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.

monochrome

Red Maple
Bunchberry
False Solomon’s Seal

July Hail storm

The peas torn from their fences.

A few more photos of the garden taken about an hour and a half after the hail storm. Fortunately, it sounds like the hail storm cut a narrow path through the valley. Communities to the south and north of Invermere were not hit as hard.

Talked to a few gardeners and it sounds like everybody pretty much is in the same boat with smashed plants. I was lucky because I don’t spend much money on plants nor rely on it for a living and sell produce like some.

Plenty of videos on Facebook of a river running down main street. My neighbours experienced some flooding. Our basement started to flood due to the outside stairwell filling with hail, fortunately I saw it early and was able to shovel out the stairwell before it melted.

I won’t replant anything, I’m interested to see what will make a recovery and what won’t. There will also be plants that may live but be too far behind to produce, I suspect the tomatoes will be in this category.

Tomato plant stripped of it’s leaves. A cannabis plant to the right that didn’t fair much better.

This is definitely an unusual event for this area. We do regularly get hail, but not that big and the storms don’t usually last that long. Luckily the damage seems minimal, although heartbreaking for people who love their gardens, and not wide spread. What can you do?

Beans that were doing so well before the storm. I doubt if they will make a comeback. They do have lots of time however.
Lettuce that has been delicious. I am hopeful a few more salads will be harvested before the end of summer.
Carrots.
Sunflower broken off. They may form new shoots with heads.
I don’t know what the big rhubarb is all about!
Broccoli and cabbage were just not meant to withstand hail stones, still I’m hopeful they will make a recovery.

smashed salad

A good hail storm rolled through on the heals of the 40° temperatures we have been having. It flattened the garden with marble sized stones. Cutting every broad leaf to shreds. It lasted about thirty minutes, flooding basements and parking lots.

Hopefully the moisture neutralized the lightening. You never know, moisture, hail and rain cuts a thin swath, while heat can be everywhere. This is jest not a livelihood. The tune would change then.

It’s up to the garden to grow back on it’s own. Hail storms spread nitrogen they say, so this is their start. Everything wants to live. The beans better straighten themselves out and grow some leaves. The zucchini with pellet holes have to regroup, toss a canopy up and salvage what’s left. As for the carrots, onions, turnips, beets and spuds, they’ll be ready for stew come fall, hell or high water.

It’s disappointing to see the work smashed. It’s also wonderful to see it grow back.

Nothing is more resilient than a plant with two more months of sunshine left.

get ready it’s summer

Wood Lily.

Lisa and I have been very busy as Covid restrictions are lifted and businesses plan for the mother of all summers.

The forecast is calling for 40°c temps. It has topped of at 36° today. It makes you get up extra early and try to get work done before noon.

This mornings waning moon.

I remember running printing presses in this kind of weather, dealing with problems the heat could cause with paper and ink. Those were the days, NOT!

The garden is spectacular, although the heat is making the broccoli bolt. We are giving it away and eating it as fast as we can. The peas have blossoms and pods waiting to fill out. The sage is a hedge of purple flowers.

Varied Thrush with a worm.

This year the garden was in early due to having to quarantine in early April. I dug and planted because I could. It won’t make much difference in August. A few good neighbouring gardeners have stopped to ask why my garden is ahead. I confessed the early date I planted. They commented it was risky, but I’ll bet they will be doing the same next year. Us old-timers can be competitive. To be honest, I’m not sure if I will continue with an early schedule. I got lucky this time, next time could be different.

Last weeks trip. The mountains are shedding winter.

The lake is covered in Albertans in motor boats, every second home and Airbnb filled, the beach parking lot is wall to wall red and white plates. I must be mellowing, because I am almost happy for them whooping and wallowing in excess and entitlement. Like me they would rather be nowhere else, so who am I to judge. It also reminds me to either be working or out of the valley bottom and in the cool mountains come the weekend.

Fool Hen.

Lisa and I still have a stick of firewood to get for winter. We have spotted a couple sticks of dry fir off the beaten path. We may have to wait for it to cool down to gather it up proper.

Lisa debarking and splitting.