crossbill

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This is a a not so great picture of a Red Crossbill, taken from a long way away in bad light.

Still I was happy to get it. It was taken hell-and-gone behind Swansea, up the creek.

I always wondered about crossbills. Were their beaks a mistake of nature. Did God screw up after a night of drinking with the Devil both of them trying to gain insight into each others character?

Why else would they have that look. Beaks crossed in some kind of awkward grin.

Red Crossbills are found at the top of spruce using their perfectly shaped mandibles separating cones from the tender seed which they eat.

Spruce, fir, tamarack and pine produce more cones than needed. Plenty of squirrels take care of the excess along with other animals.

What they don’t get, the ones high on the trees, the Crossbill take care of.

I don’t care who’s in charge. It’s nice to know there ain’t any mistakes.

Lisa

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That first house. When we had nothing. And had to walk to work. When the cat followed us in the dark. It was the eighties so we tried. Thinking we could be part of it all. Before we realized we weren’t or never would be included. Before we realized how lucky we were. It used to frustrate me. You said we would remember those times as tough but wonderful. We trapped 27 mice in there before we got a cat. It was all a learning process. We burned 10 cords of fir the year Kelsie was born. We saw ghosts and sent smoke signals. We loved each other hard.

early march

_LME9788A meteor pierces Orion.

Willow and I set out to try and spot zodiacal light. False dusk as it is sometimes referred to. We sat on an eastern ridge. Unfortunately, the light from the valley bottom interfered. We did the only logical thing, headed higher and around, trying to put a range of mountains between us and the light of town. It can be tricky in the snow. Willow was happy with our new perch looking towards Orion. She caught a whiff or sound earlier that made her uneasy, started her barking and tighten the perimeter. In a world that shifts it is lucky to have such a trustworthy companion. Perhaps she was only barking at Orion’s dog Sirius, warning, ‘You are not so big.’

CRW_0023Female Red Crossbill

Earlier in the day I took some lovely pictures of a Hairy Woodpecker beating on a rotten birch. It was pounding the bark off and getting at the frozen bugs hiding in the punky wood. I would have posted a picture or two here if I hadn’t forgot to put a memory card in the camera.

CRW_0025Winter Starlings ducking the chill

The last week we have had snow, cold temperatures and also brilliant days that stay cold but feel warm from the sun higher in the sky. It feels good to be getting some shovelling and plowing in. I took a selfie of myself (strange indeed) with my cell phone. From sweating and breathing deep my hair and beard was covered in frost and my nose had a perfect icicle hanging off it. I thought it was hilarious! Lisa and my daughters said it was gross. Still it seemed only proper that I share it, so I sent it to my grandson Cooper via his mom’s phone. He thought it was very funny and asks his Mom regularly to see the photo over and over again.

CRW_0011Facing skyward

March brings spring. The other day I saw my first spider of the year and it was a dandy! I got home from work after a long shift of shovelling and sweating and headed for the shower. I shed my toque, glasses, boots and clothes. Before I stepped into the soothing shower, there on the bathroom floor was a spider at least an inch across. Luckily it wasn’t moving fast, probably from having just woken up, but it was moving, each leg stretching, it was only a matter of time before it regained it’s strength and ran down the drain or up my leg! Naked, and feeling it, I grabbed my glasses and a boot to protect myself. Once my glasses were on and I could see clearly I realized the spider was only a ball of black lint, it’s movement caused from a draft under the door. I felt doubly foolish coming to the realization the lint that looked like a giant spider had fallen from my belly button while undressing.

It seems like the entire winter was packed into February. March brings spring.

_LME9793Fir, Spruce, Tamarack, Cancer and the Beehive

sky

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The sky couldn’t give a damn about me and I appreciate that. I read three weather reports in the evening. They all say something different and they’re usually all wrong. I wake up in the morning and sometimes I have to plow snow and sometimes I don’t. There ain’t no telling how it’s going to turn out. I doubt I’ll ever figure it out.

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warriors

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It’s an imaginary world. Sometimes we’re deep in the bush other times dreaming at night.

Willow slept most of the day after the cold night. The cold can take it out of you. It’s like exercising without moving. It strips the body, leaving only what’s needed.

Being older, it takes on greater meaning. Sometimes wisdom is just concurrence letting things be. Then again, I’ve never been more prepared for a fight.  That’s the old man talking.

Cold water. Ice. Temperatures dipping. Snow. Knee deep. Frost bite. Dim light.

We’re all warriors until we slip on a patch of ice.

February Stars and Planets

_LME9609-Pano_smThe Milky Way over Columbia Lake. Venus can be seen over the ridge. Jupiter is above and to the right. Light pollution from the town of Canal Flats and atmospheric airglow contribute to the surreal colour. It should be noted these colours can not be seen by the eye but is recorded on the camera’s light sensitive sensor. 

It cleared up this weekend and only seemed fitting to get a few shots of the stars. Jupiter and Venus rise in the morning before dawn near the brightest part of the Milky Way, as viewed from this part of the Earth.

_LME9573-Pano.smThe Hoodoos and stars.

Lisa, Willow and I headed out in to the brisk -25 night. We drove south to Columbia Lake then walked to a bluff. The lake groaned below, the ice contracting in the cold. It is a sound I grew up with and always makes me feel good. I always thought it sounded like whales singing when I was a kid.

We had to wait for Jupiter and Venus to rise along with more of the Milky Way. Finally they were up. Luckily we weren’t yet frozen. Very fine morning.

nice hips

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Woke up and all the puddles were froze. Some as nice as skating rinks. It reminded me of when the girls skated the puddles and the joy of finding such a surface.

Willow and I took to the creek behind the mountains. It was easy going after leaving the ice behind. The snow crunched under foot. Willow rode on top of the surface. The pussy willows were replaced with ice crystals.

Several flocks of Buntings flew and blended into the flat sky. I knew they would never land for a picture. The minus 13 wind was cold after yesterdays plus 8.