damn near november

Strange days, despite the pandemic valley businesses had a very lucrative summer. Tourists from Alberta and other parts of Canada flocked to the valley, as travel to other countries was off limits. The resort I work for had a banner summer. We were run off our feet due to being low on staff. Hiring enough people was difficult due to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). I don’t blame people for taking advantage of the program instead of making minimum wage and risk getting sick.

Now CERB is wrapping up people are becoming available to hire. The resort has hired two more people in our department. There was plenty of funds to do so from the money earned and saved on wages in the summer.

We sure could have used the extra hands in the summer. Now that it is slow we are standing around looking at each other. It is brutal, we are almost fighting over who gets to change a light bulb.

So, I decided to take my accumulated holidays rather than try to look busy. When I get back I hope we have plenty of snow to shovel.

***

It will be nice to have a week off. The weather is the shits and isn’t expected to get better, still, I may head into the bush for a few nights to clear my head. The stars are mostly hidden by clouds, yet a fire and tent listening to rivers and wolves may be what the doctor ordered. It won’t take much hiking to be in a foot and a half of snow, waking up cold with Willow shivering beside me. It is good for both our souls (did I just say arseholes?).

***

Was up wondering around the old mine today. Blue lake is almost completely filled in. While standing above looking at the small part of remaining bottomless blue, I realized I haven’t made it far in life. I mistakingly tried to live the same life as my father and grandfather, not changing while the world raced on leaving me in the dust. A small walk away from were I stood was where I shot a rifle for the first time. It was before I was in school. As my father instructed I lay on the ground, he put the 22 against my shoulder, told me to look down the sights at the oil can about 30 yards away. He told me to steady and hold my breath and squeeze the trigger. When I did so the explosion rang in my ears and the oil can jumped. It was exhilarating.

***

A good friend asked me to pick him up from work today. His truck is in the shop. Across the street from where he works is my Grandparents’s farm. It was several acres. The old house still stands, dilapidated but still occupied. The property has been subdivided over the years. Back then it stretched down to the cemetery on the edge of the lake. Now it consists of a trailer park containing the only people that live in Windermere year round. Closer to the lake a bunch of million dollar second homes owned by Albertans who could care less for what came before and really why should they.

***

The point is I’ve continued the tradition of buying high and selling low. I should be sitting on my ass letting the new guys do the little work there is instead of taking vacation in November.

***

I’ve never been patient or thought much about the future, preferring instead to dwell in the past. Not sure I’d change it if I could.

snags

A bunch of coulees, bluffs, creek bottoms, waterfalls and draws, trees scattered like match sticks hither and yon. Fire lay it bare, exposing the mountains for what they are; slides, rock, coves, caves, ridge and a bunch of hiding spots – just ask the grizzlies and goats.

You don’t want to be lost in it. That’s for sure. It’s better to stay on top then be wondering in the dark, not a star in the sky, only the dim moon shining through falling snow, silver here and there where the water shows.

Even best instincts aren’t enough. Nothing coming good or bad. The fire and deep snow doesn’t care, nor does the burnt snag falling to the forest floor give a damn if it’s heard or not.

shrooms

Lisa and I took a quick dash into the bush tonight to look for mushrooms. The weather has been damp and cool so we were hoping to have some luck. Sure enough, they are just starting to break through. We picked a handful, for supper. Most we had to brush the dirt off the tops. They are small and firm, and of the best quality. The soup is on the stove. When I take it off the heat I will add a couple tablespoons of brandy and Marsala and a little cream to finish the mushroom bisque.

damn near summer

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A fine week. Busy as a one armed paper hanger. Still time to enjoy the morning dawn and evenings before the sun goes down. The garden is raging, carrots and pea pods. The broccoli and cauliflower have heads. If it heats up they will want to bolt. It feels good not to be responsible for the plants, although I planted them. We had small carrots and squash for supper tonight. We can’t keep up to the lettuce. How I wish I could save it for winter when fresh vegetables are scarce. It’s easy if you let it be.

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Father’s Day

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Came across a mother Black Bear with two cubs. A couple barks and the cubs were up a tree followed by their mother in a flash. Amazing how fast they can climb. We left them alone as not to stress them. 

Lisa treated me to Father’s Day in the bush. We made a day of it heading a valley over to the Palliser. Going the extra mile was worth it. We never saw another vehicle after turning off the highway onto Settler’s Road.

We explored in the country we love. The creeks and rivers were raging. We picked up a few stones for Lisa’s rock garden, some firewood, hiked a cut block, let the hounds run and took a few pictures.

We even got around to stripping Willow of her winter coat. This can be quite a chore but wasn’t that bad as we did it after the hike and Willow was tired and did put up much of a fuss.

When we returned to cell reception my phone started buzzing with Father’s Day wishes from my children. When we arrived home I returned the calls to my kids and grandkids.

Very fine day.

(The photos were taken by Lisa)

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Cutting up a stick of firewood while Maynard looks on.

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The rain has the mushrooms popping. Not sure what this species is so it stayed on the forest floor instead of added to the soup pot.

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Heart Leaved Arnica. An edible plant, widely used by indigenous people before colonization.

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An odd puffball?

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Lunch on the side of the road.

black & white

RCE_5949Roots from old logging set.

RCE_5981Making a getaway.

RCE_5938Ancient fire circle.

RCE_5937Pine Siskin.

early June

RCE_5618More rain in the valley bottom, snow in the mountains. We took an extra special trip behind Swansea, beside the swollen creek running pure mud, under a canopy of black spruce. My kind of day Lisa remarked.

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It would be nice to have a rainy year for a change. It does the bush good. I expect the bush to be extra busy this year with people from out of province camping in every nook and cranny due to campsites being closed to out of province visitors. The rational for this decision is to keep people close to home during the pandemic. Both Alberta and British Columbia have implemented this rule.
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In our neck of the woods I have already seen Albertans camped in the damndest places with, motorbikes, ATV’s, trailers on jacked up trucks, booze and loud music, sky high bonfires and not a drop of water in a five mile radius. It’s a recipe for disaster. At least if the recreational and commercial campsites were available to them they would be kept in check with plenty of water available and threat of a scolding if they get out of hand.

It started to pour, we were back down too soon for my liking.
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Bears and Flowers

_LME5234The first of the mountain orchids begin to bloom.

It seems orchids and bears start to appear at the same time in the bush. The trick is not to be too focused on one or the other. For instance, if you are just on the lookout for bears you might step on the delicate Venus’s Lady’s Slipper.

RCE_5388.smA Black Bear says, ‘What are you doing here?’

Conversely, if you are laying on your belly in the moss, intent on focusing your camera on these lovely orchids, you could pop up your head and have a surprise. Awareness is always the best policy.

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late august

RCE_3260smAn unnamed, unclimbed mountain – so happy the gore tex climbing hordes
are off shitting on the well known peaks miles from here.

Saw Winter Maker this morning, a waning sliver came up in dawn, later I faced the rising sun taking the cold from my bones; once again saved without having to confess or spend a minute in church. Sometimes you get lucky.

RCE_3313.jpgSoon it will be ice.

There are signs everywhere summer is on it’s way out. We have had frost at this time of year. It’s getting close, the other day was 3°c. The garden is flattening, except for the carrots, smoke and cabbage, who are revelling in the cool of night.

RCE_3295Willow casually smokes a cigar in her own private natural spa.

Was along the creek a range over. Willow swam the blue moving water fetching sticks. She learned quickly to use the current to her advantage. I threw sticks into an eddy, they would go around and around then finally spill out into the froth of the main channel. Willow did the same, fighting to get caught in the eddy, then using her thrusters to speed out of the eddy on just the right orbit, capturing the stick every time! It required perfect mathematical calculations on her part – the speed of the eddy, her weight, the speed of the main current, her mass and it’s effect on water resistance; all of that and the same calculations for the stick, just to be safe! Or. . . she just naturally knew what to do. Both are science, both are nature.

RCE_3308Determination.

The sun went down and turned to twilight, as dramatic as it’s entrance.

Sometimes you really do get lucky.