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.

Red Willow

RCE_9339Willow a blur of fur!

A nice spring day. Cooler than it has been for the past few days. A few snowflakes. We headed into the bush to look at trees.

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We didn’t chance getting stuck after having to dig the truck out last week. Willow chased snowballs and even caught a few. Next weekend we will be walking with our children and grandchildren. A very fine day.

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storytime again

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the fires keep burning. the smoke is thick. we haven’t seen the mountains for some time. the bush is closed. today we had wind from the south and then it turned and came from the north. the smoke has cleared somewhat. it was the north wind that did it. a few rain drops as well. the first since the end of june. i felt like aiming my face directly at them.

jody had to go to the hospital this morning. chest pains. they ruled out problems with her heart. her lungs are congested with smoke. the doctor said it has been a common occurrence this season.

it’s been a summer of red suns, sun up and sun down. with the moon red all night long.

the doctor who saw jody was young. she looked tired too. i read the charts on the wall. don’t give men on viagra nitrates. don’t give cocaine users beta blockers.

jody is better now, after a mask of ventolin. she has asthma and now must take her inhaler every four hours. she is back to working too hard. drying tomatoes, worrying, trying to get it all done. if only i could instil some of my laziness in her.

hospitals are awful places. impersonal. they have to be. that’s how they save us.

the bush is closed. the trees and creeks cut off. the backroads barricaded. where am i supposed to go? what am i to do with this lump of anger?

tomorrow is a young teachers funeral. i am going to try and go. cancer took her. she was nice to me when i was mostly invisible sweeping floors and emptying garbage. she kept small magnetic words on the blackboard. i’d arrange them into poems and jokes. the kids would always add to them. i’d add more the next day. those words and what they said always made me smile.

she smiled too, laughing as well, talking gardening or stars or whatever she was teaching.

the last time we saw each other we hugged and talked about the school yard.

jody looked beautiful putting on her gown. her breasts and bare back without conscience. my eyes still stuck even now after all. she turned and asked me to tie her up. i tied the blue ribbons in a bow, while her chest laboured.

it is days like this when smoke looks like a snowstorm. when the sky is low. when i can’t figure if it’s hot or cold. when the best is to hunker down and wait it out. maybe pour a drink. splash the whiskey with scant rain.

instead i can’t keep still. there is a snake crawling towards me. the sun is coming through the bullet holes and it doesn’t look promising.

keep calm the voice says. but anger’s never failed me.

Steel Bridge

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It was about this time of year I’d start looking out the school window and wishing I was walking the tracks, following the river to the fishing holes.

It was called Steel Bridge because it was the first one in the area not made of wood. That made it special. It had good fishing hole under it. The locals all had their secret ways to catch char in the spring and whitefish in the fall.

It’s still a crossing for the trains hauling coal to the coast to be shipped to China. A few locals still cast a line and drink beer. Some hide out under the pilings and further, towards town in the high brush beside Toby Creek. The tourists paddle canoes and kayaks under the steel with instructions to, ‘stay right’ in high water.

Broken, oiled and cresote treated ties wait to be hauled away. I still walk the tracks and fish below the pilings. Willow saves branch after branch and barks at tourists the same as fish.