Saturday, August 24, 2013

Up the Mountain, Day 5

 Our ski-cabin is the light spec at the middle of this photo to the left of the lift-line.

Legend has it that my dad moved us to Smithers in 1965 because of the mountains. He had other reasons but they were lost on me. We skied on Sundays, as a family. Other families went to church, we skied. We ate pancakes in the morning and then we all piled into the VW Bus and after he had yelled his head off at us to get our boots, poles, and skis together, we were off. It was exciting and terrifying. My father at the wheel, hunched over, willing the underpowered vehicle up up up, around switchbacks lined by snowbanks just waiting to suck you in. He was a mountain climber but had given it up by the time I was born. Skiing was his next passion. So we skied.

He built us a ski cabin. It was a PanAbode number and the pieces got dropped by helicopter onto the mountain like bundles of Lincoln-Logs. The area that was the mountain was on Crown land, owned ostensibly by the government and we were all squatters. People built little basic cabins to huddle in after a long day of skiing, there was no power and we melted snow for water. There was a Ski-Club cabin as well where you could eat your bag lunch. I spent a lot of time there drinking cocoa and amusing the other skiers. Our cabin materials got dropped in the wrong spot so the cabin got built closer to the main run than it should have. Our outhouse ended up in the meadow where the cabin should have been. In winter I remember the deep path dug into the snow behind the cabin to the outhouse. As a child it felt like walking a long blue white corridor to the little wood hut. Scary and magical and slightly stinky.

Crater Lake beyond the trees. The alpine flowers were sparse due to the dry summer. Elevation is about 5000ft.

The Green-T hut. This was near the site of the original rope tow. As you rode up you could see our cabin and an optical illusion was created, the cabin appeared to sit tilted back into the hill, I imagined cups and saucers sliding off the crude table inside. In years of heavy snow my eldest brother and his friends made a snow-bridge onto the roof of the cabin and skied down the hill and over the roof, launching themselves into the ether. Spread eagles all of them, landing mostly softly below. We sold the cabin when my mother was dying, I am not sure who owns it now.

Many of the original ramshackle cabins still exist as well as many newer better ones. Everywhere progress and change even on the mountain.

The original ski-club cabin.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Bulkley Valley, Day 2 and 3

Coming into Houston. It's been raining on and off since Burns Lake where we bought Okanagon fruit from an idling delivery truck in a Husky parking lot. It had been hot and dusty in Prince George 4 hours earlier, I was glad the dog didn't come. Lakes, little or long line the highway through Fort Fraser. The landscape gets prettier and more gentle as you near the Bulkley Valley off in the distance at the base of Hudson Bay Mountain.

We were lucky enough to stay with dear family friends at a lake west of town. The mountain follows you everywhere. It's at the foot of main street and all the way out here at the Lake. I've told this story a thousand times but it's very true. When I was a kid our house faced the mountain and whenever someone came to visit who was not accustomed to living with a huge mountain topped with a glacier in their backyard all sorts of fanciful adjectives got tossed around. I found their shrieks of glee ridiculous and over done. A mountain. Who swoons at a mountain that way. I do, that's who. It was good to see the mountain again.

Bathers at the Lake. My siblings and I, our hosts and my daughter and husband. The mountain looks on. At 4 o'clock the kids from next door appear for ice cream and trudge up the hill where they are served their daily ration. We stay by the lake too relaxed to move imaging how we can do this again tomorrow.

The lovely cottage where we stayed. I slept well here knowing that my family was happy they had come along on this journey with me. I thought I might cry at some inopportune moment but the tears never quite came, my sleep was active instead.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Fraser Canyon Day 1

Driving north of Hope. The trees are replaced with sage.

The Thompson River meets the Fraser River, I think. The signage is poor along the road. The road conditions are sub-par considering the volume of traffic on the road.

 Dry, dry hills. 99 degrees out. Too hot to ride a horse. We have no stamina in the heat.

The reappearance of trees, small and scraggly clinging to the hillside, grass comes later, further up the road.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Road Trip to the Past

 Big sky and supplies at Lac La Hache

I wanted to go to Smithers. I didn't want to go to Smithers. All summer long we were allegedly going to Smithers. The drive is scary to me, it's long and the highway is undivided most of the way. It's lonely and empty and dusty and it can be hot or very cold and sometimes icy and always bumpy and under construction. The logging trucks and transport trucks are plentiful, huge and vicious. The first several hours of the drive seems to be straight uphill with the river below you on one side and a crumbling rock face above you on the other side. My head hurt, we couldn't listen to music, I was worried about the car making the trip, I was worried about being stranded in a hostile landscape in a country that has become foreign to me. I worried about my dog back at home in the kennel. In the video clips of our first night at Lac La Hache I can see how I have my hand over my mouth surveying the scene, trying to sort out what to do first. The next scene is of the tent set-up and I know by then I had had a beer and was feeling better. The clips of the following morning I look more relaxed, by the time we reached Smithers, 9 hours later, the video shows me warmly embracing my family members who had also come for the Centennial of our little town. We had made it, alive.

One of many roadside shrines to those who have died along the Yellowhead 16

Friday, August 2, 2013

Something Nice

This came in the mail yesterday. It was sent to me via artist Jeanne Williamson Ostroff from another artist, Danielle Dimston. I first encountered Jeanne in a book called Uncommon Quilter. She was ostensibly a quilter but over the past few years I have watched her make the transition from craft to fine art. In the Uncommon Quilter she makes 52, 12 x 12 quilt blocks out of a variety of materials, one per week. It's fascinating to go through the book and see the artist emerge through the process of making studies on a common theme. Eventually Jeanne moved away from sewing and has been painting and printing images on fabric. What began as studies based around construction fence patterns has evolved into in a diverse body of work including painting, prints, installations and now garments. I began following Jeanne on Facebook and she's been a real inspiration to me. She shows her work a lot and continues to make books on craft. I am astounded by her energy but I have a theory. I think women gain more energy and clarity after 50.

I had an amazing dream last night about being pregnant. In the dream and when I woke up I felt exhilarated and positive. I felt powerful, something I have not felt in some time. I am two days away from my period starting and although I have that heaviness in my legs, I am also trying to listen to what other messages my body is giving my brain and how my brain is answering back. These dream images must rise up for a reason. For months I have not remembered anything from the murkiness of sleep and then there is this clear shining image of creative potential (I am of course speaking metaphorically here, I have no interest in a baby at my age).

I found painter,  Danielle Dimston via Jeanne's blog. She makes postcards as part of her practice and sends them off here and there. I like the simplicity of her paintings and her dedication to exploration. Jeanne asked her if she could send me a card and here it is. I am looking forward to sending her one in return, here is an example of one of the postcards I sent some time ago.

Our sunny streak ended last night with a modest thunder storm and it rained in the night. The sky was gray all day, the air felt slightly crisp and there are dry leaves accumulating at the side of my blessed road. I wore jeans for the first time in 6 weeks. The air was heavy where the road dips down at the creek and I got a few whiffs of something dead. It was a distinct scent just hanging there above the ditch. Today it rained hard and I didn't walk. I took my daughter on an outing and avoided work which has been feeling a little forced with so many projects to produce. I needed a down day and wanted to spend some time with her beyond the time we spend locked in domestic routine together.
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