Two years ago, when I returned from the Harry book tour at the beginning of November, it was -14C in the day and there were 30 cm snow on the ground. This year was more typical – in a way. It was the usual November dull, but ridiculously warm. For the first two weeks it barely froze at night.Two volunteers, a couple from Germany, stayed at my place to look after Harry while I was away. About a week before I returned, they emailed that there had been a tremendous windstorm and several trees were down. I was surprised to find that these were not the usual dead beetle-kill trees, but green ones that had been uprooted. One fell near the cabin. How amazing that it missed the roof and the canoe, popping perfectly into the gap between the building and a tree.That one was easily dealt with (it will become firewood next year) but two were a lot more scary. They were joined at the roots and had snagged on a third. They were hanging straight over the atv shed.This was going to be a tricky problem. The volunteers had moved the atv and all the tools out of the way. I decided that, with the volunteers’ help, a bunch of ropes and the com-along, and several crossed fingers, I might be able to get them down without damage. I was very proud of the result, especially the right-hand tree that just sneaked between the shed and the woodpile.The volunteers left the next day. The had done a fantastic job of clearing and burning, and left several piles of material for me to burn. It’s the hauling of the stuff that I find so hard these days, so having it stacked handily was a great bonus. However, there was one tangle that was a real mess. Full of fallen aspens and 3-meter high dead willows. It was compounded by one of Ginty’s fallen fences. She had built most of them from telegraph wire when that service was discontinued. Chain-sawing had to be done with great care.And this is the result. Still more work to do, but the biggest mess is out of the way.
The birds were hungry before I left home – usually they are not interested in the feeder until it gets cold. There are the usual cast of characters – both black-capped and mountain chickadees,Grey jays,And an occasional visit by a downy woodpecker.The squirrel didn’t take long to assert itself.However, there is a new addition to my visitors this year. A Stellar’s Jay. I have seen this only once before at Ginty Creek, and once at Nuk Tessli, although they are very common at lower elevations.The squirrel and Stellar’s jay can’t quite figure out who’s boss – they each leap away when the other arrives. The jay has a throat pouch so it can gobble up a large amount of food in a hurry and pack it away. If it can stand on top of the suet block, it can trash in minutes, so I hung the block from a flower pot. The jay can still get at the fat, but can’t hang on very comfortably so doesn’t eat as much. (It doesn’t stop the other birds getting their fill.)Despite the typical November dreary, there were gleams of sun, particularly at first and last lights.Then it rained. I wondered if we were going to get a continuation of summer – mild and gloomy and lots of rain.The grasses, taller than usual this year, made a strong display.Then if finally froze. It was cold enough to put interesting ice crystals on the greenhouse window.The pond, which had had a bit of ice on it when I arrived home, had since thawed: now it froze again.It was -20C, and Harry decided it was OK to walk on.The days seem so short now. I’ve hardly got outside before the sun goes down. On November 22, it just squeezed over Finger Peak. (On the shortest day it will set among the bare branches to the left.)(Here is my “Lawren Harris.” Art students will know what I mean.)The pond usually dried up during summer, but it stayed brim full all this year. I put it down to the constant, heavy rain. However, it was now apparent that the field below my property was also under water.And below that was a beaver dam.This is where I normally cross the wetland to get onto a trail but had been unable to do so all summer. With several days of -20C, it will now be great to walk on. The beavers are likely the ones that built a lodge on my pond in the spring. They abandoned it and I thought they’d gone for good. I wish they would stay here: I would never have to worry about a water supply for firefighting again. However, there are few aspens here, and that is their main food. I don’t know how they’ll fare on nothing but willow bark. (They shouldn’t get any headaches – willow bark is the original aspirin.)
The cold brought beautifully clear skies (actually it is the other way round.). The old moon sank.The sun crashed into Finger Peak,And the new moon came into the sky. (That tiny point of light to the right is Venus just popping behind the ridge.) On 30th November, Tatla Lake held it’s annual Christmas craft fair in the school gym.It was pretty crowded (I took these pictures towards the end when it had emptied out) – but it was the same people for the whole two hours. It is simply a great place to visit.And today it is December already. The logging trucks were noisy this morning. It means the wind has changed. It is cloudy and the temperature has risen. Will we have some snow?