Late June

Willow getting stripped.

A wonderful weekend. It was Cooper’s birthday, as is tradition in our house, he was allowed to pick his supper. He picked BBQ ribs, asparagus, corn, mashed potatoes and garlic toast. He wanted it made by me, which made me feel special. I also made a salad. His great Grandparents came over, to make four generations celebrating his birthday and enjoying supper.

***

Blue sky and ridges.

Lisa and I were behind Swansea early this morning. We finished stripping Willow. It has taken a few sessions to get her done. She is not fond of sitting still while we pull her long wire hair out a few strands at a time. Although it doesn’t hurt her, our previous Wire-Haired seemed to enjoy it, she sometimes puts up a fuss until we give her a break and let her have a run. She looks good now just in time for the upcoming warm weather.

Bunching onions.

***

The garden is coming. Lots of lettuce for every meal. The garlic is putting out scapes that are delicious and spicy. The spuds have blossoms. The peas have come up like never before, assuring the kids will have plenty to pick. Today was clear blue skies, still snow to come down in the high country, the heat is on it’s way.

Scarlett working on a drawing.

***

Inflation is up in Canada. Lisa and I are careful, as we always have been, learned from growing up without much. It’s our normal. That’s not to say we save every penny, quite the contrary, when we have money we spend it, but we can also make do with nothing if we have to. We have cut back plenty since the start of 2022.

***

The tourists from Alberta are out in force. Today I was cut off only once. Car alarms sounded through downtown, the sound of summer locals call it, two Albertans got into a yelling match in the Canadian Tire parking lot, this makes my heart glad, a guilty pleasure to watch a couple of type A arseholes go at each other.

The wealth that rolls in from Alberta into BC is insane. Boats, RV’s, large four wheel drive vehicles trailering ATV’s of every make and size. It is incredible! There is no restraint from our neighbours to the east.

For the record I have been accused of hating on Albertans. I should make it clear I don’t hate Albertans. I hate people that disrespect the place they choose to holiday. In this area, the majority guilty of contempt are tourists and second home owners from Alberta. It’s just the way it is.

I am sure the inhabitants who live three hours from Vancouver feel the same about the Vancouverites who recreate and tear the shit out the area they call home.

There are plans to build camps for workers earning minimum wage so they have places to live and serve tourists from Alberta. Atco trailers have been proposed. Some rich guy has even graciously donated the land. Of course it ain’t free and they well be charged rent. It’s promised the rent will be reasonable, something the workers can afford.

***

Up the creek this morning, plenty of tourists camping, sleeping in. Tonight is the kind of evening I used to go back and clean up the mess, garbage and empties they leave behind. Now Lisa and I do it in September at the end of tourist season, it is impossible to keep up otherwise.

***

Lavender.

CBC had a news story about large companies taking advantage during this spell of inflation to raise prices, blaming the war in Ukraine or the pandemic, to justify jacking prices and registering record profits. Many Canadian gas and oil companies, historically not the most virtuous or upstanding of corporate citizens, are guilty of this practice.

Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the federal NDP party suggested the offending companies should have their profits taxed heavily and their windfall dispersed to Canadians in the form of a rebate. Of course, this will never happen, but I like his thinking. Unfortunately, there is too many Canadian businesspeople and politicians who still think greed is good.

My kind of cabbage.

skyward

Canadian geese heading north.

A couple of walks on the weekend. We checked out where the old dogs reside. It is enjoyable walking the burn at this time of year. Eagles, flickers, juncos, robins, hawks and bluebirds entertained us with flight and song.

Missing was the sound of meadowlarks, although we have heard them in the valley bottom. Looking over the great expanse of long ago burnt forest we spotted a small herd of whitetail, having been spooked by something unseen by our eyes.

This was a fine spot to lay down our old dogs. Willow and Maynard ran and took in the sights, sounds and smells.

***

The Easter weekend was very busy in the valley. Visitors from Alberta took over the town. Lisa and I discussed our plan for summer to try to stay sane. On our days off we will leave early in the morning, about 6, head for the bush and return in the afternoon after the Albertans are settled heading back into their accommodations.

Alberta tourists will be out in force this year, and who can blame them stuck where they are. Oil is back on the table and they will be squeezing the rocks for every last drop, clamouring to get out to the valley, to their second homes or Airbnb.

Meanwhile Canadians do what we do best, assume a feigned posture, pretending to give a shit about the environment. It is discouraging what has happened to the Valley in our so called leaders haste to cater to the tourist. The gentrification is total, unavoidable and complete.

A typical right winger from Alberta. The trailer he was hauling was full of snowmobiles. More and more have Canadian flags flying or, like this one, fatuous stickers.

bird watch

Winter finch.

Took off for the creek this morning. At first, we thought the valley bottom would be best. Reconsidered when the mud bogged us down.

The ground is frozen still with melt running over, making a mess of it, challenging buds to appear. Instead we headed higher, until we found a solid layer of ice and snow underfoot. Willow was saved a bath.

The birds have been at it. Most I can’t see. We hear them, chirping and singing, a crow spread it’s wings on the ground, shaking like taking a bath. It is hard to know what it means.

Time to start looking for the first robin singing or owl hooting.

to the end

I took down the small Canadian flag I have been flying over the garden. Unfortunately the right wing has taken over the flag making it their own. I don’t want to be confused with them. Canada hasn’t seen this level of mock patriotism. It’s new, American even.

***

Odd week so far. People quitting, layoffs and firings. A dip in temperature, then back above freezing. They call it business.

Venus is bright in the morning. The moon a crescent. Always something special at dawn.

I’m not supposed to know what is going on, but I know something’s up. Put the binoculars on Venus and it’s a crescent also.

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.

springing up

Canadiana.

The colours of early spring have started to take over from winter. The sky and ice are deep greys and blues. Every season displays it’s own unique colours. During the winter, clouds lose their shape and blanket the sky in solid colour. In spring the clouds form shapes, defined in varying shades of livid. The seasons in the Rockies are truly remarkable. I can’t imagine ever travelling away from here for an extended period for fear I’d miss the precious once a year performances.

Lisa and I walked to the start of Lake Windermere. Everyone calls it the ‘end’ of the lake because there is nothing down there. When people say nothing, they mean settlement. There is plenty there, cattails, geese, coyotes, cougars shallow water, clay banks, animal prints, moose, elk, snags, eagles and more.

Running tracks.

It’s a walk we usually do this time of year. I scouted places to take pictures of the dark sky. It is on foot and would require a full night and a tent. I know Willow would enjoy it.

It would seem odd setting camp down there because I’m usually in the mountains. Still, I think there could be some good pictures to be had. The Milky Way would rise over the lake and mountains at this time of year. There is also some soft level places to pitch a tent.

Hills and mountains springing up.

Willow and Maynard snuffed up the thawing smells oblivious to yesterday or tomorrow. And we consider ourselves the smart ones.

mess

Covid has sent people looking for recreation in the bush. It is one of the few things the government has encouraged people to do. Some trails have become exceptionally busy. Other places have been destroyed by people looking for a place to party and shoot off guns. Garbage and destruction has become commonplace.

Lisa and I have enjoyed the trails and roads up Windermere Creek for years. It is one of the first spots I can remember following my father through the bush. Logging and mining have taken it’s toll. Because this spot is close to the valley bottom it has attracted record numbers of tourists running snowmobiles, All Terrain Vehicles (ATV’s) and four wheel drives. The result is a mess around every corner.

That is not to say Albertan’s are responsible for all the mess. They alone don’t hold ownership on stupidity. Unfortunately we get some of Alberta’s worst out here, however, sadly, there is plenty of locals that also fit the profile.

This winter, someone tried pulling the water pipe out of the underground spring many get their drinking water. In all the years passing this spot I’d never seen such nonsense.

In this spot bottles and cans, garbage, live trees cut, old TV’s (to shoot at), snowboards, mufflers (possibly stolen for the catalytic converters), a truck canopy and spent rifle and shotgun shells.

Every spring Lisa and I clean some of these areas and take the garbage to the dump. Not this year. It is too much of a mess and it will only be added too. These spots are spoiled. They have already become dumping spots.

My hope is the yahoos and dipshits will stick to these spots, happy to trash these areas only. I know that is wishful thinking.

As for me, I’m not going back for two reasons; it’s painful to see and I’d be tempted to carry a club.

Waning crescent

It doesn’t take much to imagine a long ago glacier running the length of the Upper Columbia Valley. An old moon clears the mountains near the centre of the frame.

I had some extra time before work this morning. Willow and I headed for the west side of Lake Windermere. Before I left I couldn’t find my warm jacket, it was only -7°c so I didn’t worry. On the hike to the banks on the edge of the lake I realized the paths were ice. Not my favourite when it’s still dark. We walked on patches of snow for grippage. Then my boot lace came undone. Damn I hate that.

I hoped to see the crescent moon come up in the east. The stars were mostly gone. The morning blue period took over. Willow and I waited for the moon. I missed my warm jacket. The International Space Station came from the west and dimmed in the southeast.

I realized I had brought the wrong lens for capturing the moon. I had a super fast wide angle lens when a longer lens would have captured it better. In the top photo the moon is small coming up over the mountains.

Regardless, it was good to be out to watch the moon. Willow barked at hooting owls and shadows taking shape in the light. I was back in plenty of time for my late start at work.

In a perfect world I’d watch the moon come up and the sun go down everyday.

A waning crescent moon rises over the Fairmont Range.

late late february

Jeessuss! This vehicle must have ran off the road and tumbled down a bank after an hellacious shootout! Look at all those bullet holes. I wonder of Al Capone was involved?

Spring like weather this weekend. Lisa and I scouted Red Rock Road, running on the west side of the Columbia River between Radium and Brisco. We were looking for an open space to take night time photos. We found windows to the night sky but nothing with an open expanse from north to south.

Plenty of silvers and greys between seasons. The birds are gearing up when the sun comes out, singing, feeling the rise of spring I suspect. I feel it too, but it’s way down there, pushed aside by modern living and various substances ingested to cope with poor light, politicians, a 24 hour news cycle, destruction, pollution, racism, violence and bullshit flinging from every direction.

Being older makes you realize you don’t have much control over any of it, the batting average is starting to go down, if I were a boxer the losses are creeping up on a once perfect record. The world is taking it’s toll. That’s age for you.

Still the feel of spring. The smell of melting ice. The warmth when the sun decides to shine, the light on the mountain tops and clouds after the sun goes down, the time it takes before it turns dark, no wonder the birds wait for this time to go a courting.

Each winter takes a little from us, robbing me of confidence and bringing us closer to our destination.

If it doesn’t snow, it will be dirty snow piles, mud and dust. That’s my cue to start some seeds inside. The garden is only a few months away.

February

A sign of spring.

Very fine weekend. Yesterday Lisa and I went skating on the lake. We got on in the south to try to avoid the ruck. Willow also enjoyed the time having no problem keeping up with us. We saw a lot of people doing the same as us, enjoying the fresh air. Many remarked on the friendliness of Willow and wondered about her breed, never having seen a Wire-Haired Weiner Dog before. Most of the people we saw and talked to were tourists. I was happy for them to be enjoying the lake and ice on skates and x-country skis.

Today we headed into the bush, staying on the roads that are open and plowed. We hiked into a spot we go to often. Last night people had started a fire and cut down live trees to feed their large bonfire. They left a mess, beer cans, food and garbage. This is not unusual. I can never understand cutting down live trees to feed a bush fire when dried wood is so readily available. We threw snow on the fire and remarked that we will have to come back, when the roads open, to clean it up. Lisa said something that worried me. She said, she is not sure if she likes this spot anymore.

So many places we once loved have been ruined or destroyed by the crowds. It is disappointing. We are pushed further, usually up the creeks and rivers as most small lake shores have been littered with campers/partiers.

With heavy hearts we turned back, looking for spring in the rising temperatures. Just like many years previous I looked for the earliest pussy willows, to our delight a few were breaking through the skin of their buds. It is amazing what a few hours of above freezing temperatures will do. Also amazing what such small things can change the spirit from dark to light. Very fine weekend.