Early December

_LME9439-Pano-smThe sky above Lake Windermere. Pleiades directly above Taurus. The lights of Windermere and Fairmont. A satellite streaks at the top of the frame.

The snow still hasn’t started to fly in earnest. It’s coming, it always does. Meanwhile, I’m still getting used to the cold. My toque goes on in the morning and doesn’t come off until bed. Lisa even wore hers through the weekend. She looks cute in a toque.

_LME9441.segComet 46P/Wirtanen can be seen in the leading photo. This is it enlarged. It looks like a green smudge. Throughout December it will rise in the eastern sky towards Pleiades. 

Our house can be chilly. We believe in putting on a sweater before turning up the heat. The woodpile is holding up. It has some good wood in it. Fir, tamarack, pine and even juniper. It’s good to mix it up. If you are cold and need it warm quick, pine is the way to go. If you want it slow and hot, fir. If you are going to bed and want some embers in the morning, then tamarack. If you are staying up, maybe you’ve had some wine or smoke, juniper will set the mood with it’s wonderful smell and light.

Every know and again I’ll get a few blocks of spruce. It’s light put hard to split due to it’s twisted grain. If it freezes hard in November the trees crack like gunshots. When splitting, it is not uncommon to come across a worm, pale white, as big as a finger, hiding in the wood. It always crosses my mind maybe someday I’ll be happy to come across this protein.

Speaking of protein. I made mincemeat on the weekend. Currents, raisins, apple, brown sugar, sherry, suet, orange and lemon peel and every spice in the cabinet. I think those old-timers knew how to cook.

Lisa makes wonderful pastry and has promised me tarts.

Winter is looking better all the time.

There it is

_LME9434ISS appears in the west. The streak is its movement captured in a 30 second exposure.

There have been plenty of times I’ve seen the International Space Station go across the night sky. Tonight was the first night I planned for it. It seemed only fitting with newly arrived Canadian, David Saint-Jacques aboard. 

It is the first time a Canadian has been in space since Chris Hadfield in 2013.

Chris Hadfield has been an inspiration to Canadians, sharing his experiences, singing songs and even writing a children’s book. 

I followed Hadfield’s photography when he was on the Space Station. He took wonderful images of the Canadian landscape as it appeared from space. They were both fierce and fragile.

_LME9425-Pano.smA panorama of three photos facing east. Taurus, Hyades and Pleiades can be seen in twilight. A meteor streaks towards Nutmucqcin. 

I arrived early took a few pictures and set up the camera. Sure enough the Space Station appeared right on time in the west and started across the sky. It increased in brightness as it moved directly overhead. It was my intention to get a photo of it against the eastern landscape, however the cold made my camera loosen from the tripod. Metal parts shrink in -12°c. The camera had been sitting without use for a half hour. By the time I secured the camera ISS was gone. That’s planning for you and why I’ll never work for NASA.

From what I read and hear all Canadians are excited to have another astronaut to cheer for and wish David Saint-Jacques a safe, successful mission.

Late November

_LME9394.sm

A proud raven, with a shiny red piece of meat in it’s beak, flew and perched on our roof. I distracted Willow, so she wouldn’t see, but she caught a whiff. The barking started, the raven took off into the grey November sky. 

Used the last of the summer onions today. The ones I plucked out of the dry earth when the sky was shrouded in smoke from forest fires. They were tucked away and it was lucky I’d found them.

We still have plenty of beets, spuds, carrots, garlic and smoke. The firewood is also plenty, more than holding up.

November, when the ground is either froze or not, can be harsh. The light continues to diminish, colours disappear and are replaced by grey. It can rain or snow and footing must be tested.

There’ll come a day, sure as hell, we’ll suffer shortages.  But for now, thank God, it’s only money.

***

Rode into the bush tonight just to make sure the stars were still up there. It’s been awhile since the sky has cleared. Sure enough there they were between breaks in the clouds. They were all out of place from the last time I looked. It is reassuring to become aligned once again.

We were treated to two owls hooting back and forth. The one who started first sounded like a dog barking. Willow’s hackles went up. Her circle got smaller and she barked back. Then another owl started. It was the the barking owl, the barking dog and then the hooting owl, over and over, for about ten minutes. Finally, between the three of them, they must have worked out their differences and stopped the chatter. Quiet returned. Willow’s circle grew.

***

Down in the valley or up in the mountains, at my age, I’m lucky, I walk where I want, I’m either not worth the bother or too much trouble. Willow stays alert just in case my bluff is called.

Clearing

_LME8804-sm.jpgThe Milky Way dips below the horizon, leaving the night to the brilliant winter stars.

Willow and I took for the benches, beyond the ruck, into the burn. We arrived early. The Moon wasn’t down and Orion wasn’t up. We neither had a cup of coffee or a beer to expedite the wait. Willow occupied herself looking for mice. I thought about hunting. How I could have filled the freezer by now, instead I’m foolishly after stars.

_LME8818-Pano.jpgIt was an exceptional fall day. No clouds, cool but with sunshine. Today cannnabis is legal for recreational use in Canada. It is the step in the right direction to give people the right to do what they have been doing all along. Growing, packaging, advertising, pricing distribution and tax collecting will now be handled and approved by government and friends.

_LME8794-smA meteor streaks beside Mars before it follows the moon over the eastern ridge. 

It is odd to see folks so long in favour of prohibition now on the other side, espousing and controlling the market they see as lucrative.

_LME8820-smAlong the fence line, into the darkness, chasing the night.

Wouldn’t it be funny if everybody just grew their own.

More small gardens would be a good thing.

It took the moon to go down before the sky was dark enough to make out The Milky Way.

_LME8799-smOrion rises, in pursuit of Taurus and Pleiades. The trees limbs point to Orion’s Belt.

Very fine night.

 

 

western stars

_LME8765-Pano.smHazy nights often reveal colour from both Earth and the stars. The green and purples are from space. The orange is from earth, artificial light bouncing off clouds. Mars shows red near the horizon left. A rock sculpture is in the foreground, I damned near tripped over it and lit it with my cell phone so it could be seen in the photo. Lots of light, man made and natural.

Willow and I escaped the valley bottom and headed west. Usually it’s east for us to watch the stars come up. Once we got situated it was plain to see the stars were trying to shine through cloud.

Since February, The Milky Way has swung from right in front of me to over my shoulder. Willow’s nose was down; smelling rodents, sweating, busy all night making nests for winter. All of us attached to those stars whether we know it or not.

The stars seem to be going by faster now. They say that happens when you get older. The beer goes quicker near the bottom of the keg. Same with a full tank of gas. It seems to stay full forever, but the last quarter goes quick.

In the east, Orion (Wintermaker) is coming up sideways, turning face on, to guide us through cold.

we’re all running for something

slink

Tonight was an all candidate forum for the upcoming Municipal and School Board election. There are several candidates running who I know very little about. Also several incumbents who are stepping down so the council chambers is going to have a different look regardless.

This forum was a little different from others in the past. At the beginning of the evening each candidate was at their own table. People could sit with them and ask them questions.

When I arrived most candidates had at least a few people around their tables. The two that didn’t were the candidates vying for the sole School Board position. I was in luck because these were the candidates I wanted to ask a few questions. I asked them the same questions and came away with a better idea of what each brings to the position.

After the table discussions a more formal process took place where the candidates were able to introduce themselves, followed by questions submitted by the audience to named candidates.

Along with the School Board candidates were two candidates running for Mayor and six candidates running for four Councillor positions. One of the Councillors was not present. He is an incumbent. If I recall he missed the forum at the last election. He has a good reputation, perhaps election forums are not his thing. I was disappointed he didn’t show up as it goes with the job and speaks of his commitment.

Most of the questions were directed at the Mayor and Councillor candidates. Many were soft balls with each candidate taking a turn to espouse how much they care for the environment, how we need to explore alternative energy sources and, of course, sustainability, the buzz word of the night.

There were moments of importance throughout the evening. There isn’t any contentious issues on the books, however audience members got a glimpse of how each candidate will handle themselves under difficult circumstances.

Of interest, two Councillor candidates spoke about the motorboat pressure on Lake Windermere. Neither are on council now. It’s interesting, because the topic of pressure on Lake Windermere, mostly by tourists and second home owners has long been a topic not to be discussed, in case we are to dissuade the ringing of our businesses cash registers by our neighbours to the east. I found it encouraging they spoke up. It could very well be their political naïveté allowing them to do so. I could almost hear the incumbents (both business owners) bums clenching at the mere mention of the topic.

There are also two referendum questions on the ballot. Should the district ban plastic bags and should the district borrow 5 million dollars to buy a a parcel of riverfront property? The plastic bag question got nary a mention.

It was a good evening, though not well intended, which I take to mean most citizens are content.

For me, it was about learning a little about the candidates to help with my decision come October 20th.

Thanks to Imagine Invermere for putting on an informative evening.

good christ

_LME8758

was calling on you tonight
between the whiskey
and telling tales
shouting
beyond the skunk
dead on the road
the starving coyote
getting in garbage.

she looked me
in the eyes
said
fuck god
what s he
a fuckin’
humorist.

good question
but not an easy one
to answer
so i said
maybe he s just
a cruel
motherfucker.

would have been
in my interest
to stick to the story
but i laughed
for a second there
thought i might be saved
then she said no
he s a joker.

neither one of us
were on his side
so we could
both be
trusted.

my old man
before he died
said never quit using it
and don’t trust a man
with god on his side.

on occasion i’ve
slipped up
on both ends of
the advice
and have lived
to regret it.

she had some weed
which was bound
to make her horny
and me
incompetent.

after doing my best
we headed for the tavern
low and behold
there he was,
christ
dirty hand
wrapped
around a beer.

drunk
one elbow
on the bar
eyes fixed on
a young
waitresses
ass.

we looked at
each other
dumbfounded.

it was time
to settle
all bets
we drew
straws.

she asked
was he a
humourist
he made
her laugh
then they
were off
for the back seat
of whatever
christ drives
maybe a
ranchero.

me
i
still
figure
he’s a
cruel
mother
fucker.