Huckleberry Jam

Dear Ma,

I used your old recipe tonight. Do you remember Dad hiding the Huckleberry Grand Marnier Preserves in the stair well? He hid it so you wouldn’t give it away. Thats good jam!

I put in more berries and less sugar, you know it, I doubled the Grand Marnier.

It was a good berry year. Lisa and I were up hell-and-gone filling buckets.

When you said 5 and a half cups of huckleberries I figured you meant six.

I know you weren’t much for following recipes.

The place is different now. Dad would have gone crazy, crazier, I mean. 

You might like it. Plenty more people. Just as many scrambling as there used to be.

Just like back then, it is almost impossible to help them no matter how hard you try. Now it is more evident. Not that you would have quit trying.

My writing doesn’t try to save, It fights a losing battle. I try to remember, what you said, about the reason to write at all, to mend. To come half way.

I imagine you giving up your painting and photography for that half way promise you gave to your distracted partner, your daughters and sons.

Your favourite died last fall. Ron passed, he was ready, he’d lived several lifetimes. 

I opened a bag of sugar, stored in the basement, it was full of ants. Little ones. If I was making the jam for just me I would have cooked them up, Instead I threw the sugar away. Such waste.

Luckily the sugar upstairs was ant free, It’s still good here ants or not.

I don’t want to tell you about all the changes, some would make you sad. The huckleberries still grow on the slides and cutblocks. Invermere still holds council but no one cares they line their own pockets. It’s little fish now. 

Times don’t matter like they used to. The past is gone. The future is hazy, dependant on what we can’t control.

I boiled the huckleberries, hard, for a good minute. I don’t want stiff jam or syrup. 

It’s hard to know how it will turn out regardless of attention.

I should tell you about your great grandchildren. You have a slew of them:

Grace, a beautiful young women who looks like you and Wynanne.

April, a free spirit who holds her head up regardless of company.

Kyler, passionate, still trying to figure out right from wrong.

Bellle, named after you, she has a soul you are probably talking to right now.

Cooper, a tender, gifted young boy that loves hard. You may have to help me with him

Scarlett, an artist, who loves to laugh, and when she laughs it fills the room.

Koehyn, the youngest of your great grandchildren, I am told he is a rambunctious little guy.

The jam is cooling. I followed some of the recipe.

Love, Bob 

Dinosaur

A fine day and quick update. Some running around in the morning for supplies and the post office and dump. Willow and I headed for the creek. She let me have it when I was able to find a dry route across the creek. It was a fallen log, slipperier then greased cat shit. She would have been fine but for the shear bank on the other side. I didn’t go out of her sight. She walked the bank while I cut a few boughs of cedar. She returned to normal when I returned over the bridge.

Later I stuck a piece of wire through the meat of my hand between my thumb and index finger. It was clean through and made me laugh when I pulled it out, not that I’m tough, just that it looked funny. It bled a bit so I stuck a tight glove on to act as a compression bandage, it did the trick.

I did this while trying to bend a piece of wire into a hook to hang an elk skull I found on the same wrong side of the creek I mentioned earlier. Willow looked at me, hand bleeding, as if to say, I told you not to cross that iffy log.

Split some wood, tried to carve a heart out of a piece of driftwood we gathered in the fall, but shit the wood was hard. I thought it was cedar, but it must have been fir. To make matters worse it was a root.

I ended up making a monster out of the root. It was a giant snake with front legs. It balances perfectly on the table. I painted it’s forked tongue red. Thats the way it is, you start off carving hearts and end up seeing a creature you never knew existed. Copper and Scarlett are going to love it more than a smooth wooden heart anyway.

About 3:45 the sun went down in a tight flash leaving the ridge lit for a couple of precious minutes.

Lisa is making me supper for my birthday, the kids and our parents are invited. I’m pretty lucky. I can’t wait to see what everyone thinks of the snake head dinosaur. . . not me the carving.

Supper is just about ready and the guests are due to arrive.

A little Faith

These days it seems we need a boat load of faith to get by. I’m not sure if any time was different.

I had a boss a few years back who was a white supremacist. He and his religious buddies used to head for Finley Creek to shoot off their guns and practice for the race wars that were surly coming.

He told me he was so short because a height of scaffolding fell on him. Like I gave a shit how tall he was.

The lesson I learned after hearing him talk to me for a half hour every morning was that these guys couldn’t even organize a BBQ.

I lasted a year before I told him, and his enlarged prostate, which he also told me about, to go fuck himself.

He had settled in a spot that accepted him, it was his world not mine.

***

We had rain today and it felt good. Plenty of people locked inside came out to let it fall on them. The mountains can be seen. August didn’t disappoint with cooler temperatures. That’s the way it should be.

***

People settle into their spot. Little bullies, find their spot, same as the white supremacist, the right and left, the religious and the atheists. It’s tribal now. We don’t think about ideas or compassion for our neighbours. We think about the size of our tribe. How many supporters, likes and followers we have.

***

Still, goddammit, with the world burning, people dying for their beliefs, regardless, I’m hoping. It takes a boat load of faith, and luck, to get by.

***

The rain has stopped short of cooling the earth.

homemade

A regular person has to back down plenty. Thats why they head for the hills and kill cars in their backyard. Play loud music late at night, drink too much, smoke weed and take pills of dubious origin.

A regular person has to put up with injustice normalized and legal, they have to nod their head to incompetence, racism, sexism and environmental destruction. It’s part of feeding the family.

A regular person has to push it down and bottle it up. Put it in the jam or home made wine. That’s why the homemade stuff tastes so good.

THE GRASSY KNOLL

A good friend and father is worried about his daughter and family.

They are conspiracy theorists. She called him to dissuade him from getting vaccinated for Covid. Bill Gates, nanobytes in the serum, government taking over and the rest of the bullshit.

It’s unfortunate. He is worried, not so much about them not being vaccinated, but what rabbit hole they may go down next. Each one of those holes get deeper.

I understand not trusting the government due to their incompetence, but that’s also why they can be trusted.

Those kids are in their thirties, not quite kids anymore, they have kids of their own, they like to think of themselves as living off the grid.

They have internet service, to keep the kids busy on their iPads and to keep feeding them the latest conspiracy theories.

Neither parents have jobs. Considering their view of the government, they have no problem signing up and receiving every bit of assistance the government is offering.

Regardless of their beliefs, and contradictions, it seems like a difficult life to maintain.