Little Birds

I don’t see any weakness when I look at birds. They drop seeds for others and stash them for later. Sometimes the woodpeckers and starlings show up, sure there can be a ruckus. It’s just seeds however, at this time of year. They will fight to death in spring over nests housing young ones, but not over seeds in fall.

Been listening and reading a lot of stuff, done by smart people, that is supposed to explain things, why we have ended up the way we are. I’m not sure if I understand it or buy into it. I’ve always had fear about people with all the answers. I’ve even listened to folks with supposedly the same problems as me, and I can’t relate. I just find it dull. Don’t get me wrong I’m dull too.

I found my grandparents graves today. I looked all over. I remember when they were laid to rest. I thought it was more in the middle of the Cemetery. Goes to show memory can play some tricks, then again it was the early 70’s and from what I was told I was distraught. This is the first time I’ve looked since.

Those birds though on a brilliant day, without sentimentality, testing the trellis branches, not a worry of winter, knowing cold is on the way, they’ve got it figured out.

Mid September Rain

Pine Siskin

Grey and rain, frost the last couple mornings. It’s feeling like fall. September can’t be beat.

Most of the tomatoes are in. Sitting in flats waiting to ripen in the dark in the basement.

Split wood for the fire. Saw a herd of Pine Siskins. I told Lisa it was too early, but she was damned and determined to warm the old place up. Since we have a lot of wood and grandkids sleeping over I agreed before being overruled.

Back in the ‘old days’ we went as long as we could without heat. My sisters and brother can attest. Oil, coal and electricity has always been expensive. Frost on the walls and old coats used for covers. You could watch your breath until dipping your head under the covers to warm up.

Wind and big defined clouds should be celebrated. When the clouds burst open we should all run outside and feel the water on our faces, soaking us to the skin. My grandkids agree.

Durban Poison

Memory Walk

Hunter strides the ridge.

A wonderful Friday hiking with my son Hunter. We were up early, Hunter had eggs and toast ready for me. After just about hitting a deer we turned off the pavement onto a rough steep road. We reached the trail head by 7am and started through the bush on foot. We had planned it so we would spend the cool morning in the bush and rocks and be back to the truck in the afternoon, the hottest part of the day.

I point the camera towards Chisel. Photo by Hunter.

The hike we choose was a tough one. Uphill all the way and then back down legs burning from holding back from tumbling down the steep pitch.

A helicopter flies, below our perch, looking for fires.

By 10:30 we were above tree line and on the ridge of Chisel. Now I’m not as young as I used to be, I have to remember anything I go up I have to come down. Hunter was patient waiting for my sorry ass. We gained elevation. A helicopter flew by well below us. Scouting for fires no doubt.

Willow the route finder.

Chisel Peak is also known as Indian Head. The Ktunaxa Nation calls it Naⱡmuqȼin from the Great Chief in their creation story who bumps his head on the sky and falls backward to be forever looking skyward.

Nutmuqcin on a clearer day. Can you make out the Chief lying on his back, his face looking skyward to the right, his breast plate in the centre, and his knees slightly raised to to the left?

I found an Eagle feather just below the summit. I took it as a sign to stop or I may need wings to get down. Willow and I stayed put admiring the view while Hunter, without me holding him back, dashed ahead to the crown.

How am I supposed to keep up?

The walk down was the same route going down, slipping here and there, riding sections on my arse. It was a day to remember spent with my son Hunter with the knowledge days like these are few and far between.

Smoky skies.

Orchids

Mountain Orchid

Lisa and I had a good trip up the pass on the weekend. It has been busy.

We had an eye out for wild orchids. We caught sight of plenty of Venus Slipper’s and even a few rare Yellow Lady’s Slipper’s. The Venus was especially prolific. These small orchids are only about three to four inches high, but stand out among the moss on the damp forest floor.

Calypso Orchid.

The next two wild orchids to appear will be the showy Wood and Franklin.

On another subject, we had a light frost this morning. It doesn’t look like it damaged any of the plants, however, I had to put the run on two small buck mule deer with nub velvet horns that decided to trim two of my flower baskets.

Willow sniffing out the Orchids.

rain

Pure rain, not a lot but some. The grass is greening that’s for sure. An osprey took out a power pole today, shutting down all the cash registers.

The ‘bertans are flooding in getting away from the recent covid restrictions imposed by Kenny. Here, it is a big fuck you to the tourists dragging boats and checking their second homes. They don’t notice, entitlement, narcissism, too much of a good thing, for too long, gets in their way.

That’s the way it rolls, The way it will be for awhile. If I was on the other side we’d be doing the same I suppose.

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.

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.

February

A sign of spring.

Very fine weekend. Yesterday Lisa and I went skating on the lake. We got on in the south to try to avoid the ruck. Willow also enjoyed the time having no problem keeping up with us. We saw a lot of people doing the same as us, enjoying the fresh air. Many remarked on the friendliness of Willow and wondered about her breed, never having seen a Wire-Haired Weiner Dog before. Most of the people we saw and talked to were tourists. I was happy for them to be enjoying the lake and ice on skates and x-country skis.

Today we headed into the bush, staying on the roads that are open and plowed. We hiked into a spot we go to often. Last night people had started a fire and cut down live trees to feed their large bonfire. They left a mess, beer cans, food and garbage. This is not unusual. I can never understand cutting down live trees to feed a bush fire when dried wood is so readily available. We threw snow on the fire and remarked that we will have to come back, when the roads open, to clean it up. Lisa said something that worried me. She said, she is not sure if she likes this spot anymore.

So many places we once loved have been ruined or destroyed by the crowds. It is disappointing. We are pushed further, usually up the creeks and rivers as most small lake shores have been littered with campers/partiers.

With heavy hearts we turned back, looking for spring in the rising temperatures. Just like many years previous I looked for the earliest pussy willows, to our delight a few were breaking through the skin of their buds. It is amazing what a few hours of above freezing temperatures will do. Also amazing what such small things can change the spirit from dark to light. Very fine weekend.

old stories

There are plenty of stories being told, the same as it’s always been, but there is more of them. I’m old and my antenna only picks up a few.

Stories get told on the internet now, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tic Tok. I’m not a member so I don’t understand. Still I bet they are good stories.

People have sex or perform for people willing to pay. It’s a legitimate thing They are storytellers.

Lisa and I used to do the same. We would go beside the river and make love. Sometimes we would take pictures. They are some of the best photos I’ve ever taken. Fortunately or unfortunately there was no market back then.

Both Lisa and I worry about our kids discovering those negatives after we die. We talk about throwing them out but we can’t do it. Still I don’t want to shock them.

My stories are slow now, boring even. Experience is dull.

All my experience has added up to nothing. All my stories have become dull. That’s the world for you, refusing to slow down to my aged pace. Thank God.

Brrrrrr!

This photo composition is made of sixteen photos sewn together in Photoshop to achieve the extra wide angle needed to show the night sky from north to south. The original is a massive file and reveals many stars and constellations. Even in this small sample a discerning eye may be able to pick out Perseus and Cassiopeia to the left and the tail of Scorpius with red supergiant Antares over the lights of Fairmont Hot Springs in the south. Scorpius only rises once Orion is down and promises the coming of summer.

A few welcome days off in a row. Willow and I figured we would sample the chilly temperatures. We headed out at 3 in the morning to see if we could catch the return of The Milky Way.

The Milky Way rising over Nutmuq¢in (Chisel Peak).

So far we have had a mild winter and perhaps we have grown soft because -28°c felt colder than expected. Granted fumbling barehanded with a metal camera doesn’t help. Willow looked at me like I was crazy and was happy to make it back to the truck and a blasting heater.

The Milky Way was rising but the centre stays below the mountains before dawn washed the stars away. Still a wonderful viewing morning with the young moon long down refusing to interfere with the brilliance of stars.

The afternoon sun warming Jake and Dave.

That afternoon we met with good buddies Dave, Jake and Chewy for a bout of ice fishing. By then it had warmed to a much more comfortable -16°c. We picked a spot near the shallow south end of Lake Windermere, chosen for it’s distance from the ruck of the crowd. Unfortunately the fish didn’t feel the same, choosing instead to occupy the deeper portions nearer the outlet.

Willow looking for fish.

Still, it was refreshing enjoying the lake. Jake drilled his own hole in the almost 2 feet of thick ice. The dogs ran this way and that. Very fine day.

Willow criticizing my lack of fishing skill.