It continues to be cold at Ginty Creek. Today it is more or less sunny, but as has been the case for many days, storms hide the more distant mountains. It is the 2016 Spring Solstice tomorrow, and the snow is beginning to go, but everything is very late.
During the winter, I have had a young Swiss couple for neighbours. They were caretaking the Terra Nostra Guest Ranch. In return for me giving Anika a ride to yoga every week, she organized a horse ride for me. I hadn’t been on a horse for at least 20 years!Note the little Shetland pony, called Sparkle, by the horse shed. What she lacks in size she has in attitude. She is small enough to walk into the shed and she knows how to bump the lid off the feed bin so constantly has to be watched.I let Anika do all the preparations as I didn’t trust myself to saddle up properly.While I stood around, several of the horses were hoping that my camera was a treat.I visualized taking lots of pictures, but I was so unused to being in the saddle I did little more than hang on. The snow was crusted on top and the horses floundered quite a bit. We came to a lookout opposite the North dunes where I often hike on my side of Highway 20. The small building to the left of the horse’s nose is the post office. Anika took this snap. (The dog is not Harry – he and Badger chase livestock so they stayed home.)Up and down we continued through the forest, and came back along Clearwater Lake.
A cold ride but for me a memorable one. I could barely stand when I got off! If I had been a beginner I would not have felt so sore. But using muscles that I haven’t operated for 20 years (in a cold wind) meant that it took me several hours to recover. Unfortunately, Anika and Sam are now back in Switzerland so I may not use the muscles again for another 20 years.For the first week of March the temperatures were in the minus 20Cs again at night, and, despite the sun, well below zero during the day. The river has a lot more ice on it than at the same time last year. This channels stays open even during the coldest spells. It was recently dammed by a new slip off the bank.The winter snowfall had been light and mostly powdery – many of the weed stalks were not damaged.Then it warmed up a bit and we had more snow.It was back to brushing off the solar panels.When the sun shone again, everything was fresh and sparkly. For quite a while, Harry had been working very hard with his editor, but that part of the process has been completed so he can enjoy a bit more freedom.
Conditions like this make for perfect snow shadow abstracts.
The first migrant birds were here in February last year, but by mid March this year there was no sign of them and the predators are hungry. We have red foxes on the Chilcotin, too, but this colour phase is also quite common here.The northern hawk owl likes his perch at downtown Kleena Kleene. In wetter springs, mouse homes are flooded out but this year the little rodents are still happy beneath the snow.During the second week of March I made my first trip to town this year. Last time I went was to pick up my ATV in December. The recent snow had packed to ice on Highway 20 at my end, but further east it was clear, and with the longer day, the drive was not too difficult. I was even able to come home mostly in daylight. The Chilko River was very blue between it’s icy banks.Near Tatla, however, the weather grew threatening.This was because it was warming up again – the following day, it thawed.My road is now a disastrous mess. Icy in the morning and a mess of mud and ice and slush in the afternoon. I drove out early with my van and walked home, and have put chains on my truck to drive back and forth the 4 km to the highway. The ground is frozen so water cannot drain away.Finally, on the 16th March, the first spring migrant arrived. A redwing blackbird. I checked last year’s posts, and these birds were already common by the 6th March. This year they are three weeks late. Juncos, those other common early birds, were also in residence by 6th March last year, but there is no sign of them so far in 2017.
I took this picture through the window. It is is dirty; I blame the Clarke’s Nutcracker who is still beating himself up on the attic windows. (He’s been doing it for nearly 2 months now: fortunately, although he still starts early and quits late, there are gaps during the day when he is absent.) He likes suet so he gets a greasy beak, then smears the fat on the glass as he pounds away. (Note the early hour!)Although it is still quite cold, afternoons are thawing now, so hikes are better done in the morning.Today I noticed that, at last, a few more pussy willow buds are showing. Spring is slow, but it’s coming.