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 

my meteor

I’m getting to be an old fool. I’m not sure what arrived first the foolishness or the oldness. Lately they seem to have come together as a sort of unwanted conjunction, making me look for my keys while the truck is already started, grabbing my gloves to chop wood, then outside, realizing they are the oven mitts I use to check the roast.

Still, who am I to deny my feelings, after all reality is in the eye of the beholder.

Lisa and I wondered the creek bed far from the maddeningly crowds. Since the backroads are free of snow we travelled deeper and higher than other years. Once we got to the white water cascading from the melt that never ceases, we took off on foot.

I was happy to walk on rocks that are usually covered in water in warmer months. Looking at the scrapes and scratches. Digging in the sluice looking for gold that I know isn’t there, quartz but no black sand.

Then we came across a black rock that didn’t belong. It was the only black rock in the river bed. The only black rock I’ve seen in the area. It was out of place. The river would normally be over it.

I lifted it and it was heavy. This was a meteor I figured. Yet, it was pockmarked, not smooth, I held a magnet to it and it didn’t stick.

Regardless, I like to think it was catapulted from space, after a quick trip around the sun, hell bent, entering the atmosphere at ten times it’s size and burned down, in a magnificent streak of colour from red to green, until it hit with the force of ten tonnes of TNT, boiling the river, burying underground, letting a thousand years of high water wash over, until I came along and found it.

That’s most certainly not the way it happened, but it’s the way I like to look at it.

A powerful source, the river in December.

La sunset

All the mischief gets done after the sun goes down. The same here as anywhere.


RCE_6445Venus and the waning moon.

It depends on how you see things. What’s funny and what’s not. For instance, our whole fucking predicament, could be considered funny. There is thousands of old folks that haven’t seen the light of day because of an invisible threat.

They are busting their doors down to get out.

We’ve gotten old without cause. Comfortable. Confused by what’s true, the news slinging  varied truth. It’s a narrative now. The best writers in the world, people trained to tell the truth, help the downtrodden, have been tricked to further an agenda. Write and wrong has two sides, forgotten for now.

The truth is lying in the grass, between the buildings, high up in the high-rises.

So they say.

the rod and gun

lwr&gLake Windermere Rod and Gun centennial poster. 

The above Lake Windermere Rod and Gun poster caught my eye (not difficult as it was designed by Lisa). The poster is for their annual Banquet and Dance. This year the club is celebrating their 100 years anniversary of being in existence. To my knowledge they are the second oldest club in the Windermere Valley

The Rod and Gun does many worthwhile environmental projects throughout the valley and also espouses and teaches ethical hunting, fishing and gun safety to local youth and adults.

The picture on the poster is of A.M. Chisholm. I believe he was one of the founding members of the Rod and Gun.

Mr. Chisholm is posing with his very alert dog, which looks like a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. The photo looks to have been taken at Tayton’s Bay on the shore of Lake Windermere in Invermere. 

Mr. Chisholm was a well read author and wrote several novels that were widely published at the time.

big rivers.jpgOne of Mr. Chisholm’s books, saved by my father.

My father, I believe, looked up to Mr. Chisholm and his writing prowess, as he kept one of his books until his death. He passed the book onto me along with many others. The book’s title is, The Land of Big Rivers. It was published in 1924, by Chelsea House of New York City.

In the photo on the poster Mr. Chisholm is cradling a double barrelled shotgun. It is the same shotgun my grandfather purchased from him. The shotgun was then handed down to my father.

By the time I came along the shotgun was no longer used, having been declared , ‘too old’, by my father. However, tho’ I never shot the gun, I was shot by it. . . and more than once. 

In a display of unsafe gun handling, my older brother would load it with nickels and shoot them at me. I would be told by my mother to go downstairs and call my brother for supper. I’d call from the top of the stairs and he wouldn’t answer, then I’d go down stairs, open his bedroom door and be looking down two large barrels. In hindsight, I am grateful he never mistook a nickel for a shot gun cartridge, which were everywhere in our house. My brother thought it was the funniest thing, and it was for that day and age.

wynanneMy sisters, Wynanne (tallest) and Deb (smiling, middle) with cousins Lloyd and Valerie after a successful duck hunt. Wynanne is holding the same shotgun.

My father handed the antique shotgun onto my Brother-In-Law Tim’s very capable hands. Also fitting as my sister Wynanne may have been the only one to ever fire the gun.

All the very best to the Lake Windermere Rod and Gun Club on their centennial.

getting on


in this world
you get teeth knocked out
for no reason
or they go bad as you get old
your dink gets shorter
your balls hang lower
the cold makes your chin quiver
you start thinking
it s a young man s world
your joints swell
and give you grief
especially when the
sky spells rain
or in dry weather
the dog comes through
the hole in the screen
after rolling in something
it s a lot further down
to your laces
and a lot less further
down to everything else
girls smile at you because
you remind them of their
dear old dead dad
people ask you for advice
say you look wise
with florescent lighting
on white whiskers
adorning your jowls
everything s been broke
at least once before
what s to do
the coffee ain t hot
the beer s woodshed warm
and somewhere along the line
whiskey started upsetting
your stomach.

Early April


To be young, feel the wind, the cold and the pull of the clouds on a string. I remember back to those days, only a short walk from where Cooper flew his first kite.

The bunch grass overlooking a frozen lake, the blue mountains majestic, tho we didn’t consider them, since they’d been there since we were born. Same as the lake and the train hauling coal and sulfur.

Times are different. It’s not necessary to fly a kite anymore. It’s not necessary to see it dip and learn when to run.  To pull the string and walk with the wind, watching it stagger, then when the moments right, turn into the breeze and watch it dance back into the spring sky. It was essential once. It was essential to let out all the line, risking the high winds that could send it crashing back to earth. But to master those winds was a craft indeed.

It’s not necessary anymore. There are so many more important things, I’m told. My problem is I never figured them out, nor considered them.

Cooper got it right away. The string, the wind and the sky. It’s nice being his Granddad, because I get to show him good things, while he reminds me how lucky I am.

Very fine day.

Red Willow

RCE_9339Willow a blur of fur!

A nice spring day. Cooler than it has been for the past few days. A few snowflakes. We headed into the bush to look at trees.


We didn’t chance getting stuck after having to dig the truck out last week. Willow chased snowballs and even caught a few. Next weekend we will be walking with our children and grandchildren. A very fine day.


storytime again


the fires keep burning. the smoke is thick. we haven’t seen the mountains for some time. the bush is closed. today we had wind from the south and then it turned and came from the north. the smoke has cleared somewhat. it was the north wind that did it. a few rain drops as well. the first since the end of june. i felt like aiming my face directly at them.

jody had to go to the hospital this morning. chest pains. they ruled out problems with her heart. her lungs are congested with smoke. the doctor said it has been a common occurrence this season.

it’s been a summer of red suns, sun up and sun down. with the moon red all night long.

the doctor who saw jody was young. she looked tired too. i read the charts on the wall. don’t give men on viagra nitrates. don’t give cocaine users beta blockers.

jody is better now, after a mask of ventolin. she has asthma and now must take her inhaler every four hours. she is back to working too hard. drying tomatoes, worrying, trying to get it all done. if only i could instil some of my laziness in her.

hospitals are awful places. impersonal. they have to be. that’s how they save us.

the bush is closed. the trees and creeks cut off. the backroads barricaded. where am i supposed to go? what am i to do with this lump of anger?

tomorrow is a young teachers funeral. i am going to try and go. cancer took her. she was nice to me when i was mostly invisible sweeping floors and emptying garbage. she kept small magnetic words on the blackboard. i’d arrange them into poems and jokes. the kids would always add to them. i’d add more the next day. those words and what they said always made me smile.

she smiled too, laughing as well, talking gardening or stars or whatever she was teaching.

the last time we saw each other we hugged and talked about the school yard.

jody looked beautiful putting on her gown. her breasts and bare back without conscience. my eyes still stuck even now after all. she turned and asked me to tie her up. i tied the blue ribbons in a bow, while her chest laboured.

it is days like this when smoke looks like a snowstorm. when the sky is low. when i can’t figure if it’s hot or cold. when the best is to hunker down and wait it out. maybe pour a drink. splash the whiskey with scant rain.

instead i can’t keep still. there is a snake crawling towards me. the sun is coming through the bullet holes and it doesn’t look promising.

keep calm the voice says. but anger’s never failed me.

Steel Bridge


It was about this time of year I’d start looking out the school window and wishing I was walking the tracks, following the river to the fishing holes.

It was called Steel Bridge because it was the first one in the area not made of wood. That made it special. It had good fishing hole under it. The locals all had their secret ways to catch char in the spring and whitefish in the fall.

It’s still a crossing for the trains hauling coal to the coast to be shipped to China. A few locals still cast a line and drink beer. Some hide out under the pilings and further, towards town in the high brush beside Toby Creek. The tourists paddle canoes and kayaks under the steel with instructions to, ‘stay right’ in high water.

Broken, oiled and cresote treated ties wait to be hauled away. I still walk the tracks and fish below the pilings. Willow saves branch after branch and barks at tourists the same as fish.