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.

Lazy

A handsome cinnamon Black Bear reacting to a bark from Willow. It turned and disappeared into the bush. Willow’s bark often sends bears up trees.

Lisa and I spent a quiet weekend at home. The valley was extremely busy with it being the Canada Day long weekend. The week leading up to the weekend was rife with hard work for Lisa and I. It was good to kick back and take it easy. We didn’t leave the yard on Saturday.

A bunch of Wood Orchids.

This morning we were up early, Lisa gave me a haircut and shave, then we took for the mountains. We figured most of the revellers from Alberta would have their minds on getting back over the BC/Alberta border. The roads were busy in the valley bottom. Once we left the black top it calmed down.

We have a week off coming up. Lisa said she can’t remember when we had a week off in the summer. We are looking forward to it.

One more look.

single leg trap

There ain’t many left, but I see a few downtown. Usually they are hell and gone creek bound, stumbling up or down a mountain looking for bears, goats, sheep, elk, moose or the next good huckleberry patch, always keeping an eye out for straight pine, without a knot for the first twenty feet, something that will lend it’s self to easy dovetail and make a descent cabin.

The fish and muskrat will come, same as the beaver and lynx, bobcat and coyotes. There is still people that want to wear fur. Sometimes just a bit for trim. The animals get to live on in a place where they won’t bear their teeth.

You ever try opening a trap to set an animal loose? It’s easier to kill them with a rifle or rock. That’s why you never see three legged wild animals.

It’s a collaboration. They don’t get to watch the world go to hell. They live like their fathers. The snow gets deep and things don’t turn out, they wonder about something easier, sunshine for instance in the November cold. Then it gets colder and finally the sun comes back making everyone feel special.

The animals trapped given their druthers, more than likely, would prefer having their hide on the hood of a rich bitch instead of being eaten by magpies.

Not that any of us get the choice.

Rain

Lavender.

The garden is coming. We have enjoyed some wonderful salads. Everything is up and if I don’t get the fences up for the peas soon they will flop over and will have to be trained.

Iris.

The rain has been falling for a couple of three days now. The grass is knee high. The good neighbour Larry’s feral cats, the mother and kittens, are starting to wonder around. She took up nesting under his hot tub that hasn’t been operational for ten or fifteen years. The cat’s a calico. Larry’s a radical. Not sure how the kittens look. All I hope is they stay across the road, which they won’t. Larry might, but the cats will wonder.

Red Cabbage.

We still can’t see the tops of the mountains due to storms. If it heats up the snow will melt up high, the rivers will swell and the wetlands will flood. It’s been a long time since Athalmer has been underwater, lot’s of fill and dykes. Can’t say it won’t happen again.

Murmur

A Fairy above the forest floor.

A lot of good stuff out there despite it all. It’s always been that way. It takes looking, searching even, sacrificing, just when you think it doesn’t exist it jumps up and slaps you in the face.

Yellow Orchid.

It’s what’s given to you, a gift. Born in the wrong era, hellbent to prove them wrong. Adrenaline and height, lost on purpose just to find yourself back. It’s the only war most people will know.

Twins.

It’s easy to die, to live in these times takes courage, fortitude, strength and conviction. You have to be quick to react, and do so with the same purpose of a murmur of starlings or school of fish.

Solomon’s Seal.

Calypso Wild Orchids

A Lady’s Slipper with an antenna that reaches to the end of the universe.

Odd day, everyone off, guarded. Arguments and discontent. Cutting off and swerving. It was good to get home. Lisa said, Let’s head up the pass. Look for Orchids.

The forest floor at spring time.

Last week they were small stems. Snow in the ravines. The Tamaracks turning lime with new needles.

This mountains are still full of snow, the sun is tilting in our favour, making the forest bloom as it has for thousands of years, hell or high water.

Willow finds Orchids.

A bit of bear shit here and there, rocks turned over and stumps torn, getting the early beetles, maybe even before they come out of hibernation.

The Lady’s Slippers were everywhere under foot, making me walk gingerly, drunk like, to avoid squashing such beauty.

Ridge Walk

Plenty of snow still to melt on the ridge and fill the creeks.

A touch of rain this evening and it sure felt good. The ground in the valley bottom is getting parched. Each day brings at least some wind that dries the earth further. I reminisce to earlier days and I can’t remember it being this dry in spring. It is true the area is much more built up and water is scarce due to usage, which makes watering the yard prohibitive for all but the wealthy, District of Invermere, and School District N0.6 (Rocky Mountain) who use more than needed. For them it is easier to over water than manage the resource.

***

Fuel is above $2 a litre and going higher. Tourism hasn’t slowed one bit. More motor boats are planned fro Lake Windermere. A new RV park is being built on the outskirts. Our public officials say we are lucky to host our wealthy tourist clientele that come in droves from Alberta.

Meanwhile I hope I will continue to be able to afford to drive the 17Km to work and back each day for the opportunity to earn shit wages. I shouldn’t complain, Lisa and I have it better than many. The Valley hasn’t always been the tourist trap it has become. When the kids were young we did better. Many young couples will never have the opportunity Lisa and I had to buy a house and raise a family.

***

The world seems to be going apeshit crazy, environmental disaster, war, shootings and people mistreating each other with impunity.

I listen to many of my young co-workers, their view of the future is very dim, and why shouldn’t it be with all that is going on. What does inspire me is how well they treat each other.

Maybe that’s the best we can do in such a world – be as kind as we can to people we encounter.

It is a work in progress for me. The older I get the less time I have for right wing bigots and racists, people that tear up the environment, swindlers including many politicians and business folks, lining their pockets at the expense of people they proclaim to serve; neighbours and future generations.

These types have always existed, they have been successful, even revered by history, it just seems the stakes are higher now and it should be clear that punching down on your fellow man and the earth that sustains us for profit has become a terrible outdated practice. Perhaps someday it will finally fall out of favour for good.

***

Even this little bit of rain helps and refreshes. The garden shows thin green rows of carrots, peas, kale and turnips just planted last week.