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.

early March

An early arrived bluebird gives a look.

A perfect Spring day. Overcast, rain and snow in the morning. In the afternoon the sun came out with temperatures rising. Willow and I headed for the river to see what we could see. She snuffed up the smells thawing in the wetlands. I envied her yet was content with the sun on my face. Very fine day.

Willow tastes the wind and water.

2021

A lone ice shack sits on Lake Windermere at dawn.

Lisa and I rang in the New Year in a rather low key manner. We enjoyed a nice dinner of steamed crab legs, vegetables, tapenade, crackers and hot pepper Oregon grape and rose hip jelly made by my good friend Dave. After dinner we watched an episode of The Crown on Netflix. The rest of the night was spent in front of the fire listening to fireworks. The fireworks started at 6 pm and continued throughout the night. There was no official fireworks this year due to Covid, so most were set off by individuals.

The Columbia River flows by cat tails after a chinook.

It goes without saying it has been a different year. Luckily our family has been spared from the personal heartbreak and financial hardship Covid has placed on so many families and individuals.

Lots of power outages lately. Probably not the moon’s fault, more likely wind, melt and freeze.

Nixon’s place from across the Columbia. To live under mountains is special.

Not being able to see our kids and grandkids has been difficult, especially during the Christmas season. It seems odd considering how many people are not adhering  to the Provincial and Federal safety protocols. However, as I like to point out to my children, and they understand, it is about how we conduct ourselves, considering we have elderly grandparents and recognizing many other families do as well. For us that’s what it comes down to.

A chinook turns Lake Windermere’s surface rutted and unskateable.

2021 we are looking forward to getting to know you.

The old part of town, built on a mudflat. You won’t see this in a tourism or Chamber of Commerce brochure and that’s okay with me.

thank dog

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It’s the country. The bush in April. When you can get stuck tighter than a fiddler’s fart in mud or snow. The sky turning bruised in evening. The Columbia running before and after. Turning over in winter. There is not much you can have faith in, but the sky and river and creek behind Swansea, the Swans heading north and the Meadowlarks arriving. They continue to keep their promises.

/

The truck was hip hopping. He had escaped the ruck. It was all mud, dog barks and volume on the radio. He had pushed off.

He grabbed a long leggy one from the floor boards. Cracked the tab and took a long swig.

He held on above Horsethief, heading towards snags. Catching a break, here and there, getting a glimpse of an Eagle holding steady.

It was muddy and he tried to keep it out of the ruts. The leggy ones kept coming and he didn’t see a soul. He made the burn, watched the river, saw what the wind had done.

It fell dark. He ran blind towards the river trying to get closer to the melting ice and rushing water. Through bush and snow. Over deadfalls.

In the morning, shaking like a cat shitting razor-blades, the pups led him back. He hoped for one more forgotten long leggy one. The way back was always worse than the going. He had pushed off, but not hard enough.

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pussywillows

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The pussywillows showed up on time. . . early. This has been more of a traditional winter. Snow and low cloud obscuring the stars.

CRW_0008A few peaks are shedding the clouds.

CRW_0006One eye on the predator and one on the prey.

Springtime in January

rce_1769The creek bottom. Red willow and mountain tops.

Such a nice day, Willow and I decided to spend the afternoon at the river. The snow is mostly gone from the valley bottom. It hovered around 3°c. I parked myself on a log. Willow carried sticks around. Dropping them near me and then standing in the river wanting me to throw them for her, which I did. She has me trained well.

rce_1772Willow packing her stick over the tracks. She always brings one back with her.

We watched a train go by. In honour of Jim from Iowa I counted the cars, 124 and two engines. Some of the cars had snow on them from coming through the Revelstoke pass. It has been a long time since I counted cars. It was a favourite pass time when I was a kid. Sometimes, I’d lose interest mid-train. Looking back I guess my attention span wasn’t too long. Or perhaps there was just so much to do on those tracks beside the river that I couldn’t wait to get at it.

rce_1767Locomotive.

Plenty of birds. I heard a woodpecker drumming, a Kingfisher rattling, a flock of Waxwings chirping, cleaning up rose hips in the wetlands. I saw none, but a lone Water Ouzel, dipping on the opposite shore, undisturbed by Willow and our juvenile stick antics.

rce_1764My log by the river, cleverly disguised with bad focus and light leaks.

The water was clear. I looked for fish. Perhaps they are still on schedule, considering it’s only January.

rce_1756The old pontoon bridge. A long ago used drunken shortcut from The National in Radium to home in Wilmer.

If this keeps up there will be pussy willows by February. Very fine day/

rce_1760It still looks snowy up Forster.

getting on i guess

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i wipe my eyes with the same hand holding my glasses.

i pee in the middle of the night and keep the seat up because i know i ll pee again before morning.

there is no longer need to exclaim.

time does go by faster.

do you have bumps behind your ears? skin tags and brown spots in spots you never knew you had? asking for a friend.

fort

RCE_9396smLow clouds cast shadows on the ice.

The ice on the lake is hanging on. It will take either wind or rain to get rid of it. The ice wasn’t as thick this year as the year before. It snowed on the weekend and I was glad to see it. I like winter. There is something about fresh snow and spring clouds.

Spring is coming. I’ve always liked late snows.The birds are making lots of noise. The rhubarb is breaking through the ground. Soon the garlic and last year’s lettuce seeds will be showing. I should dig the garden early this year. Get the spuds, carrots, beets and peas in early. As usual, I started a few tomatoes and weed plants inside. Black Cherry and Early Girl for the tomatoes and a Sativa for weed. They will be ready to transplant by the end of May.

The backroads are mud, ice and snow; in that order. I have been keeping to the valley bottom for Willow’s walks.

A few winters ago I spotted what looked like a treehouse from a distant hillside perch. It is a spot I only walk in the winter. In spring, fall and summer it would be well hidden with foliage. I have always intended to check it out, but deep snow always deterred me.

On the weekend I found myself again looking at it across a mile wide coolie. Still hard to see, it kept starring back. Since there was little snow I thought I would finally check it out.

RCE_9384Three windows, aesthetically placed.

It was a bit of a scramble, through thicket and deadfall, the route I choose, but other than carefully crossing a small patch of thin ice over moving water, it was a nice walk. The treehouse had been there awhile and had been abandoned for just about as long. There was no way into it, not for me anyway. The ladder was long gone. There was a thin rope hanging. Too old and thin for me. I stayed looking up, where I belong

It wasn’t the work of kids. It had two sunning decks, a locking door and three framed windows facing east. Not a bad set up. My guess it was built by young adults for a place to squat during summer while working trades, though the trade wouldn’t have been carpentry.

Packrats had shredded a bed or mattress and stuffing lay below the fort. Willow enjoyed going through it. She loves chasing rats when given the opportunity.

RCE_9389Watch that first step.

A roll of poly lay covered in forest debris. Old beer cans scattered. Those beers must have tasted good on a summer day watching the sun leave the eastern mountain tops from such a vantage point. Most of the trees used for support were dead or dying. The firs would survive. They will be stunted but standing long after the fort disappears entirely.

It was a steep haul back to the trail that the here and there snow made double difficult. Should be a quick melt from here on in.

Early April

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To be young, feel the wind, the cold and the pull of the clouds on a string. I remember back to those days, only a short walk from where Cooper flew his first kite.

The bunch grass overlooking a frozen lake, the blue mountains majestic, tho we didn’t consider them, since they’d been there since we were born. Same as the lake and the train hauling coal and sulfur.

Times are different. It’s not necessary to fly a kite anymore. It’s not necessary to see it dip and learn when to run.  To pull the string and walk with the wind, watching it stagger, then when the moments right, turn into the breeze and watch it dance back into the spring sky. It was essential once. It was essential to let out all the line, risking the high winds that could send it crashing back to earth. But to master those winds was a craft indeed.

It’s not necessary anymore. There are so many more important things, I’m told. My problem is I never figured them out, nor considered them.

Cooper got it right away. The string, the wind and the sky. It’s nice being his Granddad, because I get to show him good things, while he reminds me how lucky I am.

Very fine day.

late march

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At loose ends these days. Took to the creek in the evening. Thought it would be good to be under the trees. Up the road someone had cut a big live fir. It landed across the road. They had taken the bulk of it and left the rest that had fallen to the other side. Too much work to tramp through the three feet of snow, probably.

You can tell a lot about people’s tracks. These were lazy people. They didn’t need the wood or they wouldn’t have cut a live tree. It will be a year before it can be burned. With all the dead wood it seems a shame to cut a live tree.

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Why should I care. The province allows clearcutting of entire forests. Places I used to wander beside the Palliser look as if they have been scorched by fire. Even the thin stuff up Windermere Creek is fair game. Slash piles and oil cans, the only thing left over. Sure it will grow over. The abuse the trees and creeks and land puts up with and still survive is a miracle in itself.

Lisa likes to call me the ‘tree police’. Suggesting I take things too seriously. She loves a grove of trees in an area we frequent. She finds peace and healing there. The trees rise above all others and reach their spiny fingers into the sky. Darkened grey or white, green and blue they are a sight that never fails to uplift.

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One of the trees is leaning. It has woodpecker holes up it’s trunk. Limbs are breaking and not being replaced. It lives, but is dying. We have been watching for several years, wondering when it will fall towards the creek.

I tell Lisa some day we may come around the corner and the trees will be cut down. She doesn’t agree, the trees are of a variety that are not normally harvested. There would be no reason to cut them down, but to watch them fall. She has more confidence in humans than I.

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A town politician/developer in the village at the headwaters of the Columbia River talked about, ‘a God given right, that if you pay a bunch of money’ for a second home, a person should be able to do what they will with the lake shoreline to launch their motorboats.

God given rights, sure as shit, have fucked things up in the past. It’s what allows pollution to flow downhill. Everything and anything below us is on their own. It’s why we look at mountains, trees, rivers and creeks as dead, as something only to be conquered.

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It’s been grey for awhile now. Typical for March. Wind and spit. Mud and melt. The buds are appearing on the low brush, when I squint my eyes I can see them on the high branches also.