Early December

The diving cliffs.

Unseasonably warm. Plenty of rain in the last few days with temperatures up to 12°c. Yesterday, I saw worms on the sidewalk. Amazing for December. The ice on Lake Windermere has melted. Surely a cold spell must be coming?

We are told this is remnants of an atmospheric river from the west coast, tamed down, yet still screwing thing up in the Rockies.

It’s difficult to remember such a mild start to December. The way things are going the tourists will be putting their boats back in the lake. Rule number one for the rich; calm water always needs to be churned up, same goes for blue skies.

It could be the new trend, smoke in summer and fall in December.

Willow wades the creek with her full winter coat grown regardless of mild temps.

Flood

Trees reflected in the flood.

It has been demoralizing to read all the sky-is-falling news that has become the norm these days. Agreed the world is in peril, or should I say humankind is in a tight spot. Never-the-less news sources seem intent on making it worse. Blame the 24 hour news cycle. Trump (still), overpopulation, pandemic and climate crisis, it’s enough to make you want to jump ship. No wonder Musk, Bezos and the rest of the rich guys are trying to rocket off this burning, freezing, flooding planet.

This month the Fraser River delta flooded due to something called an atmospheric river, or in layman’s terms, a lot of rain in a narrow band. Of course, the news cried climate change from every rooftop. We have done it to ourselves, they exclaimed, the time to repent is nigh.

The difference this played with the people affected by this disaster is mute. Farms, livestock, livelihoods and property was lost. It is heartbreaking.

No-one is excluding climate change and the roll humans have played in it’s advancement. Be that as it may, the flooding around Abbotsford happened on a natural flood plane, a river delta, a place where lakes and wetlands were drained to make way for towns, developments, and fertile farmland. 

Unfortunately, large storms runoff and nature is going to reclaim these areas, especially when tides are surging, rain is falling on concrete and can’t be soaked up.

It’s a disaster whichever way we look at it. Naturally we blame others, something we can’t control.

*** 

When I was young I used to walk my Grandfather’s trail along the canyon of the Palliser River to where Albert River joins the flow. Centuries old fir and rock walls everywhere, still I found routes here and there down to the river to toss a line. 

On one of these trips as a young adult, I followed the trail until an entire chunk of the mountain had sloughed off and rolled into the river. It more than obliterated the trail. There is no saying when it had happened as I hadn’t been on the trail for several years. It frightened me to think what it would have been like to have witnessed it or been in it’s path! If a tree falls in the forest does anybody hear it started to make sense.

It settled across the river and changed its path. The water still has to flow after all. One of my Grandfather’s fishing holes he prized for fish to make into trapping bait was no longer. 

This by no means is an unusual occurrence the mountains and rivers are continually reshaping themselves with and without our help.

This area has now been heavily logged, following the old trail, blazed on the fir and spruce, would be all but impossible now. The runoff from the mountains creates even more slides into the river without the trees to hold the earth from slipping. It is still remote and rarely does anyone witness the ground slipping, mountains rolling and the river cutting. It’s nature.

We can exclude ourselves from it or be part of it.

*** 

Part of my hometown is built on an alluvium. Toby Creek runs down from the mountains spreading out before entering the Columbia River and Lake Windermere. The entire area known as Athalmer would regularly flood in the spring. One of my friends families houses was built on stilts. Residents sewer systems which were often no more than a hole would mix with their shallow wells making the water undrinkable.

Athalmer flooded. Notice the two youngsters, pole in hand, ready to save the coupe if needed.

The solution, as population grew, was to dyke Toby Creek and change its course so it entered the Columbia below Athalmer. It mostly worked. 

I still get a kick when it backs up into Lake Windermere, turning it muddy and log bound during seasons with heavy runoff, making the tourists in their motorboats having to pick their way into the lake. For now the dyke has held saving businesses and real estate. Will it forever?

***

Piliated Woodpeckers will hammer on live trees. Some think the woodpeckers are killing the trees. Some think it’s the bugs under the bark that the woodpeckers are after killing the trees. Maybe it is the decay from age that has brought on the bugs and woodpeckers that are killing the trees. Maybe it’s the warmer temperatures caused by climate change that has allowed bugs like the Pine Beetle to flourish that is killing the tree. Perhaps it is part of a larger cycle that accounts for the tree to die. The same cycle that may one day put humanity directly in its crosshairs, regardless of how smart and separate we consider ourselves from nature the future may prove our match.

Does it mean we should give up trying? The answer is no.

There is happiness in less waste and consumption, in the endeavour to find peace in the current of creeks, in the rolling of rivers, the oceans’ ebb and flow and the clouds and sky revealing gifts lost but not forgotten, forever ingrained in our DNA.

To blame every weather event and natural disaster on human caused climate change, although may make a compelling news story, in the long run, is not helping matters. It makes us think we are more important to the earth than we are, second, it makes people think all is lost. Bezos and Musk may be hellbent to call it a day, but we’re really just getting started on a better path, we just have to be smart about it.

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

mid July

lake_smAbove the lake.

It seems these last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. Lisa and I still make time to get out in the bush regularly. The weather has been clear and hot. The garden is chugging right along.

Our children have been out to visit. It has been nice to have them with plenty of laughter filling the house. We helped move Lisa’s parents into a new home. Their old place was getting too large for them. Now they live just a stone’s throw from us. This is a relief for Lisa. It was so nice to see our kids taking time away from their schedules in the city to come home and make their grandparents welcome. They think the world of their Grandparents, and know how hard they have worked for everything. Lisa and I are very proud of our children.

RCE_0397Glacier Lillies. Maddy and Lisa telling Chad to pay attention,
while he takes a photo of the large peaks.

The photos in this post are from a place I find very special. Lisa, Maddy, Chad, Willow and I hiked in yesterday. It has been several years since we have been there, due to roads and bridges washed out. There was a time I would hike from wherever the road ended. But I was young and stubborn then. My Father and I even had some long hikes into Leman Lake.

RCE_0373.jpgAlpine Forget-Me-Not.

Back then the trail crossed several slides with tall skunk cabbage and elder bushes. It was closed in thick. You never knew if a bear or moose was going to be waiting for you around the next corner.

We all looked in vain for a way to cross the swift creek. While Lisa, Chad and I were looking for a deadfall across, we noticed Maddy on the other side putting her boots back on. That ended the search. We all took off our boots rolled up our pant legs and subjected our feet to freezing cold water and sharp rocks. Willow crossed enthusiastically, got caught in the current, and came out about twenty yards downstream.

RCE_0412Scorpion Weed. 

We took time to rest, along the trail. It was still steep and in some places overgrown. Lisa reminisced about hiking here while pregnant with Kelsie. Being pregnant never slowed her down. We wondered around marvelling at the sights and smells.

The hike reminded me to try to stay in good enough shape to be able to show these places to Cooper and Scarlett when they are old enough to hike the mountains on their own. That will be sooner than a blink of an eye. Yet that same, seemingly small, time will start taking a toll on my hips and knees. No doubt, just as my father, my balance will be tested on logs over the creek and I’ll curse the rain for making the rocks slippery.

willow_smWillow takes a dip.

We looked for wild flowers and porcupine quills. Maddy and Lisa alerted Chad to pay attention, because,  if I pointed out a ‘Glacier Lily’ on the way up, I may ask him what it was on the way down and he better know the answer.

RCE_0511Sky, rock, bush and water.

To experience these places with loved ones is a gift. The colour of the lake, the sky and large mountains, the smell of spring slides bringing down old spruce, the ice and snow and how I cheer it now, thinking if we could only get a few cold years the glaciers could build up again, how I am a fool to think such things are up to me, the fish and bears and all the wild flowers, the overgrown trail with so many ghosts and so much yet to show.

I always try to look extra hard before I leave, because I never know when I will see it all again.