Late December

_LME4387Cooper enjoys riding solo.

There has been plenty of work this holiday season and more to come, but it has been the family times that have made it worthwhile.

_LME4396 Scarlett winks as she rides by.

Plenty of fresh air and good food. More importantly most of our children have come to visit. We take what we can get when we can get it. We miss our children but are happy they are doing well. These times are a highlight.

_LME4503Loud and proud. Two peas in a pod.

_LME4375Teaching the youngsters how to tackle a corner.

 

 

garden markers

_LME2792Cooper and Scarlett not quite into posing.

We used to have the kids hold up a sign in the garden with the date. It was to mark the growing of the garden as we did it several times of year. It’s even greater purpose was to mark the growing of our children.

The last time Kelsie, Cooper and Scarlett came to visit we thought it would be a good time to get them in on the tradition. Although they enjoyed making their signs they didn’t really understand the importance of holding them up. That’s okay we have time to practice.

kelsieKelsie

maddyMaddy

hunterHunter

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.

Birthday

Albert RiverBob and Ron at Cedar creek.

Took your great grandchildren Cooper and Scarlett ice fishing last weekend, down below the old house where we used to skate and set lines. You should see those two, they are so wonderful. Lisa and I checked over our shoulders more than a few times to see if you were at the window waving.

Still run into plenty of things you’d find interesting. The Siskins were alive in the bush this morning. Zzweet zzweet in every direction through the trees. A few even allowed me to see them. Mighty kind of them.

CRW_0026Female Pine Siskin

A Water Ouzle arrived along the creek, bobbing up and down, driving Willow nuts. It was along the trail we walked often. Where you would point out cougar tracks and small orchids. Where an owl flew over us when I was small. There was something about that owl. It had power. The way it stopped moving it’s wings and sailed into the thick, silent, disappearing behind spruce and moose moss.

CRW_0022Water Ouzle (American Dipper)

A lot of things have changed in the valley since you left. Some for the better some naught. Still it’s easy to find those old trails. Not sure I ever told you this, I know you know, still, I appreciate you showing me all those places and animals so long ago. It’s always kept my boat pointed in the right direction.

Say hello to Old Joe Noseitall!

mid January

img_1449Photos from a previous eclipse.

Cloud cover obscured this years lunar eclipse. The day before was nice and the day after. The night of the eclipse, the light of the moon could be seen through the clouds, but disappeared once it darkened in the Earth’s shadow. It will be awhile until another comes our way.

***

Lisa and I spent a few days in Calgary visiting our children and grandchildren. It was so nice to see them.

Lately, I have been reminded that my ‘stock has gone down’. As we age, society lets us know we are not as valued. I understand it. I can’t work the way I once did. Nor do I have as much to contribute, in taxes, energy, or innovative ideas. I have a hard enough time trying to get Netflix on the TV, let alone navigating the in’s and out’s of being a contributing citizen of, what seems like, a world I understand less and less with each passing day.

I know it’s only going to get worse. Not that I’m complaining. I’m not sure if I want to continue to contribute, just as long as I’m never a burden.

Going to the city always exacerbates these thoughts.

***

img_0918Cooper and Willow.

It’s tough being three. You get told what to eat, what to wear, and what to do. You get asked constantly if you have to pee, and if you say no, they say, maybe you should try.

I could tell Cooper was feeling some frustration. He is three and wants to do everything himself.

He doesn’t want to put mitts on or zip up his jacket. He wants to climb into the truck even though it take a long time. He doesn’t want to eat a decent breakfast, he prefers Eggos.

It is good to be a Grandpa. Him and I can team up. Cooper makes me feel needed and I. . . let him do what he wants.

We took Willow to the park. Willow had to be on a leash. Cooper was in charge of Willow leading her onward to mice, which there seems to be no shortage in the city. I told him, Willow wants him to be the boss. He liked that. Willow dug at the frozen ground and deadfalls for the mice tunnelling below.

Willow is not used to being on a leash but seemed to know the score.

Later we stopped at a restaurant and had soup, chicken fingers and fries. Cooper put enough ketchup on his plate to float a boat, I didn’t say a word, other than to ask him if he had to pee. He said no and I took his word for it.

***

IMG_0935.jpgScarlett getting her morning massage.

Scarlett, likes to sit with me in the mornings. Her hair and bangs are long and shade her eyes, before they are tied back for the day. She is as cute as a button and brimming with smiles and energy.  I can already see the strong headedness of her Mother and Grandmother. She has already made it clear that she will not take any guff her brother is handing out.

***

A litre of gas is 40¢ less a litre expensive in Alberta than BC. This amounts to about $60 less on filling up my truck in Alberta. Most of it is extra taxes we pay in British Columbia, including additional green house gas taxes.

The argument is the higher taxes will drive down consumption. I am sure it works. I know I don’t take as many trips into the bush. However, in BC, incredibly, many of the biggest polluters are exempt from the taxes.

The green house gas taxes go into general revenue, some used to pay for our already bloated public service or even given back to the largest polluters.

I live beside the train tracks. Several coal trains go by everyday taking the dirtiest fuel to ships on the coast to be burned for electricity in oversea countries.

Something tells me our politicians, regardless of stripe, really don’t give a shit.

***

The world seems more confusing. Then again, with age, things get simpler. Making a difference is right under our thumb. . . did I tell you about my grandkids?

img_0910Willow chews the log Cooper is sitting on.

dog run

rce_1789smJake runs with Chewy. Dave looks on.

Dave, Jake and I thought it was about time we let the dogs get to know each other. Jake and Dave’s dog, Chewy, a purebred poodle is six months old, only a puppy. She is an intelligent specimen of the breed, with expressive eyes and smile if you can see through all the fur.

Willow wasn’t sure what to make of all the excitement. Jake and Chewy ran rampant. Taking turns knocking each other into the snowbank. Willow tried not to get trampled and had to give a snarl and nip on occasion.

rce_1815smJake sharpens the end of a stick. Regardless of age one must have something to run with.

Dave and I talked about people who have died recently. There has been quite a few. Local people. Winter can be hard on life. We are men after all, that’s why we talk, trying to be serious, knowing someday we will be the ones talked about.

rce_1793smJake commands.

In the meantime, it’s kids and grandkids, knee deep snow, colours dim but alive in winter’s waning  light and dogs running happy.

We all agreed, men, boy or dog, it’s hard to be serious when January feels like spring.

pitter patter

RCE_1105Fireweed.

Rain the last few nights. It feels good. Tonight the stars can be seen while rain hits my face. There is a smell of woodsmoke in the air, not from forest fires but a wood stove.

Most of the garden is in. If I was smart, ambitious and had extra dough, three things that have always been in short supply, I’d build a new fence around the garden. It’s a battle with the deer. They have been leaving their calling cards on the outside of my decrepit fence. By the time they break in they will have my blessing.

There is  a lot of beets and chard we have yet to address. Both are sweet. We grate them and cut them raw for every meal. If we only ate them and nothing else, now until November, there would still be too many.

Lisa and I are missing the pitter patter of little feet on the floor.

Scarlett

Nothing like a garden tomato._LME8487

clearing

KMS_6497rt
Lisa and Scarlett. Two peas in a pod, believe me, those smiles mean trouble.

A wonderful few days with our grandkids, Cooper and Scarlett, while their parents slipped away for a mini holiday to the Okanagan.

Lisa and I decided the best plan of action, since they haven’t been away from Mom and Dad overnight, was to keep them busy. Each morning found us up the creek behind the mountain. Cooper and Scarlett did plenty of walking. Cooper worked hard on his rock and hill climbing. Scarlett learned to call Willow to keep her close. We walked through trees and bush, noting the colour in the leaves, the rabbits ducking into the undergrowth and the wild chickens (grouse) that seem plentiful this year.

By lunch and supper Cooper and Scarlett were hungry. By bedtime they were tired and didn’t put up a fuss for Mom and Dad or wanting to stay up late. They slept through the night. In the morning we were off to it again.

IMG_0185
Cooper with supper and his pretend smile.

Cooper did seem to get a little tired of my boiled carrots and spuds at every meal – hey you eat what is ready in the garden. On their last night here I made a big spaghetti dinner. Mom and Dad were back and everyone enjoyed it. Of course the sauce had plenty of carrots.

Lisa and I are lucky. . . and I’m not talking about being able to grow carrots.

***

Light rain tonight. It feels good, cool and fresh. Today the clouds were as high as they’ve been for awhile. The mountains showed up and lo and behold had a coat of snow.

Very fine extended weekend.

garden

RCE_0866.jpg

Cooper and I pulled the peas on Friday night. They were ready to come out. We saved some dry wrinkled pods for next season,

On Saturday morning we made Huckleberry Jam. I never make enough to really feel comfortable that it will turn out. The berries are hard to come by this year.

Later we dug the garlic. It was a heck of a job under the sun. We laid them to dry on a canvas tarp. We tried to find shade but there wasn’t any.

_LME8114.jpg

On Sunday we went to the the drugstore and bought a toothbrush to clean the dirt off the garlic. We trimmed the beards and cut their necks. They looked good. Copper negotiated a good deal for his Mom and Dad. At first I said only one clove. The next thing I knew they are going home with pounds.

_LME8119.jpg

It’s been warm. I look at the edges. The leaves dyeing, yellowing under the plants. The cool that hits before light. The squash that puts out. The snakes that scatter near the railway. The plants that don’t belong, but thrive. The shore line, altered, but still recognizable.

It always makes me wonder. The clock, the river, sun up, the stars, all that. Times have changed. No matter how hard I close my eyes and imagine, it will never go back to the way it was.

That’s a goddamn good thing.

Diving off the clay banks into the young Columbia. Swimming among the weeds.

Cooper and Scarlett hold my hands while they walk. I want to both protect them and set them free.