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.
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.
Whew! A quick week. The light on both ends of the day is expanding and coming on quick. Orion is still visible at night, but won’t be for long, washed away by the glare of spring.
People out walking here and there, holding hands, old and young, succumbing to the urge taking over deer and birds. The second is nature the first is love. That’s the way we like to think of it, one separate from the other.
I’m an old-timer living to an age once impossible by the majority of humankind’s existence. Nature hasn’t adjusted and given me, and others, much of a roadmap or purpose to living past the ripe age of 35.
My DNA is too damaged to pass on even if I could. Young ladies all look like flowers to me. Nothing to sing about, only admire. No tweet or bugle, no rubbing horns on dry branches. In 99.9% of the time humans existed men my age would have been 25 years dead and for good reason. Young men don’t start wars.
And that’s why I feel lucky. This my 57th spring. The wind in my beard. The mountains unchanged from the ice age, the river rolling, slowing, making noise only when the rest is tuned out, that’s something I’ve been taught, and the stars, the stars common with the old ancient man getting ready.
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’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.
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.
Rain, slush, sleet and snow, even a brief hail storm thrown in for good measure. I picked a great time to take a week off. I’m not complaining, I can get along with all kinds of weather. I appreciate the nasty stuff keeps the tourists away.
Willow and I got muddy on the slick gumbo walking the banks of the Kootenay. We were chasing trout and char, dipping out of the timber onto the smooth rock where the river slows goes deep and blue.
The clouds moved over a little tonight and let an almost full moon shine beside a brilliant star called Mars. With luck it will start to clear up and I can get some photos of Mars while it is close. To think that is supposed to be our next destination as we try to leap frog into the stars.
I’m content and thankful letting the stars come to me. The Palliser River still has plenty of fish holes Willow and I haven’t discovered.
Not a lot of hot weather. Rain in-between sunshine. I’m okay with that. The world’s seemed to have gone strange. I hold onto what’s familiar. Not because it will save me, but because it’s the only thing I know.
The garden is teeming. We can’t grow enough to be self sufficient. Even if I started shooting all the deer around me, it would be a tough go. The new spuds ease the pain of reality, and there’s something cathartic about picking your own lettuce.
We trade with friends; pickles for rhubarb, weed for meat, firewood for jelly. . . it’s a trick we play to think we are beating the system.
If this is all we get I’ll be happy without the heat.
Damn good hike. I’m not used to hiking with so many people, but it was worth it. The dogs got along, that’s important. We headed where I left a coffee cup, used for booze, a few years before. It’s not like me to leave anything behind.
The hills are steep, they always will be.. The snow, hard from the slide, unforgiving, slippery if not careful.
Hunter had it planned. Bree’s Mom and Dad, sister and husband were along. Lisa and I played dumb. Not hard for me.
I was up the week before to check the trail. The snow was hanging on. I figured right, it would be mostly gone by Canada Day, I always think it wouldn’t take many years of chilly weather before the glaciers grew back. It’s too bad we measure everything in lifetimes.
When the time was right Hunter asked his soul mate to spend the rest of their lives together.
Lisa said from the first time she met Bree she knew her and Hunter would be together forever.
To be able to share such a special day was wonderful.
Lisa thought it was a good idea to take a trip behind the mountain and look for Yellow Orchids. I thought it was too early.
We walked to a spring where we have found them before. It was tricky as we had to find a crossing to the creek that was running quick. Sure enough, Lisa was right (should I have doubted?) and the Yellow Orchids had just started to bloom.
Oregon Grape, blossoms promising a good year of ‘grapes’.
We also noticed plenty of young cones on the pine and spruce. Oregon Grape is covered with blossoms, possibly suggesting a good crop of the sour pitted fruit.
Young Pine cones covered in pollen. Pine pollen is used medicinally for many ailments. I told Lisa it is also said to boost testosterone, she said, ‘we should take some home’. I chewed on a few cones on the way home. Very sweet. Sure enough, I was harder than algebra when we pulled into the driveway. Unfortunately, Willow wouldn’t let me get close to Lisa. What nature gives, nature also takes away.
It has been a damp year so far. The plants and trees seem to be enjoying it.
I’ve been watching a nest of Crows at work. The mother was quite throughout, she sat on the eggs only to leave for a short while. Once the eggs hatched she was constantly busy going back and forth for food for the hatchlings. It rained a lot and there were worms on the pavement, plenty to choose from.
I had to climb to the third floor to see them. Sometimes my work didn’t take me there, but I did it anyway each day. I always said I’d bring my camera, but I didn’t.
Every time I looked at those birds I couldn’t get over how much bigger they got, day after day.
Today they sat on the edges of the nest, all three black and shiny, confident, if they are lucky they will always be so, the mother on a branch above, her eye on me, trusting, but knowing I can never be trusted.
They looked at me. It’s said Crows can recognize faces, I wondered how those wings worked and when they will figure out they can fly.