked at each other, but said nothing. We both should have said something, but didn’t, what was there to say.

Just then the bathroom door popped open. The young man had reached behind him and was clutching a handful of his shorts. I yelled to the parents the door was open. I didn’t tell them their child probably needed the bathroom.

The youngster and I gave each other one final look. A moment shared. If I see him in the pool I’m going to give him a wave.

July Hail storm

The peas torn from their fences.

A few more photos of the garden taken about an hour and a half after the hail storm. Fortunately, it sounds like the hail storm cut a narrow path through the valley. Communities to the south and north of Invermere were not hit as hard.

Talked to a few gardeners and it sounds like everybody pretty much is in the same boat with smashed plants. I was lucky because I don’t spend much money on plants nor rely on it for a living and sell produce like some.

Plenty of videos on Facebook of a river running down main street. My neighbours experienced some flooding. Our basement started to flood due to the outside stairwell filling with hail, fortunately I saw it early and was able to shovel out the stairwell before it melted.

I won’t replant anything, I’m interested to see what will make a recovery and what won’t. There will also be plants that may live but be too far behind to produce, I suspect the tomatoes will be in this category.

Tomato plant stripped of it’s leaves. A cannabis plant to the right that didn’t fair much better.

This is definitely an unusual event for this area. We do regularly get hail, but not that big and the storms don’t usually last that long. Luckily the damage seems minimal, although heartbreaking for people who love their gardens, and not wide spread. What can you do?

Beans that were doing so well before the storm. I doubt if they will make a comeback. They do have lots of time however.
Lettuce that has been delicious. I am hopeful a few more salads will be harvested before the end of summer.
Carrots.
Sunflower broken off. They may form new shoots with heads.
I don’t know what the big rhubarb is all about!
Broccoli and cabbage were just not meant to withstand hail stones, still I’m hopeful they will make a recovery.

disconnect

There is two gay guys at work. They don’t trust me, because I’m an old motherfucker. I try to strike up conversation, but they won’t have it. I want to ask them if they like the mountains and rivers. I’m one of the ones they have had to watch out for.

They have plenty of tattoos, I wonder how they will weather, or if they’ve thought about it.

They obviously like the sun, awesome haircuts, I’ve never seen such tanned heads.

They are young and I’m up there. I’ve got nothing to teach. The rivers and bush is long gone and I’m too old for learning.

smashed salad

A good hail storm rolled through on the heals of the 40° temperatures we have been having. It flattened the garden with marble sized stones. Cutting every broad leaf to shreds. It lasted about thirty minutes, flooding basements and parking lots.

Hopefully the moisture neutralized the lightening. You never know, moisture, hail and rain cuts a thin swath, while heat can be everywhere. This is jest not a livelihood. The tune would change then.

It’s up to the garden to grow back on it’s own. Hail storms spread nitrogen they say, so this is their start. Everything wants to live. The beans better straighten themselves out and grow some leaves. The zucchini with pellet holes have to regroup, toss a canopy up and salvage what’s left. As for the carrots, onions, turnips, beets and spuds, they’ll be ready for stew come fall, hell or high water.

It’s disappointing to see the work smashed. It’s also wonderful to see it grow back.

Nothing is more resilient than a plant with two more months of sunshine left.

get ready it’s summer

Wood Lily.

Lisa and I have been very busy as Covid restrictions are lifted and businesses plan for the mother of all summers.

The forecast is calling for 40°c temps. It has topped of at 36° today. It makes you get up extra early and try to get work done before noon.

This mornings waning moon.

I remember running printing presses in this kind of weather, dealing with problems the heat could cause with paper and ink. Those were the days, NOT!

The garden is spectacular, although the heat is making the broccoli bolt. We are giving it away and eating it as fast as we can. The peas have blossoms and pods waiting to fill out. The sage is a hedge of purple flowers.

Varied Thrush with a worm.

This year the garden was in early due to having to quarantine in early April. I dug and planted because I could. It won’t make much difference in August. A few good neighbouring gardeners have stopped to ask why my garden is ahead. I confessed the early date I planted. They commented it was risky, but I’ll bet they will be doing the same next year. Us old-timers can be competitive. To be honest, I’m not sure if I will continue with an early schedule. I got lucky this time, next time could be different.

Last weeks trip. The mountains are shedding winter.

The lake is covered in Albertans in motor boats, every second home and Airbnb filled, the beach parking lot is wall to wall red and white plates. I must be mellowing, because I am almost happy for them whooping and wallowing in excess and entitlement. Like me they would rather be nowhere else, so who am I to judge. It also reminds me to either be working or out of the valley bottom and in the cool mountains come the weekend.

Fool Hen.

Lisa and I still have a stick of firewood to get for winter. We have spotted a couple sticks of dry fir off the beaten path. We may have to wait for it to cool down to gather it up proper.

Lisa debarking and splitting.