Snow at Ginty Creek.

The dull weather took on an ominous cast at sunrise one morning.  1-storm-warningLater that day, it started to snow at Ginty Creek.  Badger is staring intently at me through the window, asking to come in. He never, of course, brushes himself off first.
1-badger-pleadingBy the next morning, there were quite a few inches on the ground.2-snowTime to clear snow of the solar panels again…3-solar-panelsI couldn’t get an internet signal – I had to brush snow off the satellite dish and arm as well.4-snow-on-satellite-dishIf the seeds are covered in snow, the birds can’t find them.  I have to go and stir them up.  As they swoop in to get one, they often reveal more.  But if it snows too fast, the seeds are covered again and I have to keep going out and clearing them.  They do not know to scratch like chickens.5-bird-feederMy road, on the way back from the post office.  This lone bull is only a few kms from home and is heading in the right direction.7-bullThe next day it snowed again, and the next.  We were beginning to wonder if our winter was going to be a continuation of the summer’s endless precipitation, only colder.  But then we got a gleam of sun.6-gleam-sunAnd another.rare-sunThat evening there was even a bit of a sunset.10-sunset-after-rare-sunDidn’t last, though.  On the Saturday I drove with some trepidation to the Tatla Lake Christmas market.  It was snowing steadily: already there were 6″ on my driveway and the van starts to have difficulties at 8.”  I would be at the fair, selling books, for several hours.   If it continued to snow, the drive home might be a bit precarious.  The road sign says it all!11-snowing-to-tatla-fairThe fair is held in the school gym.12-tatla-schoolThere were all the usual crafts.13-sharon-sweatersCourtney (centre)’s mother is a caterer, and Courtney has been selling her own baked goods since she was a little girl. 14-courtneyIt was still snowing as I drove home.  Although there had been very little wind, 3 new trees were down on my 4 km driveway.15-home-first-treeI managed to squeeze past the first two, but had to stop for the third.  At least I had the chain saw with me.  I cut out just enough to get by.16-second-treeThe next morning, we had an unbelievable treat.17-sunriseThe snow had stopped and there was a clarity to the air we had not seen for a very long time. It looked as though the sun was going to shine.  There were 8 and half inches snow on the ground.  I was wondering about ploughing my road.  It is very hard to find anyone to do it these days.  I figured I should put chains on the pickup and see if I could at least drive along it and cut out the fallen trees.  The pickup would pack the snow down enough for the van.  But if we got any more…

However, I had just stepped out of the door when I heard a machine.  In came a tractor with a plough!18-christoffChristoff owns the Terra Nostra Guest Ranch, less than 2 km away as the raven flies, but because it is across the river, it is 9 km by road.  I have come to know Christoff over the summer while working on the Kleena Kleene internet tower (still not hooked up), and also I took Sanjey over there for his horse ride.  I had mentioned to Christoff the need for a plougher, but knew he was going back to Switzerland for the winter.  In fact he was due to leave in a couple of days.  However, without contacting me, he just arrived.  He was able to push the fallen trees away with the tractor.  In future, his caretakers will plough me out when I need it.  So that is one big winter problem solved.

And the day got better!19-perkins-peakThe following day, too, gave us some sun.  At first there was fog and there was a time of will-it, won’t-it.  I decided to break out the snowshoes and plod up onto the north bluffs.  The river is still pretty high for this time of year.20-riverUp on the dunes, I was still lidded in cloud.  I could see blue sky to the northwest.21-clear-to-northand more in the north east.22-clear-to-neAnd then suddenly, we got full, unadulterated SUN!!!22a-sun-bestIncredible!23b-snow-dead-tree-2Perkins Peak.24-ppFinger Peak.24a-fp-2Every branch looks fantastic.28-snow-on-branchThe sky is so blue!29-forestToo hot for Badger, though.  He rests in the shade23c-badger-in-shadeThat night, I could see where the sun touched the rim of the earth for the first time in months.  The last time it cleared Nogwon far to the right off the picture.  That would have been the Equinox.  Here, 3 weeks from the shortest day, it is to the left of Finger Peak.26-sunsetThe next morning we had a sunrise!30-sunrise-fpIt was quite cool and there was frost on the woodshed window.31-frostAnd as the sun cleared the trees, it sparkled on the branches.32-backlit-trees-2We’ve had more sun this past week than during the last month.  My solar panels are loving it.  Dull and dribbling snow today – can’t expect too much – but it is supposed to clear tomorrow – and the temperature is due to drop.

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Harry’s Manuscript Update

harry-bestRemember 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!

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It Is A Snu Day

1-falklandsIn 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.  2-pinkish-fogWe had two spectacular sunrises. 3-sunrise

morning-sun-pondHow fantastic it was to see the sun.  How beautiful the world suddenly looks.golden-meadow

kappanPerkins Peakperkins-peakNogwon almost visible.pond-gleamsun-on-riverOne 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.fog-kkJust past the ranch, I drove out of the fog.  Finger Peak was incredible.fp-1-kk

fp-2-kkAt 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.swansThen we got a little Sno with the Snu.z-juniper

z-sun-and-snowA bit of a wind came up and blew great streamers off the mountains.z-blowing-snowThe ponds had frozen a little, but fresh water flowed on top of the ice.z-pond-pools

z-ce-abstractBadger enjoying the view – and the warmth – from the south bluffs.z-badger-and-river-1

z-badger-and-river-2Back at the river property.z-corralAnd 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.sunset

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Beauty in Gloom

rain-diamondsIn this persistent gloom, one still finds subtle beauty. The rain on this tree hung like diamonds.  Accasional gleams of light made interesting effects.cloud-light

early-light

needle-grass-in-rainA hint of sun in the fog, but that was all we had.yellow-fogThe pond had been frozen but then it thawed, and now it has started to freeze again.frosty-sedgePuddle ice is always fun.puddle-iceI 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.)pine-siskinAnd 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.)downy-woodpeckerOne 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.pileated-woodpeckerNot 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.road-clearing-1road-clearingThen 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.tree-on-trailAt last!  Not too pretty (and a long way to backpack the wood home) but the trail is now usable.cleared-trailNearby, I saw what I at first thought was an odd burl on a fallen tree.rabbitThey 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.rained-all-dayAnother 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.r-sunrise-to-ws-lkTown 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.s-storm-aheadJust about the same place where I drove out of the rain in the morning, I headed back into it.w-near-tatlaBehind me, it looked like summer.  This next picture, and the one above, were taken only a few hundred metres apart.rear-view-mirrorSoon the wipers were going flat out.x-streaming-windshieldNearly dark when I got home.  It had obviously been dumping rain all day.z-my-road-in-rain-stormIn 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.  river-floodWe 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.

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Once Upon November Dreary

1-dark-morningApologies 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.river-fogAt first, at the beginning of October, there were small bits of colour left in the vegetation.1-last-colour-leavesBut the rain soon beat them away.2-fog-grass-and-treesThe 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.4-forest-glitter

6-pine-branch

7-ice-balls-on-grass

9-ice-on-grass-2One morning we had a colourful sunrise.  (Seen through my kitchen window.)5-pink-windowAnother day, the fog was pink.10-pink-fogOnce we had a gleam of sun just before it went behind Nogwon.12-meagre-sunsetMostly, however, it has been raining.15-bush-with-rainVery occasionally, we had glimpses of the mountains.  This was near Tatla Lake.2-tatla-mtsFrom my window.mt-glimpseThe 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.teal-and-ringnecksThen the pond froze.11-pond-iceTwo days later, it had thawed again, and the ducks came back.  This time  mallards and two hooded mergansers.mallards-and-merganserJust 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)whiskeyjackand the usual 10 chickadees, a few black-capped,bc-chickAnd the majority mountain chickadees, recognizable by their drabber colour and white “eyebrow.”mt-chickNeedless 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.generatorThe 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.17-dead-bull-1Close 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.18-dead-bull-2The 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.

 

 

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