postcard, the Nicola Valley


On a clear day, you can see forever. And this is what it looks like. Suede hills, aspens just turning,Ponderosa pines so particular and iconic that you could look at each one and never think you knew pines in general. The scent of sage. The sound of magpies. An osprey overlooking Stump Lake, the waters green and dusted with the hatch of some insect that had a few flyfishers excited as well as the fish themselves, mouthing the surface of the lake.

And did I say the other day that the road up through the Fraser Canyon was my favourite on earth? Today it’s 5A, from Kamloops to Merritt, winding by the lakes, the creeks, the roads leading off to remote ranches, the Lieutenant-Governor’s home ranch at the head of Nicola Lake in good shape despite her absence, the store at Quilchena as enticing as ever (and this time I had to resist tiny cowboy boots, two-tone, with sensible heels; though if a grandchild asked for a pair, I’d go back in a heartbeat…). So I’m fickle about roads. So I’m contradictory. I have as my model in this the wonderful Walt Whitman, a poet I always think of in the kingdom of grass (lines of his thread through my novel Sisters of Grass…):

The past and present wilt—I have fill'd them, emptied them.
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.
Listener up there! what have you to confide to me?
Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening,
(Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a minute longer.)
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
I concentrate toward them that are nigh, I wait on the door-slab.
Who has done his day's work? who will soonest be through with his supper?
Who wishes to walk with me?
Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already too late?

“I will take an egg…”

“I will take an egg out of the robin’s nest in the orchard,
I will take a branch of gooseberries from the old bush in the garden,
and go and preach to the world…”  Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass

Yesterday we went to pick up some promised duck eggs from friends who live nearby. Their ducks are laying well and we’ve been enjoying the results. Favourite way to eat them? Cooked in a little butter for three minutes and served on a bed of steamed spinach. But yesterday Jay said they had some extra pheasant and quail eggs and would we like a couple of each? Oh yes.

So here they are, duck eggs, the smaller pheasant eggs, and two mottled quail eggs, in a oak bowl on the counter, waiting for me to decide what to do with them. I’m going to spend the day in the garden, planting out cabbages given me by June last evening when we went to have dinner with her and her husband John, and I’ll take some time to admire our gooseberry bushes which survived the garden reconstruction nicely and are in bloom, attracting bees and hummingbirds. And our dinner tonight will be these beautiful eggs.