Woke up to the sound of Willow throwing-up the stick she ate the day before. She does that sometimes. It was 2:30am. I put her out and cleaned up the mess. I tried to go back to sleep with no success. Since it was clear, we (Willow and I) decided to go for a walk and look at stars. Willow was happy, it took me awhile to get into it. We opted to stay in the valley bottom. The ice is almost entirely off the lake. The Milky Way stretched the length of the lake and was visible regardless of the artificial light. By 7am it was off to work. The days only guarantee would be an early bedtime.
Red on the mountains. The melting snow causing streaks.
Every season’s has it’s own colours. Ones that only show up once a year. Ones that can’t be photographed no matter how hard you try. They happen near the edge of mountains at sun up. Or the way the ice turns deep blue before it turns over and sinks to the bottom in spring.
Kingfishers on dried Mullein. The female, left, is more colourful than the male.
It seemed the winter was a long one. We had an early fall snow and then nothing much until February. Still we had it all. Just not spread out. Some cold temperatures dipping to -30°c and staying there. Snow, mostly in February, but not much overall.
Storms depending on where you stand.
The frost is coming out of the ground. There’s still patches of snow in perpetual shade. That comes with mountains.
March full moon on the rise clearing the ridge.
The garlic should be popping up soon, along with self seeded lettuce and spinach. They arrive at the same time as thousands of weeds. It takes a discerning gardener to pick them apart.
Hunting on ice edge.
The days run longer. Summer with heat, smoke and fire is on it’s way. But for now the mountains are ever present, jagged and comforting, the sky deep cobalt, waiting on stars, in the east.
Mallards on ice edge being hunted. A Raven (middle), dips his beak, unnoticed, waiting for leftovers.
The March winds are starting to blow. It won’t be long the ice and snow will break up, turning every patch of standing earth wet and muddy.
The birds have been singing and I even saw a few young Bighorn rams clacking heads. It’s good to practice the the fight and fuck so when they get older they’ll be good at it. It’s the same for humans whether we think so or not!
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.
A 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.’
Female 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.
Winter 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.
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.
Fir, Spruce, Tamarack, Cancer and the Beehive
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.
The garden gate.
Here it is the start of February and the temperature is 8°c., in a month it can go as low as -40!
A warm wind rolled in yesterday. The snow has mostly melted in the valley bottom, leaving puddles on the frozen ground.
Willow with a full coat of hair, looking worried, while winter seems to be coming to a premature end. “Did I grow this hair for nothing?” she was heard to say.
I had three people mention gardening to me today. It seems too early to consider. Still I looked at seeds online. Willow and I even strolled out to the garden. The deer have really trampled my garlic rows. Hopefully the plants won’t be effected. There is deer shit from asshole to tea kettle (asshole to tea kettle, was a saying my father regularly used. It means a lot and afar).
The forecast is calling for cold temps.
It was a good day to hang out in the wood pile.
Cooper’s and Papa’s axes.