Sunday, 22 April 2007


Yesterday in Kaslo it was T2T Day. This means Trash to Treasures. People put out the things they don't want anymore on their street and anyone can come by and pick them up. It's a great idea and a wonderful way to spend Earth Day weekend. I didn't pick up any "treasures" because I'm really trying to NOT accumulate more things but I love the concept. Perhaps I'll have many things to give away once our projects get finished around here.

My other discovery from yesterday was learning about all the new books in the Dear Canada series. This is an historical series of books put out by Scholastic Books and I've been reading them for at least 3 years. They are written for about ages 10 - 14. Scholastic has been wise enough to hire first-class Canadian children's writers to write these "diaries" which take place at a specific location during an eventful year in Canadian history. The one I found yesterday while "reading the shelves" at the Kaslo Library is about the flu epidemic in 1918. This one is written by Jean Little, one of my favourite kid authors. I've resolved to always have a children's book in my reading stack - my new little treasure to celebrate Earth Day.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

What Should I Call This Thing?

Here is one sure sign of spring in the Kootenays - this is the plant that I've always called the skunk cabbage. The smell is very much that of a skunk. However, after reading Patrick Lane's gardening memoir, There Is A Season, he refers to this plant as the swamp lantern and I like that name much better. Do you agree? It really does look like a small lantern in the ground. When we first came out from Kokannee Cabin two weeks ago, the place where the helicopter landed had loads of these plants in bloom. In Kaslo, we're at a higher elevation and they finally bloomed this past week. I took this picture on a cloudy day - they look much more "lanternish" on a sunny day. I saw an absolute mass of them near Kootenay Lake on the way into Nelson the other day - now in the midst of a housing development. I wonder if those neighbouring owners refer to the plant as the skunk cabbage or the swamp lantern?

So far, spring has been my favourite season here. The weather is certainly variable, but the numerous shades of green paint a beautiful picture everywhere I look.

Monday, 2 April 2007

East Meets West at Kokannee Glacier

Our ski week in at Kokannee Glacier was a big success and who can argue with 5/6 days of sunshine? We did have to start a day late because of the huge rainstorm going through the valley on March 24th. We made up for it with 5 more days of brilliant sun. Very little snow fell during the week and this kept the avalanche hazard pretty low. I thought the snow was icy, crusty, too soft or just about perfect, but I used snowshoes the entire week so I was fine. I never felt fomo (see previous post) for one minute - I hate skiing on the icy, crusty stuff and there was a layer of it depending on the altitude.

I think I could earn the title Hut Nazi after my week in the cabin but it's funny how people see the cook as the hut custodian. The meals I cooked were well received, I thought, and the desserts all seemed to get rave reviews. If lack of leftovers is an indication of the quality of the cooking OR just the sheer exertion of the participants makes them eat anything, leftovers were never a problem! I enjoyed having that bit of structure to my day, I loved having the hut to myself with its huge, sunny kitchen. It was just like playing house. To me, it was a good thing for the group to HAVE to share one meal per day. It keeps the confusion out of the kitchen and it forces people to do some bonding whether they want to or not. I've been on too many trips where people don't really visit. This group warmed up to each other well during the week and although I probably won't see most of them again, it was a friendly, happy feeling in our hut.
So why would I call myself Hut Nazi? Well, I organized the clean up crew on the last day and everyone was coming to me for orders. They were a great crew and 90% of our jobs were done before going to bed on Friday evening. I have to say there's something to be said for a group of relative strangers getting together to spend a week together - because we don't know each other well we're on our best behaviour and always very civil. So what does that say about how we treat those closest to us? This was our humble abode for a week - note the satellite dish.

Our "east" group included 5 people from SK - I included Dave and I in that group because we'd never have been involved if it hadn't been for our SK ACC contacts. The "west" included mostly people from parts of B.C. - the west coast, the Okanogan Valley, and a Calgaryian.

The heli ride this time was good. I didn't like the steep swing in for the landing - that's feels too much like a ride at the Ex for my taste, but I did like flying over a familiar area and looking at the landmarks. I particularly enjoyed the ride over the lake. I think riding in a helicopter could be something I could get to really look forward to. This was our fly out 'copter.

Snowshoes with crampons worked really well for me in these snow conditions and over the steep hills. I'd take those again and Andrea has bequeathed them to me on the condition that she can borrow them for a trip if necessary. This is the kind of terrain I travelled through on snowshoes.

It was a good week in the high country but getting back to spring was just as fine! I was chagrined to see that a deer had eaten my hyacinth flowers in the garden but there is a heather blooming! Having a week of winter on a glacier that has limited access is a happy way to finish off a winter of incessant weekend storms.
This is my first attempt at multiple pictures and I'm learning a little more each time about how to do this - hopefully it'll look a little more 'arty' next time.