Palliser Pass

backroads, excerpts, photography

smoke 2


This evening the sky has cleared enough to see the mountains. The mornings are cool. The light is flat with a romantic cast.


The yard is suffering. You can tell who has money in this town by the amount of water they chug to keep their yards green. The district bylaw officer, hired by business leaders, and looking for low lying fruit, turns a blind eye to the vacation homes and tourists.

It’s clearing. The garden is producing. Willow eats berries from the raspberry bushes. Pretty soon, she won’t be so content, and will be digging up carrots.


RCE_8767Willow checking out the carrots.

It wasn’t bad today. At sundown the wind rolled in bringing smoke. Lisa made me close up the house. Right now I can smell it and feel it in my throat. The mountains are obscured.

My Father had emphysema in his later life. I used to worry about him when the skies got like this. He stayed inside, popping out, occasionally, to get a glimpse of the sun and a smell of the forests burning. Old habits are hard to break.

The garden is doing well. The wind dries it out in a hurry. I put on the water when the regulations allow. The lawn is not just dead, but crispy under foot.

RCE_8729Basil in the forest fire light.

My ankle turned while walking to the garden tonight. I wasn’t running. There was no gopher hole. I wasn’t drinking. . . much. It is the kind of shit that happens when the sun turns orange and you get up in years.

I have no time to limp. I have spent the evening walking around, looking for gopher holes, hobbled, drinking beer, wincing, trying to turn it back into place.

The Lake Windermere Valley Echo


Just like that. Without fanfare or sparklers it’s gone. The Lake Windermere Valley Echo has closed it’s doors and ceased publication.

It has been a long time coming. The Valley Echo hasn’t been relevant for some time now. It perished a slow death, hanging in there as long as possible under the chain newspaper’s policies. The policy of trying to make a buck at every turn, at every transition. Making deals with the same, in the same boat. Business that never sticks in there. The Echo’s death was imminent as soon as these dipshits got involved.

The first newspaper executive I met was Keith Bennett of Black Tusk. He became the Publisher of the Valley Echo in the late 1980’s, propped up by the owner of Black Tusk, Bob Doull. Bennett was  poached from his low level position of ‘circulation manager’ of the right wing, Alberta Report.


Bennett hated the area from the start, and the people of the Columbia Vally. His first task was thrashing records, film negatives and hard copies of what formed the thirty year history of the Lake Windermere Valley Echo. Whatever came before him meant nothing.

I shared some late nights with the man who was the start of the chain mentality. The mentality of profit trumps trust, truth and integrity.

He was  weak. When his contract was up years later, he was gone and not a soul wondered or cared where he went.


It is tough not to reminisce on this last issue of The Echo.


It is difficult not to be angry.


Another fine newspaper ground to ash by Black Press Community Newspapers. A chain that thinks a cookie cutter approach to small community newspapers is the answer regardless of past failures.

The Valley Echo under Black Press lasted longer than they should have.

When the Pioneer Newspaper popped up. They did nothing. When advertising dollars started to slide they fired people.

Black Press management didn’t compete or care.

That was the end of them.


Black Press Community Newspapers answer was to try and buy up the completion. With the help of Bob Doull, of Aberdeen or Black Tusk or whatever they go by now, they did it.

Their future ain’t bright.

It ain’t the internet killing newspapers, it’s the imbeciles that own them.

forest fire sun

RCE_8724The sun taken at sunset through forest fire smoke. Sunspot AR2665 can be seen on the face of the sun (the treetop can be used as a pointer). 

There are several forest fires burning around us, but none as large as in many parts of British Columbia.

Depending on wind conditions it can get smokey. The smoke turns the sun red and sheds a hot shaded light on the garden, everything appears flat, kind of like those old Godzilla movies with painted backdrops.

We had some rain the other night, but not much. The campfire ban is on. Hopefully we can get through the season without much damage.

old country


Such a good weekend. Lisa and I made the best of the mornings and evenings too.

The world is alive in ways we can’t understand. I’m not sure we deserve to stand with the birds, rocks, branches and fish.

We took a trip into some wonderful country. Country that is close to our hearts. Lisa dipped into the creek, tossing stones for Willow.

We saw a silver/blond grizzly above the creek. We tried to ignore each other.

I cut some lengths off a wind blown cedar.

The slides still have snow tangled in rock and trees. It doesn’t take much to block a trail and it doesn’t take much to clear it either.

It is warm. The garden is chugging along. We had our first spuds tonight.

It is lucky to be alive with the creeks, trees, lakes and rocks. Somehow they put up with us.

_LME4279New spuds and beets for supper.

july 8th


we’ve been through it. now it is paying off. sure you look at the grass and mud I track in, but it’s different now. i am lucky to have you hold me at night.

we both dream. sometimes it interferers with when we pee.

you are my beauty. my only beauty.

times can be tough.

with you beside me

i say bring it on

happy birthday baby!


_LME4273Backcountry mud.

damn it’s hot. the third day of plus 37. with no let up in sight. it’s water in the morning and beer at night. the basement is the best for sleep.

willow loves the river and turns against the current when fetching a stick. same as the big birds that take off against the wind, i figure. it would be easier to do it opposite.

it’s bad to go against trends i figure they are trying to tell us, once caught in the flow or current you are just going down. the ride is good at first.

_LME4268Willow against the current.

the current feels good. sure there is plenty of good stuff that floats by. the best feeling is going up stream. where the sweat grass grows. the fish spawn. where the night comes later. where crazy girls jump naked off floating logs. where the beer is stashed under roots exposed in the cold river.

cripes it’s hot.

July 5th


Today is my mother’s birthday. I can’t believe it has been so long since she passed away.

She was older when I was born. She said I damn near killed her. She always laughed when she said it. And boy she could laugh!

From the sound of it, the near dying was true. Care was different back then. You got better or perished.

Her passing away scared me. Everything I saw her go through. I kept my eyes open through it all. I wanted to see every last lesson she could pass on.

I’m older now. I can see it clearer. Her life wasn’t easy from the start. Her father was a Scottish coal delivery man in Hamilton.Things were tough for their family. They were poor, often not having enough to eat. Isabelle’s mother was a pillar of strength in the family. Saving meat and giving them a spiritual upbringing. Isabelle often talked of her mother. Mentioning her brown eyes and her beautiful voice.

She told me about the times she had to fight. Coming out of closets unexpected, or holding cast iron frying pans over her head behind closed doors waiting for the right time.

Things didn’t get much easier when my father brought her west. Back then you grew, caught and shot what you ate.

My dad said things were always good because you could always shoot, grow and catch what was needed. They were never hungry.

I wonder if my mother felt the same. I wonder if she felt cheated. She listened to Louis Armstrong outside a club during the war. She was beautiful after all.

She worked hard at the newspaper. On her feet for hours running the Chandler and Price. Later, writing articles and developing photos in the darkroom.

She worked hard for the disadvantaged. How easy and more advantageous it would have been to go another route.

That is what most people did then and nowadays.

Writing is easy, same as reading. It is difficult to talk about how much she meant to everybody.

Happy birthday Mom!

early july

RCE_8650Moth on yellow asters.

A wonderful weekend, starting with watching our niece, Kaitlyn, graduate, to having Bree and Hunter staying with us and taking in the sunshine.

RCE_8660Wood orchid.

Lisa and I even found time to escape the ruck of the valley bottom to see what was blooming on the mountain.



It is the eve. Good nature is in the air. Folks walking with beer. The sun is in between clouds. Come midnight, it won’t matter. The fireworks will start.

This land isn’t perfect. It takes hardship out on most, but it gives back much more.

For me; I get to enjoy dark skies, bears and places that are still unexplored. The world is changing rapidly. I’ve lost the ability to think more than a few years ahead.

For now, I want to show my children and grandchildren what I think is important, and I want them to show me what they think is important.

The blue skies and wind, the dark holding up stars in the sky and the creek flowing from each mountain and in every direction; it is the only thing I know. We were born lucky.

Happy Canada Day!