wilderness

DSC_4543Redwing Blackbird.

Lisa and I are in Calgary taking care of our beautiful grandkids while their Mom and Dad are at a wedding in Mexico.

They are such good kids. We have tried to keep them busy and on schedule to keep them from missing their parents to a minimum. So far we have been successful, but it’s only day 3 of 8. The birdhouse project I planned and expected to take all week was completed in a morning. This had a lot to do with Grandma Lisa who believes once you start a project you finish it. The kids had fun putting roofs on the hollow logs, drilling holes and using screws and nails to complete the project. Of course they got to use all the tools, including the power tools (with assistance) themselves. The houses look great and they are very proud of them.

Each morning before the kids awake I take Willow and Gemma for a walk at Fish Creek Park. It runs for miles in the creek bottom. Mostly large poplar and cottonwood trees and plenty of birds. The entrance to the part of the park we normally access is closed, so we go to another entrance further west.

The path goes down a hill to wetlands with cattails and a few ponds. Signs say the pond is storm runoff and to use caution as the pond will rise quickly during wet weather.

The Redwing Blackbirds chirp and protect their nests, the females in the rushes below. They will hunker and show off their colourful shoulders to the dogs if they feel we are getting too close. Yet they are much less afraid then their rural counterparts. They have become used to humans walking by.

DSC_4542Singing!

This evening, once the kids were in bed I went back to see if I could get some photos. Not having brought my camera I took my daughters oldest Nikon. I had planned it during the afternoon, charging the battery and found a memory card.

The first thing I noticed was the paths were much more busy in the evening. Unlike the morning, when the few people I met responded favourably to my, ‘good morning’. Almost nobody responded to my, ‘good evening’. They looked to the edge of the path.  The ones who did respond looked confused.

Perhaps they had reason. I was wearing an old plaid lumber jacket and had a scruffy Willow dog on a leash (I left Gemma home as she pulls too much for taking photos).

I had about 10 minutes of light, the birds hunkered saving their energy, their shrill song only used sparingly.

I closed my ears to the sound of the city, the hiss of the cars on the roads and the voices, everywhere, all wanting to be heard. The Blackbirds amazed me by their resilience. Would they loose their nests during the next storm when the rainwater was all funnelled through underground corridors to their pond?  I wondered if this part of strong wilderness could sustain Willow and I, both of us on a leash?

Tomorrow morning my Grandchildren will greet me with sleepy eyes, tangled hair and big smiles.

birdsong

RCE_2431A White-Winged Crossbill makes a landing.

Willow and I were up into the mountains once work was complete.

The day with bright sunshine reached 10°c. The snow, in the valley bottom, is melting with nowhere to go. Big puddles reflect the blue sky. Soon the frost will come out of the ground and the water will be absorbed where it can do some good.

_LME0075Sun halo. Caused by ice crystals in the air.

Willow and I walked a frozen snowmobile path into the mountains. The birds, numerous, chirped in unison, but most refused to be seen. It’s hard to consider yourself a smart animal in their company, under the spruce, rock and snow while they rule from above, laughing at our plight nature inflicted.

CRW_0012A Pine Siskin, responsible for the trees going ‘zzzweeeet’!

Once off the path I sunk up to my knee. I remembered being young, setting off in the morning in the cold, before the sun cleared the mountains, walking easy on top of the snow, only to find the same snow soft once the afternoon took over, and having to slog back slowly home, taking twice the time for the same distance.

RCE_2442.jpgColour among the buds.

I kept the windows open on the ride home listening for song.

CRW_0015A couple of Crossbills commission last years’ copious cone crop.

Very fine morning.

ever-present mountains

CRW_0009Wilmer

The March winds are starting to blow. It won’t be long the ice and snow will break up, turning every patch of standing earth wet and muddy.

The birds have been singing and I even saw a few young Bighorn rams clacking heads. It’s good to practice the the fight and fuck so when they get older they’ll be good at it. It’s the same for humans whether we think so or not!

dog run

rce_1789smJake runs with Chewy. Dave looks on.

Dave, Jake and I thought it was about time we let the dogs get to know each other. Jake and Dave’s dog, Chewy, a purebred poodle is six months old, only a puppy. She is an intelligent specimen of the breed, with expressive eyes and smile if you can see through all the fur.

Willow wasn’t sure what to make of all the excitement. Jake and Chewy ran rampant. Taking turns knocking each other into the snowbank. Willow tried not to get trampled and had to give a snarl and nip on occasion.

rce_1815smJake sharpens the end of a stick. Regardless of age one must have something to run with.

Dave and I talked about people who have died recently. There has been quite a few. Local people. Winter can be hard on life. We are men after all, that’s why we talk, trying to be serious, knowing someday we will be the ones talked about.

rce_1793smJake commands.

In the meantime, it’s kids and grandkids, knee deep snow, colours dim but alive in winter’s waning  light and dogs running happy.

We all agreed, men, boy or dog, it’s hard to be serious when January feels like spring.

early 2019

rce_1741Willow keeps an ear out.

Went out to the bar tonight. It’s been awhile. My good friend turned sixty. Hunter was kind enough to come along. The food and beer was good. Everything is expensive. It has to be. $7 for a draft $20 for an appetizer.

***

It’s a new year. Not sure what to say about it. Last year was tough. We got by and in this day and age that’s a good thing. Maybe the most we can ask for. If lucky, this year will be much the same.

rce_1733The truck not yet stuck.

***

According to the news the world is topsy-turvy. Worse than ever, they say. But I don’t think it’s changed that much. Some things have got better, some worse.

One thing that has stayed the same is our leaders are a bunch of self absorbed arseholes. But when haven’t they been?

***

rce_1748Why I’m careful where I break trail.

We have had three days of above freezing temperatures. The lake has an inch of water on the ice. The snow has receded to the benches. The deer are walking around like it’s springtime. It’s disconcerting, I expect winter to be winter. I wake up and look outside to see if snow is falling. When it isn’t, I go back to bed but not to sleep.

rce_1747

***

Our occupation with the undoings of Trump and Trudeau is puzzling. They make good news.  However they are far from us. They are certainly scoundrels. But they take away from the more dangerous scoundrels closer to home. Think about that School Superintendent that works to cut wages in the district and gives himself a raise. How about all those developers that, selflessly run for town council changing bylaws for their own benefit. 

In 2019 fuck Trump and Trudeau and all their hype. It’s only a distraction. If you want to slay dragons, do it closer to home.

***

rce_1706A small Downey chips away.

The night is clear. Orion is up ruling the dark. The temperature is dropping. I should be in the bush, knee deep in snow, Willow clearing the perimeter, with only an outward breath between me and the sky.

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.

 

 

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.