long shadows

It is amazing what can be determined with math. Distances covered, to the top of the mountains, to the sun and the furthest galaxies. I don’t understand, but I understand shadows and how they correspond to distance. You learn looking at avalanche chutes and climbing routes when the sun is about to set. It can’t be mastered without turning it into numbers. Still you can get by just looking into the shadows.

Rest

The Columbia River freezing. If it backs up far enough it will take out bridges. It’s good to see a small glacier advancing regardless of season.

It has been so nice for Lisa and I to have a few days to spend with family. We have been fortunate to all be in good health with plenty of food to share. Last year we said we would figure out a way to be together come hell or high-water.

It’s turned chilly at about -25°c. Tomorrow is back to work and it’s supposed to get colder with the windchill. I’ll probably be in a plow cleaning up parking lots, shovelling off walkways and tending to guests minimal problems.

With the Covid Omicron strain running rampant I will be ducking my duties with guests unless it’s urgent. What is urgent – fire and flood, everything else can wait. My job description doesn’t include getting Covid because somebody doesn’t know how their DVD player works.

However, I am a realist, due to how quickly this variant is spreading, I get the feeling we all are going to have trouble staying out of this disease’s path.

Steamboat mountain at the left. Sitting in the middle of the Columbia. Like a big steamboat or where the river boats could be heard signalling to the ragged folks watching them pass?

The sky has been deep blue on occasion, the snow covered mountains incandescent in the sun long after the valley bottom is in shadow.

I woke up early this morning to chase stars. It was overcast. I went outside to make sure, and saw light spikes to the NE. I knew what they were right away. The air had ice crystals and the lighted billboards along the highway were shining straight up.

They looked cool, some of them shined then dimmed. It’s Christmas. I thought it would make a good shot, but it represents everything I hate; light pollution, billboards with faces of realtors, standing sky-high, selling off the valley to the wealthy oil executives to the east. And also the plight of the people on the Shuswap Nation that feel they have no other option but to do business with these arseholes. Not that that is an excuse. I can only try to understand.

The snow beneath our feet.

Once the sky goes down for good after a day of shining strong the landscape turns grey, ground to sky. That’s when our lives become real.

For me, I protect what I love and tell them a bright day is coming again tomorrow.

Boxing Day

A wonderful Christmas with most of our children around. We missed Maddy and Chad.

Lot’s of food, of course, and presents.

Cooper and Scarlett couldn’t believe their luck and must have figured they’d been good for the entire year. Food and presents kept coming.

We missed out last year. Considering everything that went on with the pandemic, we were determined not to be apart again.

If there is a lesson to be had, it’s how to stay together in a world that we are told is crumbling.

Everything that comes over our table has truth and some fabrication. I still stick my nose out at night to test the temperature and see if the snow is falling.

It’s cold and I like it. Frozen boots with warm socks. Ice hanging off the river’s edge. Eyelashes thick with frost. Breath freezing into shapes like a Genie coming out of a lamp. Snow, swift, kickable under step. The wood splitting easy at 20°.

Mid December

Lake Windermere, it’s never been much for me to imagine a glacier running ridge to ridge.

A few cold nights coming on. I am building a rink for Cooper and Scarlett.

I have never built a backyard rink. No need because we live so close to the lake.

However, kids are not allowed to wander like they used to, plus it might be nice to watch the kids skate while I get supper ready.

The problem is the land isn’t level. There is going to be 10″ of ice on one side and an inch on the other.

Copper and Scarlett have a lot of energy. This will do them well.

Willow helps dragging the Christmas tree to Lisa’s delight.

Venus and a Waxing Moon

Damn it’s dark early!

It’s dark by five. It’s slow as a motherfucker. Except for the sirens that are out clearing the roads. If they have the beacon light on its just snow.

Plenty of both coming our way. People like me worry about the woodpile and meat in the freezer. I’m not a modern man following the higher-ups flying private jets into Glasgow, talking about reducing carbon, for all I know the carbon they want to reduce could be me. That 1%, who our own Prime Minister is a member of, has to be watched, not for some conspiracy or evil doings they could be conjuring, but for how clueless they are.

Businesspeople, tourists (including politicians and environmentalists, the rich kind as if there were any others) or the new Santa Claus delivering Amazon packages!

It’s tough to believe in anything I hear during lunch or on the phone. Venus appeared on the ridge tonight after a few days of cloud. A waxing crescent moon to the left and above. I had to think about it, but they were right on time and in position.

People say times are going to get tough. No more fuel. I’m going to miss my old Ford, that gas guzzling pig. I’ll narrow my circle. I’ll miss the ridges. I’ll pull the siding from the side of my house, burning it at a pace that matches my march into old age.

Ronald Ernest Ede

My brother Ron was laid to rest today. He passed away a couple weeks ago. It has thankfully been busy to keep my mind occupied. My bones have hurt, head, joints, I haven’t been able to think proper. Last night I wrote his eulogy. Not really a eulogy but a few stories. It wasn’t hard to come up with stories as we shared plenty of times together. My Sister Wynanne spoke wonderfully and said so much, things I wanted to say. Our Sister Deb with Kurt sang a beautiful rendition of Go Rest High On The Mountain.

Ron was eight years older than me and kept me from plenty. Times were not easy when we grew up. The truth is they were harder for him than I. Plenty was expected from him. That goes with the territory when your father gives you his name.

We fit in some good times and I learned a lot from Ron. I was always welcome to go through his records and magazines. They were a treasure trove of information for the young me. I swear I learned to read reading Penthouse Forum.

When I was sixteen he took me down to Montana where we went from one down and out bar to another. We were always one step away from getting into fights. It was probably the size of his arms, the jagged scar across his chin and his gregarious nature that kept us out of them.

One of those nights, at a topless bar, we stayed until closing. We found ourselves on the street at 3am with nowhere to go. Another patron with the same problem as us started in on me verbally. Of course he was older and bigger. Ron thought it was funny. The guy said he’d just been released from prison and I didn’t doubt it. I figured I’d get in the first shot and I’d make it a good one. While the guy blabbed on trying to rile me, I reached into my pocket and arranged the coins into my closed fist into a column. The guy didn’t see me but Ron did. Ron stepped in and put the run on the guy without lifting a finger. The guy was never a threat, I just didn’t see it. Ron said he wasn’t worried about me, he just didn’t want to spend the rest of the night in jail. He also said, if you are smart you don’t have to fight. That advice probably came at the right time in my life.

When you are born in 1956 you could go on to be a modern man or you could live a life similar to your Father and Grandfather. Men who’s only way was to push feelings down. I think Ron did this and like his father and grandfather it caught up with him. Some people inherit feelings. I believe Ron inherited his Grandfather and Father’s horror of war and their mental anguish. 

About ten years ago Ron with the help of his wife Leslie, who has always been by his side, quit drinking. I never asked, but I suspect he had to lay some of those inherited demons to rest. His Grandfather and Father would have been proud.

When Ron was diagnosed with cancer he faced it with determination, grace and never felt sorry for himself. He always said, he should have been dead long ago from liver or lung cancer, the rare form of blood cancer he caught seemed like a joke to him.

The past two weeks since Ron has passed many people have expressed their condolences to me. Some have said how unfair his death has been, because he was able to put away the alcohol, perhaps a longer life should have been promised. I don’t think Ron felt his cancer was unfair. I don’t think he thought fairness had anything to do with it. He told me, it is hard to feel sorry for yourself when he saw people much younger, in the clinics and hospitals, facing their own battles with cancer.

I’ve spent a lifetime learning from my brother. I’ve followed him around all these years and am going to miss him paving the way.

April

Spring dusting.

Most spring days are strange like the weather and I like that. Took off for the Kootenay on Saturday. Willow and I rounded up some firewood. It wasn’t hard. The Kootenay was clear as a bell and I could have brought back supper if I had half a mind and a rod.

Lisa asked if I worry about my head considering, concussions, sickness, drinking and all the rest. I said nope, I remember things just like I want to. I know this is selfish.

It did piss me off coming back with a load of wood not remembering the creek my father and I stopped for water. There was Fade-Away Creek, Witness Creek and Bone Dry Creek, but damned if I could remember the small trickle that crept, ice cold, filtered under a thick canopy of full grown spruce around mile 9.

A Ruffed Grouse

I stopped at the creek and the water was just as good. That’s what’s important after all. Perhaps the name will come to me.

The time between still early and damn late is shorter as you get older.

Starlight

First you have to get through the spruce.

Finally the low clouds have cleared leaving the skies blue during the day. The temperatures have dropped, as they do when it clears in January. A small price to pay for the kind of winter sunshine that warms body and soul.

Willow and I were up early without a plan nor agenda. We set off south. Everything we saw was both magnificent and plain as day, but in the middle of the night.

It was good to see the stars after a long absence. The Milky Way is still mostly down. I squinted to see it and aimed the camera at where it should be come February. No luck. This isn’t the year it decided to come up a month early. Still it was worth a look.

Telegraph road.

Willow found a log and dug for a few mice scared shitless from the snuffing above.

The stars look different every time I see them.

Very fine morning. We will be hitting the fart sack early tonight.

fireweed

These days everyone wants to know what side you are on. It ain’t as simple as when Pete Seeger gave voice to the union men. Now unions are refuge for apathy and laziness.

The right-wingers are just as bad spouting racist, sexist garbage and wondering aloud why it ain’t being bought.

That’s the political landscape these days. Meanwhile most people don’t fit into either camp, but it’s presented to all they must choose.

***

The rain hit. Temperature is still up in the teens. Even the mountains will be void of snow during this warm October.

***

It will take one good frost to shake the rest of the leaves, stripping the colour and freezing the ground cock hard. That’s how fast it will happen.

***

Months go by quick, even during this time that is supposed to be trying.

La sunset

All the mischief gets done after the sun goes down. The same here as anywhere.