late may

CRW_0012smA wild turkey. Too late for Easter and too early for Thanksgiving! 

Got the garden in. Better late then never, yet I’ve been later. It all seems to work out, despite my foolish  worry and woe.

CRW_0017.smWild flower. Venus’s Lady’s Slipper Orchid.

may long

RCE_2652Riding in the back of the truck.

Was up early. Scarlett and I headed to the store. We were planning a big spaghetti dinner. Scarlett picked out ice cream treats. I let her have one for breakfast.

Good neighbour Larry sold plants, over the weekend, to tourists. Tomatoes and peppers mostly. They look good this year. Brandywine, Cherokee, Black Cherry and Thai Dragon.

The long weekend brings out the tourists in force. They race and honk their horns at each other. Sometimes they bump into each other in the parking lots and yell at each other. Still, I don’t blame them for wanting to be out here, away from Calgary and the malls, freeways, casinos, high-rises, pavement, neighbours that you live right beside but don’t know, shopping, shopping, fees and movie theatres.

We headed up the pass to look for orchids. We were only five minutes off the main road and we never saw another person. They were all fighting for coffee at Kicking Horse Café, thank God.

Last week there was still snow.

RCE_2631Turning wild.

Today, Scarlett and Cooper ran, climbed banks and contemplated the tops of trees. They found paths in the bush. They followed moose tracks until they were out of sight and we had to call them back. 

RCE_2651Mountain orchid.

The Calypso Orchids were out. Small, among the forest floor, almost invisible, sinking into the moss. 

RCE_2630Kelsie, Scarlett and Cooper, climbing towards the ridge.

I pointed out a snowy mountain and suggested we should run up there. Scarlett and Cooper took off in it’s direction. It had fresh snow. You can do much worse than run towards an unclimbed ridge.

The kids sat in the back of the truck for the ride off the mountain.

Garden

CRW_0009A robin who was singing into the sun turns his back for the camera and scratches it’s ass.

It was good to get out and catch up with the garden. Despite good intentions I am once again behind. Spring always seems to sneak up.

The garden needed digging. The garlic, planted in the fall is not yet up, it could be because it was trampled by the deer before the ground froze. It is hard to say if it will come up. The weeds got shaken and tossed to the side. Tomorrow I plan on running a rototiller through the garden and maybe get a few spuds in the ground. I’ve started a few plants inside, but they are not ready to be put out.

I think we should prepare for another dry one.

***

During the week Lisa and I headed behind the mountain along the creek. There is more yahoos in the bush then ever. We saw some people shooting down the road. We weren’t in their line, but somebody could have easily been. Before I could think, I was out of my truck and asking them what the hell they thought they were doing. They apologized, which I didn’t give a damn about.

Lisa calmly asked, once I got back in the truck, if my new thing is giving people carrying high powered rifles shit?

***

The sun felt good today. My head has been clogged with a cold. The first one I can remember in years. My arms are sunburnt and scratched from pulling out the old raspberry canes. Very fine day.

Slip Slide and Away

_LME9541.jpgIt looks like something from a horror movie, but it’s just me leaving the light on so I know where to pee at night.

Still no snow in the forecast. Damn strange. I picked a helluva year to get a part time job plowing snow. Every morning regardless of the forecast I get up at 3 in the morning and look out the window for snow and to see if I should suit up for work. It really isn’t that big of a hassle, because at 3 am I’m usually due for a piss.

One night in December I got up looked outside. The snow was coming down in sheets. I grabbed a quick bite and headed out, only to find there was no snow, it was clear as a bell. Now I put my glasses on before I look outside.

Yesterday we drove behind the mountains up the creek. I parked in the snow on a slight incline. Willow and I got out for a look around. I only took a few steps before I noticed the truck rolling down the road backwards. Lisa, in the passenger seat, seatbelt still on, didn’t look impressed. I chased after the truck, jumped in and got it stopped.

I thought I’d left the truck in gear, but the warm weather had turned the roads to glare ice and the truck had started to slide. I found some chunkier snow to park on. I wasn’t impressed with the conditions.

Lisa said it was lucky I hadn’t fallen on the ice trying to stop the truck and had it run over me. I agreed, yes that was lucky. She is always looking on the bright side.

Christmas Cake

_LME9532A Christmas treat!

There is nothing like a good Christmas Cake, full of nutrition and a TINY bit of booze. It has everything in it to sustain a person doing hard labour or recreating in the mountains, skiing and hiking. It has the power to keep the cold away and get you back on your feet to finish the trek to the top of the ridge or through the deep snow on the way back home. It has even been used to aid in dragging deer through the bush. Thus is the power of the Christmas Cake.

Some people call it fruit cake, but I prefer Christmas Cake because my mother would make them in November and we couldn’t try them until Christmas, plus they always seem like a gift.

My Mother took pride in her wonderful Christmas Cakes. They were always baked in round pans with choice ingredients and wrapped in cheesecloth and a tea towel. The cloth was pulled back and the cakes were regularily soaked with booze. Brandy was used mostly, but I can remember whiskey, sherry and Grand Marnier were also used. I remember my mother saying it was important to get them properly soaked.

About five years ago, it could be ten the way they are flying by, my sister Deb started making Christmas Cakes from my mother’s old recipe that was written down with some of her other recipes and notes. They were every bit as good as my Mother’s, even better because I didn’t have my father rationing it out to me like it was the last water on a life raft stranded in the middle of the Pacific.

_LME9523 A gift in a dented tin!

This year my other sister Wynanne decided to make the Christmas Cakes. Now Wynanne is an absolutely awesome cook! Her meals are legendary among the family. Her children Christian and Meagan and husband Tim have been treated to many wonderful meals. Whenever I make something I haven’t made before I always phone her and ask advice.

But could she make a Christmas Cake that could stand up to my Mother’s and Deb’s?

It’s a lot of pressure. It should come easy to someone with as fine a culinary skills as Wynanne’s, but with Christmas Cake who knows! Never mind such legendary cakes!

First she had to deal with the recipe itself. Stained and worn, and I am sure, not very detailed. Luckily, Wynanne had the presence of mind to phone Deb and say that she though SEVEN cups of butter was too much.

Deb righted what could have been a disaster and told Wynanne it was seven ounces, not seven cups. They had a good laugh over the stained recipe and what could have been some pretty greasy Christmas Cakes. It seems fitting my sister’s laughing over my mother’s recipe, as my mother could always laugh up a storm. I imagined her laughing along with them.

As promised I received my cake just after Christmas. On opening the heavy tin the smell of boozy cake enveloped my senses. It was everything I remembered as good and fine. I unwrapped it carefully., first the tea towel and then the cheese cloth. It was the perfect colour, dark, nothing like some of the store bought ones.

_LME9524Unwrapping the bounty!

Then the moment of truth, the first bite. It was excellent. Every bit as good as I can remember. Thick cake holding the nuts and candied fruit together, all inebriated in a good soaking of booze.

I sprinkled on another layer of booze before rewrapping and putting it away. Christmas Cake must be continuously hydrated if it is going to last the year (this one won’t). 

_LME9533It ain’t gonna last!

Now I have to start rationing myself. The pieces start off big and get smaller as the cake gets smaller. By the end I’m like my father on the life raft. It, at least, has to last to the end of March and the end of the cold weather.

Wynanne lived up to her Mum and sister Deb. Not that there was ever a doubt.

What a wonderful gift. I’ll enjoy it in the bush and while working. Sometimes you get lucky.