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.

fever

The lights of Invermere across Lake Windermere.

Cleaned up the wood pile. We have about as much firewood as we started with before winter, due to Lisa and I getting a few loads in December and January.

We’ve been burning it even in spring when the weather turns rainy and cold. We are rich with firewood. It feels good.

***

I drove a good sliver into my hand the other day. Of course my hands have been softened by the gallons of hand sanitizer I apply every time entering a building. At least it won’t become infected.

***

In my dream last night I was walking behind a women with hairy legs, strangely aroused, I wondered if she had hairy armpits too.

The winter stars, Betelgeuse in it’s diminished state, star clusters Hyades and the Beehive on either side of the page. The big dog, front and centre, twinkling in the muck.

It didn’t seem like a hard winter. The dry sunflowers still have a few seeds. I find them hidden in the woodpile where the bark was left on the fir. The Chickadees show up to take them out the trees and between shingles on the shed. They planned well and came out chirping on the other end. Sometimes they’re not so lucky. A reminder of sorts. No matter how much we plan we’ll all have that bad winter one of these days.

***

Winter’s on it’s way out. Orion’s still up there after dark, but it won’t last. The extra light, before the turning, will take care of it faster than should be allowed.

palliser pass

Above the falls.

Lisa has encouraged me to look back at some of the photos taken in the past. I rarely do this, content with looking at what was taken most recently. She said sometimes I might miss a good one. These two were taken on a wonderful trip along Palliser Pass last summer.

Sun-up. Mt. King George, 3,413 m. Height of the Rockies.

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.

mess

Covid has sent people looking for recreation in the bush. It is one of the few things the government has encouraged people to do. Some trails have become exceptionally busy. Other places have been destroyed by people looking for a place to party and shoot off guns. Garbage and destruction has become commonplace.

Lisa and I have enjoyed the trails and roads up Windermere Creek for years. It is one of the first spots I can remember following my father through the bush. Logging and mining have taken it’s toll. Because this spot is close to the valley bottom it has attracted record numbers of tourists running snowmobiles, All Terrain Vehicles (ATV’s) and four wheel drives. The result is a mess around every corner.

That is not to say Albertan’s are responsible for all the mess. They alone don’t hold ownership on stupidity. Unfortunately we get some of Alberta’s worst out here, however, sadly, there is plenty of locals that also fit the profile.

This winter, someone tried pulling the water pipe out of the underground spring many get their drinking water. In all the years passing this spot I’d never seen such nonsense.

In this spot bottles and cans, garbage, live trees cut, old TV’s (to shoot at), snowboards, mufflers (possibly stolen for the catalytic converters), a truck canopy and spent rifle and shotgun shells.

Every spring Lisa and I clean some of these areas and take the garbage to the dump. Not this year. It is too much of a mess and it will only be added too. These spots are spoiled. They have already become dumping spots.

My hope is the yahoos and dipshits will stick to these spots, happy to trash these areas only. I know that is wishful thinking.

As for me, I’m not going back for two reasons; it’s painful to see and I’d be tempted to carry a club.

what will we do with all the extra light

Pictographs along the Spirit Trail.

Two of my kids have tested positive for Covid. They are both young and healthy and are experiencing minor symptoms. They were both careful, working from home. It’s a lottery. Contact tracing has shown where they got it. Nobody’s fault.

A small Creeper makes it’s way lightly.

I have told a handful of people. People I respect, like my good friend Dave, who recognized it for what it is, a lottery regardless of safe guards.

Other’s I have talked to want to blame them for getting Covid. I even had someone of authority, stick their finger in my face and lecture me on ‘social bubbles’.

It’s important to keep your mouth shut and listen to smart people, it’s also important to keep your mouth shut and listen to stupid people. If for no other reason, self preservation. I’m good at the first and not so good at the other.

***

Lisa holds a delicate skull.

The time has changed. We are back to dark in the morning and an extra hour of light at night. The ground is frozen still. A handful of seeds are started inside in anticipation spring will continue regardless of the endless bad news. As far as I can see the sun still gets up on time in the morning.

***

A Nutcracker giving shit to whoever will listen.

I’m going to miss winter. The short days. The woodpile. A fire in the fireplace, stewed meat with last year’s potatoes, waking up to a snowfall, knowing it means a workout and the quiet darkness that can never last.

***

Tomorrow I’ll put on a sunny face and keep quiet.

Willow among the rocks.

Waning crescent

It doesn’t take much to imagine a long ago glacier running the length of the Upper Columbia Valley. An old moon clears the mountains near the centre of the frame.

I had some extra time before work this morning. Willow and I headed for the west side of Lake Windermere. Before I left I couldn’t find my warm jacket, it was only -7°c so I didn’t worry. On the hike to the banks on the edge of the lake I realized the paths were ice. Not my favourite when it’s still dark. We walked on patches of snow for grippage. Then my boot lace came undone. Damn I hate that.

I hoped to see the crescent moon come up in the east. The stars were mostly gone. The morning blue period took over. Willow and I waited for the moon. I missed my warm jacket. The International Space Station came from the west and dimmed in the southeast.

I realized I had brought the wrong lens for capturing the moon. I had a super fast wide angle lens when a longer lens would have captured it better. In the top photo the moon is small coming up over the mountains.

Regardless, it was good to be out to watch the moon. Willow barked at hooting owls and shadows taking shape in the light. I was back in plenty of time for my late start at work.

In a perfect world I’d watch the moon come up and the sun go down everyday.

A waning crescent moon rises over the Fairmont Range.

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.

down where the fish don’t bite

Whew! A quick week. The light on both ends of the day is expanding and coming on quick. Orion is still visible at night, but won’t be for long, washed away by the glare of spring.

People out walking here and there, holding hands, old and young, succumbing to the urge taking over deer and birds. The second is nature the first is love. That’s the way we like to think of it, one separate from the other.

I’m an old-timer living to an age once impossible by the majority of humankind’s existence. Nature hasn’t adjusted and given me, and others, much of a roadmap or purpose to living past the ripe age of 35.

My DNA is too damaged to pass on even if I could. Young ladies all look like flowers to me. Nothing to sing about, only admire. No tweet or bugle, no rubbing horns on dry branches. In 99.9% of the time humans existed men my age would have been 25 years dead and for good reason. Young men don’t start wars.

And that’s why I feel lucky. This my 57th spring. The wind in my beard. The mountains unchanged from the ice age, the river rolling, slowing, making noise only when the rest is tuned out, that’s something I’ve been taught, and the stars, the stars common with the old ancient man getting ready.