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.
It’s good to wake up and not have to go to work. A long weekend gives that little bit extra. Fuck laying the clothes out on Sunday. Rushing, getting a shave in, reconstructing your constitution, always important to see you through.
To have a whole other day is a reward. The lawn ain’t mowed. The beans aren’t in. Still time to putter. Have a beer between jobs. Entertain Willow. Lounge at breakfast. Read the paper. All the good ones are online now. I am going to be pissed once my eyes go for good.
A smart man would take advantage of this extra time. After all the shit could hit the fan at any time. Still the odds are in my favour. It’s been awhile since an astroid hit, so excuse me if I take my time.
The wild orchids are up same as the spinach. Hummingbirds test the feeder and chase each other off.
It makes me wonder where my personal responsibilities lie considering the state of the world. How can I be happy when bombs are falling in the Middle East, when lies are being pushed be governments and officials of every creed?
The mountains are getting a dusting of snow. The frost is off for a few days at least. The plants will feed us through summer.
The stars are up each night. Doing their best to shine into my soul. They remind me to fight for what I think is right, but most of the time, they remind me I am part of something huge.
They remind to take advantage of what has been given. I can fight at the drop of a hat, but I have to be reminded to watch birds.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
We had more kids trick or treating than we have had for years. We put the candy in a big bowl in our driveway and waved to as many as we could from our kitchen window. You never know what to expect.
Lisa and I kicked off November walking the east shore of Columbia Lake. Lot 48, for years scheduled for development, is now protected. It took millions of dollars to do so. We took the trail beside the lake and stopped often to admire the large fir trees with roots exposed from the banks eroding. I thought about being young and how I would have loved climbing these trees. I thought about now, could their large branches protect me in a storm. Where would I put my bed. Sure there was plenty of years dry branches to keep a fire going for days. We saw ruffed grouse along the trail. Willow put them in the trees. Chickadees got close, not deterred from our intrusion, going about their business hiding bugs and seeds for winter. Plenty of elk tracks coming and going, but not enough for a herd. One scraped the bank picking an awful spot to access the lake. Willow noticed as well and smelled the tracks almost falling herself. Although he could of, my father never hunted this area. It was their wintering ground and even if the animals came early coinciding with hunting season they were to be left alone. There was no regulation that said to do so. Now the area is protected and thank goodness. If not, the animals would be shot, the large fir snags would be cut for firewood or artisan lumber and four wheel drives, quads, side by sides and dirt bikes would tear it all apart without a thought.
They yip yip from someplace they’ve found at night to stay hidden during day. It gives Willow consternation. It’s toads they find, mice caught in the headlights, moths even, flapping sideways, awkward, born to be eaten, but they keep on keeping on, Willow does it all, but only as a hobby, these guys are serious about their vocation. That’s why you have to watch out. Still is there anything like the sound of coyotes rejoicing late summer?