The Geese Have Landed

Once again, mega apologies for such a long gap between posts.  This has not been a lazy winter for me – I seem to spend all my time trying to catch up.  First there was more book editing to do, then sorting the illustrations, many of which were drawings, then income tax, and finally Easter weekend with it’s various visitors and consequent spring cleaning!  I have also been heavily involved with another major project but to hear about that you’ll have to wait for the next post!

Snow still covered the ground when last I wrote, but spring was trying to nudge in.  The first junco appeared.  He was alone for a few days – then suddenly there were about 50, although the numbers soon halved then quartered as the main migration passed through.  Several stay and breed here.Soon the redwing blackbirds increased to about 20 in number – fewer than normal.The nutcracker continued to beat at the window for a while but his visits were much less frequent and, although he still appears at the suet every day, he now seems to have forgotten his rival in the glass.When the snow started to go, it went fast.  First it left the sunnier slopes.Kinnikinnick berries were exposed.  They last under the snow all winter and are much sought after by spring migrants and rodents.  (They are not poisonous to humans but taste like cardboard.)Badger now had a hard time to find a snow patch to lie on.Needless to say, the road continued to be a terrible mess – due to the frost lying deep in the ground this winter, breakup has taken a while – indeed, as I write, over a month after the road started to go out, one area is still difficult to negotiate.The various willows in the wetlands have put on their spring colours.Mistletoe is doing its reproductive thing.And chipmunks got out of bed.  (Unlike squirrels, who are active all winter, chipmunks hibernate.)But the weather stayed cold, often with strong winds.  The snow soon vanished, but the ice hung on everywhere.Storms constantly raged over the mountains.It kept snowing.These flurries never lasted long, and in between were gems of light.  The sun sets so far round now that it lights up things in a different way in the evenings.One day I made time to go up onto the dunes.I made the first visit of the year to the spider tree.Coming back, I was intrigued by the mountain abstract reflected in my window.The river is opening up.The last of the melting snow had a strange texture.

Time to make another trip to town.  I didn’t have to leave until 5.30:am this time, and caught the sunrise at Tatla Lake.All the way to town, every lake and puddle was frozen hard.  Only a few hardy  geese were visible.  They kept their feet warm by standing on one leg and then the other.  As a struggler with yoga, I envy their effortless balance!The main reason for the trip to town was to pick up hearing aids.  I am no deafer than a lot of people I know, but come from a family background of severe age-related deafness and remember the struggle my ancestors had to adapt to their hearing aids so I thought it wise get them while I could better cope.  What a strange world I have been missing.  All that hissing and crackling.  I can hear the floor and cupboard doors squeak!  A crumpled bag is like an explosion and turning my head inside my Gortex coat is deafening.  And I don’t think they’re helping that much either.  I went on an owl prowl the other evening with friends.  I could identify the lower-toned great horned owls no problem (with and without the hearing aids) but still could not hear the bell-like whistles of the sawwhet owls.  My friends recorded 8 of them – I heard one and it seemed so croaky to me I thought it was a corvid.  I will be going back to the audiologist in a few days and see what he suggests.  As far as I am concerned, the main reason for me buying the hearing aids is to be able to listen to the birds.

More snow.More blackbirds.The migrants are pushing the season’s envelope.  Not only the birds and wild animals, but also the first humans! The Mum-and-Daughter duo who are skiing from Whistler to Alaska completed the second leg of their trip from Bella Coola to Terrace.  They had foul weather (remember the constant storm clouds over the mountains?) Here is their latest blog post.

Next was Mike Ranta.  In 2014 He took his canoe across Canada from Vancouver to Cape Breton, mostly by water, but towing the boat over the land parts.  This year he is doing it again but this time he started in Bella Coola!  A friend is with him this time, also towing a canoe.  They have a tracking website (doesn’t seem to work with Safari, I have to use Firefox )- I checked daily so I would know where to meet them on Highway 20 near my turnoff.  Totally crazy guys – but nice crazy!

Easter brought the full moon.  I had my own personal street lamp.One day, without much warning, the pond suddenly opened.Two gees flew overhead and landed!  But they didn’t stay long.  The next morning the pond was frozen solid again and more snow fell.Then it snowed for 24 hours and the world was all white again.  Through it all journeyed my next visitor.  Carlos is a round-the-world cyclist who has done mega trips over the years.  He travelled through blizzards up The Bella Coola Hill and down the highway.Carlos wanted to stay for a few days and work.  That suited me fine and I was delighted he was here when I got up the next morning and saw a totally flat tire!  Perfect timing.As soon as the weather cleared, up on the roof to sweep the chimney – a task that was long overdue.Then, straight onto the firewood pile.  He split a couple of week’s worth in no time.  The stock in my woodshed is getting pretty low – I used much more this winter than usual.  So Carlos started on next season’s wood.  A number of dead trees were blown over during a big wind last fall, and Carlos spent two days bucking up like a demon.

I really love visitors like that!

But all good things come to an end.  Soon he was packed and ready to continue the last year of his current 3-year journey.  (Note the mud from the wet, sloppy, snowy roads he has so far encountered.)Non-wilderness-dwellers are always surprised by the number of people I know or encounter.  I remember reading a Graham Green book years ago, about disillusioned priests in a remote part of the south American jungle.  A high-up church dignitary visited and he was surprised how informed these priests were.  One replied:  “When you live in a place like this, you do not need to go out into the world.  The world comes to you.”

4 thoughts on “The Geese Have Landed”

  1. It seems a crime that a person living remote and taking care of herself has to pay homage and tithes to the Income Tax bastards when we hear every day of elites and even presidents NOT paying any tax while spending the taxpayers money and feasting at the trough. Sometimes dining with the Agha Khan in the Caribbean even. Kinda ticks me off…sometimes. Still, if you think of it as the price you pay to keep them away, it is worth it. That’s the only way I can submit my taxes – it’s worth the money just to keep them as far east as possible. Anyway – just a note to say: second book out. You are briefly mentioned in this one, too. Flatteringly, of course. Bombasticism toned way down. Title: Choosing Off the Grid.

  2. I just love all those photos, I always feel like I’ve returned from a vacation to your area after I read your posts. This is the only way I’m ever going to get there.

  3. I am a few years older than you, but still imagine myself living like you do. In my dreams. Have been reading your blog for some time now and thoroughly enjoy it. Especially the pictures you take are fantastic. Love it. Keep up the good work.

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