late march

Willow digs for mice. She had a good hole going. Snuffing and biting the thawed ground. Once and awhile she would stop and listen for movement under the ground and then furiously start digging again.

Our walk today took us up on the benches. The truck ride there was mud, snow, ice and lots of running water; melt flowing right on time.

Lisa told me sometimes she shuts her eyes when I’m driving the backroads when the trip gets hairy. She doesn’t like the feel of the truck sliding sideways or backwards. I told her at this time of year it is unavoidable.

We walked to where Ara and Slinky continue to watch the valley bottom. The tall grass was flattened from the winter snow. The new stuff was busting through. Still not enough birds for my liking.

***

On my day off I worked at a print shop. It felt good. Most of my life I’ve worked in printing or newspapers. I’ve done everything from working the darkroom to driving the paste-up pages to the press.

Working in the industry felt good. I never had to question my technique or method. I relied on experience. It was the same on my day off, like getting back on a bike.

I am a maintenance man now. Printers are a dying breed. Nobody reads anything on paper anymore. Toilets and heaters always need fixing. Every time something goes wrong I have to dial up Google to tell me how to fix it. It is usually an easy fix.

Printing on the other hand is hard, but always feels good.

This is one of those ‘good old days posts’.

***

Spring clouds from the benches.

Spring. Wind with empty tree branches flailing. Sunshine, sure, but with interruptions. Two Juncos in different locations surely must be a sign. Crows baying picking their spots. Ice melting south to north.

springing up

Canadiana.

The colours of early spring have started to take over from winter. The sky and ice are deep greys and blues. Every season displays it’s own unique colours. During the winter, clouds lose their shape and blanket the sky in solid colour. In spring the clouds form shapes, defined in varying shades of livid. The seasons in the Rockies are truly remarkable. I can’t imagine ever travelling away from here for an extended period for fear I’d miss the precious once a year performances.

Lisa and I walked to the start of Lake Windermere. Everyone calls it the ‘end’ of the lake because there is nothing down there. When people say nothing, they mean settlement. There is plenty there, cattails, geese, coyotes, cougars shallow water, clay banks, animal prints, moose, elk, snags, eagles and more.

Running tracks.

It’s a walk we usually do this time of year. I scouted places to take pictures of the dark sky. It is on foot and would require a full night and a tent. I know Willow would enjoy it.

It would seem odd setting camp down there because I’m usually in the mountains. Still, I think there could be some good pictures to be had. The Milky Way would rise over the lake and mountains at this time of year. There is also some soft level places to pitch a tent.

Hills and mountains springing up.

Willow and Maynard snuffed up the thawing smells oblivious to yesterday or tomorrow. And we consider ourselves the smart ones.

what will we do with all the extra light

Pictographs along the Spirit Trail.

Two of my kids have tested positive for Covid. They are both young and healthy and are experiencing minor symptoms. They were both careful, working from home. It’s a lottery. Contact tracing has shown where they got it. Nobody’s fault.

A small Creeper makes it’s way lightly.

I have told a handful of people. People I respect, like my good friend Dave, who recognized it for what it is, a lottery regardless of safe guards.

Other’s I have talked to want to blame them for getting Covid. I even had someone of authority, stick their finger in my face and lecture me on ‘social bubbles’.

It’s important to keep your mouth shut and listen to smart people, it’s also important to keep your mouth shut and listen to stupid people. If for no other reason, self preservation. I’m good at the first and not so good at the other.

***

Lisa holds a delicate skull.

The time has changed. We are back to dark in the morning and an extra hour of light at night. The ground is frozen still. A handful of seeds are started inside in anticipation spring will continue regardless of the endless bad news. As far as I can see the sun still gets up on time in the morning.

***

A Nutcracker giving shit to whoever will listen.

I’m going to miss winter. The short days. The woodpile. A fire in the fireplace, stewed meat with last year’s potatoes, waking up to a snowfall, knowing it means a workout and the quiet darkness that can never last.

***

Tomorrow I’ll put on a sunny face and keep quiet.

Willow among the rocks.

late late february

Jeessuss! This vehicle must have ran off the road and tumbled down a bank after an hellacious shootout! Look at all those bullet holes. I wonder of Al Capone was involved?

Spring like weather this weekend. Lisa and I scouted Red Rock Road, running on the west side of the Columbia River between Radium and Brisco. We were looking for an open space to take night time photos. We found windows to the night sky but nothing with an open expanse from north to south.

Plenty of silvers and greys between seasons. The birds are gearing up when the sun comes out, singing, feeling the rise of spring I suspect. I feel it too, but it’s way down there, pushed aside by modern living and various substances ingested to cope with poor light, politicians, a 24 hour news cycle, destruction, pollution, racism, violence and bullshit flinging from every direction.

Being older makes you realize you don’t have much control over any of it, the batting average is starting to go down, if I were a boxer the losses are creeping up on a once perfect record. The world is taking it’s toll. That’s age for you.

Still the feel of spring. The smell of melting ice. The warmth when the sun decides to shine, the light on the mountain tops and clouds after the sun goes down, the time it takes before it turns dark, no wonder the birds wait for this time to go a courting.

Each winter takes a little from us, robbing me of confidence and bringing us closer to our destination.

If it doesn’t snow, it will be dirty snow piles, mud and dust. That’s my cue to start some seeds inside. The garden is only a few months away.

waxing

Tonights’s gorgeous 80% waxing gibbous moon.

It’s still winter and I’m already missing winter. It’s light at 6 pm. The snow is melting. We might get a few more snowstorms or cold spells. March can pack in a lot of winter if it decides. Still we have turned the corner.

Soon I will have to justify my 8 o’clock bedtime. The revellers will be ten-fold. I won’t be able to walk barefoot and shirtless into a snowstorm to remind myself I’m only an animal and not a very good one. I won’t be able to piss outside under the cloak of darkness. My paws are soft and I have no fur. My teeth are either missing, dull or hurting.

My strength is cruelty. It’s what makes us try to tame nature all around.

February

A sign of spring.

Very fine weekend. Yesterday Lisa and I went skating on the lake. We got on in the south to try to avoid the ruck. Willow also enjoyed the time having no problem keeping up with us. We saw a lot of people doing the same as us, enjoying the fresh air. Many remarked on the friendliness of Willow and wondered about her breed, never having seen a Wire-Haired Weiner Dog before. Most of the people we saw and talked to were tourists. I was happy for them to be enjoying the lake and ice on skates and x-country skis.

Today we headed into the bush, staying on the roads that are open and plowed. We hiked into a spot we go to often. Last night people had started a fire and cut down live trees to feed their large bonfire. They left a mess, beer cans, food and garbage. This is not unusual. I can never understand cutting down live trees to feed a bush fire when dried wood is so readily available. We threw snow on the fire and remarked that we will have to come back, when the roads open, to clean it up. Lisa said something that worried me. She said, she is not sure if she likes this spot anymore.

So many places we once loved have been ruined or destroyed by the crowds. It is disappointing. We are pushed further, usually up the creeks and rivers as most small lake shores have been littered with campers/partiers.

With heavy hearts we turned back, looking for spring in the rising temperatures. Just like many years previous I looked for the earliest pussy willows, to our delight a few were breaking through the skin of their buds. It is amazing what a few hours of above freezing temperatures will do. Also amazing what such small things can change the spirit from dark to light. Very fine weekend.

Brrrrrr!

This photo composition is made of sixteen photos sewn together in Photoshop to achieve the extra wide angle needed to show the night sky from north to south. The original is a massive file and reveals many stars and constellations. Even in this small sample a discerning eye may be able to pick out Perseus and Cassiopeia to the left and the tail of Scorpius with red supergiant Antares over the lights of Fairmont Hot Springs in the south. Scorpius only rises once Orion is down and promises the coming of summer.

A few welcome days off in a row. Willow and I figured we would sample the chilly temperatures. We headed out at 3 in the morning to see if we could catch the return of The Milky Way.

The Milky Way rising over Nutmuq¢in (Chisel Peak).

So far we have had a mild winter and perhaps we have grown soft because -28°c felt colder than expected. Granted fumbling barehanded with a metal camera doesn’t help. Willow looked at me like I was crazy and was happy to make it back to the truck and a blasting heater.

The Milky Way was rising but the centre stays below the mountains before dawn washed the stars away. Still a wonderful viewing morning with the young moon long down refusing to interfere with the brilliance of stars.

The afternoon sun warming Jake and Dave.

That afternoon we met with good buddies Dave, Jake and Chewy for a bout of ice fishing. By then it had warmed to a much more comfortable -16°c. We picked a spot near the shallow south end of Lake Windermere, chosen for it’s distance from the ruck of the crowd. Unfortunately the fish didn’t feel the same, choosing instead to occupy the deeper portions nearer the outlet.

Willow looking for fish.

Still, it was refreshing enjoying the lake. Jake drilled his own hole in the almost 2 feet of thick ice. The dogs ran this way and that. Very fine day.

Willow criticizing my lack of fishing skill.

february

Snow, melt, snow. The valley bottom has seen it’s share of weather more attributed to spring than January. I’m still waiting for a cold spell that must surely be coming, looking forward to it actually. The firewood is ready.

This is the month The Milky Way returns rising in the dark, before dawn, perpendicular to the Columbia River and Rocky Mountains.

It’s the month voices can be heard in the creeks running over ice. The wind knocking the snow out of the trees are also trying to say something. I turn my head this way and that like an exquisite dog trying to decipher what’s being said. I still don’t get most of it.

It can be cruel or not, but never easy.

Mid January

Maynard stays alert, his eye out for the moose we spotted earlier. Lisa is comforted by his continued vigilance.

The lack of snow allows us to travel the backroads normally cut off at this time of year. Lisa and I took off for the logging roads early in the morning. We were rewarded by spotting a cow and calf moose. They crossed the road in front of us as we travelled higher into the Palliser.

The lack of snow also allowed us to harvest some easy down fir for firewood. It was a good size, dry as a bone, yet needed the splitting maul to bust it into smaller chunks to load.

Willow off the beaten track, chasing sticks, nose out, snuffing up the good air.

Willow and Maynard ran rampant. Willow more so, while Maynard stayed close behind me even while sawing the wood.

A light snow fell continually while the sky was clear in spots showing blue. Just one of those days you wish you could hold onto forever and bring out when things aren’t going your way.

Very fine day.

Maynard and I make our way.

blue

Willow looking a little like a wild animal. I see her smiling. In fact she is chewing the stick she fetched between her paws.

It’s been a long time coming. First they built a road to explore mining, in the process, diverting the creek closer to the lake. Each year the creek flooded in high water diverting silt and filling the lake. This year was no different, however the accumulated sand allowed the creek to flow freely into the lake and fill it almost completely.

My brother and I used to fish for Cutthroat Trout in it’s bottomless blue when we were youngsters. In February my father would trim Water Cress. We pitched rocks from the banks above seeing who could make it to the middle.

This was when it was in walking distance. The roads beside turned it different. It’s taken awhile. The creek flows freely into it now. Still there is a pool that accommodates Kingfishers and Dippers. The fish are gone along with it’s brilliant blue.

Willow and I trudged the snow from the road. A short walk that seemed long enough in the world we live in now. Willow fetched sticks. Water Cress was starting on the outer edges I wasn’t sure it would be safe, a mine above and the stream flowing in, beaver dams doing their best, after all the fish are gone.

Willow fetches a stick in a world offering so much if you blink it could be missed.

The lake was spring fed. My father said it came from the corner of the lake that was now filled in. He knew this the way his bait moved and the fish pooled, I know that now. The spring confirmed it, a trickle carving a path towards the small lake remaining.