mid dec

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I’m beyond it now. The sky, changes, but not because of me.

I used to run away. Build campfires below the tracks beside the lake. Swish garbage. Throw the empties.

Watch coyotes get lost, eagles circle, nervous geese keeping freezing water open. Figuring the best place was below the bridge. Between the lake and river. Where there was plenty of wood to build a fire.

The whole of December and the rest of winter is ahead, beckoning, laughing.

It feels good, smart actually, to have the longjohns on early.

 

 

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.

There it is

_LME9434ISS appears in the west. The streak is its movement captured in a 30 second exposure.

There have been plenty of times I’ve seen the International Space Station go across the night sky. Tonight was the first night I planned for it. It seemed only fitting with newly arrived Canadian, David Saint-Jacques aboard. 

It is the first time a Canadian has been in space since Chris Hadfield in 2013.

Chris Hadfield has been an inspiration to Canadians, sharing his experiences, singing songs and even writing a children’s book. 

I followed Hadfield’s photography when he was on the Space Station. He took wonderful images of the Canadian landscape as it appeared from space. They were both fierce and fragile.

_LME9425-Pano.smA panorama of three photos facing east. Taurus, Hyades and Pleiades can be seen in twilight. A meteor streaks towards Nutmucqcin. 

I arrived early took a few pictures and set up the camera. Sure enough the Space Station appeared right on time in the west and started across the sky. It increased in brightness as it moved directly overhead. It was my intention to get a photo of it against the eastern landscape, however the cold made my camera loosen from the tripod. Metal parts shrink in -12°c. The camera had been sitting without use for a half hour. By the time I secured the camera ISS was gone. That’s planning for you and why I’ll never work for NASA.

From what I read and hear all Canadians are excited to have another astronaut to cheer for and wish David Saint-Jacques a safe, successful mission.

Late November

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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

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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.

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Not that I believe in them. Ghosts I mean.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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