Strong Thermal Emissions

Due north towards the lights of Invermere.

Good reports of Northern Lights recently, unfortunately I have slept through the best storms.

Damn chilly in the morning. Last Saturday I shed the long underwear for the year and I’m tempted to put the long thermal underwear back on. Every year it goes on earlier and comes off later. Maybe there will come a time, despite global warming, they will stay on year round. Just for the record, it is not the same long underwear I wear for 7 months straight. I do change them every month or so, usually when my leg hair starts growing through them.

Ospreys defending

It is good to see the Ospreys back. They are whistling overhead finding dry sticks for their nests. I watched two put the run on a much bigger Bald Eagle. Not uncommon, especially when Ospreys defend their nest. This is early for confrontation.

***

There is a a passage in the Daniel Woddrell Book, Winter’s Bone, where a young girl of 16, Ree, left looking after her two younger siblings, watch a neighbour and relative skinning deer.

The young women and her young brother and sister are hungry. One of the siblings asks his older sister that they should ask for some of the meat.

The young women scolds her brother and says, you never ask for what should be offered.

It is a poignant moment.

It must be something about being poor or not ‘well off’. Perhaps you become your own worst enemy.

Still to ask for something, even deserved, is not in their DNA. It is either offered or not. They are at the mercy of the fairness of others. And others often have another agenda that doesn’t concern itself with charity, fairness or merit. Instead they are always concerned with their own advancement.

***

As I get older these people are easier to detect. They are a dime a dozen and make up the majority. Instead of out right asking for something, I point out how it would be in their best interest to grant the request. In other words, make it their idea.

***

Recently, I was overlooked. Many people have been annoyed at me for not fighting, not being mad. Still you have to stand by Ree Dolly, never asking for what should be offered. I am fine with that and tired of being angry.

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.

Crocus

Lisa and I went for a walk after work. We stayed in the valley bottom wondering the benches just above the wetlands. Willow ran and dug for mice.

The morning was cold, but the afternoon was spectacular, blue skies from the Purcells in the west to the Rockies in the east.

The crocuses have just started to open. A sure sign of spring. Nodding onions were also sprouting on every exposed hillside. They are the best when young, also the most dangerous as they can be confused with camus that is poisonous.

My garlic and bunching onions are up in my garden. It looks like there will be a good crop of garlic this year as every one planted in the fall is coming up. This has not been the case the last two years.

Very fine day.

Early April

Scarlett helping with the seedlings.

Grey days, typical for April. Lisa and I wondered the creek both Saturday and Sunday this weekend. It was good to be out.

We don’t get as much done on the weekend as we used to, but I like to think we take care of the important stuff.

Willow makes the best of her time on the trail beside the creek.

The kids came over yesterday. Scarlett hasn’t been feeling well. It was good to see she was feeling better. She and Cooper helped me take the seedlings from their starter trays and put them in individual pots. Not my favourite part of gardening. I only start plants I can’t get at the nursery. It is a necessary annoyance. Keeping plants alive until they are ready to be planted in the garden is a chore. I am depended on for water, heat and the right light. The plants should realize like everyone else in my life, I just ain’t that dependable!

Cooper helps with planting.

Haven’t found any wood ticks yet. The garden is waiting to be turned over. The ice is off the small part of the lake. Sap is in the spruce needles and smell good when squeezed between your fingers.

An Eagle, tail feathers in the sun and head in the shade, hunting the fields. Lisa had to be quick to get this shot.

Lisa and I had an argument coming out of the mountains.

Lisa said, You saw a chickadee in the trees beside the creek, coming up, maybe it will be there again.

I said, No it was a chicken.

Lisa said, You said chickadee.

I said, I know what I saw. It was a chicken, a grouse to be exact.

Lisa said, You said chickadee. I was looking for a chickadee.

I answered adamant, No I didn’t. Why would I even point out a chickadee?

Lisa said, Well that’s what you said… maybe you’re starting to stutter.

It is impossible to win an argument with Lisa.

Very fine weekend.

Willow will jump into Lisa’s arms when she asks.

Aurora

Aurora do not have a specific season they are more prevalent, however, I have always had more luck seeing them in the spring.

With the sun becoming more active, now is the time to start watching. Unfortunately light pollution makes Northern Lights difficult to see. Lisa is very good at detecting auroras through the light pollution in the valley bottom. When she sees them we head into the mountains and hope they flare up.

Geomagnetic storms are predicted for the night of March 30th, morning of the 31st so keep your eyes peeled.

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.

Activity

Who needs a toboggan when you can slide down hills on your bum?

The birds have been active as of late. Plenty of chirping and fluttering in the trees. Some even allow me to see them. A wonderful weekend treat. The melt continues.

Our house also has been active. Lisa and I are looking after our Grandkids, Cooper and Scarlett, while their parents are on a short vacation. It has been very nice for us. They certainly keep us on our toes. It makes me wonder how we raised three children while running a very busy business. We both agree we couldn’t do it now.

Willow trying to prove she is actually a big dog.

We had our daughter Kelsie when we were young, especially for today’s standards. In doing so we are young grandparents. Thank goodness!

Handsome Cooper, sweaty as usual.

I took Cooper to his hockey practice on Friday. It was good to be in the rink again. Cooper scored three goals in the scrimmage. One was a highlight reel goal scored while laying on his back, sweeping it in with his stick. It really was something! His coaches came over and congratulated him on such an effort. After, I told Cooper he did so well because I laced his skates. He just laughed and said, “No. Papa”.

Talking , laughing, crying, mad, happy. It is hard to tell.

Scarlett is difficult to take a photograph of. She is moving and TALKING all of the time. She can climb hills as fast as her brother and seems to have a competitive streak, something she has inherited from her Mother and Grandma.

Outside in the bush.

It is a wonderful gift to watch them grow, laugh and even struggle. To be a part of their lives, to have them feel comfortable with us is incredible. Lisa and I can’t imagine it any other way.

Filling their water bottles at he same spring their Great Grandfather and Great Great Grandfather did so. They agreed the water was sweet.

Late in the afternoon a bird sang. I couldn’t make out the birdsong, but all types of birds, Chickadees, Sparrows and even crows seemed to be stirred.

Sometimes you get lucky.

Walking the Rails/Women’s Day

Familiar tracks.

Walked the tracks on the weekend to the old fishing holes I used to be so fond of when I was a youngster. It was about this time of year I used to throw the first lines with the hope of hooking a nice char.

The old bridge site and brush thicker than the hair on a dog’s back.

The walk is different now. For one I don’t carry a rod. Willow enjoys trotting the banks among her namesake the Red Willow lining the Columbia. We did it early in the morning before the mud thawed, saving Willow from bringing her weight home in river silt.

A couple large Swans, either Tundra or Trumpeter, flying north. At one time they were nearly hunted to extinction. Their loud honking is exceptional, as was evident on our walk. When they are shot and dying they make a soft cooing, known as the Swan song. Incredible birds and hard to sneak up on. Perhaps they tired of being shot.

There is nothing as soothing as walking railway ties. Seeing how many you can step at once walking or running. Balancing the rail, jumping from rail to rail. Giving the engineers a wave, counting cars until the red caboose. And if lucky, on the way home, the train would slow enough to swing up onto a coal car and jump off right beside our old house where it was sure to slow due to the half mile of twined track. The trick was not to let the engineer or brakeman in the caboose see you. This required walking further up river from home while tired and often late to a bend in the tracks. Sometimes the train wouldn’t come and it was a longer walk home and a scolding for not arriving on time. Admittedly the scoldings were never much in our house. Looking back I’m not sure my parents even knew I was late until I walked in.

Willow gets ready to drive away regardless if I am ready or not or if the windows have been scraped.

Now you can get fined for walking the rails by the CPR police. Luckily they are not around much. They make a concentrated effort to fine trespassers after someone throws themselves under a train, which happens more often than you think it would. They always rule it an accident.

A young Mule Deer doe gives us a look and listen.

As a twelve year old carrying a pack and fishing rod I never had a problem. If the train was going too fast I gave it a pass even if it made the walk home long. Don’t think I could run fast enough to grab the ladder now. Besides what would Willow do?

***

It is International Women’s Day. In honour, this is a video our Granddaughter Scarlett and her Mom sent Lisa and I today.

I believe her!