Remember this guy? He had almost finished his manuscript in June but got distracted by all the hikes, the volunteers, the bathroom and washing machine, and getting ready for winter. But Chris had suggested it was high time he buckled down and contributed to the cost of his kibble. Finally he had no more excuses and he buckled down and completed his Wilderness Dog Saga. The first publisher he sent it to liked it – Harry is waiting to receive the contract so he can hash out the details and update the manuscript. The book will likely be out in the fall of 2017, when he and Badger will go on tour with it. He will keep you posted!
In 1978 and part of 1979 I was a teacher at the Darwin School on the Falkland Islands. Half the kids were from the nearby settlement of Goose Green; the rest were flown in by Beaver float planes from outlying islands. There were 7 teachers, one of whom was the principal. I was just filling in while the principal’s wife had a baby. I had no qualifications as a teacher – the government did not want that as they would have had to pay me more. I was not a good teacher in the classroom but we would hike over the tundra and explore shipwrecks, sksate on the peat bogs, and collect penguin eggs in spring, a welcome change from endless mutton.
One of my students was a boy I will call James. Like all the boarders, he was 8 years old when he came to the school. Like many of the outlying students, he had probably never been off his island before, and had had little contact with anyone outside his family. A deliberately unqualified travelling teacher had visited once a month.
I have no idea of the type of learning disability he had, but the poor little soul lived in a world of his own. On Monday morning, it was the students’ practice to write about their weekend. Without fail, no matter what the weather, James’ total essay, written very neatly in pencil was: It Is A Snu Day.
And we have had four, glorious Snu Days in the last two weeks! None of them were completely Snu – usually they started with fog. We had two spectacular sunrises.
How fantastic it was to see the sun. How beautiful the world suddenly looks.
Perkins PeakNogwon almost visible.One day I drove to Tatla Lake. This is downtown Kleena Kleene. Is the fog going to lift? On so many days it looked promising, but never cleared.Just past the ranch, I drove out of the fog. Finger Peak was incredible.
At Tatla Lake, trumpeter swans had joined the geese and ducks on the water. It is just starting to freeze. The birds will then move on.Then we got a little Sno with the Snu.
A bit of a wind came up and blew great streamers off the mountains.The ponds had frozen a little, but fresh water flowed on top of the ice.
Badger enjoying the view – and the warmth – from the south bluffs.
Back at the river property.And finally I got to see where the sun went down. The last time this was visible, the sun just cleared Nogwon (off the picture to the right) – that would have been at the Equinox, nearly two months ago. On the shortest day it will sink at the edge of the picture to the left of Finger Peak.
In this persistent gloom, one still finds subtle beauty. The rain on this tree hung like diamonds. Accasional gleams of light made interesting effects.
A hint of sun in the fog, but that was all we had.The pond had been frozen but then it thawed, and now it has started to freeze again.Puddle ice is always fun.I have had a couple of new visitors to the bird feeders. The pine siskin stayed around for only a few days. Sometimes they gather in flocks of 100 but are always sporadic. He is slightly smaller than the chickadees but definitely the boss. (Again, apologies for the poor quality of photos – I am still using an old, not very good camera, which performs even worse in dull light.)And the little downy woodpecker has been around. (Downy because of his fluffy “moustache” – the hairy woodpecker is very similar but slightly larger, and his “moustache” is bristly.)One day, at the top of a power pole on the lower property, I encountered a magnificent pileated woodpecker. Not so common here but very striking.Not long after I last wrote, we had an afternoon with incredibly wild wind gusts. We often get windy summers, but wind goes with sunshine, and this year has been virtually windless. Combined with the mild, wet season, this meant all kinds of rot quietly took place, and our windstorm bowled over the dead beetle-killed trees like ninepins. I waited 2 days before I tried to drive my road, hoping that casual users would clear some of the first three kilometres, but I got landed with the lot. Took me 2 hours to cut it out. Most of the wood was too skinny and branchy to be of much use for firewood, but the tangled mess was sometimes difficult to clear.Then I backpacked my little chain saw over my trails. Sometimes I could just reroute, but this tree was awkwardly placed with a willow-choked ditch on one side and a swamp on the other. The tree was hung up and had to be dismembered with care.At last! Not too pretty (and a long way to backpack the wood home) but the trail is now usable.Nearby, I saw what I at first thought was an odd burl on a fallen tree.They are common enough – the dogs chase them all the time. But to see what sitting in full view like that is very unusual. Looks like he’s got most of his winter coat. I wonder, with global warming, if their moulting times will have to change.
On a couple of occasions, the rain stayed right over Kleena Kleene. Once it was fine half an hour west. The blue slice of sky stayed above the trees all day.Another time, I planned a trip to Williams Lake. I woke at around 2.00:am and heard the rain pattering on the deck. It was 4 degrees above freezing – at least I would not have to worry about an icy road. It was pitch dark and raining steadily as I left. About 40 minutes east, I drove out of the rain. It didn’t just stop – for here, the road was completely dry. I could see stars as I drove. The sun rose about 2 and half hours along the way.Town was hot and windy. The temperature reached 21C (70F). What an incredible treat to drive home with the windows open. But as I drew west again, I could see the storm ahead. it seemed to have stayed put.Just about the same place where I drove out of the rain in the morning, I headed back into it.Behind me, it looked like summer. This next picture, and the one above, were taken only a few hundred metres apart.Soon the wipers were going flat out.Nearly dark when I got home. It had obviously been dumping rain all day.In the morning I could hear the river, which is audible from my place only during a flood. Sure enough, it was at spring flood height. We had a disastrous flood here in 2010, when warm rain washed all the snow off the mountains, so we were all worried that the same thing might happen. At least I had plenty of gas and food this time (the 2010 story is told in Ginty’s Ghost.)
Before I close this post, I want to talk about a comment I received referring to the last two pictures of the previous post – the dead bull on the road. The correspondent called the pictures disgusting. I am sorry if she was offended, but it never occurred to me that they were at all obnoxious when I posted them.
The reader must have been a city person. No rural or wilderness dweller would think twice about seeing such things. City folk lead a very isolated existence as all the nasties in their lives are taken care of. They don’t have to dispose of their own sewage or garbage, find their own water or shelter, create their own power and so on. City folk don’t even have to think about these things. It is very scary, because these people, who know so little about the real world, are, by their sheer numbers, the ones making our political decisions.
Here’s a bumper sticker for you: Nature is not a Walt Disney movie.
Apologies to Edgar Allen Poe. One can expect dreary in November, but, with the exception of three weeks at the end of March and the first half of April, and a few odd days here and there, we have had dreary since last January. If it’s not raining, it’s foggy.At first, at the beginning of October, there were small bits of colour left in the vegetation.But the rain soon beat them away.The temperature has stayed mostly above freezing, but one morning it was a degree or two below and the water drops from the night’s rain had frozen onto everything.
One morning we had a colourful sunrise. (Seen through my kitchen window.)Another day, the fog was pink.Once we had a gleam of sun just before it went behind Nogwon.Mostly, however, it has been raining.Very occasionally, we had glimpses of the mountains. This was near Tatla Lake.From my window.The pond has stayed full all summer, which I have seen only once before, and this fall there has been a lot of duck activity. Usually, the pond fills just before it freezes so bird life is rarely seen on it at this time of year. At first, there were the teals (with their bums in the air) and either lesser scaups or ringnecks, or both, which are very similar divers.Then the pond froze.Two days later, it had thawed again, and the ducks came back. This time mallards and two hooded mergansers.Just before I took this picture, my camera of 3 years (Canon SX50) gave up the ghost. It no longer focussed. So I am using an old SX35, which has a much poorer zoom and is particularly hard to focus in dim light. So I apologize for the quality of some of these pictures. I’m not sure when I’ll get another. The two stores that sell cameras in Williams Lake – Staples and Walmart – do not have batteries in their demo models, and refuse to put them in. I liked the SX50, but find the SX35 inadequate (even when I first had it.) I’m reluctant to buy the next Canon upgrade without trying it. The nearest place I could do that would be either Prince George or Kamloops, both 7 hours’ drive away.
I set up the bird table at the end of September in anticipation for a frozen ground (which of course we have not had.) The birds aren’t usually interested in food until the snow flies, but they came at once, looking for it. So far I have 3 grey jays (aka camp robbers, aka whiskeyjacks)and the usual 10 chickadees, a few black-capped,And the majority mountain chickadees, recognizable by their drabber colour and white “eyebrow.”Needless to say, with all this unbelievable dreariness, I have had power problems. I hauled out the generator to charge my batteries. I hadn’t used the generator for 18 months, but two pulls and it started no problem. However, a couple of days later, when I wanted to use it again, it would not start. I bought it second hand, so it is quite old, but supposed to be a good one.
No one locally (within a radius of an hour and a half’s drive) either wanted to or was available to fix it. In the meantime, the battery level was inexoribly dropping. Once it gets below 23V, it takes a long time to recharge. Once it gets to 20V, the whole system shuts down. Apart from the Internet, I also have a freezer and a water pump in the well to worry about. I switched everything off and lived with candle-power for a couple of days. I used to do this all the time but now find it a real drag. Let me tell you, it is really hard to scrub purple potatoes by candlelight.
The nearest electrician is in Williams Lake (3 and half hours’ drive away), and few know anything about solar power or even want to come this far west. Travel time shoots up the cost enormously. However, one man, Randy of Little Eagle Electrical, does a lot of work out here, including on solar power systems; he has a cabin at Eagle Lake, not far from Tatla Lake, and will “retire” there in a couple of years. By great good fortune he was planning to be within an hour’s drive from me for a job. He came to me first. It was raining, of course, bordering on sleeting.The main problem was the carburetta – he took it apart and found nuts missing and a shredded gasket. It took a couple of hours, but he got it going. Then he tweaked the computer on my solar system for maximum charge efficiency (the generator is 3,000W and it really should be 4,000W) and told me I should be charging for 5 hours, not just a couple at a time as I have been doing. Anyway, my batteries are looking much happier now, which is why I have the power to write this post.
It was snowing wetly when I drove to Nimpo Lake the other day to get gas. (I keep several cans at home, but unless the weather smartens up, I will need those in reserve for the generator.) There are still a few range cows along the road – most have gone home by themselves and they are all supposed to be off the road by the end of November. The bulls, having no interest in the cows at this time of year, tend to lag behind. This one seemed to be sleeping beside the road.Close up, it was obviously dead. There was no real evidence of injury but it must have been hit by a pretty heavy vehicle. Being an avid reader of detective fiction, I was amused to see police tape with “crime scene, do not cross” tied to the bull’s leg.The bull has been dead a couple of days as it is bloated up, and creatures have started to eat it. I wonder how long the cops will keep it there before they have gleaned all the necessary forensic evidence for the crime? (And where will they take it. The dump?)
The bull is a red angus, a popular breed for the ranchers around here. This brings to mind a restaurant in Williams Lake whose menu was printed in the phone book a few years ago, therefore on display for two years. The restaurant was offering “Shredded Angus Beef.” However, there was a misprint in the phone book. The “g” had been omitted.
Already we are having a taste of winter at Ginty Creek. Clear skies always produce a good frost.The cottonwoods had a brief attempt at providing some colour.Fog is common most mornings.Because of the rainy summer, the river is much higher than it would normally be at this time of year.As has been the norm for this year, we would have a couple of sunny days, sometimes three, and then it would rain on and off for a week or more. I had a wet trip to Williams Lake.But about 2/3 of the way home, I drove into patchy sunshine.The mountains were white with snow. This is Nogwon.Finger Peak looks pointier from downtown Kleena Kleene.
Red sky at night – sailor’s delight!But in the morning we woke to fresh snow.Part of me thinks: Oh no! Not already, and part of me appreciates how beautiful it is.
Every day I rummage around for kale and swiss chard in the garden. (The roots are all dug and in the root cellar.) Every day I think it will be the last greens that I find. And yet I continuously manage to scrounge enough for supper.The ground was not frozen so I knew the snow wouldn’t last. By afternoon, it had melted.
Two days later, the sky cleared and the temperature dropped to -12C. (That’s about 10 degrees American.)The fog and frost compositions were gorgeous.
The pond froze over.The sun was warm later in the day, but the frost never melted in the shade. Perkins Peak sailed above the river. Looks like I won’t get up there until next year now.The following morning, the temperature was just as cold.Friends were staying, and we walked up onto the north bluffs. Again, the fog effects were fabulous. We could enjoy them thoroughly because the sun was shining on us!
But once again, on day three, the storms started to come in.
And last night it rained steadily. The night temperature rose to zero C. The pretty winter jewelry disappeared. Most of the ice on the pond melted. The forecast is total gloom for the next foreseeable future.