springing up

Canadiana.

The colours of early spring have started to take over from winter. The sky and ice are deep greys and blues. Every season displays it’s own unique colours. During the winter, clouds lose their shape and blanket the sky in solid colour. In spring the clouds form shapes, defined in varying shades of livid. The seasons in the Rockies are truly remarkable. I can’t imagine ever travelling away from here for an extended period for fear I’d miss the precious once a year performances.

Lisa and I walked to the start of Lake Windermere. Everyone calls it the ‘end’ of the lake because there is nothing down there. When people say nothing, they mean settlement. There is plenty there, cattails, geese, coyotes, cougars shallow water, clay banks, animal prints, moose, elk, snags, eagles and more.

Running tracks.

It’s a walk we usually do this time of year. I scouted places to take pictures of the dark sky. It is on foot and would require a full night and a tent. I know Willow would enjoy it.

It would seem odd setting camp down there because I’m usually in the mountains. Still, I think there could be some good pictures to be had. The Milky Way would rise over the lake and mountains at this time of year. There is also some soft level places to pitch a tent.

Hills and mountains springing up.

Willow and Maynard snuffed up the thawing smells oblivious to yesterday or tomorrow. And we consider ourselves the smart ones.

Waning crescent

It doesn’t take much to imagine a long ago glacier running the length of the Upper Columbia Valley. An old moon clears the mountains near the centre of the frame.

I had some extra time before work this morning. Willow and I headed for the west side of Lake Windermere. Before I left I couldn’t find my warm jacket, it was only -7°c so I didn’t worry. On the hike to the banks on the edge of the lake I realized the paths were ice. Not my favourite when it’s still dark. We walked on patches of snow for grippage. Then my boot lace came undone. Damn I hate that.

I hoped to see the crescent moon come up in the east. The stars were mostly gone. The morning blue period took over. Willow and I waited for the moon. I missed my warm jacket. The International Space Station came from the west and dimmed in the southeast.

I realized I had brought the wrong lens for capturing the moon. I had a super fast wide angle lens when a longer lens would have captured it better. In the top photo the moon is small coming up over the mountains.

Regardless, it was good to be out to watch the moon. Willow barked at hooting owls and shadows taking shape in the light. I was back in plenty of time for my late start at work.

In a perfect world I’d watch the moon come up and the sun go down everyday.

A waning crescent moon rises over the Fairmont Range.

early March

An early arrived bluebird gives a look.

A perfect Spring day. Overcast, rain and snow in the morning. In the afternoon the sun came out with temperatures rising. Willow and I headed for the river to see what we could see. She snuffed up the smells thawing in the wetlands. I envied her yet was content with the sun on my face. Very fine day.

Willow tastes the wind and water.

Brrrrrr!

This photo composition is made of sixteen photos sewn together in Photoshop to achieve the extra wide angle needed to show the night sky from north to south. The original is a massive file and reveals many stars and constellations. Even in this small sample a discerning eye may be able to pick out Perseus and Cassiopeia to the left and the tail of Scorpius with red supergiant Antares over the lights of Fairmont Hot Springs in the south. Scorpius only rises once Orion is down and promises the coming of summer.

A few welcome days off in a row. Willow and I figured we would sample the chilly temperatures. We headed out at 3 in the morning to see if we could catch the return of The Milky Way.

The Milky Way rising over Nutmuq¢in (Chisel Peak).

So far we have had a mild winter and perhaps we have grown soft because -28°c felt colder than expected. Granted fumbling barehanded with a metal camera doesn’t help. Willow looked at me like I was crazy and was happy to make it back to the truck and a blasting heater.

The Milky Way was rising but the centre stays below the mountains before dawn washed the stars away. Still a wonderful viewing morning with the young moon long down refusing to interfere with the brilliance of stars.

The afternoon sun warming Jake and Dave.

That afternoon we met with good buddies Dave, Jake and Chewy for a bout of ice fishing. By then it had warmed to a much more comfortable -16°c. We picked a spot near the shallow south end of Lake Windermere, chosen for it’s distance from the ruck of the crowd. Unfortunately the fish didn’t feel the same, choosing instead to occupy the deeper portions nearer the outlet.

Willow looking for fish.

Still, it was refreshing enjoying the lake. Jake drilled his own hole in the almost 2 feet of thick ice. The dogs ran this way and that. Very fine day.

Willow criticizing my lack of fishing skill.

2021

A lone ice shack sits on Lake Windermere at dawn.

Lisa and I rang in the New Year in a rather low key manner. We enjoyed a nice dinner of steamed crab legs, vegetables, tapenade, crackers and hot pepper Oregon grape and rose hip jelly made by my good friend Dave. After dinner we watched an episode of The Crown on Netflix. The rest of the night was spent in front of the fire listening to fireworks. The fireworks started at 6 pm and continued throughout the night. There was no official fireworks this year due to Covid, so most were set off by individuals.

The Columbia River flows by cat tails after a chinook.

It goes without saying it has been a different year. Luckily our family has been spared from the personal heartbreak and financial hardship Covid has placed on so many families and individuals.

Lots of power outages lately. Probably not the moon’s fault, more likely wind, melt and freeze.

Nixon’s place from across the Columbia. To live under mountains is special.

Not being able to see our kids and grandkids has been difficult, especially during the Christmas season. It seems odd considering how many people are not adhering  to the Provincial and Federal safety protocols. However, as I like to point out to my children, and they understand, it is about how we conduct ourselves, considering we have elderly grandparents and recognizing many other families do as well. For us that’s what it comes down to.

A chinook turns Lake Windermere’s surface rutted and unskateable.

2021 we are looking forward to getting to know you.

The old part of town, built on a mudflat. You won’t see this in a tourism or Chamber of Commerce brochure and that’s okay with me.

lisa

Lisa and I were out early, neither of us not sleeping worth a shit. We headed for the Palliser with a detour up Rock Creek to get red willow and cedar for a wreath. Lisa loves making wreaths. Unfortunately the deer eat the tender cedar right off the front door. It’s like we are feeding them and putting Willow in harms way.

We picked up a few sticks of firewood, looked for a Christmas tree, but resolved it was still too early to cut one. This year the tree will be extra small, like the turkey, considering it will only be a crowd of two.

The snow got deep in a hurry. Lisa gave me a look a few times when we pushed further. The new tires seemed to handle it well, still why push your luck? Lisa was happier when she was walking the road anyway.

We cut some branches and watched the tracks in the snow.

science and soul

The fog gives way to stars where the creek turns steep.

Pretty good days. The lake has frozen hard and clear. Without snow it is a skater’s dream. We headed out after work on Friday, tossing the puck around, stopping once and awhile to admire the fine day. We stayed until the stars started to appear.

Young Jake legs it, the puck in front of him as he dips west heading north on a pure breakaway.

This morning low cloud blanketed the valley. It always seems cold to me when this happens. This evening Willow and I headed for the mountains with hopes to push through the clouds into the stars.

We followed the creek we are used to. It took less climbing than I initially figured before the stars appeared in the treetops. The sky was warm, twisting in my mind, while long lost spirits flowed through me stealing my breath.

Sometimes that’s all it takes.

Scientists just discovered the sun and our solar system are moving 7km faster around the Milky Way’s central black hole than we previously thought. A reminder we are always moving and science is always evolving depending on the latest research. It’s the best we have to go by and should be trusted. Still I will have to recalibrate my instruments and amend my plans considering we are going to be swallowed by the centre of the galaxy sooner than expected.

Canada Day

RCE_2753Daisies and Yarrow

A busy Canada Day Weekend for Lisa and I. Our son Hunter and his wonderful girlfriend Bree were out from Calgary to take in the festivities with their friends. We put up a higher fence around the garden in and attempt to dissuade the deer from eating our vegetables. 

RCE_2731Lisa stopping on a cutblock to admire the daisies.

Lisa busied herself further making wooden signs for our daughter Maddy’s quickly approaching wedding. Lisa is very handy with power tools and can whip together almost anything. This spring she made me a a potting bench, complete with a sink, from the old leftover cedar siding from our renovation a few years ago.

RCE_2757Driving Willow crazy.

This morning we escaped the ruck of the crowd in the valley bottom and got behind Swansea. We followed the creek a ways then turned mountain side. Crossed a few cutbacks covered in daises, kept up until the road ended in a spot we haven’t visited for awhile.

RCE_2746Always happy, even if sometimes one step behind.

Willow looked and dug for rodents. I took a few photos. Found a spring crisscrossed with moose tracks. Lisa harvested small new prickly pine cones. We picked a couple bouquets of wild flowers for home. Willow hunted until her tongue hung out of her mouth.

Very fine day. 

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.

Ice out

RCE_9406The colour of spring.

Yesterday afternoon I walked the west side of the lake to watch the last of the ice go out. It is late this year, stretching well into April. My father used to say April 12th was always a good pick for an ice out ticket. Recent years it’s been near the end of March. It seems a strange year for the ice to hang on late. The ice didn’t get as thick as it has in past years. It shows it is the spring wind and rain that takes it out, regardless of thickness. This spring, so far, we have not had much of either.

_LME0033_smThe Milky Way overtaken by dawn. Ice out March 11th 2016. Over a month earlier than this year. It is easy to imagine when the Rocky Mountain Trench was filled with ice.

This past weekend I put two pick-up loads of manure on the garden. It was good not to have to shovel shit in the rain. The plants I’ve started are up inside the house. I will only have to look after them inside for a month and a bit before they can go in the ground. I learned my lesson long ago about starting plants too soon and having to care for them inside while they turned into long leggy monsters. The garlic and rhubarb is up. There still is some frost in the ground and patches of ice and snow in the valley bottom. The garden could be dug anytime and planted with the cold weather vegetables, such as beets, lettuce, onions, peas and carrots. Even spuds would be okay.

RCE_9407Ice out, April 15th, 2018.

This morning is rain, snow in the mountains. The ice will be completely gone and the lake will be lividus, angry even. That’s the way I’ve grown to like it. Too nasty for motorboats piloted by city tourists dragging skiers, riling up and running over waterfowl, while posing for Instagram selfies and drinking craft beer. By then the roads will be open into the backcountry, even the birds will get the hint to head for the hills. Meanwhile there is still time to walk the tracks along the edges of the lake.