Jake runs with Chewy. Dave looks on.
Dave, Jake and I thought it was about time we let the dogs get to know each other. Jake and Dave’s dog, Chewy, a purebred poodle is six months old, only a puppy. She is an intelligent specimen of the breed, with expressive eyes and smile if you can see through all the fur.
Willow wasn’t sure what to make of all the excitement. Jake and Chewy ran rampant. Taking turns knocking each other into the snowbank. Willow tried not to get trampled and had to give a snarl and nip on occasion.
Jake sharpens the end of a stick. Regardless of age one must have something to run with.
Dave and I talked about people who have died recently. There has been quite a few. Local people. Winter can be hard on life. We are men after all, that’s why we talk, trying to be serious, knowing someday we will be the ones talked about.
In the meantime, it’s kids and grandkids, knee deep snow, colours dim but alive in winter’s waning light and dogs running happy.
We all agreed, men, boy or dog, it’s hard to be serious when January feels like spring.
It looks like something from a horror movie, but it’s just me leaving the light on so I know where to pee at night.
Still no snow in the forecast. Damn strange. I picked a helluva year to get a part time job plowing snow. Every morning regardless of the forecast I get up at 3 in the morning and look out the window for snow and to see if I should suit up for work. It really isn’t that big of a hassle, because at 3 am I’m usually due for a piss.
One night in December I got up looked outside. The snow was coming down in sheets. I grabbed a quick bite and headed out, only to find there was no snow, it was clear as a bell. Now I put my glasses on before I look outside.
Yesterday we drove behind the mountains up the creek. I parked in the snow on a slight incline. Willow and I got out for a look around. I only took a few steps before I noticed the truck rolling down the road backwards. Lisa, in the passenger seat, seatbelt still on, didn’t look impressed. I chased after the truck, jumped in and got it stopped.
I thought I’d left the truck in gear, but the warm weather had turned the roads to glare ice and the truck had started to slide. I found some chunkier snow to park on. I wasn’t impressed with the conditions.
Lisa said it was lucky I hadn’t fallen on the ice trying to stop the truck and had it run over me. I agreed, yes that was lucky. She is always looking on the bright side.
Willow keeps an ear out.
Went out to the bar tonight. It’s been awhile. My good friend turned sixty. Hunter was kind enough to come along. The food and beer was good. Everything is expensive. It has to be. $7 for a draft $20 for an appetizer.
It’s a new year. Not sure what to say about it. Last year was tough. We got by and in this day and age that’s a good thing. Maybe the most we can ask for. If lucky, this year will be much the same.
The truck not yet stuck.
According to the news the world is topsy-turvy. Worse than ever, they say. But I don’t think it’s changed that much. Some things have got better, some worse.
One thing that has stayed the same is our leaders are a bunch of self absorbed arseholes. But when haven’t they been?
Why I’m careful where I break trail.
We have had three days of above freezing temperatures. The lake has an inch of water on the ice. The snow has receded to the benches. The deer are walking around like it’s springtime. It’s disconcerting, I expect winter to be winter. I wake up and look outside to see if snow is falling. When it isn’t, I go back to bed but not to sleep.
Our occupation with the undoings of Trump and Trudeau is puzzling. They make good news. However they are far from us. They are certainly scoundrels. But they take away from the more dangerous scoundrels closer to home. Think about that School Superintendent that works to cut wages in the district and gives himself a raise. How about all those developers that, selflessly run for town council changing bylaws for their own benefit.
In 2019 fuck Trump and Trudeau and all their hype. It’s only a distraction. If you want to slay dragons, do it closer to home.
A small Downey chips away.
The night is clear. Orion is up ruling the dark. The temperature is dropping. I should be in the bush, knee deep in snow, Willow clearing the perimeter, with only an outward breath between me and the sky.
Willow surveys the sticks on shore, carefully picking one to fetch.
It is a long standing tradition of rotating hosting Christmas dinner among our family. This year it was Lisa’s brother Brent’s family’s turn. There was plenty of great food and wine and lots of good conversation and laughs.
Grey December beside the Columbia.
Brent generously gives me the turkey carcass as he knows I like to make broth from the bones. He always leaves some meat on the bones so I can add it to the soup the next day. Even at this late hour the soup is boiling. I will wait as long as I can before straining the broth. It will be put outside to cool.
Tomorrow I will sauté onions, carrots and onions, add the broth, the left over turkey and a handful of barley. That’s it, supper taken care of. The kids always loved that soup. Sometimes they would argue over whether I should add barley or pasta noodles. Barley usually won out.
An American Dipper holds down the ice beside the river.
My Mom and Dad used to make the same soup, from turkeys, but also wild chickens we shot. They called it mulligan. It was thick and gamey. They said it was soup that stuck to your ribs. I used to wonder what that saying meant. I thought, maybe the barley acted as glue and stuck to your insides. Later, when I understood a person could go hungry, I realized it could keep hunger away longer than many other foods, some much more expensive.
We are lucky to have so much.
My old path to the fish holes.
This one is lucky I traded my rifle for a camera.
There is a time you realize everything you thought was big isn’t really.
The bush around our house was thick. It was built between town, the train tracks and the lake. The bush was overgrown. I thought it could hide just about anything. Indians would get their liquor and walk over the bank. They would fuck and fight. Laugh and cry. Freeze to death, at times just die. Sometimes they would smash our forts. Young guys mostly, before pure sorrow took over their souls and made them drunks.
Reaching the creek bottom.
In the trees, we drank their stashed wine and thumbed through Penthouse magazines, found behind the bookstore. At night if there was a fight in the house I’d escape into those trees. I’d break branches off fir and bury myself under moss. No need for a fire, every branch accounted for and smoke gives your position away.
Even now, while in the bush, it becomes my whole world. It’s a downfall really, when the Royal Group is as far away as France. When the distance across the Kootenay is equivalent to the span of the Atlantic.
A cathedral, the only thing missing is a preacher, thank God!
Walking the mountains is awarding, regardless of illusion, the colours at this time of year are vibrant. A trout on the line renders the chill forgotten.
It’s not the biggest world, but I can still get lost in it.
The turn is underway from summer to fall. The moon grows, still red, sitting close to mars. It’s been a bloodbath up there this season.
It’s hard to figure what effects us more, the news or stars above. I’ve been taught not to believe what I hear. Would those red stars inspire me in a different day? Does the good news quiet our basest instincts, make us insignificant to each other and the environment?
The mornings are cool finally. That I know and can report with confidence.
Cooper and I pulled the peas on Friday night. They were ready to come out. We saved some dry wrinkled pods for next season,
On Saturday morning we made Huckleberry Jam. I never make enough to really feel comfortable that it will turn out. The berries are hard to come by this year.
Later we dug the garlic. It was a heck of a job under the sun. We laid them to dry on a canvas tarp. We tried to find shade but there wasn’t any.
On Sunday we went to the the drugstore and bought a toothbrush to clean the dirt off the garlic. We trimmed the beards and cut their necks. They looked good. Copper negotiated a good deal for his Mom and Dad. At first I said only one clove. The next thing I knew they are going home with pounds.
It’s been warm. I look at the edges. The leaves dyeing, yellowing under the plants. The cool that hits before light. The squash that puts out. The snakes that scatter near the railway. The plants that don’t belong, but thrive. The shore line, altered, but still recognizable.
It always makes me wonder. The clock, the river, sun up, the stars, all that. Times have changed. No matter how hard I close my eyes and imagine, it will never go back to the way it was.
That’s a goddamn good thing.
Diving off the clay banks into the young Columbia. Swimming among the weeds.
Cooper and Scarlett hold my hands while they walk. I want to both protect them and set them free.