november

We had more kids trick or treating than we have had for years. We put the candy in a big bowl in our driveway and waved to as many as we could from our kitchen window. You never know what to expect.

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Lisa and I kicked off November walking the east shore of Columbia Lake. Lot 48, for years scheduled for development, is now protected. It took millions of dollars to do so. We took the trail beside the lake and stopped often to admire the large fir trees with roots exposed from the banks eroding. I thought about being young and how I would have loved climbing these trees. I thought about now, could their large branches protect me in a storm. Where would I put my bed. Sure there was plenty of years dry branches to keep a fire going for days. We saw ruffed grouse along the trail. Willow put them in the trees. Chickadees got close, not deterred from our intrusion, going about their business hiding bugs and seeds for winter. Plenty of elk tracks coming and going, but not enough for a herd. One scraped the bank picking an awful spot to access the lake. Willow noticed as well and smelled the tracks almost falling herself. Although he could of, my father never hunted this area. It was their wintering ground and even if the animals came early coinciding with hunting season they were to be left alone. There was no regulation that said to do so. Now the area is protected and thank goodness. If not, the animals would be shot, the large fir snags would be cut for firewood or artisan lumber and four wheel drives, quads, side by sides and dirt bikes would tear it all apart without a thought.

***

2020 is winding down. The cool air feels good.

smoke

The smoke rolled in from the fires in Oregon and Northern California. BC’s largest forest fire is burning about 50km from us. It’s been burning for over a month, yet hasn’t generated much smoke. It is reported that most of the smoke is from the US. It is stifling, casting odd light and turning the sun red.

Reports say the end is nigh, and worse, we have done it to ourselves, but we still have time to repent. It sounds a lot like religious fervour to me. That it was something in our control. If we only voted this way or that, stopped using plastic bags, weened our way off oil and harnessed the power of wind.

All the while we live in the best time of human history, living to an age unheard of 200 years ago, where more than ever humankind has enough to eat and fresh water to drink. Where we get to contemplate our navel instead of worrying about what the predator under the rock will do to us.

We sure could do things better. It is a shame how we treat the Earth and each other. The Earth is turning. It’s had enough of our disrespect of the land and sky. But that’s only part of the story.

Shit is bad. It’s depressing, our leaders, internet and television try to make sense of it for us but they are empty idols. It will be something else, something we haven’t thought of yet, that will get us.

In the mean time lets stop racing around the bush in ATV’s, churning up the waters in motorboats, stop building second homes, tossing cigarettes out the window, letting meat go bad, blaming others, burning what we don’t need, considering we are hard done by, thinking we are bigger than the earth, killing each other over race, rioting even if deserved, a Molotov cocktail and teargas never solved nothing, either right or left can we agree we want our kids to grow up, be happy and live.

It is hard to know what is in store for us in this climate. We’re not calling the shots nor is any deity, voted in or conjured. My money is on sanity, objective thinking, clarity of purpose, ingenuity, and above all else love and humility.

Photos by Lisa and Bob

late night wondering

A meteor streaks above Isabelle’s falls on Cedar Creek.

Willow and I spent the night in the bush looking for stars. We were trying for the head of Cedar Creek but the road was washed out above the first bridge. We adjusted and headed for the top of Palliser.

It’s good to have a couple days off. To wonder the creeks and mountains does a person good. These are old familiar trails. They have changed over the years, more roads and more logging. The massive clearcuts are sad to see. I am lucky to have seen it before the big companies took over logging.

The conditions were prime for star gazing. The waning crescent moon was down most of the night, rising shortly after Venus around 5 am, leaving the majority of the night dark. That, coupled with being deep in the mountains far from any trace of artificial light set the stage for a spectacular night of looking deep into The Milky Way.

Traipsing around in the dark might not sound like fun. It’s true, you have to be careful. It helps knowing where you are and to keep things simple.

We were on the edge of The Height of the Rockies. My feet got wet almost right away in the creek. My boots are shot, cracked, without tread, with my toes just about through the front. This last pair didn’t last worth a damn.

The sky didn’t disappoint. The Milky Way was brilliant. Several meteors streaked, many were leftovers from the Perseid Meteor Shower, streaking away from it’s namesake constellation, Perseus.

A composite of several photos stitched together to show the sky from my vantage point. The camera picks up colour the eye is unable to see.

I took a few pictures knowing it was impossible to do justice to the glory of such a place on and above Earth. To see it is to believe it. After awhile I gave up put the camera down. Willow and I sat and watched, but not the same things. I watched the sky and she watched everything else.

Venus and the crescent moon.

Before long I was asleep under a 40 year old sleeping bag. We were up early to catch Venus and the Crescent moon. With light breaking we headed further up the river, watching the sun hit the tops of the mountains.

Crescent Moon near a wooded ridge.

All too soon we were due back in town. On the way back we stopped and I cut up some firewood and filled the back of the truck. It was a workout being tight grained fir and didn’t split easy.

Morning shadows recede.

Not much sleep the last few days. For Willow even less as she takes her watching more seriously than I. She sleeps on her blanket beside me. Now that I think of it I am a little tired myself.

Very fine day and night.

The mountains against summer’s blue.

summer nights

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It feels good to wonder around with Lisa on a summer night. Everything going on in the sky, planets moving, the Milky Way, the Tail of Scorpius just above the mountains, comets and satellites.

The mosquitoes were ferocious. Willow riled up some deer. Elk lined the highway. Lisa and I both looked for eyes in the ditch far ahead. We can’t see the way we used to, so go slow now.

There was a time I used to dive off docks and rocks in the pitch black with faith there would be water below me. In summer nights the water is warmer than air. I can still see you wade in. Lisa made her own bikinis. There was fish down there that swirled around us.

It never really gets dark in summer.

love

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The Lyrids are flying. Tomorrow they will peak. Weather permitting Lisa and I will be out fishing for them.

We went out tonight to test the waters. As soon as the coffee was made the clouds rolled in, we went out just the same.

I am easily discouraged these days; clouds, moon interfering. I long for dark skies with starlight so bright it casts shadows, the treetops tangled in a bottomless sky and the rivers running silver.

Souls, like bats, fly so close they take my breath when I duck my head.

Lisa pushes me until I see the beauty.

trouble down below

_LME4835-smThe spring Milky Way over a frozen lake.

This isolating, quarantining, whatever you want to call it is going to kill me. Lisa and I have been looking at each other with tiger eyes. Luckily she knows how to run away from me. I shaved my beard, that made Lisa happy. Lisa says I have Ron Duguay hair and Bobby Clark’s smile, her two favourite hockey players growing up. Desperate times call for desperate measures. If it means me not putting my teeth in so be it.

The valley bottom is all upset, yet the sky still marks time and reminds us where we stand. I feel comfort in that.

Once this is all over, I’m going to get in shape so I can catch Lisa anytime I want. Till then, fortunately, she pretends to trip up once and awhile.

leap

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A warm February. Not much snow. Last year we had the majority of the years moisture in February. It’s been mostly grey this year.

The Milky Way completes it’s winter spin and the brightest part of the centre rises in the early morning before light. It comes up parallel to the valley bottom and is quite a sight.

Warm Spell

_LME6666smJan 2018, Eclipse, Wilmer, BC, morning rush hour.

The woodpile is holding it’s own. Six inches of snow melting on top. The coming cold will dry it long before it needs burning.

looking for eagles

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Not a lot of snow but enough to shovel each day. We went looking for eagles after work in the last of the light. There was only a lone Magpie picking at the remains left over from the Eagles. How I enjoyed watching these animals when I was a youngster. Their flash and gregarious call. Flying from branch to branch above the nest. Under the nest were half eaten fish, small bones, and pieces of birds; ducks by the looks of it. It must be good to be an Eagle. Willow took advantage, rolling on anything that smelled, mostly fish, but carried a ducks wingspan for a length, before I scolded, and demanded she dropped it. She gets sick on feathers. Those Eagles like to spread the love, discounting fish, rodents and any bird smaller than them, of course.

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Venus and Saturn sat above the mountain at dusk. Venus is unmistakeable in evening or dawn either east or west. It’s hard not to be roused by it’s sight, hanging above the ridges against a not yet dark sky.

Lisa gave Willow a bath when we arrived home.

Very fine day,

thin ice

_LME4259-PanosmThe River of Souls.

Willow and I followed the road west. It was twisted and busy. Folks heading to the resort in the mountains. When we got to the resort we kept going. Trying to put the light behind us in an attempt to get realigned with the stars.

There was very little snow even at higher elevations, much more on the east side of the valley where we feel more comfortable. Probably could have gone straight to Jumbo. I ain’t afraid of ghosts, it’s the living that scare the shit out of me. I was afraid to see Oberti, Morrow, Deck and Bergenske having a wiener roast talking over how they can keep milking it.

_LME4231-PanosmPleiades in the creek bottom.

It was all the jets going over that reminded me of those jokers. I hate jets, blinking across the sky, interrupting the stars, it pisses me off we even thought of such a way of transportation. Maybe it’s the abuse of such an invention that bothers me. It’s either flying fattened business people across the globe or the above mentioned dipshits to their desired destinations, where they consider themselves explorers, but the locals know they are only annoying tourists.

It was tempting to turn up Delphine. Even in summer the road quickly turns to shit.

But I ain’t young. -16°c feels cold in these early days of winter. I’m getting older and running off the road and walking out doesn’t appeal to me.

The snow will be deeper in no time, cutting off the bush.  Best to make hay while the sun shines.