It’s still winter and I’m already missing winter. It’s light at 6 pm. The snow is melting. We might get a few more snowstorms or cold spells. March can pack in a lot of winter if it decides. Still we have turned the corner.
Soon I will have to justify my 8 o’clock bedtime. The revellers will be ten-fold. I won’t be able to walk barefoot and shirtless into a snowstorm to remind myself I’m only an animal and not a very good one. I won’t be able to piss outside under the cloak of darkness. My paws are soft and I have no fur. My teeth are either missing, dull or hurting.
My strength is cruelty. It’s what makes us try to tame nature all around.
Very fine weekend. Yesterday Lisa and I went skating on the lake. We got on in the south to try to avoid the ruck. Willow also enjoyed the time having no problem keeping up with us. We saw a lot of people doing the same as us, enjoying the fresh air. Many remarked on the friendliness of Willow and wondered about her breed, never having seen a Wire-Haired Weiner Dog before. Most of the people we saw and talked to were tourists. I was happy for them to be enjoying the lake and ice on skates and x-country skis.
Today we headed into the bush, staying on the roads that are open and plowed. We hiked into a spot we go to often. Last night people had started a fire and cut down live trees to feed their large bonfire. They left a mess, beer cans, food and garbage. This is not unusual. I can never understand cutting down live trees to feed a bush fire when dried wood is so readily available. We threw snow on the fire and remarked that we will have to come back, when the roads open, to clean it up. Lisa said something that worried me. She said, she is not sure if she likes this spot anymore.
So many places we once loved have been ruined or destroyed by the crowds. It is disappointing. We are pushed further, usually up the creeks and rivers as most small lake shores have been littered with campers/partiers.
With heavy hearts we turned back, looking for spring in the rising temperatures. Just like many years previous I looked for the earliest pussy willows, to our delight a few were breaking through the skin of their buds. It is amazing what a few hours of above freezing temperatures will do. Also amazing what such small things can change the spirit from dark to light. Very fine weekend.
A few welcome days off in a row. Willow and I figured we would sample the chilly temperatures. We headed out at 3 in the morning to see if we could catch the return of The Milky Way.
So far we have had a mild winter and perhaps we have grown soft because -28°c felt colder than expected. Granted fumbling barehanded with a metal camera doesn’t help. Willow looked at me like I was crazy and was happy to make it back to the truck and a blasting heater.
The Milky Way was rising but the centre stays below the mountains before dawn washed the stars away. Still a wonderful viewing morning with the young moon long down refusing to interfere with the brilliance of stars.
That afternoon we met with good buddies Dave, Jake and Chewy for a bout of ice fishing. By then it had warmed to a much more comfortable -16°c. We picked a spot near the shallow south end of Lake Windermere, chosen for it’s distance from the ruck of the crowd. Unfortunately the fish didn’t feel the same, choosing instead to occupy the deeper portions nearer the outlet.
Still, it was refreshing enjoying the lake. Jake drilled his own hole in the almost 2 feet of thick ice. The dogs ran this way and that. Very fine day.
Snow, melt, snow. The valley bottom has seen it’s share of weather more attributed to spring than January. I’m still waiting for a cold spell that must surely be coming, looking forward to it actually. The firewood is ready.
This is the month The Milky Way returns rising in the dark, before dawn, perpendicular to the Columbia River and Rocky Mountains.
It’s the month voices can be heard in the creeks running over ice. The wind knocking the snow out of the trees are also trying to say something. I turn my head this way and that like an exquisite dog trying to decipher what’s being said. I still don’t get most of it.
The lack of snow allows us to travel the backroads normally cut off at this time of year. Lisa and I took off for the logging roads early in the morning. We were rewarded by spotting a cow and calf moose. They crossed the road in front of us as we travelled higher into the Palliser.
The lack of snow also allowed us to harvest some easy down fir for firewood. It was a good size, dry as a bone, yet needed the splitting maul to bust it into smaller chunks to load.
Willow and Maynard ran rampant. Willow more so, while Maynard stayed close behind me even while sawing the wood.
A light snow fell continually while the sky was clear in spots showing blue. Just one of those days you wish you could hold onto forever and bring out when things aren’t going your way.
It’s been a long time coming. First they built a road to explore mining, in the process, diverting the creek closer to the lake. Each year the creek flooded in high water diverting silt and filling the lake. This year was no different, however the accumulated sand allowed the creek to flow freely into the lake and fill it almost completely.
My brother and I used to fish for Cutthroat Trout in it’s bottomless blue when we were youngsters. In February my father would trim Water Cress. We pitched rocks from the banks above seeing who could make it to the middle.
This was when it was in walking distance. The roads beside turned it different. It’s taken awhile. The creek flows freely into it now. Still there is a pool that accommodates Kingfishers and Dippers. The fish are gone along with it’s brilliant blue.
Willow and I trudged the snow from the road. A short walk that seemed long enough in the world we live in now. Willow fetched sticks. Water Cress was starting on the outer edges I wasn’t sure it would be safe, a mine above and the stream flowing in, beaver dams doing their best, after all the fish are gone.
The lake was spring fed. My father said it came from the corner of the lake that was now filled in. He knew this the way his bait moved and the fish pooled, I know that now. The spring confirmed it, a trickle carving a path towards the small lake remaining.
A quiet Christmas with all of our families staying within their households. The foot of snow a few days earlier helped the spirit.
Lisa and I had a small turkey. It provided plenty of leftovers and broth for soup. The woodpile is holding up. I mix tamarack and fir, pine and birch, keeping the pitchy stuff for kindling.
It is hard to know when we will all be together again. I try not to think about it much. Having plenty to do keeps my mind off it.
The cloud is crushingly low, the backroads are blocked leading to heights above the din.
There is plenty of tourists, most from Alberta, skiing, staying, travelling, snowmobiling, dining, partying, defying the no travel recommendations. I don’t worry about them. They can’t be taught or reasoned with. They’re the reason I have a job, thank God.
A couple more days off and I’m going to enjoy them.
Over a foot of snow last night. It was heavy with a layer of water underneath. That’s what happens when snow starts falling when it’s above zero. To make it more challenging the wind was blowing so it drifted. I spent most of the day on a Bobcat switching back and forth from a blade to a bucket. Pushing and spinning, finally the task was at least good enough.
Once home, the shovel was waiting. Before long the driveway cleared, paths were made, including around the house with an extra wide one to the woodpile.
The weather has been cloudy. As I was finishing up clearing snow Jupiter and Saturn in their much anticipated conjunction appeared. I quickly grabbed the camera turned up the ISO, no time for a tripod, and snapped the above picture.
Woke up this morning before light. It looked like it was raining. +4°c the thermometer said. Next I looked it was snowing giant flakes. It was wet regardless.
Before testing outside I made a batch of Huckleberry Preserves. The berries were from this summer when Lisa and I wondered the mountain side. I tasted a few of the frozen berries and was instantly transported back in time picking the ripe berries, feeding a few to Willow to ward off thirst and watching Lisa’s red hair, flipping this way and that, bent down, dodging horseflies, picking only the plumpest and ripest.
Up the pass the snow was deeper and not nearly as wet. Much more enjoyable. The clouds parted to show the long lost mountains, but only briefly, before filling in again obscuring the stars.
Still, the birds sang hidden like a soundtrack dedicated to earth in all it’s glory.