Fall Equinox

1l-rainI anticipated good weather by the time the fall equinox came round, as September is often a beautiful month, but the rain keeps falling.  We were promised a week or more of sunshine,  We had 3 absolutely gorgeous day, then one mediocre day, and that was it.

One oddity about the summer (did I say summer?) weather, is that we have had no frosts since mid May.  This is very unusual.  But of course, as soon as the sky cleared we got zapped.  Not just a touch of frost, but an immediate -6C.  Before that, my veg garden looked quite pretty.

Potato flowers.2-potato-flowers-2Behind are the sunflowers that the birds planted.

3-potato-flos-2After the frost, they looked like this:8-frosted-potatoes

9-frosted-sunflowersThe potatoes won’t be hurt – part of the plants were protected by row cover and the tubers will be safe underground, although I will have to dig them soon.

Kale can take a lot of freezing7a-frosty-kaleUnfortunately, I spent most of the good weather wrestling with my greenhouse roof (scroll two posts down.)  But at last I was able to sneak a hike or two in reasonable weather.  It was the first time I have been able to hike around the place for months.

The dwarf birch is turning red.1n-red-birchStrawberry Bights have been amazing this year.  The one in the foreground is very untypical – pretty, though.  I will have to see if it grown there next year.1o-strawberry-bite-bestI’m not sure what kind of a fall display we will get.  The aspens never even turned yellow before most of the leaves were blown off.16-aspen-lost-leavesThe cottonwoods are still half green, though – here’s hoping we will still get some colour. The fine evenings have given us a beautiful light.14a-rock-garden-evening14-river-eveningWalking through the meadow, the seed heads were selectively backlit by the low sun.12-evening-seedheadsRock cress alway makes interesting scribbles.13-rock-cress-seedheadsAt last my greenhouse roof was finished (scroll down 2 posts.)  I had one glorious day before the wind and rain started once more.  Needless to say, because the night was clear, it froze quite hard again.7b-frost-rimmed-leaves

7c-frosty-fireweedAnother anomoly: the pond has stayed full all summer.  And the ducks have stayed in residence.7d-mallard-in-sedgesSo, for some inexplicit reason, has a female hummingbird.  They usually leave mid August: the adults go first, and the young, with no parental training, follow soon afterwards.  This one seems to have missed the bus.  I quit feeding for a while, but she was always around so I made up some more sugar water.    She will likely not survive the colder weather.  I think it is amazing that she is surviving at all.  She visits the feeder only a few times a day and there is absolutely nothing else for her to eat.10-hummerThe sun highlighted the fluffy willow seeds in the wetland.21-willow-fluff-1

22-willow-fluffThe constant cold rain is putting new snow on the mountains.20-new-snow-ppIt is also giving us occasional dramatic sunrises.9a-gloomy-fresh-snow


5-fp-sunriseAnd we are still getting rainbows.18-rainbow

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Kleena Kleene Internet Tower Update

1-tower-sunrise(In case you don’t see it – the internet tower is just to the right of the big fir tree.)

Progress on the Kleena Kleene Internet tower has been sporadic through the summer.  John Kerr, who initiated the project, has been managing the tower on Tatla Hill for years; now he managed to get funding to erect one in my area, and another in West Brach, a valley southwest of Tatla Lake.  The West Branch tower is pretty much ready to go.  However, the Kleena Kleene tower has been having problems.  It is over 35 km from the Tatla tower and to date, the towers have been unable to communicate.  On one of the rare fine days in September, I joined the crew on Internet Hill.1b-tower-closeFirst, with a scope and a good compass, it was necessary to try and pinpoint the Tatla tower.1c-trying-to-find-tatlaAnd there it was.  Just to the left of the dead tree is a hill shaped like a flattened dome.  At the top is a tiny nick.  With the powerful scope we could just see the tower.tatla-hillDeborah, John’s wife, is the computer expert, and she kept trying to talk to the Tatla tower.1f-deborah-computingYou remember Sanjey’s Ride?  The man who owns the resort, Kristoff, has been a main ally to John in setting up the Kleena Kleene tower, because he is a fearless climber.  He was sent up the tower once again with various cables to connect.1d-khristoff-climbing-bestWe’d had 3 days of gorgeous weather, but already another front was coming in.  It made for some spectacular skies!1e-kristoff-climbing-topAnd at last, Deborah was able to get a signal..All four bars on the top right of the screen have to be connected, and sometimes they were.  But a permanent connection could not be maintained.  The Tatla Hill tower would need more tweaking.1g-2-bars-on-computerKristoff and his wife own the Terra Nostra Guest Ranch (where Sanjey went for his ride.)  As Kristoff worked, Corinne and their guests rode up to see what we were doing.1e1-horses1-h-kristoff-with-cablesJohn did the final climbing of the day.1i-john-climbing

1j-john-climbing-2And the next day it was raining again.1k-end-of-good-weather


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Greenhouse Roof

roof-winterRemember the greenhouse roof I built last October?

It disintegrated.1-greenhouse-roof-1There was a gust or two of wind, a cracking sound, and a chunk of roof and attendant shards flew into the yard.  I complained to a neighbour about it: she told me another neighbour had the same problem – on her greenhouse it did not even last the summer.  Once the sun rots it, it is extremely brittle and as it disintegrates, it fractures into tiny slivers.  I at least had all my plants in pots and could drag them into the house while I sorted out the roof.  My neighbour has permanent beds in her greenhouse and all the shards have mixed with the soil.2-greenhouse-roof-2It took a whole day to rip the existing material off.  It was so fractured I ended up vacuuming it – not only from inside the greenhouse but from the yard as well.  And still bits get everywhere.  Normally I put vacuumings into the compost pile but this lot was emptied into the dump box.

So of course I got onto the building supply company (which happened to be Home Hardware but the neighbour bought the same stuff from Windsor Plywood.)  Neither company would stand by this product – because it was not UV protected.  Excuse me – isn’t a greenhouse SUPPOSED to be in the sun?  Why on earth are they selling a product that is not UV protected?  Home Hardware called it tenplas on the bill.  I googled this but nothing came up.  I searched every site – the material is so bad that no one lists it.  It looks like white, plastic  corriguated cardboard.  And yet the Williams Lake companies are still selling it.

The chunk of roof flew off just as my last volunteer of the year was about to leave.  I would have to buy more materials when I took him into town to catch his ride to his next place.  The one seemingly decent product that all the building supply yards had was a corriguated plastic, but because of all the complicated angles of my roof, I thought that would be too difficult to handle.  I would have had to use a ton of expandable foam to fill the gaps.  I asked a lot of questions and came up with a workable product, but it is expensive – and it would take 2 weeks at least to order; also I don’t have the money right now.  I needed something immediately.  I ended up buying a big sheet of UV-treated greenhouse plastic, which was certainly cheap enough.  Problem is I live in a very windy spot.  How was I going to fasten the plastic firmly onto the roof?  Staples would not be enough.  I reasoned that the very sticky red tape people use to patch car windows when they are broken might do the trick.

The plastic cost $25. The tape (Tuck Tape) cost $50! The tape has a warning on it – this product is permanent and not designed to be removed! Just what I want. However, it doesn’t stick well to wood so I have had to staple the tape where it touches the wood around the edges of the roof.

greenhouse-roof-bestMy knees did not like laboriously climbing up and down the ladder and balancing on the roof structure so it was a slow job.  I was also dodging the rain, not only waiting for the roof to dry, but also waiting for the frost to thaw.  Looks ugly, but if it last the winter, that will be OK.  I expect to be financially better off next year.  And hopefully it will last until I get some limber young volunteers to do the ladder work for me!


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August at Ginty Creek

12-pounding-rainIn a word: wet.  It has been the wettest summer anyone can remember.  The subsequent posts seem to show that we had a lot of sunshine, but that is because we watched the forecast and went on expeditions on the few fine days.  Now, nearly in mid September, we are still waiting for summer at Ginty Creek.

I have published the next four posts in reverse so that they can be read in the correct order.  Firstly thanks to all of you who wrote wondering if I was OK.  I didn’t have time to post as I was simply too busy.  Here follows an account of life at Ginty Creek in August.

Even at the end of July, the leaves were showing a yellowish tinge.  This cannot have been because of drought so who knows why they are turning early.1-yellowish-leavesThe roadsides went brown early, too, but this is mainly because of the copiously flowering grasses.1b-brown-roadsideOne benefit of this extremely wet summer, is that I have hardly needed to water the garden.  All the leafy greens grew huge.  I wanted to dry kale, but I had to wait for a long time before we got enough sun to do it.4-sanjey-spreading-kale-to-dryVolunteer Sanjey is spreading out the kale after it has been blanched.  He also helped me pick the huge crop of soopolallie berries we had this year.  They are now in my freezer.5-soopolallies

6-bowlful-soopolaliesThe driveway flowers peaked.7-driveway-flowersAnd Gentianella amarella bloomed among the grasses.8-gentianella-amarellaI picked the first carrots and salad turnips.
9-first-carrotsThe purple kohl rabi looked gorgeous.10-pink-kohl-rabiA few days before Sanjey was due to leave, I made a quick (rainy) trip to Williams Lake to pick up Tom, a volunteer from England.  On his first day, he and Sanjey shovelled gravel into the truck,14-shovelling-graveland, in the pouring rain, filled some of the potholes in the road.15-filling-potholesWe had another deluge.  Huge washouts appeared in the road.13a-driveway-washoutAnd my house appeared at the end of the rainbow.13-house-at-end-of-rainbowWe had a number of rainbow days.  Here is my neighbour Jade’s picture of one.jades-rainbowSanjey got a ride to town with Jade.  He was going to bus to Vancouver then fly to Whitehorse.  Tom and I snatched a fine afternoon to get my chimney swept.19-sweeping-chimneyTom decided the best way to keep his shirt clean was to take it off.20-removing-shirt


22-black-handsI made another “quick” trip to Williams Lake, 23-another-trip-to-ws-lkand picked up Alexa from Australia. We processed another batch of kale. I now have enough dried for the winter.24-alexa-picking-kaleAll the peas ripened at once, so now most of them are in the freezer.25-picking-peasThe rain dogged everything we did. The farmer’s market was wet.tatla-farmers-marketA musical evening at Tatlayoko was wet. tatlayokoOne event, at Tatla, was briefly graced by a stunning light display.26a-tatla-eveningAnd now, on the rare occasions that the clouds clear off the mountains, fresh snow dusts the peaks.27-fresh-snowThe following posts show what we managed to fit in between the rain storms.  It was amazing that we were able to find enough good weather.

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Perkins Peak Again

1a-sanjeys-picSanjey (see two posts back) took this photo as he flew from Vancouver to Whitehorse.  He was thrilled to realize he was flying right over Perkins Peak again, the mountain he had climbed.  The peak is a little to the left of centre, just to the left of the blue lake.

We had to watch the forecast like a hawk to pick a suitable day to go up Perkins Peak again.  We left at 6.30, and had the added bonus of watching the full moon set.1-full-moon-setA couple of hours later, we were well above the tree line and it was already hot.  Tom and Alexa retraced the route Sanjey and I had made earlier, and they successfully climbed the mountain.  I followed a different road to what had been another mine.  Perkins Peak is on the right.

2-other-road-ppLooking back towards the Chilcotin.3-looking-backThis is a very minimalist landscape.  Very few flowers, but it has its own stark beauty.1-roadFlowers were in tiny clumps.  A few purple daisies, Campions, and the endlessly flowering Potentilla.4-mixed-flowsMountain Fireweed4c-mt-fireweed-even-betterYellow Agoseris5a-yellow-agoseris-bestButterweed6a-butterweed-bestAnd the delightful Mountain Harebells.6a-harebells

6b-harebellsThe road wound higher through the valley.7-mine-roadAnd suddenly, from the dry rockscape above, erupted a creek,8-creekwhich was home to a healthy population of Mountain Monkeyflower.9-mim-ulusI could now see the summit of Perkins Peak and kept an eye out for the volunteers.  I did not spot them, but they said they had seen me crawling along the road.  A contrail streaks past the peak – no doubt made by the same aircraft that Sanjey had  travelled in when he took the first picture on this post.10-summit-ppThe road wound on into a more and more barren landscape.  To my right I was surprised to notice a rotting cut log, obviously transported in.  Upon investigation, it proved to be part of a shelter that was once built there.12-old-cabinThe road ended not much further along in what had been the mine, but it was now caved in.  Most likely it had been dynamited shut because it was too dangerous. old-mineThere was very little growing now except lichens.13a-lichensBut the mountain abstracts were fascinating.14-abstract-1



17-abstract-4This “stone skull” expresses the harshness of the environment.18-stone-skullI decided I had gone far enough.  I headed down to where there seemed to be a bit of dampness.  Partridgefoot was blooming.20-partridge-footAnd Tolmei’s saxifrage.22-tolmeiis-saxBadger found a snow patch!23-badger-on-snow-patchThere was no surface water though – until it suddenly burst out at the bottom of a morraine.19-sudden-creekLooking downstream.19a-creek-2Seeps suddenly emerging from the top of this seemingly barren bank produced clumps of Mountain Arnica.24-arnicaAnd even a tiny clump of roseroot and moss campion.24-rose-root-moss-campAs I came close to the truck, I met some ATV-ers.  I have yet to have a day alone up there.  One of the women, who was my age, said she used to come this way and visit the man who lived in the stone house.  He had been the one to build the road and operate the mine.  That was a long time ago, though.


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