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.

Ridge Walk

Plenty of snow still to melt on the ridge and fill the creeks.

A touch of rain this evening and it sure felt good. The ground in the valley bottom is getting parched. Each day brings at least some wind that dries the earth further. I reminisce to earlier days and I can’t remember it being this dry in spring. It is true the area is much more built up and water is scarce due to usage, which makes watering the yard prohibitive for all but the wealthy, District of Invermere, and School District N0.6 (Rocky Mountain) who use more than needed. For them it is easier to over water than manage the resource.

***

Fuel is above $2 a litre and going higher. Tourism hasn’t slowed one bit. More motor boats are planned fro Lake Windermere. A new RV park is being built on the outskirts. Our public officials say we are lucky to host our wealthy tourist clientele that come in droves from Alberta.

Meanwhile I hope I will continue to be able to afford to drive the 17Km to work and back each day for the opportunity to earn shit wages. I shouldn’t complain, Lisa and I have it better than many. The Valley hasn’t always been the tourist trap it has become. When the kids were young we did better. Many young couples will never have the opportunity Lisa and I had to buy a house and raise a family.

***

The world seems to be going apeshit crazy, environmental disaster, war, shootings and people mistreating each other with impunity.

I listen to many of my young co-workers, their view of the future is very dim, and why shouldn’t it be with all that is going on. What does inspire me is how well they treat each other.

Maybe that’s the best we can do in such a world – be as kind as we can to people we encounter.

It is a work in progress for me. The older I get the less time I have for right wing bigots and racists, people that tear up the environment, swindlers including many politicians and business folks, lining their pockets at the expense of people they proclaim to serve; neighbours and future generations.

These types have always existed, they have been successful, even revered by history, it just seems the stakes are higher now and it should be clear that punching down on your fellow man and the earth that sustains us for profit has become a terrible outdated practice. Perhaps someday it will finally fall out of favour for good.

***

Even this little bit of rain helps and refreshes. The garden shows thin green rows of carrots, peas, kale and turnips just planted last week.

I’ll take a mulligan

A Ruffed Grouse.

Damn near stepped on a wild chicken. It didn’t move until I was above it. I stopped and waited for Willow to catch up, lagging behind, busied with the smells of mice. The grouse and Willow locked eyes at the same time. Willow gave a bark, the grouse took off in a great flutter of wings and then glided, never more than ten feet off the ground, into the timber, seemingly looking for a place to land. It was long gone or hidden. I knew better from the many times I followed these birds into the trees while packing a twenty-two, only to come up empty, my father laughing at my optimism of an easy shot. The easy shot, he said, was when it was standing right in front of you. It makes me laugh I still don’t see them sometimes. The twenty-two is hidden, but I still crave my father’s mulligan sometimes.

Mother’s Day

A couple of scanned B/W film strips from our old 120 twin reflex camera. Lisa is pregnant with our son Hunter. The film on the right is light struck which wasn’t uncommon if it wasn’t wound properly before opening the back of the camera. It looks like I ran out of film at an inopportune time.

For Mother’s Day Lisa and I headed behind the mountain for breakfast. We snapped a couple pictures, puttered here and there. I remarked that in many of our earlier pictures she was always pregnant. I looked out these photos when we returned home. Lisa always felt comfortable in front of the camera and always felt beautiful when she was pregnant. Who could ever argue.

Lisa is a wonderful Mother and Grandmother. Our children would agree. We are lucky to have her.

In the Windermere

A website I enjoy reading is, In the Windermere, by Alex Weller.

The writing, research and photographs are fantastic. The material highlights local history. Many of the subjects Alex covers are ones I am familiar with and enjoyed talking about with my late father.

Alex does not romanticize history, rather, reports it with footnotes and links to back it up.

So often while reading Alex’s website I am reminded of my father’s recollections of First Nation People and the many names that settled this area my family has called home since 1912.

My father would often point out injustices in those early days of settlement. Alex’s website often confirms, through research and linked footnotes, many of the stories my father and I would discuss.

History was a real time and place. Even the smallest areas have great stories. History reflects and has repercussions until today. I can’t get over, when reading, In the Windermere, how politics haven’t really changed much, but the area sure has.

Line Up

Haze in the east. The waning moon mid right. Lake Windermere the way it should be.

The sky cleared on Saturday morning. Willow and I awoke early and headed out to see the planet alignment of Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Saturn. We looked for high ground with an unobstructed view of the east.

We waited for the moon to rise. By then it was getting light. I could not see any of the planets with my naked eye. I tried several settings on my camera to pick up the planets, hoping I could see them when enlarged on the computer screen, however was unsuccessful.

Moon rise.

A couple things could have been working against me. First, there was a slight haze in the east and could have easily obscured the dim light of the planets. Second, it gets light early here at our latitude of 50°N. And finally, I may have brought the wrong lens, opting for a wide angle instead of a lens that could have focused and enlarged a small part of the sky.

It was still a rewarding morning. We listened to chicken drumming and turkey’s gobbling. Four large Swans flew low over our heads, Willow seemed fine, but I was touched. When the sun got close to rising the song birds started up.

A few Crocuses on the trail in daylight heading out.

skyward

Canadian geese heading north.

A couple of walks on the weekend. We checked out where the old dogs reside. It is enjoyable walking the burn at this time of year. Eagles, flickers, juncos, robins, hawks and bluebirds entertained us with flight and song.

Missing was the sound of meadowlarks, although we have heard them in the valley bottom. Looking over the great expanse of long ago burnt forest we spotted a small herd of whitetail, having been spooked by something unseen by our eyes.

This was a fine spot to lay down our old dogs. Willow and Maynard ran and took in the sights, sounds and smells.

***

The Easter weekend was very busy in the valley. Visitors from Alberta took over the town. Lisa and I discussed our plan for summer to try to stay sane. On our days off we will leave early in the morning, about 6, head for the bush and return in the afternoon after the Albertans are settled heading back into their accommodations.

Alberta tourists will be out in force this year, and who can blame them stuck where they are. Oil is back on the table and they will be squeezing the rocks for every last drop, clamouring to get out to the valley, to their second homes or Airbnb.

Meanwhile Canadians do what we do best, assume a feigned posture, pretending to give a shit about the environment. It is discouraging what has happened to the Valley in our so called leaders haste to cater to the tourist. The gentrification is total, unavoidable and complete.

A typical right winger from Alberta. The trailer he was hauling was full of snowmobiles. More and more have Canadian flags flying or, like this one, fatuous stickers.

lamb

Busy weekend. Lots of tourists.

Things have changed dramatically at the resort. The mood is better. One bad apple does make a difference.

I picked the wrong week to take the long underwear off. Well below freezing everyday this week. Perhaps the end of April will be the new target for shedding the second skin.

Spotted a sick ewe at the resort. It is separated from the herd. Its head is low and lies in gravel. She can still get up. She is bleeding from the hind end. It’s a bit early for Bighorn Sheep to give birth. Maybe a still birth. We have been telling guests to give her room. It is safe on the resort grounds. Unlikely a cougar will take her down there. If people bother her she will wonder off and be picked off by predators.

The best case is the herd will come back and she can rejoin. Or it will make it back to the herd on her own. A perilous journey on her own, but one she may risk. It is amazing how a herd will protect the slowest.

If it can’t she will go to a place to be killed and eaten. Cougars, coyotes, bears, eagles, crows, ravens, dogs, magpies and even songbirds will see she doesn’t go to waste.

Strong Thermal Emissions

Due north towards the lights of Invermere.

Good reports of Northern Lights recently, unfortunately I have slept through the best storms.

Damn chilly in the morning. Last Saturday I shed the long underwear for the year and I’m tempted to put the long thermal underwear back on. Every year it goes on earlier and comes off later. Maybe there will come a time, despite global warming, they will stay on year round. Just for the record, it is not the same long underwear I wear for 7 months straight. I do change them every month or so, usually when my leg hair starts growing through them.