I was going to apologize for the lateness of these wishes but New Years come in all sorts of shapes and sizes around the world and we are right on the Chinese Lunar New Year so the wishes are still appropriate.
We are in fact a month into the solar new year and in a word, it has so far been – gloomy.
On the 21st December, Jade and the kids skied up to wish me a happy solstice and watch the sun go down on the shortest day of the year.
It was still cold, then. One thermometer recorded -39C in the morning, another was off the scale.
The advantage of cold weather is that it is often sunny at least for part of the time. We haven’t had much snow so far – about 30 cm on the ground, which is about half the amount we had last year.
But then it began to warm up and we got a bit more snow.
We have 4 km of bush road; the rancher ploughed the 3 km closer to the highway and I did the rest, including Jade’s yard and driveway, with the ATV. (This picture taken by a trail camera, which is why my head has been cut off.)
On New Year’s Eve (Roman calendar) Jade and I drove to the top of the Bella Coola Hill to meet friends for a tramp in the snow. Forecast was not good, and we drove through falling snow at first, but then the weather cleared.
Most people skied, but I snowshoed. Immediately beyond the parking lot, the area had been burned many years ago.
The trail was busy as there is a ski hill not far along. Many people come up from the Bella Coola Valley as the snow down there is not very often good for anything being too wet or icy – or non-existent. For the most part I was alone enjoying the snow and quiet, but then along came a couple I knew.
And the dog on the left is not Pepita. She had gone ahead with my other friends: I am too slow and boring for her. This dog is Pepita’s mum! The white dog is Pepita’s sister! They were eventually to meet and all had a gallop around together.
We had only one more bit of sun before the long gloom. And I realized how the Egyptians built the pyramids. They must have had a bunch of beavers on hand.
I have not seen a sign of them since the last hole in the pond closed, and I often think of them living their lives below the ice.
Now our sun was rationed to a few gleams here and there, sometimes spectacular, but always short-lived.
Mostly it was just dreary.
I have been asked if this endless gloom was a sign of global warming, but January is often warm and dull. I remember one year in the early 90s where the temperature never went below freezing either day or night. Another year, probably about 2012, the temperature reached +11C one afternoon. February is often cooler and more stable, and indeed this is what we are promised this year.
By now it is usual to notice that the days are getting longer but with the constant overcast it has not been apparent. Until two days ago when it was possible to see that the sunrise point had moved considerably (on the shortest day it is to the right of that group of trees)
And that evening, one could see that the sunset point has already climbed past Finger Peak.
Plus 5C and overcast again today, but by Friday we are supposed to get the cold front that has crept our way from Siberia – where temperatures of minus 61C have been recorded! I’m happy we don’t have that!