The Days Are Getting Longer

Funnily enough, the days seem to get longer only in the evening at first.  There was almost an hour extra daylight in the afternoon before I noticed much difference in the morning.  The above picture was taken mid January – already the sunset point has moved quite a bit from the shortest day (when it sets to the left of the bare cottonwood tree.)

Most of us felt we could not leave our houses for long when the temp was in the -30Cs, and several events were scheduled for the last half of January – we all wandered if we were going to be able to attend. Fortunately, the weather warmed just in time – not above freezing, thank goodness, but much easier to deal with. No bringing the generator inside to warm it up so I could run it to heat the vehicles’ blocks. No stuffing the stove and banking it down before I left. No splitting twice as much wood as we had been doing. However, the warmer weather did bring more unsettled weather.

Tsilchgot’in Language Lessons

The first event was a lesson in the local language, Tsilchgot’in (anglicized to Chilcotin.).  The lesson was held 2 hours’ drive away at the bottom of the Tatlayoko Valley, south of Tatla Lake. That morning was foggy at home but sunny at Tatla.  When you can see the Niuts, the drive down there is spectacular.It is much warmer down there and there was hardly any snow.The lesson was held at the Lincoln Creek Ranch, now owned by the Nature Conservancy of Canada.  I watched the bird banding down there a couple of years ago.Our Teacher was Linda Jack from the Tsi Deldel (Redstone: literally Rock Red)  reserve.All of us found the language extremely difficult, not only to understand, but also to pronounce.  At some point, missionaries had attempted to write the language with the Latin alphabet and a few extra symbols, but this did not help most of us very much.

For example.This means: I am learning Tsilhgot’in  (You can see that I am unable to type the cap above the “s”, which is why I have hand-written these examples.)

My attempts at pronunciation is in brackets underneath.  However, I still can’t transcribe the sounds accurately.  The “got” in Tsilhgot’in is not quite goat and not quite cot, but somewhere in between.  The thing that looks like an apostrophe isn’t – it is a hook and denotes a tiny pause before the next syllable.This is:  Good Morning (literally, Morning, Good.)  The thing that looks like a question mark isn’t.  Note it has no dot at the bottom.  It is written in front of a vowel, usually at the beginning of a word but sometimes in the middle.  Guzun, or Good, has another difficult pronunciation to transcribe.  The “z” there is like the “gn” in lasagna.  The “n” is like a soft ng.

Here is another tricky one.  I have made two attempts to transpose hizun.  It means ; My Heart is Happy, and is the nearest thing in the language to Thank you.

Words and phrases that are connected in English are not necessarily connected here.  Yes is snow.  Najas is It is Snowing.  ?inkwell is Mum, se ban is My Mum.Sa is Sun.  Sa Tildin is The Sun is Shining.  Lha sa gulih is The Sun is not shining.  (The Lha sound does not happen in English.  The nearest I can describe it is the Welsh double “ll”, which is the way I have written it.  Something like the German “ch” followed by la.
So you can see we are having lots of fun!

The Thaw

The weather warmed even more until we had a few days where the temperature peeked above zero in the afternoon.  Our first thaw of the year. It even rained a bit at Ginty Creek.  Down at Tatlayoko, it poured and the remains of the snow turned to ice.  There was no sign of the mountains, but in low lying areas, fog made hoar frost.  This is downtown Kleena Kleene.  I remember when the building used to operate as a store.

Northern Hawk Owl

One time when I was driving through there (yoga classes have started as well) an owl sat on a tree.It seemed quite small and was silhouetted against the sky so difficult to identify.  But when I got home and could blow up the picture on the computer, I saw it was a northern hawk owl.  They hunt in daylight but are actually quite rare.  I have seen one only once before, and that above the treeline at Nuk Tessli.

Clarke’s Nutcracker

I am having fun with the clarke’s nutcrackers as well.  They were shy around the feeder at first, and I welcomed them because they were common at Nuk Tessli and very much part of my life there.  But now I am not so sure….

One of them took to walking up and down the skylight over the bay window, whacking at the glass with his powerful beak.  It is breeding season for these birds and I assumed he was attacking his reflection.This was not only irritating, but it was quite worrying.  Not content with hammering at the glass, he also tried to rip up the caulking.  I did not, of course, want to lose the light through there, so I stapled mosquito screening over the glass.  He certainly didn’t like it as much, but he still goes up there sometimes.  In a week I have repaired the screening twice.

It has not stopped him staking his territory, though, for now he is attacking his reflection in the glass walls of the greenhouse.  I don’t want to cover them up, because then he’ll concentrate on the verticals of the bay window itself  (he already pecks at some parts.)  This means that before the sun has hit the house, he is whacking away and he does so periodically until after the sun has gone.  It is highly annoying but, unless I want to live in the dark, there is nothing I can do.  If I am working inside (such as writing this post) I keep a munitions dump of rolled up socks by the laptop and throw them at him when he gets onto the bay window.

Pharis and Jason Romero

The next major event was a fantastic concert.  Principal entertainers were Pharis and Jason Romero.  They were excellent.  They live on the far side of Williams Lake (about 5 hours away) – I have known Pharis since she was a young teen.  I knew she was musical but had no idea how wonderful this couple were.Starting the program, however, were our own local Thompson Family.  They never cease to amaze.(Teo had to have a box to stand on to reach the mic.)

Snowshoe on the Dunes

I had been trying to arrange a snowshoe event at my place, but at first the weather was too cold, then it was too warm!  Finally we had a day of not-too-bad weather, and up onto the dunes we went.It was doggy heaven!  (Five canines altogether.)Most of my friends live east and south.  For them to come west to my place is quite an expedition for them!

The weather was warming as we finished out hike.  Snow was clogging onto the snowshoes.  And now we had a real thaw – a couple of days of warm winds and temps up to +5C.  Fortunately, my snow remained much the same and when my neighbours had rain and sleet, I had more snow.The above picture was taken as I set off for the third Tsilhgot’in lesson.  Down at the Lincoln Creek Ranch in Tatlayoko, there was no snow at all.  It seemed very weird to see this.  Instant spring.Climbing out of the valley on the way home, we ran into a guy moving hundreds of cows.  He probably chose a Sunday thinking there would be no traffic; instead he met a dozen vehicles all heading up onto the plateau at once!

Into February

And now we are into February. The weather continues mixed, but we have on the whole had a lot more sun this year than for many months. The days are certainly getting longer and both the sunrise and sunset points are suddenly travelling quickly along their horizons.  I love to watch this – I never saw it at all last year as there was too much cloud.(On the shortest day the sun rises to the right of the trees.)

And just to make sure we are not too complacent, the temperature was down to -30C again this morning!



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New Year at Ginty Creek

sunrise by the bird feeder, ginty creek

Weather at Ginty Creek

winter morningWhat else should we talk about for the New Year at Ginty Creek? We were promised cold sunshine. They were half right. We got cold, but very little sun. Temperatures were usually in the mid -20s at night but never got above the mid minus teens in the day.  Often the mountains were hidden; sometimes there was a glimpse of them above the fog.

fog hiding Finger PeakOnce in a while the sky cleared.middle mountain

chickadee and Middle Mountain

mountain chickadeeand we once had a colourful sunset.sunset over Finger PeakTwo days later we had a bit more sun although it started foggy.  A gleam hit the cottonwoods beside the river.
sun gleam and fogAnd the mountains behind the internet tower almost appeared.internet towerThen it snowed.bird feeder in snowBadger in snowEach fall we’ve had has been about 4 inches.  Because it is so cold, the flakes are pure fluff.  After each fall  I must start the ATV (with difficulty – it doesn’t like cold starts) and plough the road.  I cannot let the snow accumulate too much.  It is a pretty chilly job that takes 2 and half to 3 hours.

I still need to charge the solar batteries with the generator every 3 or 4 days.  When I went to town before Christmas, to buy the ATV, I also took the generator in to have the gas leak fixed.  So now, when I want to heat it up, I can bring it closer to the stove.

After the snow we had another partial clearing of the skies.  The snow is too fluffy to stick well on the branches of the trees.stormy light middle mountainIt was sunny enough to entice me on a snowshoe trip.  Although it has remained cold, the river has opened up a bit.  It rarely freezes solid and can never be trusted.river partially openTatla Ski Trails

A friend, Renata, was driving from Prince Rupert to Bella Coola and I met her at Tatla Lake.  The community maintains a really great network of cross country ski trails.  Tatla Lake ski trailsI am a terrible skier and in fact prefer to snowshoe – I fall less and it is easier to get up again!  So we didn’t stick to the trails but headed down the middle of a big shallow lake behind the gymkhana grounds.  It was chilly, but gorgeous.Martin LakeI have not walked on a frozen lake since I left Nuk Tessli and it was a wonderful feeling.  Renata took this picture of me.Me on Martin LakeAnd this really great shot of Harry.Harry on Martin LakeThe next day we hiked on the dunes near Ginty Creek but it was cold and grey again.renata on dunesA light snow started to fall.  It was the kind where every flake is a jewel and I took these shots on Renata’s dark jacket.snowflakes #1

snowflakes # 2The following day we had another 4″ snow.  There is a bit over a foot on the ground now.  It is so fluffy that it will sink down a lot, even before it thaws.  We really need at least twice this amount, although because 2016 was so wet, we might get away with a low snow winter.

Cold Again at Ginty Creek

After the snow, the sky cleared completely, and the temperature dropped into the -30s again at night.  It has not been rising above -18C during the day, but this time we have glorious sun.morning -30CI re-broke the trail to the viewpoint on the south bluff.south bluffIt is harder to take interesting pictures when the sky is cloudless (but I’m not complaining!)  The snow, however, blocks out the background and reveals tiny vignettes.Although it was not windy at my elevation, it must have been blowing a hurricane on the high ridges.blowing snowAs the sun set, the mountains were rimmed with fire.mountains rimmed with fireThis is what dawn looks like at -33C.-33C dawnThe afternoon was quite pleasant, though, and off I went up the dunes, where Renata and I had been a few days before.  But it was very different.river from north bluffnorth bluffThe sun still has a low trajectory.sun from north bluffDespite the forecast’s Extreme Cold Warning, with threat of frostbite in minutes, there was no wind and we could enjoy the sun.  It was cool enough, though, that Badger did not have to seek the shade!Harry and Badger enjoying the sunDaylight is still very short, and the sun was getting low as I headed for home.forest winter eveningAnd there is my house to welcome me.  (The green tree is the now defunct Solstice tree – I stick it by the bird feeder to give the little guys extra cover.)my houseThere has been no thawing, even on a warm afternoon, since early December.  In Williams Lake on the 20th December, the snow was a big, slushy, muddy mess, but as I drove west the temperature rapidly dropped ten degrees, and it had obviously stayed below freezing at Ginty Creek.  We are supposed to get another night in the minus thirties but then it is finally slated to warm up.  Everything takes longer to do when it’s cold. Any trip outside, to the woodshed, outhouse or bird feeder, necessitates piling on the clothes.  There are extra chores, like bringing the dogs’ metal food dishes into the warm room before I can give them their dinner.  I think all of us are looking forward to easier temperatures – I just hope it doesn’t thaw.

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Happy Solstice, Chanukah, Christmas, New Year etc.

rare-sunI had hoped to post this at the Solstice but am late so I will wish you all the best for Solstice, Chanukah, Christmas, and New Year or whatever else you like to use to mark the turning of the seasons.

Every year I think that the next one will be better organized but all kinds of adventures seem to pop up, and 2016 was no exception.  I recently read that we all have to down-size to help save the planet, but I seem to be heading in the other direction!  For a run down on what happened, check out the newsletter on my website.    (See also the previous post.)

Anyone interested in a visit with me to Nuk Tessli next year, see the Nuk Tessli page of the website.

The other big item is my dog Harry’s new book!  He takes over from Lonesome and, with the help of his sidekick, Badger, tells the stories of all the other dogs that have been in our pack.  Harry has signed a contract with a publisher and the book will be out in the fall of 2017.

Wishing everyone the best health and happiness for the coming year.

Chris (and Harry, and Badger.)z-buddies-3

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Boxing Day 2016

snowflakes-1I had intended to write a Solstice post, but I have been so busy it has turned into a Boxing Day post.  (Did you know why it is called that?  It was England’s Queen Victoria who started it.  She deemed that on the 26th of December, boxes of food should go to the poor.)

The last post dealt with the -30s temperatures – the coldest it reached was -32C.2-33cThe afternoons would warm to about -20C and that makes for lovely hiking weather.1-sun-in-forest-badger

3-river-from-sth-bluffBut inevitably, the sun came to an end.  You can see a front coming in on the above picture.  There were clouds hovering at sunset.4-sunset-weather-change

5-sundown-redAnd the next day it was warmer, but the mountains had gone again.6-mts-gone

7-sun-gleamI made another trip to town.  Snow was forecast so I left an hour earlier than usual – 3.30:am – but saw moon and stars all the way.  I had thought that, with my earlier start, the road might be more empty, but I have never seen it so busy.  I must have met 50 logging trucks and a few other assorted vehicles in the first two hours.  The wet year has meant that a lot of the hauling had to be delayed because the bush roads were undriveable.  The mills in Williams Lake had almost run out of trees.  So now the trucks are hauling like mad.

It did snow a bit in Williams Lake, and it got quite warm – only a few degrees below freezing, and what with the salting, the roads became a sea of mud.  I don’t normally drive to Williams Lake so often in the winter, but this year I had stuff I wanted to do.  I have have received enough money from the property sale to enable me to buy a few toys!  I finally have my ATV!8-atv-trailerI also bought the trailer.  I used to be able to back a trailer quite well – but that was 50 years ago.  I did not think that the cramped yards in Williams Lake were good places for me to practice, so I left picking up the toys to last, and got the various vendors to point me in the right direction for home!

Both the morning and most of the afternoon journey (4 hours each way) were in the dark, so I couldn’t take pictures.  This was a pity as shortly after leaving town we had the most spectacular sunset.  However, with the excessive traffic on the road (throwing up walls of mud until it got a bit cooler as I travelled further west), the lack of places to draw off (one must be leery of the road sides under snow; the plough makes a nice flat edge, but the flatness often overhangs the lip of the ditch.  More than one motorist has come to grief that way), and the extra concern for the trailer meant that I did not dare stop.

I could see the ATV in my rear view mirror.  As it grew dark, whenever I touched the brakes, red light flushed against the trailer and the ATV’s headlights glowed like slanted devil’s eyes.

An ATV was not the only toy I bought.  I also got a plough for it.9-atv-ploughAlthough I had a lot of instructions from the dealer, it still took a bit of time to figure out how to put everything together.  More time was needed to get used to the controls and find the best angle for the plough.  Up to now it has always been a problem to find someone to plough me out, and I will still need to pursuade a heavy machine owner to come if we get a big dump of snow, but for now I have ploughing independence.10-ploughing-independenceYet another present to myself is a new camera!  I now have a Canon SX60. The view in front of me when I first put it together was the interior of my living room.  People have often asked to see more of where I live so I thought I would include it in this post.12-cabin-interior

13-cabin-2I love the new camera and can play with the really good zoom.  The weather has stayed mostly fairly mild and dull.  Sometimes, at the end of the day, there is a hint of what it might have been.glimpse-sunsetThe same camera is pretty good for close-ups.snowflakes-2The day before the Solstice, it was clear enough to see the sun go down.  How wonderful to think that it’s resting place will now travel back north again.solstice-sunsetUsually by this time of year, my bird feeder is full of pine grosbeaks.  Their lovely red plumage brightens up the winter.  But this year there is not a sign of them.  The cold snap must have encouraged them to go elsewhere.  All the birds that come are clothed in various shades of grey.  We have the chickadees, downy woodpecker, and grey jays.suet-feederLatterly, a Clark’s Nutcracker has also been visiting.  He is much the same size as a whiskeyjack, but has a shorter tail and much longer, stronger beak.clarks-nutHe is most interested in the bones I am feeding to the dogs.clarks-nut-boneOn warmer days the squirrel tries to sneak a few treats as well.squirrel


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Nuk Tessli 2017

long-meadowAlthough we booked a tour to Nuk Tessli for 2016, it did not eventuate.  We now have the dates for 2017 – July 14 – 18th.  If you wish to check out more details, go to the Nuk Tessli page on my site, or the Nuk Tessli website.

See other posts regarding Nuk Tessli – type the words in the search box.

Hope to see you there!

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