get ready it’s summer

Wood Lily.

Lisa and I have been very busy as Covid restrictions are lifted and businesses plan for the mother of all summers.

The forecast is calling for 40°c temps. It has topped of at 36° today. It makes you get up extra early and try to get work done before noon.

This mornings waning moon.

I remember running printing presses in this kind of weather, dealing with problems the heat could cause with paper and ink. Those were the days, NOT!

The garden is spectacular, although the heat is making the broccoli bolt. We are giving it away and eating it as fast as we can. The peas have blossoms and pods waiting to fill out. The sage is a hedge of purple flowers.

Varied Thrush with a worm.

This year the garden was in early due to having to quarantine in early April. I dug and planted because I could. It won’t make much difference in August. A few good neighbouring gardeners have stopped to ask why my garden is ahead. I confessed the early date I planted. They commented it was risky, but I’ll bet they will be doing the same next year. Us old-timers can be competitive. To be honest, I’m not sure if I will continue with an early schedule. I got lucky this time, next time could be different.

Last weeks trip. The mountains are shedding winter.

The lake is covered in Albertans in motor boats, every second home and Airbnb filled, the beach parking lot is wall to wall red and white plates. I must be mellowing, because I am almost happy for them whooping and wallowing in excess and entitlement. Like me they would rather be nowhere else, so who am I to judge. It also reminds me to either be working or out of the valley bottom and in the cool mountains come the weekend.

Fool Hen.

Lisa and I still have a stick of firewood to get for winter. We have spotted a couple sticks of dry fir off the beaten path. We may have to wait for it to cool down to gather it up proper.

Lisa debarking and splitting.

Orchids

Mountain Orchid

Lisa and I had a good trip up the pass on the weekend. It has been busy.

We had an eye out for wild orchids. We caught sight of plenty of Venus Slipper’s and even a few rare Yellow Lady’s Slipper’s. The Venus was especially prolific. These small orchids are only about three to four inches high, but stand out among the moss on the damp forest floor.

Calypso Orchid.

The next two wild orchids to appear will be the showy Wood and Franklin.

On another subject, we had a light frost this morning. It doesn’t look like it damaged any of the plants, however, I had to put the run on two small buck mule deer with nub velvet horns that decided to trim two of my flower baskets.

Willow sniffing out the Orchids.

take it easy

RCE_6459

Willow goes for a stick!

Lisa and I were up the creek this morning.

RCE_6451

Wood Lily.

The valley bottom and roads are absolutely crowded with tourists racing in every direction at once, all in a hurry to have fun and see as much as they can in the time they have away from the city. It sure keeps you on your toes while driving with folks doing the damndest things. The ambulances and STARS helicopter have been busy the last few weeks. That’s summer for you!

RCE_6449

Wild Orchid. 

I made the mistake at stopping at a summer market. It is a touristy place and I rarely stop. The prices were beyond belief. Even the tourists were complaining at the till, $14 for a small basket of cherries, $7.50 for a few leaves of lettuce. At that rate, I have about $100,000 worth of lettuce in my garden I can’t give away! I also had people nudging and bumping into me. They obviously didn’t get the memo about the Covid pandemic and the importance of social distancing. I got the hell out of there. Lisa thought I was nuts to stop in the first place.

RCE_6453

Paintbrush.

Lisa and I got off the main roads and turned behind the mountain and followed the creek. We stopped and walked a familiar trail, breathing easy away from the ruck of the maddening crowd.

RCE_6469

Fireweed.

The flowers are out in abundance due to our wet early summer. Willow enjoyed a swim.

Once back home we decided it safer to stay put.

RCE_6462

Canada Day

RCE_2753Daisies and Yarrow

A busy Canada Day Weekend for Lisa and I. Our son Hunter and his wonderful girlfriend Bree were out from Calgary to take in the festivities with their friends. We put up a higher fence around the garden in and attempt to dissuade the deer from eating our vegetables. 

RCE_2731Lisa stopping on a cutblock to admire the daisies.

Lisa busied herself further making wooden signs for our daughter Maddy’s quickly approaching wedding. Lisa is very handy with power tools and can whip together almost anything. This spring she made me a a potting bench, complete with a sink, from the old leftover cedar siding from our renovation a few years ago.

RCE_2757Driving Willow crazy.

This morning we escaped the ruck of the crowd in the valley bottom and got behind Swansea. We followed the creek a ways then turned mountain side. Crossed a few cutbacks covered in daises, kept up until the road ended in a spot we haven’t visited for awhile.

RCE_2746Always happy, even if sometimes one step behind.

Willow looked and dug for rodents. I took a few photos. Found a spring crisscrossed with moose tracks. Lisa harvested small new prickly pine cones. We picked a couple bouquets of wild flowers for home. Willow hunted until her tongue hung out of her mouth.

Very fine day. 

bears and orchids

_LME2674Wild Orchid

It was a quick trip into the bush this evening. It has been busy with work. Usually in bed before the sun is down.

We were looking for the next wild orchids. After the Calypso comes the larger Yellow species. These are said to be quite rare. They often grow by springs that arise from the mountain side.

RCE_2675The first cub is waisting no time getting hid.

Although still warm from the day, we saw a female Black Bear and two cubs on the road going up. I worry for these bears. Even though there is no hunting season for them right now, they are often poached for certain parts (feet, gallbladder, head) to be sent overseas.

The orchids were there waiting when we arrived. Very fine evening.

Early September

RCE_1099Fall Fireweed gone to seed.

Whew! Thank goodness the summer is over. There is always a sigh of relief after Labour Day. All my white clothes have been cleaned and pressed and put away. This morning there was no standing in line at the coffee shop while a herd of tourists looked at the chalk board menu like they had never seen the word ‘coffee’ before. I was in and out like a wedding dink. It’s fall, back to Carharts, plaid long sleeved shirts and not driving ten miles out of the way to avoid downtown.

RCE_1114Solomon’s Seal berries.

It was close to frost this morning. My wise sister Deb has covered her plants tonight. I’m going to risk it. I could be sorry come morning. We have had a great year of tomatoes with most of them ripening on the vine. There won’t be many green ones to ripen inside this year. They are delicious! It will be at least February before I’ll be able to buy one in the store.

RCE_1097.jpgWild Asters.

I got a text from my good neighbour. He is on a road trip going across BC visiting his kids and grandkids. It’s been awhile since he’s been able to do that. I thought he may want to know how his garden is doing, I’ve been looking after it in his absence. Instead, he said his laptop was stolen from his vehicle in Vancouver. He was pissed. In the spring he stopped in Canmore and had a giant block of cheese he bought at Costco stolen from the cooler in his vehicle.

He really has to start locking his doors, but I wasn’t going to say that. I texted back, ‘on the bright side think of the fun you will have filling up a fresh laptop with brand new porn’. An hour later, I was getting worried I’d stepped over the line, then a bing on my phone, ‘you know it.’

RCE_1108Rose Hips. As plumb and full as I’ve seen in the wild. It is said they have 20x more vitamin C then oranges.

It’s good to have the land cooling after another bad summer. Winters are traditionally bad in the valley. Work drying up. Only minimum wage. Cold and overcast in the valley bottom. No doubt this winter will bring challenges.

Fall is underway. The firewood is in. I worry like usual, maybe someday all the demons will come home to roost. ’til then the colours keep changing and the birds keep flying above the creeks.

Palliser

RCE_0479Yellow Columbine.

Lisa and I were kindly invited to the 15th Anniversary gathering of a business we once owned.

We started Palliser Printing & Publishing in 1986. Lisa and I were in our early twenties with a baby on the way.

We sold the company in the summer of ’03 to Dee and Rod Conklin from Calgary.

Their 15th Anniversary has made me reminisce about the early days of the company.

I remember it being a lot of long hours and hard work.

The print shop was a mess of paper, presses, photocopiers, computers, an old arc plate burner, a darkroom complete with vertical camera for composing film, to later, be stripped on one of the several light tables. The smell of ink was always in the air. We survived a fire and a flash flood. Not unscathed, but we survived.

Later we moved to better quarters. For every step forward we made, we were never sure how we were going to pay for it. It is like the old saying, ‘build your parachute while falling to earth.’

Often we had bills at the end of the month that exceeded our bank account. The poorest we ever were was when we were the busiest. We juggled.

Yet, our children came to work with us. They had a place to play in the back shop. A cozy couch. They helped out. Built forts in the broken down cardboard.

The business was lucrative enough to allow us to buy a house. Our kids were in figure skating, dance and hockey. We were able to afford dental care for them.

Sometimes it was a balancing act. Lisa often worked the front with a baby on her hip. I always felt bad about that. There is no maternity leave when you own the business.

We were lucky. Since then I’ve worked at a few places. We have never made what it would take to raise a family at todays prices. Not even close.

Everything we have is because of that first business we started when Kelsie was in Lisa’s belly. When things seemed to be changing in a flash. When I had plenty of youth, energy and anger to see any job through.

Now it’s different. Those were good days. Now I’m glad to be a Grandpa making minimum wage, crossing logs gingerly, tilting glasses and nodding head to read the fine type.

Congratulations to Dee and Rod on their 15th Anniversary owning Palliser.

a rainy start to summer

_LME7756smWillow’s smile.

Very fine day to wrap up the long weekend. Most of it was spent in the shop/studio wrapping up loose ends. Because it’s a holiday there wasn’t many texts coming in. Nowadays, everybody expects texts to be answered right away. I try my best to oblige, but it takes me away from actual work. Today I made some progress.

It rained most of the day. I kept the door open, so Willow and I could enjoy it. With luck it will help minimize the forest fire danger. It was especially welcome this weekend when the bush is filled with revellers lighting large camp fires and setting off fireworks. Not that they are the biggest threat, the only forest fires this year have been started by loggers.

***

_LME7730Babies Breath above the graves.

In the evening Willow and I set off for the bush. There is a special calm after a raucous long weekend. First we went to Windermere to the old graveyard. I promised I would say  hi to Mom and Dad.

Windermere is a strange town now. It was one of the first communities in the Valley. The few historical sites that remain are surrounded by huge second homes (cabins they are called by their owners) that are occupied only six weeks a year. The town is 80% populated by second home owners. The school has remained open only by offering special programs that appeal to families throughout the valley. Otherwise it would have been closed long ago.

This is one of the weekends the second homes are occupied. I got some dirty looks driving toward the graveyard. My pick up didn’t fit in with the Cadillac SUV’s and Beamers. Plus my licence plate was the wrong colour. For all they knew I could have been casing the place.

Walking the rows between the old names. There was the Fishers, Crooks, Tegarts, Kimptons, Youngs and plenty others dating back to the 1800’s. There was also Bingo, the Best Darn Dog in the Land. Dug recently.

My Grandfather once owned a strip of land from the highway all the way down to the graveyard. It didn’t have a drop of water. The land wasn’t worth spit.  They had a ditch from Windermere Creek they got their water and  irrigated the gardens. It must have only been a trickle during summer. They raised turkeys and chickens and sold vegetables. It wasn’t easy. Long after my Grandfather sold, the land was bought and subdivided by a developer. It is now covered in large houses overlooking Lake Windermere. People that never have a thought of what came before.

***

_LME7743Indian Paintbrush.

After that Willow and I headed for the hills. The looks we got leaving were not as bad.

Once in the bush, the rain falling, we finally felt ourselves.

_LME7761Wood Lily.

wild orchid

_LME7561.sm

While on the mountain last weekend I noticed the Yellow Orchids were close to opening. They appear quickly and disappear just as quickly. Willow and I made a quick trip this evening and there they were, near a spring on a slope.

Willow dipped her paws in the soft ground.

The Yellow Orchid is rare around here. We used to run pictures of them in the newspaper, but never disclosed the location they were found. Once they are picked they disappear.

The flower nurtures the roots, the pods spread seeds, the seeds have to land on the right kind of moss, the moisture and decay has to be just right, sometimes they take several years to germinate. It is a miracle the wild orchid exists at all.

That’s the thing about life. Regardless of the obstacles, it not only endures, but flourishes.

When Willow got back in the truck, after tramping through the creek bottom, she smelled like fishy mud. And she still does.