long shadows

It is amazing what can be determined with math. Distances covered, to the top of the mountains, to the sun and the furthest galaxies. I don’t understand, but I understand shadows and how they correspond to distance. You learn looking at avalanche chutes and climbing routes when the sun is about to set. It can’t be mastered without turning it into numbers. Still you can get by just looking into the shadows.

Boxing Day

A wonderful Christmas with most of our children around. We missed Maddy and Chad.

Lot’s of food, of course, and presents.

Cooper and Scarlett couldn’t believe their luck and must have figured they’d been good for the entire year. Food and presents kept coming.

We missed out last year. Considering everything that went on with the pandemic, we were determined not to be apart again.

If there is a lesson to be had, it’s how to stay together in a world that we are told is crumbling.

Everything that comes over our table has truth and some fabrication. I still stick my nose out at night to test the temperature and see if the snow is falling.

It’s cold and I like it. Frozen boots with warm socks. Ice hanging off the river’s edge. Eyelashes thick with frost. Breath freezing into shapes like a Genie coming out of a lamp. Snow, swift, kickable under step. The wood splitting easy at 20°.

On Top

Mines, farms and clearcuts take away from the blue sky above the Purcells.

Monday after being off for three days. The truck fired up no problem since I put in a new battery. The windows needed scraping. I jumped in. The radio started. Peter Frampton, Do You Feel Like We Do. Monday felt better all of sudden. It was the fourteen minute version that just about gets me to work, even with a stop for coffee. I was rolling in when it ended, expecting some talk, instead the radio doubled down, Creedence, Fortunate Son. I had to stay in the truck till it finished risking being late. By the time I walked in for my shift I was jacked. Monday was beat before it started.

A mature Ram takes a sniff for something to rut with. Luckily he didn’t consider me anything but a nuisance.

Venus and a Waxing Moon

Damn it’s dark early!

It’s dark by five. It’s slow as a motherfucker. Except for the sirens that are out clearing the roads. If they have the beacon light on its just snow.

Plenty of both coming our way. People like me worry about the woodpile and meat in the freezer. I’m not a modern man following the higher-ups flying private jets into Glasgow, talking about reducing carbon, for all I know the carbon they want to reduce could be me. That 1%, who our own Prime Minister is a member of, has to be watched, not for some conspiracy or evil doings they could be conjuring, but for how clueless they are.

Businesspeople, tourists (including politicians and environmentalists, the rich kind as if there were any others) or the new Santa Claus delivering Amazon packages!

It’s tough to believe in anything I hear during lunch or on the phone. Venus appeared on the ridge tonight after a few days of cloud. A waxing crescent moon to the left and above. I had to think about it, but they were right on time and in position.

People say times are going to get tough. No more fuel. I’m going to miss my old Ford, that gas guzzling pig. I’ll narrow my circle. I’ll miss the ridges. I’ll pull the siding from the side of my house, burning it at a pace that matches my march into old age.

The Palliser

White water.

We set out to find driftwood 35 years later. It is a good spot the Palliser rushes towards a series of falls before joining the Kootenay in the valley below. The wood from its tributaries banks are pummelled and smoothed in high water, left on the stones once the river goes down, like gold in the sluice.

We found love in this spot among the large boulders, on top and behind. Because of that our kids saw the same rocks.

looking for patterns.

The river always takes me, down, the flow, the rush. When I was a youngster it all seemed so natural. The quartz and blue water whispered in my ear, cascading into canyons that if caught in the current would mean death, since we are not, after all, driftwood, our skin only a thin layer of bark.

Now we are older, we poke around, picking up rocks, turning over polished wood, watching the current. It’s the same place my Father opened a can of peaches with his pocket knife in the rain. Where my Mother said the light was good. Where we were cautioned and in turn cautioned our children about the power of the river.

Mid September Rain

Pine Siskin

Grey and rain, frost the last couple mornings. It’s feeling like fall. September can’t be beat.

Most of the tomatoes are in. Sitting in flats waiting to ripen in the dark in the basement.

Split wood for the fire. Saw a herd of Pine Siskins. I told Lisa it was too early, but she was damned and determined to warm the old place up. Since we have a lot of wood and grandkids sleeping over I agreed before being overruled.

Back in the ‘old days’ we went as long as we could without heat. My sisters and brother can attest. Oil, coal and electricity has always been expensive. Frost on the walls and old coats used for covers. You could watch your breath until dipping your head under the covers to warm up.

Wind and big defined clouds should be celebrated. When the clouds burst open we should all run outside and feel the water on our faces, soaking us to the skin. My grandkids agree.

Durban Poison

kids

Kelsie, 4 years old.
Scarlett with a handful of worms, 4 years old.

My granddaughter Scarlett loves the garden. She eats peas raw, same as beans and onions – yes onions, she calls them chives.

Today she took to finding worms. She took them from one spot in the garden and buried them in another spot.

She reminded me of another little girl from a time long ago that seems short now.

The picture of Kelsie was taken on a medium format film camera, I had to scan the b/w negative, which took me ages. The picture of Scarlett was taken on my phone.

Times are changing, but the important things stay the same.

Early September

Beside the river.

Stepped out the other morning, along with Willow. From the step Orion was up, Sirus still down, the Twins were overhead, a crescent waning moon with earth glow if I squinted and a streaking falling star went right down the middle. What are the chances. It pointed back to Perseus. One left over maybe. It could only be a good day after that.

***

The Cedar Waxwings are back, eating the shrinking berries. They are careless birds and fly into windows. I put them on the window sill away from predators. Sometimes they revive themselves and fly away and sometimes they die. Willow is interested either way regardless of scold.

***

This is the last long weekend of summer. The tourists have been unrelenting to the glee of our business community and small time politicians. The rest of the people, the people on the front lines are done with them. Even the gift of earning minimum wage isn’t enough to satiate the masses. There is an aggressiveness in this year’s tourists I haven’t seen before. Things are changing. Alberta is leaderless and searching, the wealth and decadence is slipping, some executives can’t buy second homes on the lake with their yearly bonus. Times are tough. Still they want to get it all in while they can, that’s the hurry, that’s the panic and aggression. It’s contagious, running from the top down.

Two of my coworkers were assaulted, last week, by guests, in a resort that charges $400 a night.

***

September is a wonderful month. There is a chill in the air. The skies have cleared of smoke. The sun is tilted in such a way to light the mountain tops in morning and before bed. Then there are those winter stars.

Catch a Falling Star

Lisa and I drove the backroads we were so familiar with when we were younger. There is a lot more roads now. We managed to find our way to our old spot. Willow ran this way and that, even going for a swim in the starlight. The Meteors were falling all around. To see it is to believe.

smoke & Mirrors

The sun rises in darkened smoky skies.

The smoke in the valley has been crushing. I think about my father in his later years how difficult this would have been for him.

Forest fires are raging all over BC. I expect skies won’t clear for awhile yet. Last year was clear. The largest fire in BC was burning close to us, about 60km to the south. It was almost like forest fires took the summer off due to Covid. This summer is a return to summers previous.

The valley is exceptionally busy with tourists, going hell bent this way and that, dragging boats, ATV’s and other expensive noisy toys in tow. Alberta keeps bitching about how hard done by they are, but you couldn’t tell it from the white and red plates polluting the valley air and waterways on this side of the provincial border.

It is hard to recognize the valley bottom in times like these.

Of course, valley business owners and small town politicians (the same folks in many instances) are rubbing their hands together while chanting into the grey skies, ‘more, more, more’, while their staff, paid minimum wage are crowded into run down staff houses.

I read the valley newspaper, The Columbia Valley Pioneer, this morning. It is the newspaper Lisa and I started 16 years ago. The look of the paper hasn’t changed much in that time, the picture I took of the wetlands still adorns the masthead. It is odd to see it week after week. Reading the paper I often think, do I live in the same town this newspaper claims to cover? True, the newspaper is now owned by a chain notorious for poor coverage of the communities it serves, however, it does occur to me, with some irony, it’s me that no longer fits in.