We are three weeks into January – over four weeks into the new solar year. The days should be noticeably longer but the mild, cloudy weather has persisted and it’s very hard to notice any improvement in the gloom. Once again, this post has pictures of sun, but it is because these moments are so magical when they happen.Often there would be brief colour in the morning, but then the cloud would roll in. Which made the 5th January extraordinary as the sky was cloudless all day.The solar panels drank it in. At this time of year tree shadows inhibit the sun’s first rays but for the rest of the day it is clear.Thaws have taken the prettiness away from the snow but it is still blobbed on the bushes in sheltered places.Naturally, a tramp on snowshoes was in order,and I went up onto the south dunes.It has not been particularly cold but the river below me was largely frozen.Harry looks so golden against the snow.All too soon the sun headed downwards, backlighting the thin snow cover and the weeds.The sunset point has already moved. On the shortest day it is to the left of the bare-branched cottonwood.But then I had a real bonus. Something I have very rarely seen. The new moon sets close to the sun but it is often invisible due to the sun’s light, or the haze of cloud on the horizon. I usually don’t see the moon until it is two days old. But on this night, it was not only visible, but perfectly placed.The next day was cloudy again. The chickadees come to the feeder early.The birds’ colours are reflecting the general greyness of the rest of the winter. No pine grossbeaks or redpolls this year. Only the two chickadee species and a couple of whiskeyjacks.The 7th January started with a bit of sun.But by the time I got onto the north dunes, it had disappeared.Badger has been struggling for a couple of years now, and every few months I think he can’t last much longer. But since November he seems to have had a new lease of life. He is still very lame but he more or less keeps up with me on my tramps and even does a few little skips and jumps on occasion.The thin snow cover and lack of snow on the trees leaves the forest looking messy. But at least we have the snow – this helps alleviate the gloom. Perkins Peak before the clouds came in.Then we got fog. After a couple of days, a respectable hoar built up.When gleams of sun poked through in the evening, it was magical.And that evening, January 16th, was a milestone. Since I was last able to photograph the sunset, its going-down point had moved to the flank of Finger Peak.And, as happens on only two days of the year, it then reappeared at the .
The next day I went to both Anahim Lake (nearly an hour to the west) and Tatla Lake (40 minutes east). I had seen on the highway webcams that, even though Kleena Kleene had mostly been fogged in, these two places had received brilliant sun. So I was hoping for great things. Brilliant sun was in short supply – but it was a most spectacular journey.
The hoar frost had built up enormously en route to Anahim.I went to the dump at Anahim. At least six bald eagles were hanging round. Adult:and juvenile.And of course a number of ravens.Coming back east, the mist started to lift.The trees were backlit. (The white flakes are gobs of hoar frost loosened by the sun and a small breeze.)Finger Peak emerged like a rock in a sea.Tatla Lake was quite sunny, but a few crystals of frost clung to these cottonwood branches near the library.Coming back home, the sun was already getting low.It was on its last legs by the time I reached my driveway.Hoary pompoms.I had hoped to witness the sun soaring over Finger Peak, but it was swallowed by a bank of cloud and followed by two more days of solid grey. There had not been a lot of sun at home for the next day I had to fire up the generator yet again to charge my solar batteries. I have done a lot of generator-charging this year.