Which way to go?
This is spring. Lisa and I had snow during breakfast in the mountains this morning. We huddled while Willow hunted. The thawing winter smells must be wonderful for her. The clouds shine every shade of grey. Birds sing from thick once and awhile they let us see them. Every now and again the sun shines through, warming us up. Still it was chilly enough to put a small fire on to warm the house.
Western Meadowlark letting it’s voice be heard.
We’re going in search of birds this weekend. I have been hearing Meadowlarks. It looks like it could rain. I’ve stopped looking at the forecast. It could be good, or bad. Like most things it can go either way regardless. With luck we will see some Meadowlarks.
I looked at one of my old check stubs from the School District. A hundred bucks each cheque went to CUPE 440 – the union. It went to pay and advance apathy, discontent, laziness and sleepy carelessness intent on killing inventive, heartening, truthful labour.
There are many wonderful people stuck in the union. They toil and deliver regardless of being surrounded by the worst workers in Canada who have landed, finally, a job, after many, they could finally be their thoughtless selves. Nowadays, that’s a union’s purpose.
There is no gold plated pension waiting for Lisa and I. Hopefully the body holds up to keep working. I met a fellow today recently retired. He said he spent the winter sick. I told him that’s what retirement will do for you. He laughed, but neither of us were joking.
Lisa bought some oil for Willow that is supposed to keep ticks away. It smells like oregano, so much so, I’ve thought about calling Willow ‘Spaghetti’, which would be a good name for a Long Haired Dachshund. The oil must work, because after a day in the bush, there was nary a tick on her while I picked one off my neck. Now I’m wearing the oil and we both smell like pasta sauce.
It’s tough to say goodbye to winter. It’s a season you can hide and hang out in. The silence, the early dark, where every star shines bright, Orion and his dog Sirius chasing the sisters Pleiades and Hyades across the frozen sky. To be on earth, watching, is both awful and the most amazing gift given.
Red on the mountains. The melting snow causing streaks.
Every season’s has it’s own colours. Ones that only show up once a year. Ones that can’t be photographed no matter how hard you try. They happen near the edge of mountains at sun up. Or the way the ice turns deep blue before it turns over and sinks to the bottom in spring.
Kingfishers on dried Mullein. The female, left, is more colourful than the male.
It seemed the winter was a long one. We had an early fall snow and then nothing much until February. Still we had it all. Just not spread out. Some cold temperatures dipping to -30°c and staying there. Snow, mostly in February, but not much overall.
Storms depending on where you stand.
The frost is coming out of the ground. There’s still patches of snow in perpetual shade. That comes with mountains.
March full moon on the rise clearing the ridge.
The garlic should be popping up soon, along with self seeded lettuce and spinach. They arrive at the same time as thousands of weeds. It takes a discerning gardener to pick them apart.
Hunting on ice edge.
The days run longer. Summer with heat, smoke and fire is on it’s way. But for now the mountains are ever present, jagged and comforting, the sky deep cobalt, waiting on stars, in the east.
Mallards on ice edge being hunted. A Raven (middle), dips his beak, unnoticed, waiting for leftovers.
The March winds are starting to blow. It won’t be long the ice and snow will break up, turning every patch of standing earth wet and muddy.
The birds have been singing and I even saw a few young Bighorn rams clacking heads. It’s good to practice the the fight and fuck so when they get older they’ll be good at it. It’s the same for humans whether we think so or not!
There mornings are brilliant but a chilly -28°. The afternoons warm to about -3. These are fantastic days when spring is trying to bust through.
This male Northern Flicker knows the score. He is banging on the top of the pole getting the metal parts singing with vibration. He is a real show off, securing the first of the sunshine, trying to attract a mate.
When I was a kid we used to have a Flicker that rapped on our metal chimney cap. It made a heck of a racket throughout the house.
To all of our delight my father used to sing:
The woodpecker pecked
on the school house door.
He pecked and he pecked
till his pecker was sore.
A meteor pierces Orion.
Willow and I set out to try and spot zodiacal light. False dusk as it is sometimes referred to. We sat on an eastern ridge. Unfortunately, the light from the valley bottom interfered. We did the only logical thing, headed higher and around, trying to put a range of mountains between us and the light of town. It can be tricky in the snow. Willow was happy with our new perch looking towards Orion. She caught a whiff or sound earlier that made her uneasy, started her barking and tighten the perimeter. In a world that shifts it is lucky to have such a trustworthy companion. Perhaps she was only barking at Orion’s dog Sirius, warning, ‘You are not so big.’
Female Red Crossbill
Earlier in the day I took some lovely pictures of a Hairy Woodpecker beating on a rotten birch. It was pounding the bark off and getting at the frozen bugs hiding in the punky wood. I would have posted a picture or two here if I hadn’t forgot to put a memory card in the camera.
Winter Starlings ducking the chill
The last week we have had snow, cold temperatures and also brilliant days that stay cold but feel warm from the sun higher in the sky. It feels good to be getting some shovelling and plowing in. I took a selfie of myself (strange indeed) with my cell phone. From sweating and breathing deep my hair and beard was covered in frost and my nose had a perfect icicle hanging off it. I thought it was hilarious! Lisa and my daughters said it was gross. Still it seemed only proper that I share it, so I sent it to my grandson Cooper via his mom’s phone. He thought it was very funny and asks his Mom regularly to see the photo over and over again.
March brings spring. The other day I saw my first spider of the year and it was a dandy! I got home from work after a long shift of shovelling and sweating and headed for the shower. I shed my toque, glasses, boots and clothes. Before I stepped into the soothing shower, there on the bathroom floor was a spider at least an inch across. Luckily it wasn’t moving fast, probably from having just woken up, but it was moving, each leg stretching, it was only a matter of time before it regained it’s strength and ran down the drain or up my leg! Naked, and feeling it, I grabbed my glasses and a boot to protect myself. Once my glasses were on and I could see clearly I realized the spider was only a ball of black lint, it’s movement caused from a draft under the door. I felt doubly foolish coming to the realization the lint that looked like a giant spider had fallen from my belly button while undressing.
It seems like the entire winter was packed into February. March brings spring.
Fir, Spruce, Tamarack, Cancer and the Beehive
The sky couldn’t give a damn about me and I appreciate that. I read three weather reports in the evening. They all say something different and they’re usually all wrong. I wake up in the morning and sometimes I have to plow snow and sometimes I don’t. There ain’t no telling how it’s going to turn out. I doubt I’ll ever figure it out.