This past weekend was our double anniversary weekend: eleven years married and nineteen years together, since we also met on this holiday weekend. And we laughed and talked about our wedding here at home in the yard, about the friends and family who were here, some of whom are no longer with us. About what we ate and how we did it all ourselves--the food, lengths of fabric from my studio for tablecloths, tea lights in jam jars, tarp awnings over the dinner tables in case of rain (no need for it, it was a scorching hot day), chairs and tables borrowed from a local church, flowers picked from the yard and fields and arranged by friends in thrift store vases. We even built a dance floor out on the lawn, made out of plywood and 2x4s. My dear husband's son was DJ, and we danced up a storm. Dh says I caved early and went to bed, but I'm sure he's wrong: I'm sure I was still out there dancing when the last of the guests retired to their tents and rvs and local B&Bs. But one thing we both remember clearly is that our wedding night was a blue moon, the second full moon of that month of July. And this weekend we had another blue moon, the moon being full on July 31st, our anniversary. I'm not usually one for searching for signs and portents but it does strike me as significant somehow. As does the fact that our assembled guests told us afterward that as we exchanged our vows, two red-tailed hawks circled low over our heads. A blessing of sorts? Who knows.
We spent the day doing ordinary things. He went huckleberry-picking, and I spent most of the day in my studio working on a quilt. But we made ourselves a splendid celebratory supper of wild sockeye salmon grilled on the barbecue, a big salad, and corn on the cob. It was an astoundingly good meal. But that's nothing out of the ordinary either.
It was good to have something precious and heart-warming to focus on, since the persistence of the drought here in southern BC is making me feel rather rattled. The biggest worries are the dropping water table and appallingly low levels of water in the local creeks and the Kettle River: the trout are succumbing to the warmth of the water. And the local ranchers are eyeing their dry fields with grim faces. Hay will be at a premium this fall: everyone's yield is way down because of lack of moisture. We think we'll be okay: dh checked yesterday with the rancher we're buying from and the promise made back in the spring is apparently still good.
The third worry, of course, is the risk of forest fire. Already this summer we've had three forest fires within a couple of kilometres of our place, and we're deeply grateful that the forest service is jumping on these flare-ups quickly, before they become a major problem. Lightning has been the cause in all three cases, as with most of the local fires we've had this year. When a fire is on in or near our valley, the sky is full of the sound of planes and helicopters: the helicopters and spotter planes cruise around after thunderstorms, looking for fire starts. The small fires bring larger helicopters with buckets, the big ones bring the water bomber. We've had both kinds.
I happened to be at home when a helicopter was working a small fire on the Jewel Lake Road a few weeks ago, less than a kilometre from our southeast fence corner. The helicopter flew low right over the house, so I grabbed my camera to see if I could get a few shots. I thought the chopper was headed for the creek on the other side of the valley, but it stopped closer, at the watering hole our new neighbour has dug in the middle of his field. Here the bucket is lowered right down into the water. The bucket was spilling water as it flew over our front gate on its way back to the fire. And on the return journey, the empty bucket streamed out behind the chopper as it went back to the watering hole.
I know it's pointless to wave at the chopper or try to make gestures expressing gratitude but I wish we could: thank heavens for this equipment and even more for the people who use it and the ground crews who come along behind to make sure the fires are out.
The smoke from fires further away is giving us some spectacular sunsets.
One of the casualties of the heat and dryness are the huckleberries. My clever husband went out scouting for berries as long ago as early June, driving miles out in the bush to check out our major picking areas (closely-guarded secrets). He reported that very few of these had any berries coming, but that our best and favourite spot looked promising. Early in July, he went out on a reconnaissance mission and came back with this. You may be reminded that a year ago the hard hat was again the only receptacle he had in the truck. I don't think he was expecting to find the berries ripe on this trip.
We picked as much as we could over the next couple of weeks and then had to take a few days off for various reasons. When he went back on Friday, dh found virtually nothing. The berries had withered or fallen from the bushes. He picked for two hours and gathered perhaps a litre of berries. I've never known the season to end with the month of July: usually we pick well into August and some people find berries in September if the summer has been cool and wet. At least he found some wild raspberries to round out his picking day. Yum. Here's a sight we came across as we drove home, hot and tired, with the dogs in the back of the pickup, one afternoon after picking for hours: the fireweed is particularly spectacular this year.
On one of my evening walks with the dogs this weekend, I took my camera along and began with a shot of my dh in our little (two acre) hayfield across the road, taking advantage of the evening light to paint.
This was his subject. Isn't it amazing how turning ninety degrees changes how the light hits the grass?
The neighbour has his irrigation going in the field that borders ours.
Many years ago I based one of my first acrylic paintings on exactly this summer view (sans dogs).
Our goal, as always on this walk, is Boundary Creek, painfully low these days but still a welcome destination for ducks and dogs alike.
Aaaaah . . . Cool at last. Love those winglike ears. The trip home gave us the vista of the last light lingering on the tops of the hills. I enjoyed playing with the backlighting as we walked. The dogs wanted to play with the cows but it took only a word from me for them to turn away and continue trotting down the road. Good dogs.
Fortunately, we're still okay for water at home. We have enough to keep the lawn and garden and lowest level of the field growing (important for horse feed and for fire protection). Back in June I showed you my flower pot garden in kit form: my dear friend Louise had an abundance of seedlings left after she planted her own garden and gave me some of the overflow: they have done magnificently well. I like how my duck robot sculpture adds its own orangey tones of rust to the colour mix.
By force of contrast, check out these photos I took from the Jeep as we sped along highway 3 between Rock Creek and Osoyoos on a fruit-buying mission on Saturday. The top of the Anarchist pass is drying out, as you can see, but the brushland above Osoyoos is positively desiccated. No wonder this is sagebrush country.
So, all together now, let's cast our eyes heavenward and try to will some moisture from the skies. Good luck.