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.

stripped down

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Willow has now been properly stripped. Lisa and I held her in place and pulled out all the loose hair. Now she looks like a smooth Dachshund with furry paws and a terriers face.

Willow doesn’t like getting stripped or having her nails cut. It is a bit of a wrestling match and it is important she knows she is going to have it done even if she doesn’t like it. It is usually me who is the bad guy in these situations. It’s funny, because she seems to forget any hostilities right after, and we go back to being the best of friends.

Willow does enjoy a bath though. I am sure she would jump in Lisa’s bath at the first hint of an invitation. I tell Willow not to feel bad, Lisa banned me from her bath a long time ago when I started displacing too much water.

***

The garden is coming along. It’s been chilly the last week. Rain on and off. The tomatoes look stunted. The lettuce and mustard greens are chugging along and we can’t eat them or give them away fast enough. Mid winter, I often think, I’d die for a spring salad. Now they are so plentiful. I’m thinking to save time, I might just go out to the garden and get down on my hands and knees and munch the leaves right down to the soil. It would save time picking, washing and putting on dressing. I could always chug some olive oil and lemon juice later if I was left wanting.

The garlic scapes are coming ready and we have been enjoying quite a few. They are humdingers – hot and spicy! Delicious raw! While I lay in bed last night I thought, shit, I’ve overdone it on the garlic.

***

While driving over the overpass today I saw an old guy on the sidewalk. He was walking slow, shuffling like he was on a patch of ice. He had a hundred yards of sidewalk in either direction before he could rest. Cars whizzing by. He was on his own.

I figure somebody, maybe even a doctor, told him to get out and get some exercise. He figured he walked the overpass plenty of times before, so he set out. He was dressed nice. He looked like a tourist or second home owner.

I worried for him. Not because he looked shaky, but because he looked like he didn’t have a purpose. Going for a walk is never enough. It’s better to be out checking the height of the river, the progress of bulldozers building a dyke or the next condominiums, or the species of birds landing on the wetlands, all the while contemplating a desire to walk the liquor store isles, pushing the need to collect bottles and cans to pay for another snort. And then another walk in the spring sun admiring the girls wearing less.

Or something like that.

***

Willow seems small without her wire hair. She better get her shit together and grow it back in a hurry. . . at least before winter.

a little to burn

_LME7610.jpgPaintbrush

Cool today with some wind and rain on and off. Perfect for splitting wood. I had about a cord of fir and pine that Lisa and I cut last fall that still needed splitting. It was windblown last summer and wasn’t ready to be used last winter. Lisa and I always like to be a year ahead with firewood.

Cooper would have enjoyed working outside at the woodpile. He even has a small axe that he uses under my supervision, when his mother and grandmother don’t hide it. Lisa and I made and sent him a video. While stacking the wood I put an old desk in the woodpile so he and I can sit at it during the winter and have lunch. Lisa says it’s my new office. I told her, why not, I can even get wifi out there!

***

I remember hearing a Los Angeles right-wing, comedian, pundit, celebrity talking about how busy the LA Freeways are and how difficult it is to go anywhere. He said, he wished they would raise the price of gas to $10 a gallon (expensive for the US, we are almost already there in Canada). His reasoning was it would get most people off the freeway and he could get to his appointments in peace.  A price well worth paying he mused. I appreciated his candor, he was honest and probably correct. That doesn’t mean he isn’t an entitled dipshit.

***

Lisa and I have an Instagram account for our business. Instagram is an interesting platform in the social media world. Young people love it. It’s like putting up your greatest hits.

We had a young photographer ‘like’ one of our posts. I went to his Instagram page, he was an exceptional photographer. Under one of his photographs he wrote about preserving the natural world and how we must do everything in our power to kill the Trans Mountain Pipeline. Several other, equally talented photographers, left comments agreeing the oil has to stay in the ground. I don’t necessarily disagree.

I poked around their Instagram posts. Their photos were taken with expensive high quality mirrorless lightweight cameras, with lenses costing thousands of dollars. I noticed some of the photos were taken in Iceland, South America, Nepal, Greece, Alaska, Austria and Asia.

It occurred to me, these young people will never miss a plane ride, safari or travel adventure regardless if the Trans Canada Pipeline is killed or not, or if all the oil in Alberta is left in the ground. Their lives will not change. They will never miss a truck ride or sleep in the cold when they choose not to. The freeway, for them, will just be less crowded.

These are the folks that scare me. I’ve always thought their isn’t much difference between the elite ‘left’ and the elite ‘right’. They both have second homes and the same travel plans.

For Lisa and I, we will be sleeping closer to the fire as we age, trying to stay warm. I am hoping Cooper won’t be sick of us when he gets older and still wants to come out to help with the woodpile.

I also hope, as selfish as this may sound considering the climate, I can still afford a few gallons of gas to escape the ruck of the crowd and deliver me to the wild orchids and dark sky stars that lie beyond the valley bottom.

If they shut down the oil sands and decommission the pipelines, perhaps I’ll dig it up myself.

late April

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Got the garden tilled. It raised to 20° today. It is freezing tonight. This is the part of spring that feels good. The backroads are melting and drying. It will go on for awhile.

Somehow I got a sliver stuck in my finger. It’s a good sliver. In deep. Much bigger than the hole it left going in. Maddy says she is going to come out and extract it. It should be infected by then and will come scooting out. She says she wants to put it on youtube. People love that stuff, she says.

My finger is swelling. I’ll give her till Saturday then, if she hasn’t come, I’ll cut my finger open.

I feel behind watching spring. The birds chatter. I try to see them. Sometimes they reveal themselves and sometimes they don’t.

Somebody looking in would say it’s all by rote, but they would be wrong.

The garlic is up. It’s clear as a bell. The rain is coming. It’s still early enough to turn to snow.

Nothing lasts in spring. Nor does it look the same way twice.

umm

_LME7308It’s occurred to me as I get older I won’t be able to do many things I’ve done for most of my life. For instance; I can’t drink or make love the way I used to.  I can still cast a line and I know the rocks where the fish hide.

But a lot of good that will do me when someone is drinking me dry. Plus I’m old school, I’ve been taught, right or wrong, if you can’t do it someone else will.

I’m used to the way things have become. No saying I won’t get used to it again.

I wrote into a sports channel recently, complaining. It was regarding their coverage of the world curling championships. That made my kids laugh.

My daughter Maddy said, when you complain someone on the other end is pushing rocks around in a Feng Shui Sand Garden while you’re on hold. That made me laugh.

She’s right I guess.

I don’t have a lot of pull anymore. They are going to put curling on whenever they bloody well feel like it.

They’re going to do plenty of other things also, so I better get used to it.

Still, somehow I have to learn to let things be.

I am too old to hurt myself the way I used to. Whether it be with booze or running ten miles in the heat.

Umm!