We’ve Got Winter!

We’ve got winter!(Large figures are degrees Celsius, small are Fahrenheit – included on our Canadian thermometres for old people and Americans.)

That happened on February 2nd.  The whole of January continued to be incredibly mild.  There were pussy willows on some of the bushes – a month earlier than the earliest I’ve ever seen them before.There were thaws, and rain, and tiny bits of wet snow, then more thaws.Two days after the last post was written, the sun soared over Finger Peak.There was, at least, a bit more sun.  One day, while the snow was just cold enough for snowshoes, I went up onto the dunes.  You can see how thin the snow cover is.  

The old roots were very visible.Golden Harry runs on ahead (Badger is plodding behind.)The nights were warm.  Only -6C when this sunrise was taken.Despite the mildness, the river stays mostly frozen.Then it got too warm to snowshoe.  Ice appeared everywhere, and my shady back yard was a nightmare.  I now never use the main door but always come in through the greenhouse. The highway became a sloppy mess.The temperature became ridiculous.The night after this picture was taken, it was -2C at sunrise.  Still amazingly warm, but cold enough to make a small frost. The combination of light and snow picked out these runes and an aspen tree, the horizontal lines made by sapsuckers, a small woodpecker.Very often, clouds would roll in at daylight.  On this day we had a 30-second burst of sunshine.  It is now working it’s way up Middle Mountain.The day afterwards was cloudy again, but we had a spectacular sunset.  Half the sky was ablaze for near on 40 minutes.I could go on and on.

Then, as forecast, it started to snow.  Accumulation was only about 3 cm, but it snowed all day, very fine flakes we call mist snow.  This happens only when a real cold front is coming in.Two squirrels visit my feeder.  This one is Fluffy Tail.The other has some damage to it’s nether appendage – ergo, Skinny Tail.Skinny Tail is the boss.  Both squirrels grab a lot of food, but they fight like demons.  They spend such a lot of time scrapping, that the birds have easy access to the feeder. (This one a mountain chickadee.)Then we had the almost -35C temperature.  And it’s been cold ever since.  Warmest day temperatures have been -15C and, although we never got quite so low again, it has been -30C or lower several times.  The chickadees have become fluff balls.The whiskeyjacks are puffed out, too.It never ceases to amaze me how these little creatures can survive such cold – especially their thinner-than-matchstick legs.  Here is a Cornell Lab of Ornithology article about the mechanisms that wintering birds can use.

The cold was a bit of a physical shock at first, but one soon gets used to having to do things a bit differently – and gobbling up a lot more firewood.  I must remember to warm the dog bowls, for instance, so that their tongues don’t stick.  (They are fed in my outer room, in separate places, so they don’t fight.). Harry comes inside a lot, but Badger thrives on the cold weather and often spends half the night outside, barking at the large number of coyotes that are around right now.  If he wants to stay out, I cannot bring him in by calling, nor can I catch him.  So I figure I’ll just let him get on with it.  He can get into the greenhouse or outer room through dog doors, and although it is still well below freezing in these places, it is much warmer.  If he wants to come into my living space he gives a gentle moan outside my bay window and wakes me up, but he doesn’t do that very often.

A network of ice crystals appeared on the windows of the outer room.By focussing on the trees beyond, I can get the Christmas light effect.The forecast is for not a great deal of change.  It was -31C this morning.  Clear skies usually produce the colder temperatures.  The warmer days (-26C to -12C) are predicted to come with more snow.  All December and January I was grumbling about the lack of winter.  You get what you wish for – so I can’t complain.

 

 

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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3 Responses to We’ve Got Winter!

  1. Jody says:

    The fluffed up birds are so beautiful! I’m in awe of their survival as well.

  2. Anne Silins (Chemainus) says:

    Dear Chris, Amazing photographs, the sunsets are glorious, the birds and small animals lovely. A great treat to read your blog. John and I look forward to your new book, we hope to learn more about these dreadful forest fires and will be have more with climate change. Thank you as always.

  3. Marilyn Bueckert says:

    I love how you find joy in so many things! Your closeup pix are amazing and love reading about the two legged and four legged critters that share your area.

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