late march

RCE_4780Taking a turn at the look out.

It’s been trying and we haven’t been locked up like some.

We hiked the east side of Columbia Lake. Where the mighty river starts. I’ve never seen where the Columbia turns huge before it spills into the Pacific. Where Salmon run before being turned back by hydro-electric dams. I prefer it up here in the hills.

RCE_4755Pictograph from another time.

The frost is below six inches of soil. Another week and the ground can be worked. I’ve started a few seeds inside. I worry for them as I am a lazy gardener, preferring plants outside.

RCE_4817Getting ready for war.

Most people I know have lost their jobs. Some small businesses may never reopen. It’s always close to the vest even in the best of times.

RCE_4812If only we could read.

We scrambled up into the rocks to an ancient cave where we couldn’t discern the writing. Where battles were recorded. Where people watched loved ones stolen or killed. Where Eagles swooped above goats, knocking newborn kids off ledges to jagged rocks below.

RCE_4770If we had a choice to come back.

The rhubarb is showing. It will be welcome.

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COVID-19

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This week the coronavirus hit the valley. Although, to my knowledge, there hasn’t been any reported cases, there is a sense of panic in the air. 

People shopping the stores bare of hand sanitizer, toilet paper and everything on sale. Others cancelling travel plans, as recommended by our government.  

The resort I work at has cut everyone’s hours. This didn’t come as a surprise, as we cater to international travellers and Canadian tourists, most cancelling their reservations during the usual busy spring break.

The schools in the area have gone on spring break, scheduled for two weeks, still without official word, will undoubtedly be off at least two weeks longer.

It will be interesting how the virus plays out in the coming days and weeks. So far, in Canada, the issue has not become politicized. The information we are receiving from government officials has been consistent and unified. 

My feeling is we may be entering a different time. That things are about to change for many people around the world and here in Canada. 

Rex Murphy, of the National Post, pointed out in his recent column that coronavirus is doing everything the climate change movement has been advocating for several years. Emissions are down, including a whooping 25% in China, more than the entire green house emissions of Canada. Travel, another huge source of pollution, is down.

There has been plenty of news saying we must change for the sake of the environment, but to date very little has changed. Maybe this is where we take it seriously; where we realize we don’t need to travel and build second homes on the edge of every lake.

Now with that said, this is the way it will play out. The people, who consider themselves left leaning environmentalists with lots of money, who live in mansions or on the edge of the wetlands won’t miss a flight or change one iota. 

The middle-class will become poorer and they will have to learn to live with less. They won’t be able to afford to pollute (read heat their homes).

The lower class, which Lisa and I are included, will have a lot less. 

I don’t worry much about Lisa and I, we are used to having not much. Our last holiday was over thirty years ago. We are workers and the world will always need workers. We consigned ourselves long ago to working until we died. Not so bad or unfair considering most of our descendants also did this, why should we be any different?

However, to see many of my co-workers given the word their hours are cut and layoffs are inevitable was painful. They are low on the totem pole, regardless of what our government, left or right says, they are inconsequential, the bottom of the bottom. 

They will have to come to work if they are sick.

Sure the government has plenty of relief policies in place, but not for housekeeping, and not for the poorest Canadians. A teacher or government worker will never miss a pay check, they may even come out ahead.

And so it goes. 

cloudy

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I’m not sure what I would do without those mountains and all the trees. They remind me there is still plenty to climb. I know they are stronger than I’ll ever be. Still, they allow me to be in their world, reminding me where I stand, like the stars. It’s a good feeling to live on rock and wood.

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tracks

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It’s easy to forget where you came from. The trees, mountains and tracks right out the door. Everyone saying to get away. My heart was too stubborn to leave. I try my best to show it to my children and grandchildren, but I hope they don’t feel it like I do. I just want them to know.

Of course, all of it is beyond my control. My new mantra, just like the downtown doctor: do no harm.

Then again that may run contrary to the truth.

It’s compassion, I want to pass on, towards the bush and other living souls. That doesn’t mean not cutting down trees or eating meat. We are animals after all.

The world didn’t get fucked up recently, it’s been that way for awhile.

My bet is still on good sense.

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.

_LME3667Weed

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

_LME3674Hound

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.

_LME3663Peas

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.