Into January

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.

 

About wilderness dweller

I have lived for more than 30 years as a Wilderness Dweller. Most of that time was in cabins I built myself far from the nearest road, high in the mountains of British Columbia, Canada. My "retirement" home is accessible by a bush road but still far from neighbours. I live off the grid, and operate this blog by solar-powered satellite internet.
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7 Responses to Into January

  1. Dawn Thomson says:

    I have just discovered you through your book “Cabin at Singing River”.
    A marathon read, and I’m hooked. Look forward to catching up to present time through
    The books and adventures you’ve had, and of course following this blog.
    My husband is impressed with your photographers eye, and I wonder do you still paint?
    My dream is to Acquire a small piece of land on the Nechako River near Vanderhoof, and slip away!
    Take care.

  2. maggie wright says:

    Hello Chris,

    Beautiful pics! So nice to see Harry and Badger.

  3. Sandra Johnson says:

    I really enjoyed all the pictures especially the one of Badger, I have been wondering about him. The picture of the chickadee was amazing. I have been wondering why I have had hardly any birds at my feeder this winter and sometimes I was filling my large feeder twice a day in previous winters. They were coming for the water in the fall and now I may see only one or two. I am in the Okanagan Valley and am wondering if other back yard bird feeders have noticed this? Wishing you more sunshine and less gloom !

  4. Beth & Peter Daniell says:

    Magical photos, Chris, solar power must be bliss for you. Beautiful bird shots, and good to see Harry and Badger. Loved the new moon too. Here we are, away down south in New Zealand, temperature 27 degrees today, hot nor westerly gales. Very Best Wishes for 2019, hope it brings you all you are wishing for.

  5. Bonnie Sager says:

    Chris – – your photos were just awesome!! The beauty of the hoarfrost is spectacular – – and it’s so fleeting – – it shatters in the sun!!
    Like you we have had to run our generator many times this winter. So much fog and so many cloudy days. Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos — especially loved the one of Harry and the little chickadee backlit by the early morning light.

  6. Susan Reid says:

    Hi Chris: Just have to say that when you’re living with the winter days I guess it can get a bit “gloomy”, but oh my, the magic of winter!! I so miss it living with the constant rain in Vancouver! Thanks so much for sharing, have a great day!!

  7. Jamie Adams says:

    Those frost covered trees are beautiful – almost like sugar coated cake decorations.

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