looking back

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A chinook rolled in taking most of the snow in the valley bottom.

Willow and I headed into the mountains tonight. We were looking for stars, but knew it would be a tough find. Sure enough it was cloud cover. Sometimes the clouds can be scaled via a mountain pass leading to clear skies. It was worth a try. The roads were ice but decent.

Back in the bottoms we took to the lake, frozen with at least 14″ of ice, glare from melt. Pure hell to walk on, especially in the dark. This is were I grew up. Only yards from shore, across the tracks.

It’s a different place now. The lake is an attraction. A commodity to be bought and sold.

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But, here tonight, it doesn’t look much different than I can remember. More ice shacks, less fish, more lights on the east side filling the sky with pollution.

The tracks are there. My world would revolve around those trains. Watching them roll by, the sound, tracks creaking, listening for oiled ties loose on a stoney bed, coal dropping by the cart load, happy to be burned, eventually getting between me and the lake.

Things change, not quickly, but minutely, it’s hard to detect. Until one day you’re scratching your grey beard, in the same place as when you were young, finally figuring the joke’s on me.

cloudy to clear

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The Geminids were hidden by the near-full moon and clouds. We waited looking for a hole in the clouds, but one never opened up. That’s the way it is sometimes. It’s the same with fish biting. No matter how much we try there are some things that won’t be controlled. 

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Tomorrow, with luck, I’ll be back in the bush. 

The New Religion

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I had an argument with a guy recently. It was about dwindling elk populations. He said, elk where being decimated by predators such as wolves, grizzlies and cougars. It was his view that these animals should be culled. I said maybe we should quit hunting elk during their rut and taking the biggest bulls from the heard. Colorado has seen success with managing these hunting practices.

This guy was a hunter and a scientist (so he said) and my comment made him fly off the handle. He over and over again said, ‘Science’ shows it is the predators that are responsible for diminished elk populations.

I infuriated him more by saying, we have to be careful culling animals, because we’ve got it wrong before, I was thinking about those same wolves and plenty of fish species. 

He continued, ranting Science, Science, Science, without so much as offering a fact. It was like the word Science was enough.

I knew he wasn’t worth engaging in an argument. He was a fervent believer.

***

I don’t understand science. I always thought it was nature. The way I alternately blink my eyes at the sky, being the same way we figure out the distance to the stars. 

***

I also don’t understand climate change, but the Science seems to have become a replacement for religion, especially for us in the most prosperous parts of the world. It has sin, guilt and the need for atonement. The Science also promises a way out, if only we live carefully.

And like religion the biggest sinners are the ones who preach the loudest and conjure their desired deity in every conversation and argument. Like the above mentioned hunter/Scientist who, lives on a ranch, and wants to shoot bigger elk.

Today’s Elmer Gantry’s and Jimmy Swaggart’s are now the ‘environmentalists’ living in their big houses on the side of the wetlands, winging their way to explore exotic locations with their light weight Sony cameras, oblivious to there own sins, or perhaps smug in their belief they are pulling the wool over our eyes. 

Fuck I hate religion regardless of what they call it.

kootenay gothic

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Sunflowers

A spritz of rain all day long, never cold enough to turn to snow. Maybe overnight.

The woodpile is stocked but badly piled. Never two pieces sawed the same length. Or chopped the same width. Ununiform, a crooked fence line, lots of space between blocks. Pine mixed with fir, tamarack, birch, depending on winter temperatures. It’s good to have options.

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Headed high into the bush, behind the old mountain, that still holds mystery to this old fool.

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Tested the spring, cut cedar boughs. The dog chased sticks and brought them back. It’s good to be god. 

It’s dark early. The cold is coming. Winter. The meat can stay outside, hanging in the shed overhead or stashed, frozen underground. Prepared, even down a quart, hiding behind a crooked windbreak, it’s the best time to be alive.

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storing it up

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The Chickadees have been busy in the remaining sunflowers. I put a couple large heads on the deck so we can watch the tough little birds do their business. They fly from the garden, to the deck, to the trees where they hide the seed for future consumption, presumably when the cold and snow hits and food is scarce.

A Downey Woodpecker has been watching them and I wonder if he will be the beneficiary of all their hard work.

Like all of nature these small birds seem to work extra hard just to survive. They hide ten times what they will need, because they know most of it will be gone when they need it.

A Turtle lays a hundred eggs and only a small number survive. A tree produces many cones, some fall and lay dormant, some are eaten by birds. Some sprout and are trampled and die or don’t get enough light. Sometimes it takes a lightening strike or fire to clear the brush and let them survive. Without going ‘above and beyond’ perhaps all would have died out by now.

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Then there is us. Humans are the cruelest animal, it is our nature to wreak havoc on animals, resources and the natural world, because we feel we are somehow above or separate from the trees and fish and even the coal in the ground. It’s because, like every other living thing, we guard our young. For them, we produce and consume much more than is required. In this moment of time we have gotten too good at being cruel. All of our seeds are still in the trees, we have ten times more than we need, but we’ve killed off all the woodpeckers.

The last 200 years, even the last 2000 years is such a small amount of time for nature. It is our hubris, maybe even our nature and our weakness, to think we are on top, or somehow in control.

new moon

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It’s been awhile. The stars are up there still. The old moon this morning was a reminder of dark skies, the best time to wonder around. 

So off we went.

_LME3698Andromeda.

Plenty of cloud, not the best conditions. Willow and I headed higher without further success. We walked the old road trying to register bearings. Taurus, up in the valley bottom, was down in the mountains. Cassiopeia was left, showing the way to Andromeda. Despite the weather, or the week, or the news, or our predicament, distance became irrelevant.

That happens when you are where you belong.

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