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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s dark by five. It’s slow as a motherfucker. Except for the sirens that are out clearing the roads. If they have the beacon light on its just snow.
Plenty of both coming our way. People like me worry about the woodpile and meat in the freezer. I’m not a modern man following the higher-ups flying private jets into Glasgow, talking about reducing carbon, for all I know the carbon they want to reduce could be me. That 1%, who our own Prime Minister is a member of, has to be watched, not for some conspiracy or evil doings they could be conjuring, but for how clueless they are.
It’s tough to believe in anything I hear during lunch or on the phone. Venus appeared on the ridge tonight after a few days of cloud. A waxing crescent moon to the left and above. I had to think about it, but they were right on time and in position.
People say times are going to get tough. No more fuel. I’m going to miss my old Ford, that gas guzzling pig. I’ll narrow my circle. I’ll miss the ridges. I’ll pull the siding from the side of my house, burning it at a pace that matches my march into old age.
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.