Starlings

Summer is about to shut the door. I’ll miss the women in shorts, it was worth the long way home, down main by the tourist shops.

Still, the coolness is a gentle salve. Much more important at my age.

big dog

Pedley, running ahead of Willow.

A couple pictures of our walk with my son Hunter and Bree’s big dog Pedley.

Willow and Pedley get along great. Willow gives a snarl once and awhile and Pedley heeds, she is still a puppy regardless of weighing in over 100lbs.

Pedley was a rescue with many characteristics. Her rugged looks, size and curly tail is a quality of the Anatolian Shepherd.

She followed willow along every chipmunk trail. Once back at the truck they were both tired.

Back in the truck heading for home. Photo by Lisa.

Cooling Back

Oregon grape.

Damn it feels good. The cooler weather has been a welcome reprieve. It’s still warm for this time of year. Waking to cool air has been nice. Pretty soon we will be ‘fighting for warmth’. That’s what my son Hunter calls it, when you pull the covers over your head, and flex your muscles to keep warm. Probably why many families in the old days had so many kids before central heating.

The summers are trying, heat and tourists. Lisa and I thought it would be funny if fifty years from now, people looked at the large second homes and thought, ‘Damn, what were these folks thinking? Global warming and not an inkling of thought to try and cut back. Can you imagine the energy used to heat that monstrosity?’

Tough to run through, but you can do it if scared enough.

It will probably never happen. The final answer to the pickle we are in will have to protect the richest. Otherwise it would have been solved long ago. It’s not that hard really.

We had breakfast behind Swansea. We took a spur away from the ruck. Plenty of bear shit on the road, they are also trying to avoid the crowds.

Even wondering cutblocks, climbing logging roads, looking for dead snags, a chicken or two crossing the road, washouts, Lisa and I looking at each other in glances, her saying, ‘you should put it in 4 wheel drive,’ and me saying, ‘I’ll put it in four wheel when we’re stuck.’

Fetch me a switch. Dark night and shadows. Good thing we don’t live back then.

Cranbrook

Todays moon when the sun hit the ridge.

Lisa and I had eye exams in Cranbrook. We also had a service on the truck.

Cranbrook is a small city with a Walmart, mall, superstore and other box stores. I visited the garden centre even though I didn’t need anything.

It is not the nicest city. A large strip of businesses leading to a downtown that tries to hide the dilapidation. Much different then the tourist trap we live in. Not many Alberta plates.

I did notice the people. They were hardened. Overweight, limping; many I could tell were homeless. A homeless camp is behind the garden centre. Invermere would quickly run these folks out of town, ‘bad for business’ the higher ups would say.

Every small city across Canada is the same. In Invermere the people are tourists. They are the wealthy from Alberta. They are fit and healthy.

A store clerk once told me they can always spot a tourist, because they look healthier than locals.

Locals making minimum wage and living in overcrowded staff houses just don’t have the same resources. No matter what we pretend as Canadians.

***

Lisa and I will eventually be pushed out of our home to make way for more tourists and second home owners. It is inevitable as we will not be able to afford the escalating assessments and taxes. We will probably head to Cranbrook and join the good people.

***

The buds are filling out.

It’s funny, Invermere is actually becoming a small city and will eventually lose its charm with tourists. We are already busy building our own strip with box stores and polluting the lake.

Perhaps we will get lucky like Cranbrook and be abandoned by tourists so we can limp around, overweight, getting by on minimum wage, sickly and drunken in the place we love the most.

Weekend

Fawns trot through the yard after their mother.

Spent a relaxing day in the garden. Pulled the pea vines. The peas were great this year. We even froze a few bags for winter.

The grasshoppers are sure at it. Luckily they haven’t done much damage to the garden.

Waxing moon above the Akisqunuk Range.

A young buck came around trimming the flowers and stepping on the plants, breaking off a prized patty pan squash.

Plenty of deer around for this time of year.

Catching my eye on the other side of the garden fence.

A half waxing moon came up in broad daylight. The sky was blue and lent the perfect backdrop.

Getting tall.

My proposal for a new week is; Saturday and Sunday off, Monday and Tuesday on, Wednesday off, Thursday and Friday on. 2 off 2 on 1 off 2 on, AKA 2 2 1 2. Hump day is now a mini weekend. I say fuck the 5 day work week.

Greening up.

Backroads

A brilliant day.

We were up early. It was a stretch. Decided to look for berries. Stretch, because it’s early. Still a ride into the bush is always welcome and never a waste regardless of season.

The bush changes. Seasons are earlier or later. Logging roads prop up confusing the shit out of me. I’m on one, then another, while looking for the old road I used to remember.

Willow chasing a rodent down a small hole. Willow does her best to dig and expand the hole.

Lisa says, no sense getting mad about it. She is right of course. Sometimes I turn down the right road that’s now a goat trail, a better route having been carved out of the land. Usually, and amazingly, we end up where we want to go.

Thousands of chipmunks took their turns driving Willow crazy.

The berries look like they will be on time this year. We were early but happy.

Spiders

A tiny spider on a wild orchid.

There is a unique spider that has taken up residence outside our basement door. Unique, because he is almost entirely white and has two spots on its belly that look like eyes, possibly to scare off predators; it works with me.

It spins perfect webs in the corner of the doorframe. More than once I have dragged my head through them leaving the basement, which causes me to quickly turn to make sure the spider is still in it’s corner and not on the web around my head.

I’ve since learned to mind its presence ducking as I enter and exit. 

The spider outside the basement door.

It captures a grasshopper a day. The grasshoppers are getting larger as it warms up. Yesterday it caught one that was bigger than itself. The spider came down and immobilized it in a hurry. The grasshopper made a mess out of the web. The spider wrapped and cradled it and then proceeded to suck the juice out of it.

This morning, I thought, after such a catch the spider may take the night off from spinning another web, but come morning another perfect web was strung in the corner of the doorframe.

It reminded me of a spider my father and I watched during a summer long ago. Like this one it grew to a large size. We named it, though I can’t remember what it was. It strung its web on the beams above the door of our log cabin. Come fall its web would have frost on it. In the afternoon it would come out and sun itself in the middle of the web. 

When it looked like it could not possibly live any longer due to the cold, my father brought out the .22 Winchester bolt action rifle. We backed up about 50 yards or so. I can’t remember if he got the first shot or I did. The spider had grown to about the size of a quarter and didn’t stand a chance. One shot was all it took.

I can guarantee this spider won’t suffer the same fate. Discharging rifles in town is frowned upon. Maybe a bird will ignore those eyes on its belly and have a meal. If so, the bird may be surprised it tastes like grasshopper.

Hunting Knife

My father’s old hunting knife was left to my brother. My brother Ron passed away last fall. His wife Leslie was going through stuff and came across it and passed it on to me. I had almost forgot it. It brought back a lot of memories of hunting and being with my father and brother.

Although it was my father’s knife my brother and I took our turns packing it and sometimes playing with it. My brother was exceptionally good at handling knives, throwing and catching them, laying his palm flat and stabbing between his fingers until the knife was a blur. My father didn’t see this.

Later my father got a new hunting knife, a gift from my mother, much nicer, expensive and shiny. My father’s rule was a good knife had to be christened with blood before it was properly broken in. That fall we were out early and bagged a deer. The new knife didn’t see much action after that as food became more plentiful.

This old knife would have been used to skin and dress many animals, most before I started hunting. It was an important tool in our family. Sharpened more at the tip for skinning, the last animal a bear.

The knife is a Solingen with an elk carved into the stag handle. From information I could find, it was made during WWII. It may seem unusual German knives were imported during that time, but maybe not, German knives and rifles were sought after for their quality. I like to think it was a gift from his father, presented to my dad when he returned from the war. Of course, this is more likely my romantic notions getting the better of me. There is only three people that would know the origins of this knife, my grandfather, father and brother who remembered everything.    

I own several Solingen/Boker knives and they are among my favourites. 

The blade of this knife has a patina on the blade that I am fond of. It is due to the high carbon content of the blade and just the way I remember it when I was a kid. I thought about cleaning it up and putting a razor edge on it, but decided against it. It is still plenty sharp. I am sure some of the dark dirt in the stag handle is ink from my father’s hands, dirty from toiling with the type and presses in the newspaper shop.

It is a wonderful keepsake full of memories. I am happy my Sister-in Law Leslie decided to give it to me.

Cooper saw me typing this today and the photograph. He liked it. I asked if he wanted the knife. He said he did. He may change his mind, but for now, it makes me feel good I could pass it on.

Day one

Fishing hole.

The first day of a week off. Willow and I headed out for some fishing. I expected the bush to be busy. To my delight it wasn’t, not sure why. We stopped at the first lake and put the boat in. Caught a couple nice Cut Throat Trout that we turned loose. We had left over roast at home in the fridge. I was using a barbless hook and they came off easy.

Willow saying, ‘Let’s get this show on the road’.

An Eagle sat on a tree, also fishing, we kept an eye on each other. The fish were deep but came up with my hook. I didn’t want to get into a spitting match over who’s fish it was in case I hooked one the Eagle was interested in. This has happened to me before. I have a policy never to hook Eagles or Beavers while fishing.

A dandy! It threw the hook into my finger. Good thing it was barbless.

I never saw a soul until the fire marshall rolled up on me. They check to make sure people put out their camp fires. Low and behold it was a teacher I worked with at the School District. He also taught our kids. He was one of the good ones, probably the best. We had a good talk. We called it after the mosquitos had had their fill.

The garden is producing. Willow is asleep. The sprinkler is going. I am sunburnt. Sometimes you get lucky.

dreams

It was a big dog, face twice the size of mine, docile. It would have been okay if it wasn’t for the two cougars following me. The older was injured the young one was following along. Dogs are smart, instinctual, they smell fear. I was the intermediate between both worlds, cougar and dog. Not understanding either.

The old cougar woke up, knocked out most likely, saw the young one. The big dog knew right away the game was on and started barking, slow and deep, its giant face, jowls and eyes jiggling.

The cougar reared back and made itself twice as big as the hound. There was no reason to step in.

***

The last dream. I was playing hockey and had to put the puck in an empty net and couldn’t do it.

***

Usually something goes wrong.

***

But sometimes I am swimming in the deep water out at the logs. Doing backflips into the lake when the sun goes down, while a girl in jean shorts straddles the log watching me. If the time is right I elevate into the sky. That’s better than anything conscious or dreaming.

***

Willow asks if we are going fishing tomorrow and I tell her, ya.