Another summer in the woods blurs into my jumbled memories of bears and bugs, swamps and swearing. If there could be such thing as a good year, I would claim that I had it. The wasp population crashed this spring, the weather was wild but not extreme, the bugs were bad but not impossible. Thinking back it feels like I spent most of the summer folded into the front seat of an ASTAr helicopter with a map in my lap navigating to an endless series of clearcuts. I think I audited a couple hundred which means lots of time flying around trying to make the world match my maps and trying to do it as fast as possible since the helicopter costs $1500/ hour. The wood from the blocks is trucked out in winter over the frozen muskeg so summer travel, of any appreciable distance is by helicopter only
When I wasn’t flying though I saw great quantities of the earth, hidden jewels secreted away from any signs of man. Places that I will be the first and last eyes to glance upon. I watched a pack of wolves take down and devour a deer. A chilling spectacle for both eyes and ears as the deer let loose a scream that I shall never forget. Bears in quantity this year but luckily for me, all healthy and well fed. I was stalked one morning by a black bear. It followed about 5M behind me for a disturbing amount of time but its demeanor was so non-aggressive that I was strangely calm until it finally left me alone. Another bear I caught sneaking up on me like a cat, a behavior I haven’t seen before and a very alarming incident, but when I went into “bear scare” mode (screaming and banging sticks to the ground) it lumbered off. The other 120 bears I ran into this summer rambled off showing various degrees of concern towards me.
Suzanne came out from Calgary to visit when I was working in Kananaskis. She spent the day with me although she didn’t really get a look at at what I usually do. But it broke up the summer nicely to have a short visit. Perhaps she was the good luck charm that held the usual disasters at bay!