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.

slippery

Starlings.

My nephew Christian warned me. He parked his truck, stepped out, slipped and slid under his parked truck. He was wearing poor shoes at the time, dress shoes. He said it happened fast. He spent some time pretending to tread water, looking for gripage to pull himself from under the vehicle.

This morning a truck pulling a trailer full of snowmobiles was in my gravel parking spot at work. I parked on the pavement. Shut off the vehicle. Took three steps, in good boots. Three confident, nobodies getting in my way steps, since it was the start of the day after all, light just breaking, when I hit on some smooth clear ice over the dark pavement, common, with above freezing temperatures during the day and below freezing at night

It was arse over tit. My shoulder hit first then my hip. A fresh Timmie’s coffee went sailing (this is the true tragedy of this story, if it was a beer I’m sure I wouldn’t have spilled a drop). I felt pretty good considering. Once inside the managers asked why I had snow on my toque. I said, because I didn’t have my skates on.

No harm done. Christian was right, it happens fast.

waxing

Tonights’s gorgeous 80% waxing gibbous moon.

It’s still winter and I’m already missing winter. It’s light at 6 pm. The snow is melting. We might get a few more snowstorms or cold spells. March can pack in a lot of winter if it decides. Still we have turned the corner.

Soon I will have to justify my 8 o’clock bedtime. The revellers will be ten-fold. I won’t be able to walk barefoot and shirtless into a snowstorm to remind myself I’m only an animal and not a very good one. I won’t be able to piss outside under the cloak of darkness. My paws are soft and I have no fur. My teeth are either missing, dull or hurting.

My strength is cruelty. It’s what makes us try to tame nature all around.

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.

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.

Mid January

Maynard stays alert, his eye out for the moose we spotted earlier. Lisa is comforted by his continued vigilance.

The lack of snow allows us to travel the backroads normally cut off at this time of year. Lisa and I took off for the logging roads early in the morning. We were rewarded by spotting a cow and calf moose. They crossed the road in front of us as we travelled higher into the Palliser.

The lack of snow also allowed us to harvest some easy down fir for firewood. It was a good size, dry as a bone, yet needed the splitting maul to bust it into smaller chunks to load.

Willow off the beaten track, chasing sticks, nose out, snuffing up the good air.

Willow and Maynard ran rampant. Willow more so, while Maynard stayed close behind me even while sawing the wood.

A light snow fell continually while the sky was clear in spots showing blue. Just one of those days you wish you could hold onto forever and bring out when things aren’t going your way.

Very fine day.

Maynard and I make our way.

blue

Willow looking a little like a wild animal. I see her smiling. In fact she is chewing the stick she fetched between her paws.

It’s been a long time coming. First they built a road to explore mining, in the process, diverting the creek closer to the lake. Each year the creek flooded in high water diverting silt and filling the lake. This year was no different, however the accumulated sand allowed the creek to flow freely into the lake and fill it almost completely.

My brother and I used to fish for Cutthroat Trout in it’s bottomless blue when we were youngsters. In February my father would trim Water Cress. We pitched rocks from the banks above seeing who could make it to the middle.

This was when it was in walking distance. The roads beside turned it different. It’s taken awhile. The creek flows freely into it now. Still there is a pool that accommodates Kingfishers and Dippers. The fish are gone along with it’s brilliant blue.

Willow and I trudged the snow from the road. A short walk that seemed long enough in the world we live in now. Willow fetched sticks. Water Cress was starting on the outer edges I wasn’t sure it would be safe, a mine above and the stream flowing in, beaver dams doing their best, after all the fish are gone.

Willow fetches a stick in a world offering so much if you blink it could be missed.

The lake was spring fed. My father said it came from the corner of the lake that was now filled in. He knew this the way his bait moved and the fish pooled, I know that now. The spring confirmed it, a trickle carving a path towards the small lake remaining.

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.

Boxing Day

A quiet Christmas with all of our families staying within their households. The foot of snow a few days earlier helped the spirit.

Lisa and I had a small turkey. It provided plenty of leftovers and broth for soup. The woodpile is holding up. I mix tamarack and fir, pine and birch, keeping the pitchy stuff for kindling.

It is hard to know when we will all be together again. I try not to think about it much. Having plenty to do keeps my mind off it.

***

The cloud is crushingly low, the backroads are blocked leading to heights above the din.

***

There is plenty of tourists, most from Alberta, skiing, staying, travelling, snowmobiling, dining, partying, defying the no travel recommendations. I don’t worry about them. They can’t be taught or reasoned with. They’re the reason I have a job, thank God.

***

A couple more days off and I’m going to enjoy them.

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.