old stories

There are plenty of stories being told, the same as it’s always been, but there is more of them. I’m old and my antenna only picks up a few.

Stories get told on the internet now, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tic Tok. I’m not a member so I don’t understand. Still I bet they are good stories.

People have sex or perform for people willing to pay. It’s a legitimate thing They are storytellers.

Lisa and I used to do the same. We would go beside the river and make love. Sometimes we would take pictures. They are some of the best photos I’ve ever taken. Fortunately or unfortunately there was no market back then.

Both Lisa and I worry about our kids discovering those negatives after we die. We talk about throwing them out but we can’t do it. Still I don’t want to shock them.

My stories are slow now, boring even. Experience is dull.

All my experience has added up to nothing. All my stories have become dull. That’s the world for you, refusing to slow down to my aged pace. Thank God.

Brrrrrr!

This photo composition is made of sixteen photos sewn together in Photoshop to achieve the extra wide angle needed to show the night sky from north to south. The original is a massive file and reveals many stars and constellations. Even in this small sample a discerning eye may be able to pick out Perseus and Cassiopeia to the left and the tail of Scorpius with red supergiant Antares over the lights of Fairmont Hot Springs in the south. Scorpius only rises once Orion is down and promises the coming of summer.

A few welcome days off in a row. Willow and I figured we would sample the chilly temperatures. We headed out at 3 in the morning to see if we could catch the return of The Milky Way.

The Milky Way rising over Nutmuq¢in (Chisel Peak).

So far we have had a mild winter and perhaps we have grown soft because -28°c felt colder than expected. Granted fumbling barehanded with a metal camera doesn’t help. Willow looked at me like I was crazy and was happy to make it back to the truck and a blasting heater.

The Milky Way was rising but the centre stays below the mountains before dawn washed the stars away. Still a wonderful viewing morning with the young moon long down refusing to interfere with the brilliance of stars.

The afternoon sun warming Jake and Dave.

That afternoon we met with good buddies Dave, Jake and Chewy for a bout of ice fishing. By then it had warmed to a much more comfortable -16°c. We picked a spot near the shallow south end of Lake Windermere, chosen for it’s distance from the ruck of the crowd. Unfortunately the fish didn’t feel the same, choosing instead to occupy the deeper portions nearer the outlet.

Willow looking for fish.

Still, it was refreshing enjoying the lake. Jake drilled his own hole in the almost 2 feet of thick ice. The dogs ran this way and that. Very fine day.

Willow criticizing my lack of fishing skill.

february

Snow, melt, snow. The valley bottom has seen it’s share of weather more attributed to spring than January. I’m still waiting for a cold spell that must surely be coming, looking forward to it actually. The firewood is ready.

This is the month The Milky Way returns rising in the dark, before dawn, perpendicular to the Columbia River and Rocky Mountains.

It’s the month voices can be heard in the creeks running over ice. The wind knocking the snow out of the trees are also trying to say something. I turn my head this way and that like an exquisite dog trying to decipher what’s being said. I still don’t get most of it.

It can be cruel or not, but never easy.

Starlight

First you have to get through the spruce.

Finally the low clouds have cleared leaving the skies blue during the day. The temperatures have dropped, as they do when it clears in January. A small price to pay for the kind of winter sunshine that warms body and soul.

Willow and I were up early without a plan nor agenda. We set off south. Everything we saw was both magnificent and plain as day, but in the middle of the night.

It was good to see the stars after a long absence. The Milky Way is still mostly down. I squinted to see it and aimed the camera at where it should be come February. No luck. This isn’t the year it decided to come up a month early. Still it was worth a look.

Telegraph road.

Willow found a log and dug for a few mice scared shitless from the snuffing above.

The stars look different every time I see them.

Very fine morning. We will be hitting the fart sack early tonight.

b/w

Tonights Moon shining through. The low cloud blankets the valley bottom most of the day. If lucky we get to see the tops of the mountains before light fades in the afternoon.
A Bald Eagle from a few days before. Lisa stayed beneath it’s perch, in an understanded truce, snapping photos and marvelling at it’s brilliance.
The woodpile, no worse for wear, staying warm insulated with a layer of snow.
Tenacity. Willow, on top of the world, smiling, listening for animals under the snow.

Snow and a couple of giants

Bright Jupiter and Saturn make an appearance before dipping below the western ridge.

Over a foot of snow last night. It was heavy with a layer of water underneath. That’s what happens when snow starts falling when it’s above zero. To make it more challenging the wind was blowing so it drifted. I spent most of the day on a Bobcat switching back and forth from a blade to a bucket. Pushing and spinning, finally the task was at least good enough.

Once home, the shovel was waiting. Before long the driveway cleared, paths were made, including around the house with an extra wide one to the woodpile.

The weather has been cloudy. As I was finishing up clearing snow Jupiter and Saturn in their much anticipated conjunction appeared. I quickly grabbed the camera turned up the ISO, no time for a tripod, and snapped the above picture.

A very fine reward for a day of pushing snow.

some lights

All we had was cloud on the peak of the Geminids. Lisa and I tried to push through the cloud seeking a higher elevation. This can be tough; first, the roads are the shits, second, we’re committed to our first choice.

Sometimes it goes, sometimes it doesn’t.

On the way back into town we spotted this nicely decorated cabin. It was early, they’d either left the lights on all night or were delighting the folks off to work ahead of schedule.

round one

Pleiades, Taurus, Gemini, Orion and the hunter’s fierce dog Siris shining through the clouds. The mountain and landscape is illuminated from the valley’s man-made light bouncing off the clouds.

We headed out last night before the peak of the Geminid Meteor Shower to get the jump on the shooting stars. It was overcast so we pointed the camera towards any opening. Lisa saw several meteors. I saw one spectacular one, unfortunately our cameras were pointed elsewhere. That’s the way it goes.

We are planning to go back out tonight. The weather looks about the same. It’s only about -15°c but feels colder, not because of wind chill but because I’m getting old. I don’t think it phases Lisa though. I just try to keep up.

With luck we will spot some. Even if we don’t I’m damn lucky.

science and soul

The fog gives way to stars where the creek turns steep.

Pretty good days. The lake has frozen hard and clear. Without snow it is a skater’s dream. We headed out after work on Friday, tossing the puck around, stopping once and awhile to admire the fine day. We stayed until the stars started to appear.

Young Jake legs it, the puck in front of him as he dips west heading north on a pure breakaway.

This morning low cloud blanketed the valley. It always seems cold to me when this happens. This evening Willow and I headed for the mountains with hopes to push through the clouds into the stars.

We followed the creek we are used to. It took less climbing than I initially figured before the stars appeared in the treetops. The sky was warm, twisting in my mind, while long lost spirits flowed through me stealing my breath.

Sometimes that’s all it takes.

Scientists just discovered the sun and our solar system are moving 7km faster around the Milky Way’s central black hole than we previously thought. A reminder we are always moving and science is always evolving depending on the latest research. It’s the best we have to go by and should be trusted. Still I will have to recalibrate my instruments and amend my plans considering we are going to be swallowed by the centre of the galaxy sooner than expected.

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.

***

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.