early February

RCE_1852The garden gate.

Here it is the start of February and the temperature is 8°c., in a month it can go as low as -40!

A warm wind rolled in yesterday. The snow has mostly melted in the valley bottom, leaving puddles on the frozen ground.

RCE_1854Willow with a full coat of hair, looking worried, while winter seems to be coming to a premature end. “Did I grow this hair for nothing?” she was heard to say.

I had three people mention gardening to me today. It seems too early to consider. Still I looked at seeds online. Willow and I even strolled out to the garden. The deer have really trampled my garlic rows. Hopefully the plants won’t be effected. There is deer shit from asshole to tea kettle (asshole to tea kettle, was a saying my father regularly used. It means a lot and afar).

The forecast is calling for cold temps.

It was a good day to hang out in the wood pile.

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Cooper’s and Papa’s axes.

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.

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.

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.

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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 July

lake_smAbove the lake.

It seems these last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. Lisa and I still make time to get out in the bush regularly. The weather has been clear and hot. The garden is chugging right along.

Our children have been out to visit. It has been nice to have them with plenty of laughter filling the house. We helped move Lisa’s parents into a new home. Their old place was getting too large for them. Now they live just a stone’s throw from us. This is a relief for Lisa. It was so nice to see our kids taking time away from their schedules in the city to come home and make their grandparents welcome. They think the world of their Grandparents, and know how hard they have worked for everything. Lisa and I are very proud of our children.

RCE_0397Glacier Lillies. Maddy and Lisa telling Chad to pay attention,
while he takes a photo of the large peaks.

The photos in this post are from a place I find very special. Lisa, Maddy, Chad, Willow and I hiked in yesterday. It has been several years since we have been there, due to roads and bridges washed out. There was a time I would hike from wherever the road ended. But I was young and stubborn then. My Father and I even had some long hikes into Leman Lake.

RCE_0373.jpgAlpine Forget-Me-Not.

Back then the trail crossed several slides with tall skunk cabbage and elder bushes. It was closed in thick. You never knew if a bear or moose was going to be waiting for you around the next corner.

We all looked in vain for a way to cross the swift creek. While Lisa, Chad and I were looking for a deadfall across, we noticed Maddy on the other side putting her boots back on. That ended the search. We all took off our boots rolled up our pant legs and subjected our feet to freezing cold water and sharp rocks. Willow crossed enthusiastically, got caught in the current, and came out about twenty yards downstream.

RCE_0412Scorpion Weed. 

We took time to rest, along the trail. It was still steep and in some places overgrown. Lisa reminisced about hiking here while pregnant with Kelsie. Being pregnant never slowed her down. We wondered around marvelling at the sights and smells.

The hike reminded me to try to stay in good enough shape to be able to show these places to Cooper and Scarlett when they are old enough to hike the mountains on their own. That will be sooner than a blink of an eye. Yet that same, seemingly small, time will start taking a toll on my hips and knees. No doubt, just as my father, my balance will be tested on logs over the creek and I’ll curse the rain for making the rocks slippery.

willow_smWillow takes a dip.

We looked for wild flowers and porcupine quills. Maddy and Lisa alerted Chad to pay attention, because,  if I pointed out a ‘Glacier Lily’ on the way up, I may ask him what it was on the way down and he better know the answer.

RCE_0511Sky, rock, bush and water.

To experience these places with loved ones is a gift. The colour of the lake, the sky and large mountains, the smell of spring slides bringing down old spruce, the ice and snow and how I cheer it now, thinking if we could only get a few cold years the glaciers could build up again, how I am a fool to think such things are up to me, the fish and bears and all the wild flowers, the overgrown trail with so many ghosts and so much yet to show.

I always try to look extra hard before I leave, because I never know when I will see it all again.

a rainy start to summer

_LME7756smWillow’s smile.

Very fine day to wrap up the long weekend. Most of it was spent in the shop/studio wrapping up loose ends. Because it’s a holiday there wasn’t many texts coming in. Nowadays, everybody expects texts to be answered right away. I try my best to oblige, but it takes me away from actual work. Today I made some progress.

It rained most of the day. I kept the door open, so Willow and I could enjoy it. With luck it will help minimize the forest fire danger. It was especially welcome this weekend when the bush is filled with revellers lighting large camp fires and setting off fireworks. Not that they are the biggest threat, the only forest fires this year have been started by loggers.

***

_LME7730Babies Breath above the graves.

In the evening Willow and I set off for the bush. There is a special calm after a raucous long weekend. First we went to Windermere to the old graveyard. I promised I would say  hi to Mom and Dad.

Windermere is a strange town now. It was one of the first communities in the Valley. The few historical sites that remain are surrounded by huge second homes (cabins they are called by their owners) that are occupied only six weeks a year. The town is 80% populated by second home owners. The school has remained open only by offering special programs that appeal to families throughout the valley. Otherwise it would have been closed long ago.

This is one of the weekends the second homes are occupied. I got some dirty looks driving toward the graveyard. My pick up didn’t fit in with the Cadillac SUV’s and Beamers. Plus my licence plate was the wrong colour. For all they knew I could have been casing the place.

Walking the rows between the old names. There was the Fishers, Crooks, Tegarts, Kimptons, Youngs and plenty others dating back to the 1800’s. There was also Bingo, the Best Darn Dog in the Land. Dug recently.

My Grandfather once owned a strip of land from the highway all the way down to the graveyard. It didn’t have a drop of water. The land wasn’t worth spit.  They had a ditch from Windermere Creek they got their water and  irrigated the gardens. It must have only been a trickle during summer. They raised turkeys and chickens and sold vegetables. It wasn’t easy. Long after my Grandfather sold, the land was bought and subdivided by a developer. It is now covered in large houses overlooking Lake Windermere. People that never have a thought of what came before.

***

_LME7743Indian Paintbrush.

After that Willow and I headed for the hills. The looks we got leaving were not as bad.

Once in the bush, the rain falling, we finally felt ourselves.

_LME7761Wood Lily.