Starlings

Summer is about to shut the door. I’ll miss the women in shorts, it was worth the long way home, down main by the tourist shops.

Still, the coolness is a gentle salve. Much more important at my age.

Cooling Back

Oregon grape.

Damn it feels good. The cooler weather has been a welcome reprieve. It’s still warm for this time of year. Waking to cool air has been nice. Pretty soon we will be ‘fighting for warmth’. That’s what my son Hunter calls it, when you pull the covers over your head, and flex your muscles to keep warm. Probably why many families in the old days had so many kids before central heating.

The summers are trying, heat and tourists. Lisa and I thought it would be funny if fifty years from now, people looked at the large second homes and thought, ‘Damn, what were these folks thinking? Global warming and not an inkling of thought to try and cut back. Can you imagine the energy used to heat that monstrosity?’

Tough to run through, but you can do it if scared enough.

It will probably never happen. The final answer to the pickle we are in will have to protect the richest. Otherwise it would have been solved long ago. It’s not that hard really.

We had breakfast behind Swansea. We took a spur away from the ruck. Plenty of bear shit on the road, they are also trying to avoid the crowds.

Even wondering cutblocks, climbing logging roads, looking for dead snags, a chicken or two crossing the road, washouts, Lisa and I looking at each other in glances, her saying, ‘you should put it in 4 wheel drive,’ and me saying, ‘I’ll put it in four wheel when we’re stuck.’

Fetch me a switch. Dark night and shadows. Good thing we don’t live back then.

Night Garden

The weed is coming. Same as the cabbage. It’s a good thing it grows from the inside out, all the grasshoppers and wasps grabbing a drink from the big leaves will be left outside. Once cool comes they will take off, the wasps will be slow by then.

The carrots are harder than a stripped turtles back. Somehow, this year, so far, the skin on the ripe tomatoes is thin. The spuds are plenty, thou I worry about them drying in this weather. It used to be they would grow into October. We would sort them and put them in gunny sacks for winter.

Times have surely changed. It’s tough to defend the old ways. They weren’t good that’s for sure. Not sure why I keep a foot back there.

Still that’s where my foot planted feels most at home.

The creek hasn’t changed. I can carry anyone off the ridge and down the mountain if need be. Don’t ask for a drink of tea or rest.

The garden is peaceful, same as the mountains, the sun sets in the same spot, but looks different every time.

Mid August

A butterfly sunning itself on a thistle. I was happy with the bokeh in the background. It was achieved with my trusty 70-200 F2.8 Nikon lens.

The heat refuses to let up. The sky is blue with a thin haze of smoke. The garden is still going strong. Every blade of grass in our yard is dead and crispy to the delight of the grasshoppers. It is a chore just trying to keep water on the garden.

***

This happened to Willow and she hasn’t been happy about it. She got something stuck in her paw and it became infected. She was licking it raw. A trip to the vet, a few antibiotics, a cone and she is on her way to recovery. Once the swelling went down I was able to cut open and remove the material with a knife. It looked like the burrs that she got into on our late night walk. When she first got the cone she vigorously protested. She refused to eat, drink, use stairs and pee or poop for two solid days. The only sound out of her was whining. Lisa has had to feed her by hand. Willow is starting to get used to it.

A few weeks ago, newspapers quit delivering to the valley. We used to get The Calgary Sun, The Calgary Herald, The National Post and The Globe and Mail. My sister Deb and I miss the Globe.

I am yet to subscribe to the web version of the Globe, but may have too. I subscribe to the web version of The New York Times which I enjoy very much. I also regularly read CBC News, Global, BBC, CNN and Fox.

CNN and Fox are a source of humour as they are not even reporting from the same planet. It is crazy the spin they put on current affairs. They do, however, accurately demonstrate the left/right divide in the United States.

***

Today’s afternoon waning moon.

Recently, a young housekeeper I work with was bitten by something while sleeping at staff quarters. The first time their elbow blew up to about twice its size. They were justifiably alarmed. A few days later they were bitten again below the knee and it started to swell. Everyone suggested they see a doctor.

As doctors are not available at clinics without an appointment they went to emergency at the local hospital. They waited 6 hours without seeing a doctor. A nurse suggested they go home and come back if it got worse.

Some bites can be dangerous without treatment. Just ask the Good Neighbour who was bitten by a spider and had blood poisoning for over a year. I can’t help but feel this housekeeper was treated this way because they were young and poor.

I remember a time when Lisa was in emergency with a broken wrist. Her wrist was being set by a hungover intern (they admitted being hungover due to a Grey Cup party). The doctor on duty at the time had the reputation of being one of the worst in the valley. There were several other people waiting to be cared for, when all of a sudden the emergency room was alive with commotion. Doctors and nurses running hither and yon just like you see on TV when they bring in a shooting victim. Only this time it was an Invermere big shot businessman brought in by his wife.

Lisa was asked to give up the gurney she was on for the mortally wounded. We know him well and thought he must have been shot or having a heart attack. Lisa gave up the gurney willingly. We asked his young wife what had happened to him. It turns out he fell off the last step of his stairs.

The very next day I looked out my office window and there he was walking down the road like nothing happened.

Lisa on the other hand had to have her cast redone, because it had been put on improperly. She was later told by a competent doctor that she should have had surgery as the wrist bone had been broken right through. Her wrist still gives her trouble.

Anybody who thinks all people in Canada have equal access to healthcare are mistaken. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for being able to access any kind of healthcare. We’re lucky, it’s just some people are more lucky than others.

***

A fire fighting helicopter with a water bucket.

There is a few fires burning around us. The smoke hasn’t been too bad so far. We are fortunate considering how hot it’s been.

Late July

Willow having a cool down bath, looking somewhat vulnerable, not quite the way the small rodents see her.

We were up early to beat the heat. We headed for the backroads in search of berries. Our first stop yielded a half bucket each. They were small. By 10:30 I was ready to call it a day. The heat was picking up. Lisa said we should try further up the mountain. We hit a cut block where the berries were bigger and more plentiful. Willow ran rampant chasing rodents. We picked, filling our buckets, admiring the view of valley bottoms and towering mountains. I gave up figuring we had enough. Lisa kept going, thinking every berry was for her grandchildren. They love the jam.

More grass hoppers than I can remember. Damn aliens I say. Just look at them. The armour, the big eyes, antenna, the jumping. They have always been easy to catch. I’d hook a #8 hook under their shoulder pads and put a couple split shot sinkers a foot above, the fish were happy until I brought them in.

Once done we were both hot and thirsty. Willow was laying in the shade, tongue hanging out.

Four buckets total.

Lisa preparing a batch of berries to be frozen.

Hunting Knife

My father’s old hunting knife was left to my brother. My brother Ron passed away last fall. His wife Leslie was going through stuff and came across it and passed it on to me. I had almost forgot it. It brought back a lot of memories of hunting and being with my father and brother.

Although it was my father’s knife my brother and I took our turns packing it and sometimes playing with it. My brother was exceptionally good at handling knives, throwing and catching them, laying his palm flat and stabbing between his fingers until the knife was a blur. My father didn’t see this.

Later my father got a new hunting knife, a gift from my mother, much nicer, expensive and shiny. My father’s rule was a good knife had to be christened with blood before it was properly broken in. That fall we were out early and bagged a deer. The new knife didn’t see much action after that as food became more plentiful.

This old knife would have been used to skin and dress many animals, most before I started hunting. It was an important tool in our family. Sharpened more at the tip for skinning, the last animal a bear.

The knife is a Solingen with an elk carved into the stag handle. From information I could find, it was made during WWII. It may seem unusual German knives were imported during that time, but maybe not, German knives and rifles were sought after for their quality. I like to think it was a gift from his father, presented to my dad when he returned from the war. Of course, this is more likely my romantic notions getting the better of me. There is only three people that would know the origins of this knife, my grandfather, father and brother who remembered everything.    

I own several Solingen/Boker knives and they are among my favourites. 

The blade of this knife has a patina on the blade that I am fond of. It is due to the high carbon content of the blade and just the way I remember it when I was a kid. I thought about cleaning it up and putting a razor edge on it, but decided against it. It is still plenty sharp. I am sure some of the dark dirt in the stag handle is ink from my father’s hands, dirty from toiling with the type and presses in the newspaper shop.

It is a wonderful keepsake full of memories. I am happy my Sister-in Law Leslie decided to give it to me.

Cooper saw me typing this today and the photograph. He liked it. I asked if he wanted the knife. He said he did. He may change his mind, but for now, it makes me feel good I could pass it on.

Lazy

A handsome cinnamon Black Bear reacting to a bark from Willow. It turned and disappeared into the bush. Willow’s bark often sends bears up trees.

Lisa and I spent a quiet weekend at home. The valley was extremely busy with it being the Canada Day long weekend. The week leading up to the weekend was rife with hard work for Lisa and I. It was good to kick back and take it easy. We didn’t leave the yard on Saturday.

A bunch of Wood Orchids.

This morning we were up early, Lisa gave me a haircut and shave, then we took for the mountains. We figured most of the revellers from Alberta would have their minds on getting back over the BC/Alberta border. The roads were busy in the valley bottom. Once we left the black top it calmed down.

We have a week off coming up. Lisa said she can’t remember when we had a week off in the summer. We are looking forward to it.

One more look.

Late June

Willow getting stripped.

A wonderful weekend. It was Cooper’s birthday, as is tradition in our house, he was allowed to pick his supper. He picked BBQ ribs, asparagus, corn, mashed potatoes and garlic toast. He wanted it made by me, which made me feel special. I also made a salad. His great Grandparents came over, to make four generations celebrating his birthday and enjoying supper.

***

Blue sky and ridges.

Lisa and I were behind Swansea early this morning. We finished stripping Willow. It has taken a few sessions to get her done. She is not fond of sitting still while we pull her long wire hair out a few strands at a time. Although it doesn’t hurt her, our previous Wire-Haired seemed to enjoy it, she sometimes puts up a fuss until we give her a break and let her have a run. She looks good now just in time for the upcoming warm weather.

Bunching onions.

***

The garden is coming. Lots of lettuce for every meal. The garlic is putting out scapes that are delicious and spicy. The spuds have blossoms. The peas have come up like never before, assuring the kids will have plenty to pick. Today was clear blue skies, still snow to come down in the high country, the heat is on it’s way.

Scarlett working on a drawing.

***

Inflation is up in Canada. Lisa and I are careful, as we always have been, learned from growing up without much. It’s our normal. That’s not to say we save every penny, quite the contrary, when we have money we spend it, but we can also make do with nothing if we have to. We have cut back plenty since the start of 2022.

***

The tourists from Alberta are out in force. Today I was cut off only once. Car alarms sounded through downtown, the sound of summer locals call it, two Albertans got into a yelling match in the Canadian Tire parking lot, this makes my heart glad, a guilty pleasure to watch a couple of type A arseholes go at each other.

The wealth that rolls in from Alberta into BC is insane. Boats, RV’s, large four wheel drive vehicles trailering ATV’s of every make and size. It is incredible! There is no restraint from our neighbours to the east.

For the record I have been accused of hating on Albertans. I should make it clear I don’t hate Albertans. I hate people that disrespect the place they choose to holiday. In this area, the majority guilty of contempt are tourists and second home owners from Alberta. It’s just the way it is.

I am sure the inhabitants who live three hours from Vancouver feel the same about the Vancouverites who recreate and tear the shit out the area they call home.

There are plans to build camps for workers earning minimum wage so they have places to live and serve tourists from Alberta. Atco trailers have been proposed. Some rich guy has even graciously donated the land. Of course it ain’t free and they well be charged rent. It’s promised the rent will be reasonable, something the workers can afford.

***

Up the creek this morning, plenty of tourists camping, sleeping in. Tonight is the kind of evening I used to go back and clean up the mess, garbage and empties they leave behind. Now Lisa and I do it in September at the end of tourist season, it is impossible to keep up otherwise.

***

Lavender.

CBC had a news story about large companies taking advantage during this spell of inflation to raise prices, blaming the war in Ukraine or the pandemic, to justify jacking prices and registering record profits. Many Canadian gas and oil companies, historically not the most virtuous or upstanding of corporate citizens, are guilty of this practice.

Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the federal NDP party suggested the offending companies should have their profits taxed heavily and their windfall dispersed to Canadians in the form of a rebate. Of course, this will never happen, but I like his thinking. Unfortunately, there is too many Canadian businesspeople and politicians who still think greed is good.

My kind of cabbage.

single leg trap

There ain’t many left, but I see a few downtown. Usually they are hell and gone creek bound, stumbling up or down a mountain looking for bears, goats, sheep, elk, moose or the next good huckleberry patch, always keeping an eye out for straight pine, without a knot for the first twenty feet, something that will lend it’s self to easy dovetail and make a descent cabin.

The fish and muskrat will come, same as the beaver and lynx, bobcat and coyotes. There is still people that want to wear fur. Sometimes just a bit for trim. The animals get to live on in a place where they won’t bear their teeth.

You ever try opening a trap to set an animal loose? It’s easier to kill them with a rifle or rock. That’s why you never see three legged wild animals.

It’s a collaboration. They don’t get to watch the world go to hell. They live like their fathers. The snow gets deep and things don’t turn out, they wonder about something easier, sunshine for instance in the November cold. Then it gets colder and finally the sun comes back making everyone feel special.

The animals trapped given their druthers, more than likely, would prefer having their hide on the hood of a rich bitch instead of being eaten by magpies.

Not that any of us get the choice.

Murmur

A Fairy above the forest floor.

A lot of good stuff out there despite it all. It’s always been that way. It takes looking, searching even, sacrificing, just when you think it doesn’t exist it jumps up and slaps you in the face.

Yellow Orchid.

It’s what’s given to you, a gift. Born in the wrong era, hellbent to prove them wrong. Adrenaline and height, lost on purpose just to find yourself back. It’s the only war most people will know.

Twins.

It’s easy to die, to live in these times takes courage, fortitude, strength and conviction. You have to be quick to react, and do so with the same purpose of a murmur of starlings or school of fish.

Solomon’s Seal.