ridge walking instead of train spotting

Ashley, Kevin and Ashley.

Had the privilege to go hiking with Ashley from Manitoba and Kevin and Ashley from Scotland. They let me take them into the backcountry for a hike. Hiking is just about done for the season with snow coming on, but it’s the only day we could all get off from the resort.

It was -14°c in the shade when we started out. Kevin and Ashley from Scotland said that is a cold day back home. Ashley from Manitoba, on the other hand, didn’t bat an eye.

We had about a foot of snow to start that stuck festively to the boughs of the trees. We climbed quickly on a broken trail, catching a glimpse of a moose where the path opened into a meadow. Unlucky for us it didn’t stick around.

The rise kept us warm. We marvelled at the rock cliffs catching the sun and cheered each other on to reach the warmth. Finally after a bit of a slog we reached the edge of the timber. The sun didn’t disappoint.

We stopped for a few pictures and admired the view and discussed our plans to go to a small lake in a basin to the west, or head up higher. The lake seemed out of the question. Breaking trail in the snow while losing elevation seemed counterintuitive. On the other hand, the ridge, with the wind hardening or blowing the snow off the rocks, seemed not so bad, although steep.

Heading to the ridge.

We slogged for awhile in the deep snow until we were finally out of the trees and walking became much easier. I encouraged my young companions to lead the way as I knew I was holding them up.

Assiniboine from the ridge.

We rustled a flock of Snow Buntings, not yet entirely white. They flew overhead giving us a thrill with their small chirps. Ashley said, she thought at first they were falling leaves but realized there was no trees.

A quick snack and some photos up top and we were on our way back down. If it were me alone I would have backtracked on the same way we came. But they are young, and apt to take the road less travelled, so why go back over familiar territory.

Kevin looking for photo opportunities.

Instead we dropped off the ridge into a steep draw directly above where we parked the truck. It was knee deep snow on the shady side that would have been better tackled with skis. We hopped, skipped, slid and waded our way back to the truck, boots full of snow, happy for the sunny day.

Very fine day.

Late October

Get me to the sun!

Hurt my back this morning lacing up my boots. The good thing about getting old is you never have to say, ‘I’m out of shape,’ instead you just say, ‘I’m old.’

In the mountains the sun goes down and comes up a thousand times depending on where you are standing.

Willow and I headed behind Swansea to walk it off. We pushed to the upper reaches and stopped before the ridge. Willow was happy. The snow was fine on her feet. It was about -10°c and didn’t ball up. The sun felt good when we broke into it. The waning moon held steady in the blue sky.

Willow in her natural habitat, loving life.

This will be one of the last trips into the high country. Snow will start flying in earnest. The cold will take hold. Sure there are snowmobiles and ATV’s that can deliver me to where I want to go, but I’ve never liked the smell of gasoline and exhaust. . . nor do I like the noise, plus they all break down. I know that’s part of the fun if you like that, but it’s not for me. Willow concurs. When I can’t get there under my own power I’ll narrow my circle.

Waning crescent.

November can be the shits, low cloud, snow, wet and freezing temps. It’s the month the weather can’t make up it’s mind to shit or get off the pot. However, without fail, by the end of the month the lakes are frozen and the mountains are filled with snow.

Next years garlic.

Down in the valley bottom I finally got the garlic in. It’s late so I planted it a little deeper to keep it away from the cold. Not sure if this is a sound strategy. We will see come spring. The one thing I know about gardening; regardless of neglect life seems to flourish.

Planting a garden is saying a silent prayer.

the secrets

It was just about snow. Another 1000 meters. Maybe less. Several V’s of geese heading south. If we were smart enough we would look at them, marvel at the way they change positions, helping along. Knowing it takes them all to get where they are going.

***

Dug the last three turnips. Swede Turnips my Dad called them. Good in stew or mulligans with a wild chicken or deer meat. A good neighbour walked by and I gave one to him. He carried it back and forth from the mail. I told him he could leave it and pick it up on the way back. I guess he didn’t want to take the chance I may change my mind. It was a seven pound turnip after all and not to be taken lightly.

***

Always wondered about the creek. While it’s muddy and I can’t see the bottom is when it’s flowing fast. Once it clears I promise myself I’ll figure it out. Before long it’s muddy again, and I don’t seem any better off. Damn that goddamn creek.

***

As I get older fear seems to take a back seat, figuring it out. It is a ragged ride in an engine driven sled, over hill and dale, over bumps and shitty road, all this while sipping something cool, watching the sky, trying to figure it all out, knowing all the time you never will.

***

If I had to make it big. I’d have to turn my heart black. That’s not to say everyone on top has dark hearts. We all start somewhere. I’m trying hard to leave my mark upstream. It’s that damn current after all.

***

My boots are wet, I’d better get used to it, before they freeze solid.

Ronald Ernest Ede

My brother Ron was laid to rest today. He passed away a couple weeks ago. It has thankfully been busy to keep my mind occupied. My bones have hurt, head, joints, I haven’t been able to think proper. Last night I wrote his eulogy. Not really a eulogy but a few stories. It wasn’t hard to come up with stories as we shared plenty of times together. My Sister Wynanne spoke wonderfully and said so much, things I wanted to say. Our Sister Deb with Kurt sang a beautiful rendition of Go Rest High On The Mountain.

Ron was eight years older than me and kept me from plenty. Times were not easy when we grew up. The truth is they were harder for him than I. Plenty was expected from him. That goes with the territory when your father gives you his name.

We fit in some good times and I learned a lot from Ron. I was always welcome to go through his records and magazines. They were a treasure trove of information for the young me. I swear I learned to read reading Penthouse Forum.

When I was sixteen he took me down to Montana where we went from one down and out bar to another. We were always one step away from getting into fights. It was probably the size of his arms, the jagged scar across his chin and his gregarious nature that kept us out of them.

One of those nights, at a topless bar, we stayed until closing. We found ourselves on the street at 3am with nowhere to go. Another patron with the same problem as us started in on me verbally. Of course he was older and bigger. Ron thought it was funny. The guy said he’d just been released from prison and I didn’t doubt it. I figured I’d get in the first shot and I’d make it a good one. While the guy blabbed on trying to rile me, I reached into my pocket and arranged the coins into my closed fist into a column. The guy didn’t see me but Ron did. Ron stepped in and put the run on the guy without lifting a finger. The guy was never a threat, I just didn’t see it. Ron said he wasn’t worried about me, he just didn’t want to spend the rest of the night in jail. He also said, if you are smart you don’t have to fight. That advice probably came at the right time in my life.

When you are born in 1956 you could go on to be a modern man or you could live a life similar to your Father and Grandfather. Men who’s only way was to push feelings down. I think Ron did this and like his father and grandfather it caught up with him. Some people inherit feelings. I believe Ron inherited his Grandfather and Father’s horror of war and their mental anguish. 

About ten years ago Ron with the help of his wife Leslie, who has always been by his side, quit drinking. I never asked, but I suspect he had to lay some of those inherited demons to rest. His Grandfather and Father would have been proud.

When Ron was diagnosed with cancer he faced it with determination, grace and never felt sorry for himself. He always said, he should have been dead long ago from liver or lung cancer, the rare form of blood cancer he caught seemed like a joke to him.

The past two weeks since Ron has passed many people have expressed their condolences to me. Some have said how unfair his death has been, because he was able to put away the alcohol, perhaps a longer life should have been promised. I don’t think Ron felt his cancer was unfair. I don’t think he thought fairness had anything to do with it. He told me, it is hard to feel sorry for yourself when he saw people much younger, in the clinics and hospitals, facing their own battles with cancer.

I’ve spent a lifetime learning from my brother. I’ve followed him around all these years and am going to miss him paving the way.

Little Birds

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.

for a few likes

I don’t understand social media. A few weeks ago the top story on all the websites was that Facebook and Instagram was down. I couldn’t believe this made the news. People not being able to post what they had for breakfast or put up a selfie.

Lisa and my kids told me people depend on Facebook and Instagram to communicate. Business is done, thoughts shared, it is plenty of people’s lifeline. I find it difficult to believe that we have come to depend on technology that seems to divide us socially sometimes but politically always.

I hate Facebook. It makes me feel sad. Lisa has a Facebook page. I looked up some of my old friends and most have become right wing conspiracy theorists. I wasn’t surprised considering how we grew up. Still do they have to be fed a constant stream of bullshit due to an algorithm that provides them information  with like minded idiots.

In the old days we all started out as racists and then we met people that changed our minds. It could have been school teachers or friends, immigrants we met at the store or fishing at the lake.

Facebook doesn’t put you in touch with ideas other than your own. There is no growth in that algorithm.

I have had a blog since 2004 in one form or another. It has only served one purpose. I started it after getting the boot from the newspaper I started. I wanted to show the evolution from a small town to a small city. As for the photos, I only have one criteria, to freeze something I would like to see later when I can’t get out to see. 

In the beginning I used to write stories to try to document the way things are changing. It made for a popular blog, but I wasn’t popular with my family who feared the stories would get mixed up with our personal life.

I was trying to create stories that were like the great Southern Gothic stories I had read. These stories by Faulkner, Brown and others are out of style now. When I drove in on the backroads it was these stories I thought of. I tried to create Kootenay Gothic. Where the protagonist tried his best but always succumbed to self destructive forces.

Of course this didn’t sit well with my family that mistakenly thought I was writing about myself. Oversharing they said. So I stopped it.

My blog now is a few pictures of the night sky and birds when I can see them. It really isn’t that interesting. I don’t think I could write a story if I tried now.

Back to social media. 

It seems everything is on the table. Our deepest secrets, depression, adulation, aspirations, our best side, our worst side. Instead of being addressed to people that can help us, it is shared to people mucking about in the same misery. That’s not the way it should be.

It’s standard practice, even considered normal, I don’t understand it. That’s social media. I’m getting old. Maybe it will be passed around for a few likes.

Thanksgiving

The creek behind Swansea.

The backside of Swansea was wet this morning with snow falling at higher elevations.

It was a good weekend with our kids. Maddy, Hunter and Bree came in from Calgary. With Kelsie, Tom, Cooper and Scarlett, now living here, it made for a lively house. Hunter and Maddy even argued about which beds they were to sleep in.

Thanksgiving has always meant a lot to Lisa and I. Now even more so. It is a wonderful time of year and with the garden coming in there is always plenty to go around.

The road we can’t seem to tire of.

When I was younger we would hunt and fish on this weekend. My Dad and brother Ron would fish below Wilder’s Old Camp. They were good fishermen while I seemed to always be untangling some birds nest.

It has been a difficult time this past week, but with everyone around it has made it better.

We are having a turkey at Tom and Kelsie’s tonight. Our contribution will be a bottle of Chardonnay from Sonoma. . . and the carrots, potatoes, beets and turnip, but I don’t think Lisa and I can solely claim those as a donation, because Cooper and Scarlett helped me dig them.

Maddy and I. Photo by Kelsie.

October

It is good to be in the bush, lost, wondering what road you took getting in, trying to backtrack through the ruts you left behind, now in the dark, harder than hell trying to travel or remember.

Tonight I had a couple hands on my shoulder, saying there is a tree over there or a bank not to slip over. Thank Christ I wasn’t drinking, I’d need light to see my way out. This time of year with the temperature changing even the mist can mess things up.

Early October

A good weekend. I figured it’s late enough. Soon the shit will hit the fan and this good weather will be gone and a killer frost will knock it all back. With that in mind I harvested the spuds and carrots. The turnips and beets I left because I don’t know what to do with them all. The garden also produced a thousand small buds of cannabis that will probably freeze. Since legalization you can’t even give the shit away.

***

I read a story on covid today. The story was online, but isn’t important. I read some of the comments to the story. People against vaccinations and conspiracy theorists are not many in number, but they sure are loud.

One of the commenters, a local real estate agent and respected stalwart of the local business community summed it up nicely, and in doing so convinced me we are doomed.

He said, it is only obese, elderly and unhealthy people that die of Covid. The rest of the people get better and develop natural immunity.

He went on to say there is a risk to taking a vaccine, which is true, and why should he or his family put themselves at risk to help the unhealthy or infirmed.

People have many reasons not to be vaccinated. The biggest is that they don’t trust the medical system. Very common with poor people and indigenous people that have been treated poorly by a system that doesn’t favour them.

But this entitled nonsense coming from an affluent member of the community pissed me off. Not because of him or his stance on Covid, but his self serving argument that could be applied to every challenge we face, such as climate change or immigration. If 20% of the population only thinks of themselves we are fucked.

I drive by this realtors billboard everyday, blocking the view, funny enough, ironic even, he looks like a fat fucker himself.

Can’t Beet Em

Detroit Dark Red

The garden has really hung on during this warm September. The few frosts we’ve experienced have done little damage.

Yesterday, Lisa made six one litre jars of pickled beets. What a treat! She make them with lots of cinnamon sticks, cloves and allspice. The spices are kept in a cheesecloth bag and boiled with the brine then discarded. These pickles are truly delicious! I am going to have trouble keeping my hands off them for the month or so they take to absorb the flavours.