smashed salad

A good hail storm rolled through on the heals of the 40° temperatures we have been having. It flattened the garden with marble sized stones. Cutting every broad leaf to shreds. It lasted about thirty minutes, flooding basements and parking lots.

Hopefully the moisture neutralized the lightening. You never know, moisture, hail and rain cuts a thin swath, while heat can be everywhere. This is jest not a livelihood. The tune would change then.

It’s up to the garden to grow back on it’s own. Hail storms spread nitrogen they say, so this is their start. Everything wants to live. The beans better straighten themselves out and grow some leaves. The zucchini with pellet holes have to regroup, toss a canopy up and salvage what’s left. As for the carrots, onions, turnips, beets and spuds, they’ll be ready for stew come fall, hell or high water.

It’s disappointing to see the work smashed. It’s also wonderful to see it grow back.

Nothing is more resilient than a plant with two more months of sunshine left.

get ready it’s summer

Wood Lily.

Lisa and I have been very busy as Covid restrictions are lifted and businesses plan for the mother of all summers.

The forecast is calling for 40°c temps. It has topped of at 36° today. It makes you get up extra early and try to get work done before noon.

This mornings waning moon.

I remember running printing presses in this kind of weather, dealing with problems the heat could cause with paper and ink. Those were the days, NOT!

The garden is spectacular, although the heat is making the broccoli bolt. We are giving it away and eating it as fast as we can. The peas have blossoms and pods waiting to fill out. The sage is a hedge of purple flowers.

Varied Thrush with a worm.

This year the garden was in early due to having to quarantine in early April. I dug and planted because I could. It won’t make much difference in August. A few good neighbouring gardeners have stopped to ask why my garden is ahead. I confessed the early date I planted. They commented it was risky, but I’ll bet they will be doing the same next year. Us old-timers can be competitive. To be honest, I’m not sure if I will continue with an early schedule. I got lucky this time, next time could be different.

Last weeks trip. The mountains are shedding winter.

The lake is covered in Albertans in motor boats, every second home and Airbnb filled, the beach parking lot is wall to wall red and white plates. I must be mellowing, because I am almost happy for them whooping and wallowing in excess and entitlement. Like me they would rather be nowhere else, so who am I to judge. It also reminds me to either be working or out of the valley bottom and in the cool mountains come the weekend.

Fool Hen.

Lisa and I still have a stick of firewood to get for winter. We have spotted a couple sticks of dry fir off the beaten path. We may have to wait for it to cool down to gather it up proper.

Lisa debarking and splitting.

Orchids

Mountain Orchid

Lisa and I had a good trip up the pass on the weekend. It has been busy.

We had an eye out for wild orchids. We caught sight of plenty of Venus Slipper’s and even a few rare Yellow Lady’s Slipper’s. The Venus was especially prolific. These small orchids are only about three to four inches high, but stand out among the moss on the damp forest floor.

Calypso Orchid.

The next two wild orchids to appear will be the showy Wood and Franklin.

On another subject, we had a light frost this morning. It doesn’t look like it damaged any of the plants, however, I had to put the run on two small buck mule deer with nub velvet horns that decided to trim two of my flower baskets.

Willow sniffing out the Orchids.

Sure a storm

I haven’t wanted to turn the news on. It’s too grim. The announcement of 215 graves found around around a Kamloops Indian Residential School seems too much to bear. Yet it shouldn’t be surprising considering our history and treatment of First Nation Peoples.

Where is my legacy in this terrible history. My school years were mostly fine. My Grandfather was shot five generations ago. It changed our trajectory. Our family became what we did because of it.

I don’t know what reconciliation looks like, to both ask for forgiveness and understand someone else’s pain. To be pushed under, held under until you beg but never given a breath.

To watch your children taken away. To who knows where. Where many would never return.

This isn’t news, everybody knew it went on.

***

When I was young we had a fight outside the school. It was the Aboriginal kids against the White kids. There was some good battles going on among the older kids.

We were in grade one but had both failed it once. I held on to Scotty and we pretended to fight. We became good friends.

Scotty’s grandfather Mose was hit on the highway. His father Ray died on the hill near our house.

Scotty and I ran into each other once and while and always had a good laugh.

Scotty died, young as well.

***

I am ashamed to turn my face against such grim history.

Eclipse

The Super Flower Moon in partial eclipse.

Plenty of rain lately. I didn’t hold out much hope for seeing this mornings lunar eclipse. Still, what’s the harm in trying. You don’t catch any fish without putting the line in the water. Willow and I were up early and headed for a high piece of ground, knowing the moon would be close to the western horizon. We caught a glimpse in a crack in the clouds just before the moon went down.

a reminder

A Raven at the dump, saying don’t feel sorry for me, you filthy bastards!

It’s good to wake up and not have to go to work. A long weekend gives that little bit extra. Fuck laying the clothes out on Sunday. Rushing, getting a shave in, reconstructing your constitution, always important to see you through.

To have a whole other day is a reward. The lawn ain’t mowed. The beans aren’t in. Still time to putter. Have a beer between jobs. Entertain Willow. Lounge at breakfast. Read the paper. All the good ones are online now. I am going to be pissed once my eyes go for good.

A smart man would take advantage of this extra time. After all the shit could hit the fan at any time. Still the odds are in my favour. It’s been awhile since an astroid hit, so excuse me if I take my time.

The wild orchids are up same as the spinach. Hummingbirds test the feeder and chase each other off.

It makes me wonder where my personal responsibilities lie considering the state of the world. How can I be happy when bombs are falling in the Middle East, when lies are being pushed be governments and officials of every creed?

The mountains are getting a dusting of snow. The frost is off for a few days at least. The plants will feed us through summer.

The stars are up each night. Doing their best to shine into my soul. They remind me to fight for what I think is right, but most of the time, they remind me I am part of something huge.

They remind to take advantage of what has been given. I can fight at the drop of a hat, but I have to be reminded to watch birds.

pickled asparagus

Asparagus pickles waiting for the brine.

Lisa and I were up early for our annual asparagus pickling session. It’s something we enjoy doing and our family, including our grandkids, love eating them throughout the year.

Hot litre jars waiting to be filled.

Asparagus along with rhubarb are the first fruit and veggies of the year. If that wasn’t special enough they are also two of the tastiest. Asparagus grows wild along the banks of the Columbia and around the two lakes but it is increasingly hard to find.

Lisa supervising the assembly line.

Special thanks to our good friend Sophie who sells a few pounds to us each year. Sophie is a wonderful picklier. She produces hundreds of jars of pickles each year that are prized by locals and tourists alike. If you ever see her at a Farmer’s Market make sure to pick up a jar or two, you will be happy you did.

Stuffing the jars (my one and only job). The bottoms are cut off and made into soup for the freezer or grilled over the next few days.

Jars and lids are tough to come by this year. Luckily Lisa keeps a good stock of both. Our family always returns the empty jars for a refill after consuming the product. It has been many years since we have had to buy jars.

These will be a treat at Christmas and family gathering and we look forward to giving a few jars away for gifts or trade.

The finished product hot from the canner. Is anything more satisfying than hearing the lids pop?

Spring birds

A Rufus waiting me out, in the shade, the sun not lighting it’s iridescent wings.

Willow is distracted by birds, even bothered by them, she is the only dog I’ve had that is so. It could be from the time when she was a puppy and we would give her a bone on the front lawn. The Crows would hoover, distract her and steal her bone. It was funny to watch. I know she didn’t share my sense of humour.

Willow barks at Crows and Ravens like they are a burglar breaking through the front door. I appreciate it out in the bush. Crows and Ravens follow bears around and it gives me a heads up.

But at home it can be embarrassing when she scares off a Hummingbird or Song Sparrow, with her loud bark, their only crime having the audacity to hoover or sit on the garden fence. The Robins especially get a kick out of her, leading her this way and that.

Willow is not the dog you want on bird watching expeditions. I stand between them with hopes they will someday get along. The fact is they already are and I’m the lone man out.

Bumblebees, dipshits and the real deal

It is interesting to see different animals and bugs appear and disappear. Bee species are one that have changed over the year. The most prevalent bee now is the one commercialy used to produce honey. I can never remember seeing these bees when I was a youngster. They gather pollen all over their legs and body and fly away slowly back to the nest with their bounty.

The pictures here are of a bee I’ve never seen before. The first thing I noticed was it’s size. It is the size of about a quarter. It seems to defy physics with it’s small wings allowing flight. The second thing you notice is it’s long beak that it sticks inside the flower to suck out the nectar, kind of like a hummingbird. A matter of fact, the other day, a hummingbird was doing the same in the gooseberry bushes, along side one of these giant, and there wasn’t much of a size difference

The bee would load up and fly away, After a short time it would be back. It didn’t seem aggressive. Perhaps it is a queen getting a jump on a hive.

***

A long weekend is slamming us in the face. Regardless I’m looking forward to a few days off.

The Albertans are streaming into the Valley, defying the no travel order, trying to avoid the Covid restrictions in their own province, imposed because of Alberta’s high case numbers.

Even Alberta’s Premier, Jason Kenny, says Alberta has a compliance problem.

Damn, I hate politicians.

With that said, traffic seems to be down with rec vehicles sporting Alberta plates. Very unusual heading into a long weekend.

***

Invermere Mayor, Al Miller, has even asked tourists to stay home this weekend so we may have a good summer. This is surprising. The Mayor’s mantra, up to now, has been for the ‘respectful’ Alberta tourists to defy travel restrictions and come to the Covid free, open for business, Columbia Valley. He has been acting less like a mayor and more like an old addled Welcome Wagon lady.

Surely, he can see the end is in sight and he doesn’t want to be judged by history as a complete moron.

Still give Mayor Miller his due, this time he did the right thing. It might even cost him a couple bucks in his hardware store.

***

My good neighbour Larry went planting in the bush today and found the first Calypso Orchids. Bastard!

mid may

Morning light.

Was up the pass this morning. Lisa and I got higher with the week of warm weather and snow melt. The Calypso Orchids have stems, yet no blooms. Next weekend for sure. It’s still early.

Watchful eyes.

The garden is all up. Considering I usually don’t plant until next week, we are ahead of the game. Next week I’ll plant the beans and put in the tomato and zucchini plants. Lisa and I are looking forward to a good feed of greens.

Trees before mountains.

The rhubarb is up and ready to be eaten. The sun is shining still coming up slanted and going down so. It’s a good time of year.

Willow wearing her Thunder Vest in the truck, so excited to get out in the bush.