Catch a Falling Star

Lisa and I drove the backroads we were so familiar with when we were younger. There is a lot more roads now. We managed to find our way to our old spot. Willow ran this way and that, even going for a swim in the starlight. The Meteors were falling all around. To see it is to believe.

Perseids

A Perseid Meteor or an Iridium flare.

Wasn’t sure if I could see through the smoke, but gave it a try. The Perseids are flying. Willow and I stumbled through the bush at 3 inn the morning trying to catch a glimpse. Not the best conditions, but you’ll never catch a fish if you don’t put a line in the water.

I saw satellites. I have a feeling we will be seeing more and more of them as space becomes commercialized under the influence of Earth’s egotistical billionaires like Musk, Branson and Bezos.

On the other hand the Perseids were hard to come by. True I could be a night early, still a bite would have been nice.

I set the camera to open for 30 seconds every 32 seconds and aimed it at Cassiopea. Willow and I wondered and went for a nap in the truck. It was a poor effort, but we were just practicing for tonight.

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.

smoke & Mirrors

The sun rises in darkened smoky skies.

The smoke in the valley has been crushing. I think about my father in his later years how difficult this would have been for him.

Forest fires are raging all over BC. I expect skies won’t clear for awhile yet. Last year was clear. The largest fire in BC was burning close to us, about 60km to the south. It was almost like forest fires took the summer off due to Covid. This summer is a return to summers previous.

The valley is exceptionally busy with tourists, going hell bent this way and that, dragging boats, ATV’s and other expensive noisy toys in tow. Alberta keeps bitching about how hard done by they are, but you couldn’t tell it from the white and red plates polluting the valley air and waterways on this side of the provincial border.

It is hard to recognize the valley bottom in times like these.

Of course, valley business owners and small town politicians (the same folks in many instances) are rubbing their hands together while chanting into the grey skies, ‘more, more, more’, while their staff, paid minimum wage are crowded into run down staff houses.

I read the valley newspaper, The Columbia Valley Pioneer, this morning. It is the newspaper Lisa and I started 16 years ago. The look of the paper hasn’t changed much in that time, the picture I took of the wetlands still adorns the masthead. It is odd to see it week after week. Reading the paper I often think, do I live in the same town this newspaper claims to cover? True, the newspaper is now owned by a chain notorious for poor coverage of the communities it serves, however, it does occur to me, with some irony, it’s me that no longer fits in.

Jam

There was a time I had the bruises on the other side of my hands.

Out early to beat the heat. . . and tourists. Headed into the mountains. It’s early for huckleberries, but with this weather who knows. Took off for #2 creek. The road was rough with washboard, folks yanking trailers behind them, bouncing along, dust in clouds. Luckily we were early enough to miss them, but cursed them just the same when I hit the pot holes or sliced sideways over washboard. Lisa and Willow suggested maybe I should just slow down.

Once off the main road it was cool sailing, cedar, small creeks, fireweed lining the roads, dips and dangles instead of dust and ruts.

I’ll be your Huckleberry.

It takes awhile but then you finally arrive! It wasn’t long and we were looking up the slides for berries. The mountains were shrouded in smoke. We headed higher.

It’s early. We tried anyway and found a grove of huckleberries. We picked. I told Lisa if anyone should come up, we should pretend to make love, instead of disclosing we were picking huckleberries. In other words, get rid of them.

Fireweed.

Fortunately we were far enough away to be out of contact.

The berries were plentiful, but not large due to the hot spell. I’m holding out hope for a touch of rain. Lisa and I picked and ended up with plenty to make a few batches of jam.

For Dad, to show him, the berries are a ok.

Twin Lakes

A young man prepares to take the plunge.

It’s been over a week since a young man drowned jumping into Windermere Wells.

Much of my youth was spent trailing behind my father or on my own through thick brush, following creeks and trails to small water holes.

One of the places we spent a great deal of time was Twin Lakes, now renamed Windermere Wells. As the name suggests it was two lakes joined by a narrow area that had a bridge. I often fished the deep lake surrounded by cliffs, where as, my Father fished the bigger shallower lake.

Photo by Lisa, taken from the road passing by the lake. Notice the young man doing a backflip off the rocks. This was taken a day before a 28 yr old drowned in Twin.

The advantage to fishing the deep lake was the fish could be seen around your hook. Some would swim by, some would nudge and often they would bite.

The Lakes had to be walked into. The road leading to a mine was above the lake. Later a logging road was put in below the lake, but was nearly impassable due to mud and the creek flooding over it’s banks.

My son Hunter jumping the lower rocks when he was a youngster. I wanted him to know how to do it, because I knew he was going to do it anyway.

It was only when the gypsum mine moved and commissioned and improved the logging road that the walk to Twin was visible, allowing a shorter walk.

During the eighties off roaders pushed roads over creeks and through the brush to the shores of the lake.

It became a party spot. We stopped going. Now it is an area tourists and locals go to jump the cliffs and swim.

When we were kids we described the deep lake as bottomless. A trail ran past the lake to deliver hunters and trappers to the Kootenay Valley. My Grandfather was one who often used the trail.

Natural science labels the lake a gypsum sinkhole. There is many on the backside of Swansea, this is one of the few filled with water from Windermere Creek.

A story was told, when I was a youngster, how a pack horse fell from the bridge into the deep water never to be seen again.

Although the water is clear, once swimmers start pulling themselves up the clay/gypsum sides the water turns murky, not allowing visibility past the surface of the lake.

If a diver hits the surface awkwardly and looses their breath their friends can not rescue them in the cloudy water. Trained divers almost always have to be brought in to recover the body.

Windermere Wells is becoming increasingly popular, however care should be taken, as it is known for more than a few deaths. One every few years now.

moon

cruel the moon and sun are the same size from where I stand. the sun is bigger of course, it’s a mathematical anomaly. space tends to put things into perspective. still, what are the chances.

homemade

A regular person has to back down plenty. Thats why they head for the hills and kill cars in their backyard. Play loud music late at night, drink too much, smoke weed and take pills of dubious origin.

A regular person has to put up with injustice normalized and legal, they have to nod their head to incompetence, racism, sexism and environmental destruction. It’s part of feeding the family.

A regular person has to push it down and bottle it up. Put it in the jam or home made wine. That’s why the homemade stuff tastes so good.

Mid July

Rising above.

Been hotter than. . . well, hell! Lot’s of smoke. The sun comes up red and goes down the same. It will get worse before summer is over.

Purple flowers. Nothing like a hail storm to make everything bud.

Wind today drying everything out. Fires burning across BC will flare up and become harder to contain.

Catching rays.

The garden is bouncing back. It thought it was dead, so has been working extra hard trying to mature. I cut lettuce and let it sit to ooze out the bitter white milk. I remember, as a youngster pulling dandelions and touching my tongue to the milk of it’s cut stocks and just about dying of thirst with it’s bitterness. The lettuce is still pretty good.

Another couple weeks of +30 weather is forecasted.

maintenance

Being a  maintenance man at a busy resort is pretty easy. Toilets that don’t flush, plunging, shovelling snow, cutting lawn, making sure the pools and hot tubs are clear. There really isn’t much to it. If it gets too complicated a professional is called in.

Today I was called to a unit because a child had locked the bathroom door and shut it.

This is a call we get regularly and one I respond to with haste, because the kid is usually on the other side of the locked door upset because they are separated from his or her parents.

So I dropped what I was doing and went straight away. When I got over to their unit, the child and two parents were safely on the outside of the locked door. The Dad said the child had locked the door and pulled it shut.

I looked at the youngster who was about three years old and could tell his Dad was throwing him under the bus. Parents are always a little embarrassed about having to call the maintenance man. The dad probably had locked the door and the young fellow had simply shut the door. I asked the youngster if he had been to the pool and complimented him on the bicycle helmet he was wearing.

I got out my small screwdriver and inserted it into the hole of the privacy lock. It was being stubborn and wouldn’t unlock. Mom, Dad and child were over my shoulder.

Dad said to his son, see how much work you caused.

I said, I may need a smaller screw driver.

They said, oh yes!

I went outside to my tool bag. Was rummaging around and noticed the youngster had followed me out. As I knelt he stood close. I rooted around in my bag. I knew I didn’t have a smaller screw driver. He watched intently. I took the same screw driver I had and said, let’s go I think this one will do it.

He never said a word, but followed me back inside. He stood close while I worked away at the small hole that pops the lock open on the bathroom door. Damn, this should be an easier job! The parents were in the living room. The young fellow on my shoulder. 

I talked to him the whole time. What’s your name, how old are you, just trying to make conversation with a child that had not yet learned to speak. He just kept looking at me with those big eyes.

And then he did something. He let loose an adult size fart. One I would have been proud of. I heard the adults in the living room stop talking. They most certainly thought it was me. The child and I looked at each other, but said nothing. We both should have said something, but didn’t, what was there to say.

Just then the bathroom door popped open. The young man had reached behind him and was clutching a handful of his shorts. I yelled to the parents the door was open. I didn’t tell them their child probably needed the bathroom.

The youngster and I gave each other one final look. A moment shared. If I see him in the pool I’m going to give him a wave.