the rod and gun

lwr&gLake Windermere Rod and Gun centennial poster. 

The above Lake Windermere Rod and Gun poster caught my eye (not difficult as it was designed by Lisa). The poster is for their annual Banquet and Dance. This year the club is celebrating their 100 years anniversary of being in existence. To my knowledge they are the second oldest club in the Windermere Valley

The Rod and Gun does many worthwhile environmental projects throughout the valley and also espouses and teaches ethical hunting, fishing and gun safety to local youth and adults.

The picture on the poster is of A.M. Chisholm. I believe he was one of the founding members of the Rod and Gun.

Mr. Chisholm is posing with his very alert dog, which looks like a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. The photo looks to have been taken at Tayton’s Bay on the shore of Lake Windermere in Invermere. 

Mr. Chisholm was a well read author and wrote several novels that were widely published at the time.

big rivers.jpgOne of Mr. Chisholm’s books, saved by my father.

My father, I believe, looked up to Mr. Chisholm and his writing prowess, as he kept one of his books until his death. He passed the book onto me along with many others. The book’s title is, The Land of Big Rivers. It was published in 1924, by Chelsea House of New York City.

In the photo on the poster Mr. Chisholm is cradling a double barrelled shotgun. It is the same shotgun my grandfather purchased from him. The shotgun was then handed down to my father.

By the time I came along the shotgun was no longer used, having been declared , ‘too old’, by my father. However, tho’ I never shot the gun, I was shot by it. . . and more than once. 

In a display of unsafe gun handling, my older brother would load it with nickels and shoot them at me. I would be told by my mother to go downstairs and call my brother for supper. I’d call from the top of the stairs and he wouldn’t answer, then I’d go down stairs, open his bedroom door and be looking down two large barrels. In hindsight, I am grateful he never mistook a nickel for a shot gun cartridge, which were everywhere in our house. My brother thought it was the funniest thing, and it was for that day and age.

wynanneMy sisters, Wynanne (tallest) and Deb (smiling, middle) with cousins Lloyd and Valerie after a successful duck hunt. Wynanne is holding the same shotgun.

My father handed the antique shotgun onto my Brother-In-Law Tim’s very capable hands. Also fitting as my sister Wynanne may have been the only one to ever fire the gun.

All the very best to the Lake Windermere Rod and Gun Club on their centennial.

early 2019

rce_1741Willow keeps an ear out.

Went out to the bar tonight. It’s been awhile. My good friend turned sixty. Hunter was kind enough to come along. The food and beer was good. Everything is expensive. It has to be. $7 for a draft $20 for an appetizer.

***

It’s a new year. Not sure what to say about it. Last year was tough. We got by and in this day and age that’s a good thing. Maybe the most we can ask for. If lucky, this year will be much the same.

rce_1733The truck not yet stuck.

***

According to the news the world is topsy-turvy. Worse than ever, they say. But I don’t think it’s changed that much. Some things have got better, some worse.

One thing that has stayed the same is our leaders are a bunch of self absorbed arseholes. But when haven’t they been?

***

rce_1748Why I’m careful where I break trail.

We have had three days of above freezing temperatures. The lake has an inch of water on the ice. The snow has receded to the benches. The deer are walking around like it’s springtime. It’s disconcerting, I expect winter to be winter. I wake up and look outside to see if snow is falling. When it isn’t, I go back to bed but not to sleep.

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***

Our occupation with the undoings of Trump and Trudeau is puzzling. They make good news.  However they are far from us. They are certainly scoundrels. But they take away from the more dangerous scoundrels closer to home. Think about that School Superintendent that works to cut wages in the district and gives himself a raise. How about all those developers that, selflessly run for town council changing bylaws for their own benefit. 

In 2019 fuck Trump and Trudeau and all their hype. It’s only a distraction. If you want to slay dragons, do it closer to home.

***

rce_1706A small Downey chips away.

The night is clear. Orion is up ruling the dark. The temperature is dropping. I should be in the bush, knee deep in snow, Willow clearing the perimeter, with only an outward breath between me and the sky.

Turkey Soup

RCE_1698Willow surveys the sticks on shore, carefully picking one to fetch. 

It is a long standing tradition of rotating hosting Christmas dinner among our family. This year it was Lisa’s brother Brent’s family’s turn. There was plenty of great food and wine and lots of good conversation and laughs.

RCE_1679Grey December beside the Columbia.

Brent generously gives me the turkey carcass as he knows I like to make broth from the bones. He always leaves some meat on the bones so I can add it to the soup the next day. Even at this late hour the soup is boiling. I will wait as long as I can before straining the broth. It will be put outside to cool.

Tomorrow I will sauté onions, carrots and onions, add the broth, the left over turkey and a handful of barley. That’s it, supper taken care of.  The kids always loved that soup. Sometimes they would argue over whether I should add barley or pasta noodles. Barley usually won out.

RCE_1689An American Dipper holds down the ice beside the river.

My Mom and Dad used to make the same soup, from turkeys, but also wild chickens we shot. They called it mulligan. It was thick and gamey. They said it was soup that stuck to your ribs. I used to wonder what that saying meant. I thought, maybe the barley acted as glue and stuck to your insides. Later, when I understood a person could go hungry, I realized it could keep hunger away longer than many other foods, some much more expensive.

We are lucky to have so much.

RCE_1660My old path to the fish holes.

current

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It has been a strange winter so far. The mountains are getting snow, yet very little in the valley bottom. The last week has seen temperatures above freezing during the day. Today was sunny and plus 5°. There is ice on Lake Windermere, but open spots here and there. The ice freezes different than when I was a boy. The open spots are in in other locations. It changed when they filled in some of the wetlands for development. It increased the pull of the river exiting the lake.

Columbia and Windermere Lakes are often described, by experts, to be a widening of the river. When I was young I used to try to see where the current was under the surface of the lake. I imagined a time when the lakes were not as wide. If the banks of the lake looked freshly cut within the last thousand years. I’d squint and remove the railway tracks and the few homes along the shore. I would look for schools of fish, under the ice, how they moved, if they were being fed by the years dead insects and animals finally loose on the current. During summer, I would swim the width of the lake feeling where I would get cold from water moving quicker under the hot sun. I would confirm it swimming back.

It is a lot tougher now trying to figure out the current. My father and I used to venture onto the ice, early in winter, when it was safe. We would put up a tree in the places the last of the ice froze, to warn people of thin ice. It was the same spots year after year. My father said there was a spring under the ice in those spots. The tree always looked like an undecorated Christmas tree. The warning was observed, everybody knew.

Now, the lake freezes later. The weak spots are more plentiful. The current doesn’t meander like it used to. I ask myself, why should it be different? The snow is coming. I know that.

ghosts

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There are ghosts everywhere. In the trees and clouds, between mountains, deep in the holler, along the coolies beside the creek, overgrown tangled in willow, littered with deadfalls: each and every overhead cliff, an ancient snag ready and able to hang the guilty.

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Not that I believe in them. Ghosts I mean.

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Most are wondering around. Possibly lost. They don’t say much. Nor me back to them. A courteous nod is about it. Most of the times they are surprised, as I, to have run into each other.

Long ago they’d nudge me awake. My mother used to want to know what they were wearing. I used to be afraid at first. I’d listen to the radio until I was asleep. She would ask, was he wearing an army uniform, a plaid shirt, a tam? Don’t be afraid she’d say. They’re not here to hurt you.

DSC_5286

They’re here to tell you something, she’d say.

I didn’t believe.

The ghosts kept appearing, in the creek bottoms. At night they were among the stars. I’d feel them go through me, in a rush, taking my breath into the sky above the crags.

We got used to each other. They don’t talk, but sometimes I will. I tell them I don’t believe. Then tell them the creek is low, the snow will be early, there is a moose in the upper basin that comes out in the morning to walk the slough, it better keep it’s head down until the end of hunting season.

Animals curve where they shouldn’t. Same as people. Ghosts blend in. Once you see them you will always see them. 

If you believe in that stuff.

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mid October

_LME8912Willow checks out the snow.

The local elections have come and gone. It worked out as I figured. Still there is some hope.

It has been decided to borrow money to buy a parcel of property at river’s edge. The choice was who to develop the land a private business or the District. The choice of leaving the land alone was not on the ballot.

Plastic bags will be banned in retail stores within the District of Invermere. This is a good thing. Still, it rings hollow. We know how to make a difference to the environment. How about banning motorboats that cover the lakes in summer or the second homes that surround the same lakes. Can there be a bigger waste or polluter than either or?

RCE_1562

Back in the old days there was always one guy who built his outhouse over the river. He did it because he didn’t have to dig a hole and his shit sailed away with the current. As for the folks downstream, he didn’t care or even know they existed.

We are not much different today. All those motorboats and vacation homes with treated docks are the same as that old outhouse. We still don’t care about who lives downstream.

Now we carry our groceries to our cars in fabric bags made in India and figure we’ve made a difference.

RCE_1543.jpg

There goes the winter kale.

***

These late October days have been wonderful. Sky blue and rivers clear. The snow is coming along with the chill. Lisa and I are never really ready for it. Probably less so as we grow old.

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good christ

_LME8758

was calling on you tonight
between the whiskey
and telling tales
shouting
beyond the skunk
dead on the road
the starving coyote
getting in garbage.

she looked me
in the eyes
said
fuck god
what s he
a fuckin’
humorist.

good question
but not an easy one
to answer
so i said
maybe he s just
a cruel
motherfucker.

would have been
in my interest
to stick to the story
but i laughed
for a second there
thought i might be saved
then she said no
he s a joker.

neither one of us
were on his side
so we could
both be
trusted.

my old man
before he died
said never quit using it
and don’t trust a man
with god on his side.

on occasion i’ve
slipped up
on both ends of
the advice
and have lived
to regret it.

she had some weed
which was bound
to make her horny
and me
incompetent.

after doing my best
we headed for the tavern
low and behold
there he was,
christ
dirty hand
wrapped
around a beer.

drunk
one elbow
on the bar
eyes fixed on
a young
waitresses
ass.

we looked at
each other
dumbfounded.

it was time
to settle
all bets
we drew
straws.

she asked
was he a
humourist
he made
her laugh
then they
were off
for the back seat
of whatever
christ drives
maybe a
ranchero.

me
i
still
figure
he’s a
cruel
mother
fucker.