News from the Blog

Already Into April

1 aa snowIt’s still coming down.  We are all getting fed up with it.

1 bc chickdee

 

 

2 squirrelI took local friends, Christine and Jeannie, up onto the north bluffs.

3 ChristineChristine Peters is the author of “The Lure of the Chilcotin.”  I have just re-read it.  She and partner came from New York to join the hippy movement on the Chilcotin in the late 60s.  It’s amazing that they survived!  It is a very different story from the usual Chilcotin tale – tripping out on acid and amanita mushrooms – but survive they did and many now live solid and worthy lives in the area.  Christine plays the piano in church.  The book is well written.  Christine has no internet so if anyone is interested in it, you can either order it via Amazon or let me know and I’ll pass on her phone number.

Jeannie took this photo of Christine and myself.  I really must get a new scarf.  And a new coat.

Christine PetersChristine and Jeannie on the spider tree.  (Jeannie was an American hippy, too, although her family did not use drugs.  Jeannie is our librarian.)

5 Spider treeAnd then, that evening, the sun shone!  First time in about 2 weeks.

6 sunshine!What a contrast!

8 eveningYesterday was absolutely spectacular.

9 sunriseI set off hiking with my coat tied around my middle – and had to strip off my sweater as well.

10 perkins peak

 

 

11 Finger PeakThe dogs found it so hot they had to hunt for snow patches to sit on.

Badger and HarryBut today is gloomy and grey again.  However, that one warm day presaged a great movement of birds.

About half the blackbirds have gone. On the way to the P O at Nimpo this morning, I saw the first bluebird.  By my cabin, a ruffed grouse made his little motor noise with his wings.  Robins have been singing. (I couldn’t get a photo so here is a drawing I did as an illustration for “A Mountain Year.”)

12 robinSpring is certainly trying but it’s sure dragging its heels.  There has never been so much ice on the rivers so late.  I expect the lakes will go out very late, too.

 

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Now the Snow Won’t Quit!

1 snowEvery morning, the ground is white.  Some days it melts off, but not always.  Sometimes it is almost rain, but not quite.  Without the sun, day temperatures are only just above freezing.

When the ground is covered, the seed-eating birds have a hard time finding food.  There are still about 20 pine siskins around.

2 siskinsThere is also a big influx of juncos.  About ten at the moment, but they may increase to 30 or so before they disperse.

3 junco

 

 

 

They have very long toes!

4 junco tracks

 

 

5 junco tracksThere are now about 40 redwing blackbirds.  They arrive at the feeders in a big rush.

6 bbsThen, in a few seconds, roar away again.

7 bbs flying awayThey gobble up the food and there is much posturing and fighting.

8 bbs back againThis might be because their lady friends are starting to arrive.  (She is the stripy one.)

9 lady bbAt one point, while the camera was focussed on the suet, I was enormously surprised (because I had not seen or heard any yet) to see a flicker trying to get a nibble.  The blackbirds drove him away, however.

10 flickerAll this activity is watched with great interest by Ruby.

11 ruby

 

 

 

Nuk Tessli In Haaretz

I wonder if anyone knows what Haaretz is!  I certainly didn’t until a couple of days ago.  It is a major newspaper in Israel.  Last weekend’s edition contained a long article about Nuk Tessli – with apparently some stuff about me – with lots of great pictures.  I was hoping to put it in this post, but the text is all in Hebrew and I was unable to copy the photos.  If anyone would like to see it, I will send a pdf copy.

In the mean time, life goes on….

We are now having a much more “normal” spring with temperatures about minus 10C at night and plus 5C during the day – and with lots of wind.  We have also had a little spring snow.

4 spring snow

 

 

4a Finger peak in snowI knew it would melt so I didn’t bother to clear the solar panels.

5 solar panelsBy afternoon it was dribbling rain.

6 turned to rainWater lay on top of the ice on the pond.

7 badger on pond

 

8. pondThere are many species of willows here.  I don’t know the names of most of them, but one is a very early bloomer and the silvery catkins have suddenly popped out.

9 pussy willowsOn snowy mornings the redwing blackbirds feed voraciously.  There are now about 30 and they are starting to fight.

2 blackbirds

 

 

3 blackbirds b

 

3a blackbirds cI knew that the bluffs would be fairly clear of snow and I went up there in hiking boots as opposed to snow packs.  The snowy areas were icy but there was enough bare ground to get about easily.  My feet felt so light!

10 bluffs

 

The exposed sand was still damp, fortunately – if it is dry, a strong wind creates a sand blizzard (which is why the dunes occur.)

12 storms on mountains

 

11 sand patternsThere are still a lot of juniper berries and I saw robins again up there. I am pretty sure these are genuine spring robins, though.

13. JuniperOne evening there was a sundog again.

14 sundog

 

 

15 sundogWe are pretty close to the solstice, and now the sun rises far enough round to light up Finger Peak with its first pink rays.

16 red on F PIt lights the other side in the late afternoon

17 evening FPBefore it sets, the sun sails right over Noghwon.  (The mountain is rimmed with light because the snow is blowing up there.)

18 sun over noghwonAs the sun’s rising and setting points move further apart, the moon’s draw closer.  Right now the full moon and sun travel much the same path.  Here is the moon approaching Noghwon

19 moon over noghwon

 

 

20 moonIf conditions had been right this morning, the moon would have set behind the mountain while the sun was painting it pink.  But although there was colour in the east, it was too cloudy to light up the west.

21 sunrise today

 

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Nuk Tessli Guided Tour

Nuk Tessli 196I mentioned earlier that the new owner of Nuk Tessli, Doron Erel, has asked me to guide a trip.  Finally it is up on the Nuk Tessli website!

I have still not fully recovered from the knee replacement but I am no lamer than I was before the operation so I should be able to cover the ground adequately.  My expertise of course is the alpine plants.

paintbrushIf anyone desires a more energetic experience, then Doron will do the guiding.

53Now is the chance for all those who said  ”I wish I could have visited while you were still there.”  Doron has made all sorts of improvements like a hot tub and showers: he is also a great cook so it should be a lot of fun.

If you are interested, you can either contact me via my contact form or apply directly through the Nuk Tessli site.

Instant Spring

2 redwing blackbirdsRedwing Blackbirds!  The minute it warmed up, in they came.  Now the mornings are full of their distinctive ringing calls so indicative of Canada’s turning of the seasons.  The males come through first and their wing colours are quite subdued at the moment.

With them was a starling!

3 starlingThis is the only alien species I see out here although European house sparrows occur in Williams Lake.  They are the result of some misguided individual living in New York who wanted to introduce all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare.  However, most of these cannot tolerate harsher climates.  Fortunately the starlings never stay long as they are voracious eaters.

For about a month, a small flock of pine siskins has been hanging about.  They have been gobbling up the food through sheer numbers.

1 siskinThey winter erratically throughout BC.  Sometimes I have seen flocks of around 200.

Paradoxically, the juncos, who are usually the first migrants, and who kept appearing during the coldest weather, have now disappeared!

I never bother too much with clocks but in an effort to lose weight I am trying to eat dinner early.  Which means that I now have a couple of hours’ daylight afterwards.  I’ve been enjoying the mild evenings – during these warm days (usually plus 6C or so) it has been very windy and in the evening the wind dies down a bit.

4 evening on pondAll but the sheltered snow has gone (although the ground is rock hard and the ice will stay for a long time.)

The low evening light makes interesting compositions.

5 sundownb

 

6 barn

 

 

 

8 wires

Lonesome: Memoirs of a Wilderness Dog is Ten Years Old

Lonesome, cover

Lonesome: Memoirs of a Wilderness Dog is Ten years old!  Since I last posted, the publisher of Lonesome (a different one is doing Book #11) phoned me and said that to celebrate they are going to produce a special anniversary edition.  Lonesome has always been my best seller.  Apparently the new edition may be hard cover and may have one or two more photos in it.  It will also be out in the fall so I will be travelling with 2 new books.

Since I last wrote, it has been cold.  -30C at night was common, and day temperatures were never above -12C.  The sun shone most of the time, and that was great, but there was a cold wind with it so chill temperatures were several degrees colder.

The morning star rose in a clear sky with the last of the waning moon.

morning starA friend came by from the Coast.  She brought all sorts of Forsythia.  So it was winter outside, but spring inside.

1. spring insideDespite the cold, the spring twigs are beginning to show rich colour.

2. twig colour

 

 

3. yellow twigsDuring our first really cold spell (10 days of -36C overnight), I was unable to start my van.  It had worked fine before.  I sometimes feel guilty at having 2 vehicles but in an emergency it saves my neighbours a lot of time.  I couldn’t even get the hood of the van open.  I waited until it warmed a little then jumped the van with the truck.

4. starting vanIt ran fine and started again after I switched it off.  But half an hour later, the battery was dead again.  It is an old one.  Nothing for it but to take it to town and replace it.  Trouble is, with that van, it is a pain to get the battery out.  You have to remove the fuse box and to do that you have to take out some of the fuses.  I sure hope I can remember how everything goes together again.

5 removing fuse box

 

Two days ago, I went to Williams Lake for the first time since early December.  I dropped the dogs off with a friends, but I was a bit worried about the cat.  If it was -30C the house – and her water – would freeze.  But the forecast promised warmer weather and in fact it was only -18C when I set off.  What luxury to leave when it is already getting light in the morning (about 6.00:AM, but the clocks change this weekend so it will be 7 before it is light tomorrow.)  It was snowing.

6. going to town - snowingI soon drove out of the falling snow, but the traffic threw up a fog of snow dust.  It was impossible to see if anything was coming the other way.  It took me about half an hour to pass this logging truck.

7. snow fogBecause it has been cold but with very little snow, the logging trucks have been hauling like mad.  It is not unusual to meet 20 or 30 trucks on each trip.  Williams Lake is surrounded by millions of logs.

8. logs in town

 

 

9. logs in townNot all of them make it to town, however….

10.  dropped logsIt was cold all day in town and I spent the night an hour south of Williams Lake with a friend at 108 Mile.  In the morning it was -14C (it is always a bit warmer there than at my place) and it was cold for most of the time I was shopping.  But suddenly the temperature rose.  By the time I was half way home, it was PLUS 9 C !!  It was like being on a different planet.

11.  Near Tatla

 

 

12. storms on mountainsFurther east, there has been a fair amount of snow.  It is only out west that it is so thin on the ground.  The two major heli-skiing outfits have had to cancel clients as the crevasses and rocks are showing in the glaciers.

This morning it was 0C and windless – I did my tai chi on the deck!  But soon it started to dribble a bit with rain.

It is supposed to be really warm these next few days.  Already the ground around my house is bare.  The rivers and lakes, however, have tons of ice and it will take them a while to thaw.

 

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Manuscript Sent To Publisher

Finger PeakAfter the cold spell it was back to storms and thaws.  Some pretty lighting effects, though (are you getting tired of these?)

2 storm clouds

 

 

3 storm clouds 2Winds blowing like crazy again.

4 blowing snowPerkins Peak:….

5 perkins peakThe river still has a tiny bit of open water.

6 riverWe’ve had a couple of little snowfalls.

7 A Little SnowI had expected the manuscript of Book Number 11 to take about 3 weeks to finish.  Instead I added a lot therefore had to restructure the original.  Six read-throughs took about 7 weeks.  I sent the text off electronically but some of the illustrations had to be drawn – that took more time – then I had to send them off by snail mail.

8 KK P OMy mailing address is Nimpo Lake but I passed the Kleena Kleene Post Office en route to Tatla Lake.  This building was an elderly woman’s house when I arrived in the area but she died a few years ago.  The P O used to be in an old log cabin a couple of kilometres away that once did duty as a store but it was abandoned.  Green mail boxes were put outside.  Then, for a while, the KK P O  was simply an SUV.  The lady who ran it would go to the green mailboxes on mail days (three times a week) and sit there for 2 hours dealing with mail.  The owner of the old log cabin got fed up with this use of his property so one day the mail carrier threw the mail boxes into his truck and dumped them off outside this building.  Canada Post has since ratified the situation and fitted up all the electronic gear.  Now a different lady, Melanie, drives down to attend to P O business.  (The decor came with the building.)  That is my parcel of illustrations on the scale.

9 MelanieI continued to Tatla, used the church’s washing machine and went to the library, then joined friends for a ski.  Tatla Lake has a great network of cross country ski trails.  My dogs loved visiting with the other mutts.

10 Dog visitsI was intrigued with this bench.  A tree had fallen over the trail; some bright spark had trimmed the end, put a couple of rounds under it, and voila – a seat.  (Jeannie is sitting on it.)

11 log seatA day or two later another cold front came down – only -26C this time.

12 This morning.A cold wind made walking not so comfortable so I didn’t go far.

13 From the Bluff.

 

 

February Freeze

1 thermometreThis has been the morning temperature for the last nine days.

But we have had SUN SUN SUN!  It sails right over Middle Mountain now; when it cleared that I immediately had 20 more minutes of sunshine.

IMG_5988The clear, evening light is beautiful.

2b evening lightA couple of times we had a tiny few clouds that made pretty sunsets.

2c sunset

 

 

2d sunset

 

 

2e sunsetBut mostly the sky has been clear and the stars have been amazing.  Right now we have a brilliant “Morning Star” – I assume it is Venus.

2f morning starAfternoon temperatures have been around -16C, but it has been windless and with the sun they are very comfortable.  On the second cold day (1st feb) the annual Tatla Lake ski competition was held.

3 Tatla skiMy new knee won’t allow me to ski but I go for the food and social life.  A fun event was throwing the chain saw. Kids went first

4 throwing chainsawAnd then the adults.  I am sure that many of the adults had quite a lot of practice at this!

5 tossing sawI’ve been struggling away with my manuscript so have spent a lot of time inside.  Finally, today I finished the fifth read-through: I’ve got most of it properly organized now and will go through it one more time to tidy up details before I send it off.

So when a friend arrived last Saturday it was good to be forced out of the house for a hike.  We thought we’d try to reach the Kleena Kleene Falls.  I went there last August and a lot of water was roaring down then.  I anticipated interesting ice formations, but the water level was too low to be spectacular.  Last summer, we drove half way but the road is very bad with very few places to turn round and I didn’t want to risk taking the truck.  It was a 12-km round trip in enough snow to make walking a quite tiring, but too little to bother with snowshoes.  The falls is near the bottom of Finger Peak.

6 to KK fallsI enjoyed the abstract patterns in the shadows across the road.

7 stripey shadowsIn summer we found a lot of the saprophytic pine drops.  The seedheads last for years.

 

8 pinedropsSoon we came to a Lookout.

9 lookoutMy friend Renata took this picture.  Here she is down by the falls.

10 near falls, RenataShe is a relief lighthouse keeper and travels all over the coast.

There were a few pieces of open water .

11 open waterThese were fringed by fantastic icicles.

12 icicles

 

 

13 iciclesAnd living in this fairy world was a dipper.

14 dipperThese extraordinary birds live wherever there is fast, flowing water.  They eat insect larvae, particularly blackfly larvae, which cling to rocks in fast-moving streams.  They are about the size of robins – and distantly related – and have dense, warterproof feathers.  To enable them to walk on the bottom of the rivers they have very long toes.  They obviously have a great anti-freeze system for those skinny legs.

They are very territorial – I have found them at Lonesome Lake, Nuk Tessli, and Ginty Creek.  If there is more than one bird in an area in winter, they stake their claim by singing.  They have the most amazing  song – a huge variety of gorgeous notes with, if you listen carefully, various clicks and grunts in between.  A truly amazing bird.

Although this is a different subject, so many of you have asked about Ruby I am including a few pictures.

16 RubyShe “kneads” the blankets and gets her claws stuck, that is why they are a mess.  Her favourite sleeping place is on top of a high beam.  She kept falling off and landing on her water bowl so I added an extra shelf.  She still falls off sometimes.  She has many other places to sleep – I don’t know why she likes that best.

15 Ruby on shelfThis is how she asks for a pat.

17 wanting a pat.

 

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Springtime in January

1 thawing snowI have been slow to add another post.  I am still working very hard on the manuscript.  Now I have a whole pile of pictures to put up!

The weather has been unbelievable.  We’ve had a lot of gorgeous sunshine – a bit of frost in the morning, but sunny and windless in the afternoon, which made it hot enough to sit on the deck.

Snow still lies in a few shady places.  It is more like April!  But because the sun is lower down, it is thawing the snow in a different pattern than it does in the (real!) spring.  It is fun to get right down into it.

2 thawing snow

 

 

3 rock cress

 

 

4 thawing snowOn many mornings there has been a bit of cloud and we have had amazing sunrises.

5 sunriseAlthough the sunrise point is starting to move north quite quickly now, it still comes up over the pond and is reflected in the glassy, frozen surface.

6 sunrise in iceThat morning, a bit of cloud streaked the sky behind Finger Peak.

7 Finger PeakBut then the cloud disappeared and the light on the mountains was strong.

8 middle mtThe nights got a bit cooler (about minus 12 C) and this tightened up the creek.  You can see where the water level had been before.

9 ice in creekBecause of the warmer water, fantastic ice crystals were created.

10 ice inc reek

 

 

11 ice in creek

 

 

12 ice crystalsYesterday, we had 2″ fluffy snow!

12 a snow!At first, there was fog on the mountains.

13 fogFinger Peak has just its nose showing.

14 fogThe fog crept up to the house and put crystals on the trees.

15 fog in treesA beautiful light appeared on the mountains.

16 light on treesThe fog started to lift.

16a fog liftingPerkins Peak was soft with fresh snow.

17 Perkins PeakMiddle Mountain tossed its cap into the sky.

18 middle mtNeedless to say, I could not stay inside and work on the manuscript on such a beautiful day.  I hiked up onto the north bluff.

19 Harry

 

 

20 bluffThe sky was full of character.

21 skyThe clouds began to disperse.  Close to the sun, some of them had rainbow colours.  This effect is caused because the cloud is composed of ice crystals.  I even see it in summer sometimes.

22 rainbow cloudJanuary is all but over and the sun is now soaring high over Finger Peak before it sets.

22a sun over Finger PeakAnd last night, the temperature dropped to minus 30 C.

When it got that cold in early December, I was visited by a junco.  It disappeared as soon as it got warm.  This morning, 4 juncos were pecking at the ground.  And one lone robin has come to the house – the ones I saw earlier were all in the bush.  This is surely not the kind of weather it is used to.  It is eating juniper berries.  I wonder if it will be able to move to a kinder climate, or succumb to the cold.  This cold, sunny weather is supposed to last for at least a week.

23 Minus 30 robin

 

 

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The Full Moon that Wasn’t

1 ploughing roadA day or two after the snowfall, my neighbour came to plough.  It cost me $200.  But already the temperature was well above freezing, and the wind was howling.  A warm gale blew for 4 days and four nights – some of the gusts must have been storm force.  All the snow melted.

3 laundryThe same thing happened after I paid my neighbour $100 for ploughing the first time.  So I have literally thrown $300 down the drain.

Last Wednesday, I made a trip to Tatla – the first since Christmas Eve.   Naturally, I had to cut several more trees out of the road.  I went to the library and borrowed the washing machine at the church.  They have bought a new one and it can take really big loads.

Finally, the temperature dropped at night, and of course we got fog.  The winter full moons are beautiful on the snow, but both of them so far have been deadened by cloud.  Bare ground makes the night dark as well.

2 fogIce was everywhere.

4 iceThe weather has remained calm and stable since the gales, but it is rarely clear.  This means we have had some very pretty sunrises…

5 sunriseAnd sunsets.

6 sunsetThe days are at last noticeably longer although with so much cloud about it was not obvious at first.  Interestingly, the mornings seemed to stay the same, only the afternoons grew longer.  Now the sun has cleared Finger Peak.  On the shortest day it sets among the bare branches to its left.

Earlier, the river spread over the gravel bars.  That water froze, and now the river is back in its bed.  It is a rare year when it freezes well enough to be safe to cross as it flows very swiftly.

7 riverIn sheltered places, there is a bit of snow – in a few hollows, it is 10″ deep but those places are rare.

7a snow in fieldWolves are common this year.  I hear them occasionally but see lots of tracks.

8 wolf trackThey have a hard time in a low snow year as their prey can run away.  Goodness knows what has happened to the mice who normally live under the snow.

I am working hard on my manuscript but one beautiful afternoon I took time to hike up onto the north bluff.

9 north bluffFlocks of robins are everywhere.  They are enjoying last summer’s abundant crop of kinnikinnick berries.  These berries can survive all winter under the snow.  They are not very tasty for humans to eat, but a great source for the birds.

10 kinnikinnickJuniper berries are also thick on the bushes.  These are enjoyed by townsend’s solitaires, who often winter here although I rarely see them.

10a townsend solitairThere were, inevitably, a lot of newly fallen trees up on the bluffs.  The surprising thing was that there were any left standing after all that wind.  These trees were beetle-killed about 7 years ago.

11 fallen and standing treesThe bare ground is not even frozen

12 cracked groundStorms still boil over the mountains

13 storms over mountains

 

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