Palliser Pass

backroads, excerpts, photography

mid june




RCE_8396Three blossom Glacier Lilly.

It is good to be in the bush again. I am wealthier by far, but still with worries. I am lucky to have friends to walk the trail with. To have one scout ahead and another to admire the flowers and birds.

RCE_8403.jpgWillow checking the trail.

I rushed to get out, worried about time, even though I had no where to be. It’s a hazard of our times to rush. Once on the trail I slowed. Everything slowed. It had been awhile.

It doesn’t’t matter how old you are you never stop worrying about your kids, especially when they are going through tough stuff.

RCE_8410.jpgA Hairy Woodpecker perches, giving us the business. 

We left the heat of midday and disappeared into the bush. Following elk tracks and wary of bears. Smelling skunk cabbage and fresh runoff. The perfect place to be considering.


fence line


Spent plenty of time walking above the lake. It is always new to me. You never know what you will see. Eagles on the wind or Ospreys fishing.

Whenever I’ve gone on a trip I’ve always felt like a tourist. Seeing the things they wanted me to see.

To walk the same trail and become familiar with the seasons and what is revealed is rewarding. Plenty of secrets that take a lifetime to be acknowledged.


It was the fence line that took me back. I was a youngster, about seven or eight. I was in trouble at home. I walked the tracks beside the Lake. Watching birds. Time slipping by, before long, I was aways from home.


I knew enough to stay away from moving trains and the rail workers. The workers came from across Canada on work trains. The work trains stayed for a short time and then they were gone. Shortly after another would arrive. Back then the trains had a caboose. We would wave to the worker with the red lantern.

The railcar stopped even though I was hid in the bush.

The man got off. I was spotted. I ran up the bank. He was on my heals. I could hear him breathing and I was getting tired. The fence was before me. I’d be caught.

I made myself skinny and jumped through one of the wire squares. It took most of my strength. I imagined a fish jumping rapids. I kept going. He stopped at the fence, out of wind. The squares were too small for him.


Now I have clubs for fists. I’m vigilant. I look for friends in the wind and along the trail with four legs down.


the sparse side of the Milky Way

windermere.stars.loThe small village of Windermere below the stars. Plenty of constellations can be seen. Look for the Andromeda Galaxy above the mountains in the aurora.



Somehow, despite my attitude, that can be sometimes obstinate and pessimistic, it all comes up, including the weeds.

RCE_8315.jpgSalad bowl – a few self seeded volunteers. 

Today it was warm with rain. Yesterday it was thunder and lightening. Willow and I cut our walk short due to lightening. I figured, if I was hit it would ruin Lisa’s week and we have a lot to look forward to. It goes to show I’m always thinking of others!

RCE_8317Larry the garden gnome.

The garden is on the rise! Everything is up and reaching. I send Cooper videos of the garden growing and he loves them.

RCE_8320Irises transplanted from my childhood home. You can get irises in much brighter flowers now, but I love these.

Still plenty of cloud but they’re moving fast.

taken back

milkyway29may17loThe Milky Way over Lake Windermere. Notice the greenish airglow near the horizon, not to be confused with Aurora that would only be present in the opposite direction.

It was early to bed. Willow and I were up by 12:30 am ready for a walk. Although I would have preferred the dark skies of the mountains we stayed in the valley bottom among the light pollution.

It was a warm day. The earth was cooling. I could smell the water from the hills above. Willow stayed close as we walked the dark trail. I remembered the same smells and sights from when I was a kid. We would often swim on these kind of nights. There was an excitement to it. Back then I’m not sure if I noticed the stars. In youth you are part of the sky and water.

Even from above I heard the water in the lake trickling like a fast brook. It was unmistakeable, again a sound from my youth. The start of June and the Sucker Fish are spawning in the shallows, roiling against the gravel. I spent hours watching them when I was a kid.

The birds were quiet, but I detected them moving in the trees, uncomfortable with our presence.

I was lucky in my youth to roam these same hills and swim in the dark without a care. Now I’m careful not to step in a gopher hole or get to close to the edge of the bank, aware I could go down in a moments notice. They would say, ‘what was that old fool doing walking around in the dark anyway?’

It is in the dark below the stars I feel the past and present flow through me. It is a real thing. It comes from all directions, filtering erratically and humorously, like the flight of bats. Just when I’m ready to duck they fly into my chest taking my breath and filling me with joy.

I call out to Willow but she is right beside me.

the ultimate good luck

RCE_8235Willow is always feeling lucky.

Bishop needed some luck. Things once easy to him were now fleeting, hard to catch between sunup and sundown. Men and women, both for different reasons, once looked at him as threatening.  Now he was invisible to both. Somewhere along the way, and he suspected for the same reason, luck had abandoned him.

It was with this in mind he swung the door of the bar. When the heat of the ruck, and smell of beer took hold he felt the efficiency of luck returning.  A young man eyed him as he entered. He had on a tight t-shirt that showed off work in the gym, probably a few steroids to help the physique and bring up the anger element. This was something Bishop could never understand about youth; for him, especially when he was young, there was no shortage of anger. It was always something he could depend on.

The young man had forearms covered in tattoos. His elbows had a spider webs that looked best when the man crossed his arms menacingly in front of him. The young man also knew this.

As Bishop walked by he noticed the young mans small wrists. They were the same wrists most cops had. He was just a little guy pumped up. Bishop walked by and gave him a look that said, ‘I have you figured, little bouncer, don’t fuck with me.’

The bouncer caught his eye and held it, turning away, laughing; a young woman flanked his side. His attention turned, held by the luck of youth.

Bishop found the bar. The heat reminded him he was already drunk. He wanted a whiskey but ordered a beer. The beer was six-fifty. He gave the keep ten. The barkeep didn’t ask if he wanted change. That’s the kind of place it was now.

Bishop stood at the bar, tilted himself towards the room to enjoy the sites and his ten-dollar beer.

The waitress was at the far end of the bar loading her tray. Her hair was tied back in a ponytail. Once loaded, she threw her ponytail over her shoulder, not with a toss of her head, but with a whip of her hip. It was one of the little things that Bishop noticed that made life wonderful, like the first songs of the Meadowlark in spring, or the last snowfall when the flakes seem to fall in slow motion.

These were the things Bishop wanted to take with him.

The waitress caught his eye noticing and gave him a smile. One more, he thought.

She delivered her drinks. Bishop watched her route. Admired her easy laugh, taking orders. The music was loud but he’d turned it off in his head.

When she finished she walked up to Bishop, “Can I get you a drink?”

Bishop was drunker than he thought. It was hot, “Let me buy you a whisky,” he said.

She smiled, “Sure.”

The bartender brought two shots of Crown, “Twenty-two bucks.”

Bishop was sober when he realized he only had a twenty. He would have had enough if the bartender had given him his change from the six-fifty beer.

The waitress said, “That’s okay,’’ and reached into her change purse for a five.

The young bouncer had his hand around Bishop’s arm, “Let’s get going old man.”

The drinks were paid for but not drank. Bishop felt the bouncer’s grip tightening. He looked. He was right the first time, they were small wrists. He turned quick and caught him with his left hand under the chin. It was a short punch with his bad hand but effective. The bouncer went down.

Bishop lifted his glass, the waitress did also, they clinked glasses. He noticed her ponytail was on her other shoulder. He wondered if it was the power of his punch that did it, or if she had tossed her hips and he’d missed it.

They shot the whisky down. Bishop said, “I owe you one.”

She was beautiful. He didn’t want her. He only wanted to admire her, like the falling snow. The bartender looked on. The whisky was the real deal and felt good going down. The bouncer was regaining his senses.

Bishop left the heat and noise and fights at the door and walked into the cool night from where he came two drinks before – still drunk, leaving flush and feeling lucky.

dry run


Five times dry as the year before. Bishop watched the Deacon approach, through the long grass that needed mowing. It was going to be hot. It was all hard work. Even the religious try to get the saving done before the noon sun.

How you doing, friend.

What you selling. Bishop already knew the answer

I’m selling nothing.

Everybody’s selling something. But you don’t look like a politician. So what is it? Religion?

Have you ever thought about who goes to heaven?

Bishop was pissed off already. The grass was high. It was going to be hotter than a son-of-a-bitch in the afternoon.

The Deacon was the same age as Bishop.

I’m not interested in heaven. Bishop thought if he could get away with hitting him on the head with the shovel and planting him in the garden.

The Bible if shredded properly would make good compost. As for the corpse it would be a nuisance.

The Lord is interested in you, my friend, the Deacon said.

Not interested.

Bishop felt an itch. It was uncomfortable. He was a moment away from cracking the first beer.

Not interested, he said.

Okay. He said.

His task was asking.

Move along and don’t come back.

The Deacon turned. There was a split second Bishop wished he hadn’t.

Bishop got back to the task at hand, swinging and mowing. God’s work. He figured.

Victoria Day

_LME3966-Pano.smA couple of satellites streak through the Milky Way.

The weekends don’t get much nicer. Clear skies and warm. Great for soaking up the sun while planting the garden.

Times have changed. When I was a kid there was no such thing as sun screen. My Mother used to tell us kids to go out and get a sunburn in May. She would say by the time the hot suns of summer arrived, the burn would turn to tan and you were protected. I like to refer to it as the ‘base burn’. Of course this method of protection is frowned upon today.

With the skies clear I thought it would be good to get out and get a look at the night sky. The moon is waning crescent and would not come up until just about daylight, so the skies were sure to be dark. Perfect for scanning The Milky Way.

_LME3975-Pano.smGravel road to the stars. The bright star above the big fir trees is Lyra.

I would have preferred to be in the mountains away from artificial light, but Lisa reminded me to stay within cell phone service. Willow and I hung out beside the lake. She gave the bark of alarm and we heard something crash through the bush; a deer I presume.

RCE_8301The waning crescent moon and Venus in the pre dawn sky.

On arrival home I noticed Willow had a piece of cactus stuck to her. Odd because wild cactus is rare in the valley bottom. I may have to go back in light and look for it. They can be quite beautiful while in bloom.

Very fine weekend and we still have another day!

redneck hippy spring

RCE_8292Spring seemed slow coming. I in turn was slow. My seedlings are small, fragile and immature. The spuds are up, along with the spinach. As for the rest, it still has to go in the ground.


My neglect won’t be noticed come August. Everything will have caught up.


The birds spent the day chasing each other. It’s a long weekend and the Tourists are out in force. They too are caught up in a mating ritual, showing their wealth, driving fast, being loud, at times obnoxious, strutting and displaying their foliage. They and the Swallows are a reminder it’s been a long winter.


The birds try to keep a branch or two between us. Same as the bears. Same as the tourists once advised.