Toby Creek

RCE_4985It doesn’t look like much, but Toby Creek used to flood the entire business district of the Valley. With plenty of bulldozers it’s path was changed to a less harmful route. I still look for signs of the delta it once cut running into Windermere Lake and the Columbia, instead of the gravel pit it runs through now.

It will be an odd Easter weekend. All of our kids will be staying put, isolating in their houses in Calgary. Lisa and I will miss them. Of course, we understand the necessity of social distancing. We are planning a group Facetime session. We have a turkey in the freezer that we plan on cooking. It should keep us fed for awhile. 

All the talk about our social responsibility and the importance of staying home still hasn’t sunk in for many Albertans as they clamour into the valley. Entitlement pure and simple. Many have gone on line to remind us they built our area, including our small hospital, and how we would be nothing without them. It’s not surprising – I’ve heard it all my life. Meanwhile my children stay away from their home, knowing this is bigger then them. We miss them but are proud of their resolve.

I was disheartened by Prime Minister Trudeau’s address today. He didn’t pull any punches, delivering news of mass unemployment, how many infections and deaths Canada can expect, also stating how long we may have to endure the isolation and social distancing measures. It was sobering.

British Columbia has done a good job and been lucky at flattening the curve. Part of that is we had a later school spring break than other provinces. 

Hand dug about half the garden. Transferred the seedlings into pots. Some things are still normal.

thank dog

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It’s the country. The bush in April. When you can get stuck tighter than a fiddler’s fart in mud or snow. The sky turning bruised in evening. The Columbia running before and after. Turning over in winter. There is not much you can have faith in, but the sky and river and creek behind Swansea, the Swans heading north and the Meadowlarks arriving. They continue to keep their promises.

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The truck was hip hopping. He had escaped the ruck. It was all mud, dog barks and volume on the radio. He had pushed off.

He grabbed a long leggy one from the floor boards. Cracked the tab and took a long swig.

He held on above Horsethief, heading towards snags. Catching a break, here and there, getting a glimpse of an Eagle holding steady.

It was muddy and he tried to keep it out of the ruts. The leggy ones kept coming and he didn’t see a soul. He made the burn, watched the river, saw what the wind had done.

It fell dark. He ran blind towards the river trying to get closer to the melting ice and rushing water. Through bush and snow. Over deadfalls.

In the morning, shaking like a cat shitting razor-blades, the pups led him back. He hoped for one more forgotten long leggy one. The way back was always worse than the going. He had pushed off, but not hard enough.

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we got history

_LME4923.smBird’s Eye.

It’s quiet. Just like I remember it. Tough to get over the eery part though. We’re so used to the valley full of tourists. Second home owners coming out to their big homes, investments they say. Or cabins; now that’s a joke.

_LME4916.smBruce Street. Downtown Invermere, BC  Canada.

Do I miss them? My job for the last few years depends on them. Still, to see the downtown deserted, it’s like turning back time. I can see my brother and I running through those streets jumping and touching the swinging signs, falling off bicycles, busted for smoking pot that couldn’t get an astronaut high. Drinking was our thing. It delivered.

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Maurice’s Food Basket. Mom would have drove through the front window, if it weren’t for a telephone pole right out front. My best friend, a couple years older than me, lived up top. He busted me open with a two-by-four. I just about cut his head off when I threw an old licence plate at him. I quit hanging around with him when he reached puberty. He wanted me to play with his cock. He said, pretend it’s a gear shift. I knew he wasn’t going to pretend he was a car.

After this is over, are we going to go back to the way things were? Getting on planes? Pretending we are explorers in foreign countries that see us as tourists. Are we going to burn gasoline tearing up the backcountry? Going where we figure. Are the art shops going to make a living selling egg carton caterpillars?

_LME4936.smThe Mercantile. Lisa and I used to pick out our school clothes without our parents present. All we had to do was sign for them. Our parents would settle it later.

It’s no different now then then. We don’t now what we are fighting for or against. Hopefully history spares our town.

_LME4928.smThe Toby Theatre and Cenotaph. Who has grown up here and not taken a drink or smoked a joint at the Cenotaph, it’s a right of passage, goddammit! And the Toby where I watched whatever was showing, everything from True Grit to Linda Lovelace for President. I even threw up on the floor, in the lobby, when my brother gave me too many Bugles.  I can still remember how good it felt eating them and how bad the aftermath looked. I’m still not sure who had to clean that up.

trouble down below

_LME4835-smThe spring Milky Way over a frozen lake.

This isolating, quarantining, whatever you want to call it is going to kill me. Lisa and I have been looking at each other with tiger eyes. Luckily she knows how to run away from me. I shaved my beard, that made Lisa happy. Lisa says I have Ron Duguay hair and Bobby Clark’s smile, her two favourite hockey players growing up. Desperate times call for desperate measures. If it means me not putting my teeth in so be it.

The valley bottom is all upset, yet the sky still marks time and reminds us where we stand. I feel comfort in that.

Once this is all over, I’m going to get in shape so I can catch Lisa anytime I want. Till then, fortunately, she pretends to trip up once and awhile.

late march

RCE_4780Taking a turn at the look out.

It’s been trying and we haven’t been locked up like some.

We hiked the east side of Columbia Lake. Where the mighty river starts. I’ve never seen where the Columbia turns huge before it spills into the Pacific. Where Salmon run before being turned back by hydro-electric dams. I prefer it up here in the hills.

RCE_4755Pictograph from another time.

The frost is below six inches of soil. Another week and the ground can be worked. I’ve started a few seeds inside. I worry for them as I am a lazy gardener, preferring plants outside.

RCE_4817Getting ready for war.

Most people I know have lost their jobs. Some small businesses may never reopen. It’s always close to the vest even in the best of times.

RCE_4812If only we could read.

We scrambled up into the rocks to an ancient cave where we couldn’t discern the writing. Where battles were recorded. Where people watched loved ones stolen or killed. Where Eagles swooped above goats, knocking newborn kids off ledges to jagged rocks below.

RCE_4770If we had a choice to come back.

The rhubarb is showing. It will be welcome.

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sparrow

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Strange days have found us. Still the birds sing, and why shouldn’t they? 

For them it’s business as usual. Singing for a mate. The ground is softening up, tempting a few seeds sown. My guess is the garlic, planted in fall, will be the first to show. 

The skies are exceptionally clear and blue. Snow is in every shaded crook and cranny. The roads will rise and fall as frost retreats. 

If this keeps up, I’m going to appreciate less tourists racing around. Then again, we will have to get used to less money, gardens being raided, watching for spring time cress and saving our energy.

Just like the Song Sparrow, we have been put on alert.

COVID-19

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This week the coronavirus hit the valley. Although, to my knowledge, there hasn’t been any reported cases, there is a sense of panic in the air. 

People shopping the stores bare of hand sanitizer, toilet paper and everything on sale. Others cancelling travel plans, as recommended by our government.  

The resort I work at has cut everyone’s hours. This didn’t come as a surprise, as we cater to international travellers and Canadian tourists, most cancelling their reservations during the usual busy spring break.

The schools in the area have gone on spring break, scheduled for two weeks, still without official word, will undoubtedly be off at least two weeks longer.

It will be interesting how the virus plays out in the coming days and weeks. So far, in Canada, the issue has not become politicized. The information we are receiving from government officials has been consistent and unified. 

My feeling is we may be entering a different time. That things are about to change for many people around the world and here in Canada. 

Rex Murphy, of the National Post, pointed out in his recent column that coronavirus is doing everything the climate change movement has been advocating for several years. Emissions are down, including a whooping 25% in China, more than the entire green house emissions of Canada. Travel, another huge source of pollution, is down.

There has been plenty of news saying we must change for the sake of the environment, but to date very little has changed. Maybe this is where we take it seriously; where we realize we don’t need to travel and build second homes on the edge of every lake.

Now with that said, this is the way it will play out. The people, who consider themselves left leaning environmentalists with lots of money, who live in mansions or on the edge of the wetlands won’t miss a flight or change one iota. 

The middle-class will become poorer and they will have to learn to live with less. They won’t be able to afford to pollute (read heat their homes).

The lower class, which Lisa and I are included, will have a lot less. 

I don’t worry much about Lisa and I, we are used to having not much. Our last holiday was over thirty years ago. We are workers and the world will always need workers. We consigned ourselves long ago to working until we died. Not so bad or unfair considering most of our descendants also did this, why should we be any different?

However, to see many of my co-workers given the word their hours are cut and layoffs are inevitable was painful. They are low on the totem pole, regardless of what our government, left or right says, they are inconsequential, the bottom of the bottom. 

They will have to come to work if they are sick.

Sure the government has plenty of relief policies in place, but not for housekeeping, and not for the poorest Canadians. A teacher or government worker will never miss a pay check, they may even come out ahead.

And so it goes.