Mid May

A Merlin or Pigeon Hawk enjoyed its catch, of a small song bird, on top a power pole.

Time is getting scarce, too much to do, between work and usual spring chores.

The garden is in except the tomatoes. Lettuce is up and won’t be long before we will be having fresh salads. We have about ten different varieties for a good mix.

Willow, Maynard and I spent a pleasant morning watching swallows fly in and out of the holes in the bank containing their nests.

It’s been dryer than a popcorn fart, not hot, poor weather and wind. Plenty of snow still in the mountains. We had a sprinkle last night, enough that I don’t have to water.

Douglas fir flowers.

Cloud cover for the lunar eclipse, I was disappointed. The light did turn odd through the clouds. Could well imagine this was concerning in ancient times before eclipses could be predicted.

It won’t be long before the mountains start crying.

Early May

Lisa celebrates spring.

The garlic has all come up. First time in a few years. I planted it deeper last the fall. The onions are also up. The garden has been dug, with manure mixed in. I planted three rows; beets, early lettuce and late lettuce. Everything has been planted thick so we can enjoy the thinnings. The tomatoes, basil and cannabis are doing well inside and I can’t wait to put them out so they don’t have to be cared for. An inside gardener I am not.

A good start to oncoming summer.

If I take the picture in the right light I can obliterate the second homes and condos that line the shores of Lake Windermere.

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.

light

Willow and I went out early to catch the grouping of planets coming up in the east. We never saw Saturn, Mars or Venus. We were too early and cold. I pointed the camera down the lake southeast and took a few pictures. Willow sat beside the tripod. She whined a few times and I saw her shiver when I turned on my flashlight to check I was still focused on infinity.

A photograph is made of light. The camera records it without sentimentality or prejudice. The photographer adds that later, trying to show a story to the viewer. The viewer also adds their thoughts to the image. Sometimes the image touches and tells a different story to many different people. That’s called art. Sometimes a picture captures a time and place. That’s a document.

This photo is light only. The light of The Milky Way. The Dark Horse near the centre of the galaxy. The Scorpions Tail. The purple and green aurora signalling flares from the our sun. The lights of Windermere and Fairmont in the distance. The sun showing below the horizon, marking another day.

Some of the light has been here forever while other, even brighter light is recent.

The Northern Lights and stars reflect in the lake. Do the fish take direction from this light? Does it trigger when they spawn, when they go into the many creeks feeding the lake? There isn’t many native fish left in Lake Windermere.

By comparison humans have only had the ability to cast light, shading the skies, for a short time. To capture light even less.

I worry what happens to our souls when we can’t see Andromeda, Aurora and the The Milky Way. Like the fish we may forget our way.

The Garcias

Jerry, Jocelyn and Jerlyn Cassandra.

I am lucky to work with many nice people. When I started my job Jerry made me feel welcome right away. He and I became friends and talked about many subjects. Being originally from the Philippines he was interested in Canadian culture. Asking about politics, Canada’s roll in the World Wars and First Nation issues.

When the unmarked graves were found near Kamploops, Jerry asked how could something like this happen in Canada. Of course, I tried to shed light but couldn’t answer.

Jerry has told me much about the Philippines, about the animals, the weather and the political system. He told me how money sent home goes to the betterment of the young, even if they are not in their own family. All of our conversations contain laughter. I have tried to learn Filipino, however that part of my brain must have been damaged with my many concussions.

Jerry and his family have also lived in China and speak the language from the area, they were employed. When Jerry writes a text or note it is in perfect English, much better than many people who have lived in Canada their entire lives. Jerry tells me stories of his time spent in China and they always have us laughing.

Jerry told me when he and Jocelyn first came to Radium they did not have a vehicle. Everything is spread out here. Getting supplies often requires a car ride. Luckily the Columbia Valley has a bus service. They hoped to go to Invermere for groceries. On a cold winter’s day they waited for the bus at the bus stop. It didn’t come. They asked a passerby when the bus would come. The walker said it had come and gone. No problem they thought, and asked, when the next bus was due and was told, ‘tomorrow’. For a couple having lived in large cities, with efficient transit, this came as a shock. But somehow the Garcias stuck it out and have made Canada their home.

Recently Jerry, Jocelyn and Jerlyn Cassandra have become Canadian citizens. Such good people. Canada is lucky.

Jerry sings and plays Don McLean

Late March

Kelsie, Cooper and Scarlett called to me to complete the ring. This Fir tree would be well over 300 years old. To think of its place in history. The many forest fires it survived, drought, world wars, colonization and the epic battles of the lands first people. It resides in a place known for warring between the Ktunaxa and the Peigan Blackfeet Pikáni. This one even survived the greed of developers. This area, on the east side of Columbia Lake is now protected, the developers satiated after being handsomely paid off.

This was the time of year I’d get stuck, sometimes on the flat. Teaches me for running around on bald tires. I don’t have to do that like I used to. I’d ask Bucky which tires had the most rubber after the tread was worn off. That’s how you know a good tire. It is easy to slip slide yourself into real trouble.

An old Ranger with a mismatched box. Smelling like oil and rust, but can still deliver a half yard of well rotted manure.

I took one of these roads yesterday. The snow hard in the trees, soft where the sun hits. Four wheel drive can’t save you once the truck starts pushing snow. It gathers under the truck and before long you either need to shovel or hope for another week of warm weather.

Spring clouds with a few more snowstorms inside. I could always walk up that hill if someone was chasing me, I bet they would give up before I did.

The plants have been started inside. Tomatoes (Black Krim, Brandywine and Black Cherry), basil, some flowers and a couple varieties of cannabis. The frost is out of the ground where my garden lays and is waiting to be dug. Scarlett, Cooper and I took down the tall sunflower plants we left for the winter birds.

Scarlett smelled them before she found the Juniper Berries. It’s Spring after all, they are filling with sap. She stuffed her pockets to take to her friend Savannah, she said. Hopefully Kelsie checked her pockets before doing the wash.

***

Amazing everything said is taken seriously. The figuring consciences is that both are inside us. Bad and good. We use them to get what we want.

Kindness works almost always. But if you have to fight back, fight back harder.

*** 

Don’t think I forget every old timer like me on the road is a desperate man. It makes me drive close to the shoulder. Not to mention the middle age driving up my ass and the youngsters taking too long in the Horton’s line. For the most part everyone is respectful. But you never know when that might change. We all have reason after all.

to the end

I took down the small Canadian flag I have been flying over the garden. Unfortunately the right wing has taken over the flag making it their own. I don’t want to be confused with them. Canada hasn’t seen this level of mock patriotism. It’s new, American even.

***

Odd week so far. People quitting, layoffs and firings. A dip in temperature, then back above freezing. They call it business.

Venus is bright in the morning. The moon a crescent. Always something special at dawn.

I’m not supposed to know what is going on, but I know something’s up. Put the binoculars on Venus and it’s a crescent also.

Ray Crook 1918 – 2021

Ray enjoying a birthday dessert.

Sadly, Ray wasn’t able to recover from a fall in his apartment and passed away peacefully at Columbia House on December 1st.

During my last visit with Ray at the hospital he was in good spirits and knew the score. He talked fondly of the housekeeper that found him, his nephew now living in Switzerland and the times he and my father spent cutting trail in Kootenay National Park.

Ray was an accomplished historian and someone I enjoyed talking to about long ago times. His memory was fantastic. He clarified many valley events for me and taught me plenty of things I didn’t know.

Ray was well known in the community, driving his scooter downtown each day, stopping to talk with anyone, laughing usually ensued.

Life is a gift. Ray gave back with his always cheerful nature and natural decency.

When I look up, from my garden, towards downtown, Ray will always be riding his scooter along the paved path. Like the way it should be.

Rest well Ray.

Dinosaur

A fine day and quick update. Some running around in the morning for supplies and the post office and dump. Willow and I headed for the creek. She let me have it when I was able to find a dry route across the creek. It was a fallen log, slipperier then greased cat shit. She would have been fine but for the shear bank on the other side. I didn’t go out of her sight. She walked the bank while I cut a few boughs of cedar. She returned to normal when I returned over the bridge.

Later I stuck a piece of wire through the meat of my hand between my thumb and index finger. It was clean through and made me laugh when I pulled it out, not that I’m tough, just that it looked funny. It bled a bit so I stuck a tight glove on to act as a compression bandage, it did the trick.

I did this while trying to bend a piece of wire into a hook to hang an elk skull I found on the same wrong side of the creek I mentioned earlier. Willow looked at me, hand bleeding, as if to say, I told you not to cross that iffy log.

Split some wood, tried to carve a heart out of a piece of driftwood we gathered in the fall, but shit the wood was hard. I thought it was cedar, but it must have been fir. To make matters worse it was a root.

I ended up making a monster out of the root. It was a giant snake with front legs. It balances perfectly on the table. I painted it’s forked tongue red. Thats the way it is, you start off carving hearts and end up seeing a creature you never knew existed. Copper and Scarlett are going to love it more than a smooth wooden heart anyway.

About 3:45 the sun went down in a tight flash leaving the ridge lit for a couple of precious minutes.

Lisa is making me supper for my birthday, the kids and our parents are invited. I’m pretty lucky. I can’t wait to see what everyone thinks of the snake head dinosaur. . . not me the carving.

Supper is just about ready and the guests are due to arrive.