Late March

Kelsie, Cooper and Scarlett called to me to complete the ring. This Fir tree would be well over 300 years old. To think of its place in history. The many forest fires it survived, drought, world wars, colonization and the epic battles of the lands first people. It resides in a place known for warring between the Ktunaxa and the Peigan Blackfeet Pikáni. This one even survived the greed of developers. This area, on the east side of Columbia Lake is now protected, the developers satiated after being handsomely paid off.

This was the time of year I’d get stuck, sometimes on the flat. Teaches me for running around on bald tires. I don’t have to do that like I used to. I’d ask Bucky which tires had the most rubber after the tread was worn off. That’s how you know a good tire. It is easy to slip slide yourself into real trouble.

An old Ranger with a mismatched box. Smelling like oil and rust, but can still deliver a half yard of well rotted manure.

I took one of these roads yesterday. The snow hard in the trees, soft where the sun hits. Four wheel drive can’t save you once the truck starts pushing snow. It gathers under the truck and before long you either need to shovel or hope for another week of warm weather.

Spring clouds with a few more snowstorms inside. I could always walk up that hill if someone was chasing me, I bet they would give up before I did.

The plants have been started inside. Tomatoes (Black Krim, Brandywine and Black Cherry), basil, some flowers and a couple varieties of cannabis. The frost is out of the ground where my garden lays and is waiting to be dug. Scarlett, Cooper and I took down the tall sunflower plants we left for the winter birds.

Scarlett smelled them before she found the Juniper Berries. It’s Spring after all, they are filling with sap. She stuffed her pockets to take to her friend Savannah, she said. Hopefully Kelsie checked her pockets before doing the wash.

***

Amazing everything said is taken seriously. The figuring consciences is that both are inside us. Bad and good. We use them to get what we want.

Kindness works almost always. But if you have to fight back, fight back harder.

*** 

Don’t think I forget every old timer like me on the road is a desperate man. It makes me drive close to the shoulder. Not to mention the middle age driving up my ass and the youngsters taking too long in the Horton’s line. For the most part everyone is respectful. But you never know when that might change. We all have reason after all.

Activity

Who needs a toboggan when you can slide down hills on your bum?

The birds have been active as of late. Plenty of chirping and fluttering in the trees. Some even allow me to see them. A wonderful weekend treat. The melt continues.

Our house also has been active. Lisa and I are looking after our Grandkids, Cooper and Scarlett, while their parents are on a short vacation. It has been very nice for us. They certainly keep us on our toes. It makes me wonder how we raised three children while running a very busy business. We both agree we couldn’t do it now.

Willow trying to prove she is actually a big dog.

We had our daughter Kelsie when we were young, especially for today’s standards. In doing so we are young grandparents. Thank goodness!

Handsome Cooper, sweaty as usual.

I took Cooper to his hockey practice on Friday. It was good to be in the rink again. Cooper scored three goals in the scrimmage. One was a highlight reel goal scored while laying on his back, sweeping it in with his stick. It really was something! His coaches came over and congratulated him on such an effort. After, I told Cooper he did so well because I laced his skates. He just laughed and said, “No. Papa”.

Talking , laughing, crying, mad, happy. It is hard to tell.

Scarlett is difficult to take a photograph of. She is moving and TALKING all of the time. She can climb hills as fast as her brother and seems to have a competitive streak, something she has inherited from her Mother and Grandma.

Outside in the bush.

It is a wonderful gift to watch them grow, laugh and even struggle. To be a part of their lives, to have them feel comfortable with us is incredible. Lisa and I can’t imagine it any other way.

Filling their water bottles at he same spring their Great Grandfather and Great Great Grandfather did so. They agreed the water was sweet.

Late in the afternoon a bird sang. I couldn’t make out the birdsong, but all types of birds, Chickadees, Sparrows and even crows seemed to be stirred.

Sometimes you get lucky.

Walking the Rails/Women’s Day

Familiar tracks.

Walked the tracks on the weekend to the old fishing holes I used to be so fond of when I was a youngster. It was about this time of year I used to throw the first lines with the hope of hooking a nice char.

The old bridge site and brush thicker than the hair on a dog’s back.

The walk is different now. For one I don’t carry a rod. Willow enjoys trotting the banks among her namesake the Red Willow lining the Columbia. We did it early in the morning before the mud thawed, saving Willow from bringing her weight home in river silt.

A couple large Swans, either Tundra or Trumpeter, flying north. At one time they were nearly hunted to extinction. Their loud honking is exceptional, as was evident on our walk. When they are shot and dying they make a soft cooing, known as the Swan song. Incredible birds and hard to sneak up on. Perhaps they tired of being shot.

There is nothing as soothing as walking railway ties. Seeing how many you can step at once walking or running. Balancing the rail, jumping from rail to rail. Giving the engineers a wave, counting cars until the red caboose. And if lucky, on the way home, the train would slow enough to swing up onto a coal car and jump off right beside our old house where it was sure to slow due to the half mile of twined track. The trick was not to let the engineer or brakeman in the caboose see you. This required walking further up river from home while tired and often late to a bend in the tracks. Sometimes the train wouldn’t come and it was a longer walk home and a scolding for not arriving on time. Admittedly the scoldings were never much in our house. Looking back I’m not sure my parents even knew I was late until I walked in.

Willow gets ready to drive away regardless if I am ready or not or if the windows have been scraped.

Now you can get fined for walking the rails by the CPR police. Luckily they are not around much. They make a concentrated effort to fine trespassers after someone throws themselves under a train, which happens more often than you think it would. They always rule it an accident.

A young Mule Deer doe gives us a look and listen.

As a twelve year old carrying a pack and fishing rod I never had a problem. If the train was going too fast I gave it a pass even if it made the walk home long. Don’t think I could run fast enough to grab the ladder now. Besides what would Willow do?

***

It is International Women’s Day. In honour, this is a video our Granddaughter Scarlett and her Mom sent Lisa and I today.

I believe her!

Early February

Scarlett and Willow. They are a close duo. Scarlett knows that Willow wants her to be the boss. Scarlett treats Willow with ultimate kindness, but scolds her if she doesn’t listen. Willow responds and they are the best of friends.

It seems I don’t have the time I used to. It’s morning, then afternoon and I still don’t have much done then it’s supper and evening with not much crossed off the list.

That’s getting old I guess.

Daylight is extended. February is when you notice it. The snow softened enough today that made me think I could walk in it. Before long I was stuck going up. Willow wasn’t much better. We got to laugh at each other. The snow melted in my boots but somehow I stayed warm.

Very fine day.

before the freeze

The last of the open water.

Very fine day. My hound is feeling better. Lisa and I took one last look at the lake. Marvelling at the still water open before the freeze. Later we headed for the mountains, throwing the truck into four wheel drive.

Willow caught on the wrong side of a fight. A Penrose drain and some antibiotics needed to make her feel better.
A curious bird.

I offered Scarlett and Copper $5 each if they could find a bird in their guide book. It made me feel good they found the American Dipper and damn near got in a fight about who would hold the book for the picture.

Scarlett and Cooper making their old grandpa happy.

It cleared as much as it does in November. Jake climbed a tree in his between fall and winter boots. A true swinger of birches. The sun was down by 4:30 and dark by 6.

The fire is on. My arms remain strong. Plenty of wood needs splitting. A good day rouses me as much as a bad, when it doesn’t I’ll have to take a good long look.

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.