Winter Stars

Starting from the top; Cassiopeia, Andromeda, The Andromeda Galaxy, Perseus and its two star clusters, also Pleiades, Taurus and Mars just coming over the mountain Ridge.

To look at the stars is to be amazed. In this day and age we know the science of astronomy. We know distances and the difference between planets and stars. You can steer a ship, plant a garden and set our calendar by them. If we have something in common with every generation going back to the beginning of man it is the stars. To look at the stars among the trees and mountains on a dark night, to feel those pin pricks of light flow through, as they have done and will continue, is to feel lucky.

Cranbrook

Todays moon when the sun hit the ridge.

Lisa and I had eye exams in Cranbrook. We also had a service on the truck.

Cranbrook is a small city with a Walmart, mall, superstore and other box stores. I visited the garden centre even though I didn’t need anything.

It is not the nicest city. A large strip of businesses leading to a downtown that tries to hide the dilapidation. Much different then the tourist trap we live in. Not many Alberta plates.

I did notice the people. They were hardened. Overweight, limping; many I could tell were homeless. A homeless camp is behind the garden centre. Invermere would quickly run these folks out of town, ‘bad for business’ the higher ups would say.

Every small city across Canada is the same. In Invermere the people are tourists. They are the wealthy from Alberta. They are fit and healthy.

A store clerk once told me they can always spot a tourist, because they look healthier than locals.

Locals making minimum wage and living in overcrowded staff houses just don’t have the same resources. No matter what we pretend as Canadians.

***

Lisa and I will eventually be pushed out of our home to make way for more tourists and second home owners. It is inevitable as we will not be able to afford the escalating assessments and taxes. We will probably head to Cranbrook and join the good people.

***

The buds are filling out.

It’s funny, Invermere is actually becoming a small city and will eventually lose its charm with tourists. We are already busy building our own strip with box stores and polluting the lake.

Perhaps we will get lucky like Cranbrook and be abandoned by tourists so we can limp around, overweight, getting by on minimum wage, sickly and drunken in the place we love the most.

Weekend

Fawns trot through the yard after their mother.

Spent a relaxing day in the garden. Pulled the pea vines. The peas were great this year. We even froze a few bags for winter.

The grasshoppers are sure at it. Luckily they haven’t done much damage to the garden.

Waxing moon above the Akisqunuk Range.

A young buck came around trimming the flowers and stepping on the plants, breaking off a prized patty pan squash.

Plenty of deer around for this time of year.

Catching my eye on the other side of the garden fence.

A half waxing moon came up in broad daylight. The sky was blue and lent the perfect backdrop.

Getting tall.

My proposal for a new week is; Saturday and Sunday off, Monday and Tuesday on, Wednesday off, Thursday and Friday on. 2 off 2 on 1 off 2 on, AKA 2 2 1 2. Hump day is now a mini weekend. I say fuck the 5 day work week.

Greening up.

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.