stripped

RCE_7948Willow sporting her new haircut.

We got a new dog. . . well not exactly. It took two sessions but we gave Willow her annual stripping.

Wire Haired Dachshunds grow a thick wiry coat over winter and it has to be ‘stripped’ in spring. This is done by grabbing a few hairs at time and pulling them out.

RCE_2541

Willow with her winter coat digging for spring mice. 

It is not that bad because the hair has loosened and needs to come out. I’m not sure if the hair is even really attached to her anymore, but held in place by all the other long wire hair.

Once it is out they have a smooth soft coat for summer.

RCE_2563Cooper and Willow wrestling over a stick.

Although it doesn’t hurt her, Willow doesn’t like it. She endures Lisa and I pulling, while she thinks of hunting, letting us know if we grab a couple more hairs than acceptable.

At the end of it we have half a dog as what we had at the beginning.

_LME2448Willow trying to talk me into a late night fetch.

late may

CRW_0012smA wild turkey. Too late for Easter and too early for Thanksgiving! 

Got the garden in. Better late then never, yet I’ve been later. It all seems to work out, despite my foolish  worry and woe.

CRW_0017.smWild flower. Venus’s Lady’s Slipper Orchid.

Spring Time

IMG_2076Cooper and Scarlett hang loose.

Dug the last of the garden tonight. I am way behind this year. With luck I will get most of it in this weekend.

The cool weather stuff (lettuce, peas, carrots) could have been in 2 weeks ago. However, on the bright side, the good thing about planting late is everything can go in at once. Beans, kale, tomatoes. . . it’s all up to them.

Time seems to be of the essence now, like always in spring. There is only so much to plant a garden, or spend behind the mountain listening to the creek or watching stars playing hide and seek with the tree tops.

Somehow those old trees can still play tricks and make the most of time.

Willow and the beetle.

wilderness

DSC_4543Redwing Blackbird.

Lisa and I are in Calgary taking care of our beautiful grandkids while their Mom and Dad are at a wedding in Mexico.

They are such good kids. We have tried to keep them busy and on schedule to keep them from missing their parents to a minimum. So far we have been successful, but it’s only day 3 of 8. The birdhouse project I planned and expected to take all week was completed in a morning. This had a lot to do with Grandma Lisa who believes once you start a project you finish it. The kids had fun putting roofs on the hollow logs, drilling holes and using screws and nails to complete the project. Of course they got to use all the tools, including the power tools (with assistance) themselves. The houses look great and they are very proud of them.

Each morning before the kids awake I take Willow and Gemma for a walk at Fish Creek Park. It runs for miles in the creek bottom. Mostly large poplar and cottonwood trees and plenty of birds. The entrance to the part of the park we normally access is closed, so we go to another entrance further west.

The path goes down a hill to wetlands with cattails and a few ponds. Signs say the pond is storm runoff and to use caution as the pond will rise quickly during wet weather.

The Redwing Blackbirds chirp and protect their nests, the females in the rushes below. They will hunker and show off their colourful shoulders to the dogs if they feel we are getting too close. Yet they are much less afraid then their rural counterparts. They have become used to humans walking by.

DSC_4542Singing!

This evening, once the kids were in bed I went back to see if I could get some photos. Not having brought my camera I took my daughters oldest Nikon. I had planned it during the afternoon, charging the battery and found a memory card.

The first thing I noticed was the paths were much more busy in the evening. Unlike the morning, when the few people I met responded favourably to my, ‘good morning’. Almost nobody responded to my, ‘good evening’. They looked to the edge of the path.  The ones who did respond looked confused.

Perhaps they had reason. I was wearing an old plaid lumber jacket and had a scruffy Willow dog on a leash (I left Gemma home as she pulls too much for taking photos).

I had about 10 minutes of light, the birds hunkered saving their energy, their shrill song only used sparingly.

I closed my ears to the sound of the city, the hiss of the cars on the roads and the voices, everywhere, all wanting to be heard. The Blackbirds amazed me by their resilience. Would they loose their nests during the next storm when the rainwater was all funnelled through underground corridors to their pond?  I wondered if this part of strong wilderness could sustain Willow and I, both of us on a leash?

Tomorrow morning my Grandchildren will greet me with sleepy eyes, tangled hair and big smiles.

colours

CRW_0042Red 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.

CRW_00092.jpgKingfishers 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.

CRW_0002Storms 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.

CRW_0046March 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.

CRW_0031Hunting 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.

CRW_0037Mallards on ice edge being hunted. A Raven (middle), dips his beak, unnoticed, waiting for leftovers.

ever-present mountains

CRW_0009Wilmer

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!

Show off

CRW_0060

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.