Palliser Pass

backroads, excerpts, photography

Venus’s Lady’s Slipper and the morel to the story

_LME3936Calypso Bulbosa

Willow and I wandered the forest floor looking for wild mountain orchids. Last year they were much earlier. I found single broad leaf but without stems. Last weekend the same spot was covered with snow. Spring is late this year. There is still plenty of snow higher up.

I found an open bank on the edge of the trees with good southwestern exposure. The sun hit it into the evening. And there they were. Just a few blooming.

The Venus’s Lady’s Slipper is the first of the mountain orchids to bloom, sometimes pushing through the snow. It is also the smallest and, many believe, the most beautiful. They have a delicate fragrance that is enhanced by the rain.

_LME3921Morel Mushrooms, notice how they are hollow and the heads and stems are a single piece when cut in half.

The other day I was fortunate to find a bunch of morel mushrooms. They were in perfect condition having just come up from the recent rains.

I made a batch of delicious wild mushroom bisque. The texture and taste of the morel is like no other mushroom.

Every year spring sneaks up differently.



The canals are filling with run off. The sweetgrass is up with seed. It’s low, only eight or ten inches high. The outer leaves need to mature before it will be ready to braid.

Many paths to the river. Made by muskrats and beaver. It looks like they have been dragging the dead through the scrub, chewing off trees, sliding down the mud, like it’s a game of it.

The trees are up to hiding the sun. Geese bark back at dogs. The Killdeer choose to lead threats away on mismatched wings. A tangled flap without reason until the coyote chases, hypnotized, away from it’s nest.


The rain is good for the leaves and grass.

Plenty of snow in the mountains. Plenty of run off yet.


Once old you forget about the vulnerability of young. An old grizzly head bunted a young one into the river. The river was fast. The young one pulled itself onto a sloughed bank. It shook itself off. The old bear looked on, turning towards the bank, neither glad nor sad.


Once old you forget your power. The strength of your hands. You forget the ability to lead. It’s much easier to hurt.

election disfunction

RCE_8244Willow driving me home the day after the election.

The BC Provincial Election is in the books. The Liberals hang on to government with a minority.

In our riding the NDP lost the seat to the Liberals. The NDP candidate, Gerry Taft, is disappointed. He has not had an easy ride this election. He is a strong person and an exceptional Mayor for Invermere, I hope he is able to take a couple deep breaths and put this election behind him and get ready for the next one.

A reason the NDP Party has been popular in this riding is due to their stance against the unpopular Jumbo Development. With the Jumbo Development and Municipality taking a back seat they were not able to leverage their stance for votes.

I know Gerry and respect him. He is informed, approachable and very smart. I almost hated the thought of him becoming an apologist for some of the NDP’s hair brain schemes they are known to pull out of the air. That and the NDP’s penchant to pander to public unions is reason enough to be thankful they didn’t form government.

With that said, there is no doubt Gerry would have been a strong voice in Victoria for Kootenay Revelstoke .

Doug Clovechok is our new BC Liberal MLA. He is a hard worker and charismatic. Like Gerry he is also very approachable. He probably would have won the last election if he hadn’t supported the debauch that is The Jumbo Resort and Municipality.

He mentioned in his acceptance speech that he will work hard as everyones MLA, including the people that didn’t vote for him.

He will have his work cut out for him earning the trust of the strong environmental voices in the riding. I suspect he will learn quick, first by not talking down to them and then listening to their concerns.

It is good to get this ugly election behind us. There were things about it I really disliked. Not who won or lost, but how one of the candidates was treated by their own party.

Election Day


It is an hour and a half before the polling booths close. I ran into NDP candidate Gerry Taft today and wished him luck. He was upbeat and confident. As far as I know he has never lost an election.

Provincially, projections predict it will be a tight race. The Liberals promise to continue the work they have done, protecting jobs with strategies that have made the province number one in Canada. The NDP promises better social programs, while exercising sound judgement, and continuing the gains British Columbia has made in recent years.

It’s a crap shoot!

IMG_5316Early morning Election Day calm.

It is BC Election Day. Will the BC Liberal Party hang on to their majority government or will the BC NDP party regain power after being the opposition for the past 16 years? Will the Greens have a breakthrough and capture a few seats?

I have never been able to call these things, so I will not attempt to now. In our riding of Columbia River Revelstoke, I know for sure, we will be getting a new MLA, as NDP incumbent Norm Macdonald chose not to run.

Will our riding stay NDP and elect Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft, or will Liberal Doug Clovechok wrestle it away and become our new MLA?

Stay tuned, as these questions and more will be answered before the calendar flips to another day!



Been out of the mountains for a few days. On arriving home the grass has sprung up, along with the dandelions. Both need to be cut.

Saw three black beers and a handsome silver grizzly driving home. People were stopped all over the highway, trying to get photos even though signs were posted not to stop.

For the grizzly, people were out of their vehicles approaching it with their cell phone cameras.

Usually, a Kootenay National Park warden is on hand to keep tourists in their vehicles and traffic moving. Highway bears can be docile, ignoring vehicles and people infringing, yet unpredictable, able to turn in a second.

My advice to a person stupid enough to approach a bear is; if you enjoy taking chances, keep in mind, if the bear turns it can move, at least, four times faster than Usain Bolt, so make sure you are, at least, four times closer to safety than it is to you. Even then you will probably lose.

The seedlings are up and reaching for light. At night we have to be wary of frost. The days are warm, even when it rains. Spring will move quickly now.

shot in the dark


Willow and I were up early but not early enough to catch the bulk of the stars. Even by 4:30 am day light is seeping out of east. We listened to the loons and geese. Willow had a swim. By 6 we were back ready for work.

western meadowlark


Against our better judgement, Lisa and I along with Willow chose to have lunch in the mountains. We have been busy and couldn’t really afford the time away from work and chores, but sometimes you just have to put it all aside.

Crossing the valley bottom we spotted a few Meadowlarks and stopped to get a picture or two. They were basking in the sun calling to one another in their cheerful voice. They are often heard without being seen. We were lucky.

The Western Meadowlark’s habitat is slowly eroding, the valley bottom’s native grasses replaced with agricultural fields and housing developments. Future generations may only have recordings of the Meadowlark’s song.


When you get old you learn something from the very young. It could be one of the reasons people love being grandparents. It makes you see the best of the future. The young love the noises of nature and beauty of small creatures. They cherish them.

It gives me hope.

It is a shame we try to usher children away from the natural world. Telling children we are above and separate from the birds, clouds, rivers and rocks. Separate also means alone.

Lisa and I drove down the mountain road well fed. Willow was well walked. We rolled our windows down crossing the valley on our way back to work still waiting. The Meadowlarks still singing.

birthday gurl

RCE_7993Is it fair Deb is looking younger than me? If she let her beard grow it would be as grey as mine.

Very fine day. The sun busted through the clouds on occasion. It had power.

It was my sister Deb’s birthday today. Deb is a fantastic gardener. Her yard is beautiful, with flowers in pots and plots and a wonderful vegetable garden behind the studio with beans that climb eave high.

I’ve always given her shit, so why not a little more. Every gardener can use manure. I even put a birthday candle on top of the pile.

It must be wonderful to have been born in April. Our parents planning obviously went out the window when I was born in November. No wonder Deb is cheerful and I’m cranky!

It seems we can’t put two nice days together. Every draw and mountain top still has snow. Tomorrow the spuds are going in along with the lettuce and onions. Regardless, I say, hell or high water.

Lisa and I talked to Cooper today an FaceTime. I could tell he wished we were all together. Tomorrow I well send him a video of Lisa and I planting the garden.

Looks like rain tomorrow. Spring rain. The kind you can turn your face toward.

Sunday . . . Deb will be busy spreading the gospel . . . if the gospel is the shit!

hurry up and slow down

RCE_7951Willow kicking up snow in the spring time bush.

Very fine weekend. Maddy and I started some seeds; Black Cherry tomatoes, kale and squash.

Maddy made Chad, Lisa and I bruschetta and it was excellent. Grandma and Grandpa were so happy to see her.

The last few weeks have been early mornings and late nights.

It was good to have the weekend.

Willow and I tried checking out the mountain orchids, but there is still too much snow in the back country. They will be blooming later this year. We had a good time walking on the hard snow. Later that night we tried spotting a few Lyrid Meteors. The clouds kept getting in the way. We detected an aurora storm behind the clouds. If it had been clear it may have been spectacular.

RCE_7960Venus, a far away beacon between the clouds.

As it was getting light Venus cleared the mountains and found a spot between the clouds.  It won’t be long and it will be lost to our lengthening days and the glare of the sun.

_LME3807Strange auroras shining through.

My good neighbour, Larry the Stubborn Cuss, gave me shit today! However, it’s not the kind of shit I am used to taking from him. He scored a few loads of premium manure and kindly gave me a pick up load for my garden.

The garden is ready to be planted with the cool weather vegetables; carrots, spuds, peas, onions, beets, lettuce.

The tomatoes, squash and peppers will have to wait for the warmer weather at the end of May or start of June.

It seems the seasons are flying by. There never is enough time to get everything done. Once in perspective it’s a minor inconvenience.

RCE_7948Willow sporting her new stripped look, courtesy of Lisa.

art work


After the renovation we decided to put up a few pictures of our own. Change the artwork up, Lisa said. I am not good at picking pictures, especially if they are my own. I always say the best one is the last one I’ve taken. After the last one the rest are gone, from my memory, at least.

I picked this one of a songbird. The rain was keeping it from singing. It occupies a prominent spot in our house (bathroom). Lisa keeps a vase of pussy willows beside the print, like the small bird could have jumped from reality into the print.

It helps me when I pee.