18th March today so that equinoctial rush into summer is only in the wings. But if I delay this post I may not get it out for a while.
Late January into early February was mild and gloomy.
We had one beautiful sunset
And quite a bit of fog. (The sunrise point, rarely seen during this time, had started to move. It rises just to the right of the tallest tree on the shortest day.)
Wildlife was much as usual. A Mountain chickadee fluffed out on a chilly morning.
And lots of coyotes. Pepita saw this one trotting across the beaver pond but she didn’t even bark.
Clark’s nutcrackers were constant visitors. Sometimes I would have as many as five at the suet.
One less usual sighting (about once every two years; usually at about this time) was a flock of bohemian waxwings. They were busily pecking at our road. Birds often frequent highways to replenish the gravel they need in their crops so they can chew up their food. But there was no gravel on our road so what attracted them was a mystery.
We’ve had very little snow this year, but one morning there was a furious snowstorm.
When the wind got up, plumes of blowing snow could be seen on the mountains.
In the above picture, to the right of the lone, tall fir tree on the ridge (all the rest are pines) is the tower that has provided internet to us for the last few years. However, the operators said it was too difficult to get parts and they were discontinuing it. It was certainly difficult to maintain, and the operators were not getting any younger. Originally, the cut-off date was supposed to be July but they suddenly brought it forward to late February. There are two internet options open to us, both satellite. I used to use Xplornet but got tired of dealing with their slow service. So, as with many locals, I ordered Starlink. (Elon Musk, the owner, apparently dropped down from being the richest man in the world, but after our community all bought Starlink, he jumped to the top again!)
The site says up to 4 weeks for delivery. We only had 4 weeks before our local tower would shut off, but in fact the dish, cable and modem arrived within 2 weeks. I drilled a hole in the wall, fed the cable through, and re-hooked it to the dish. (They call it a dish but in fact it is a flat rectangle.). Various how-to websites say to wait 20 minutes, but within about 10 minutes the dish swizzled around dramatically and immediately I got a signal. All quite simple and wonderful.
Many people fix their dish to the roof. If you have a cell phone you can use an app to see the range the dish needs. I have no cell phone (and there is no cell phone service for hundreds of kilometres) but I have a big open space southwest of my house and figured I would put it there. Only one how-to site I found on the internet said the dish needs access to the northern half of the sky but I had good clearance all around. A strong metal stand comes with the equipment. I can get pretty severe winds here, so I bolted the stand onto a heavy log structure. I’ll build a nicer one when the ground thaws. The cable is 75 feet long and about 60 feet was lying on the frozen ground. Pepita still enjoys chewing the odd thing, particularly scratchy wires. So I disconnected it again and ran it through a bunch of sewage pipes. Stupid me, I did not protect the end and it must have clogged top with ice or dirt. Reconnected – waited 20 minutes – nothing happened. Fortunately I could switch back to the old system to keep functioning.
There are a number of horror stories on the internet as to why Starlink doesn’t work. The big disadvantage of this company is that there is no easy customer support. It took this IT-handicapped old lady two days to determine that it was in fact the cable. I ordered another. The old internet system time was running out. But 2 days before it quit, the cable arrived and I installed it. This one came with protectors on the end but I also encased it with bubble wrap until I got it to the dish. And it worked! The sewage pipe protection for the old cable was only intended to be a temporary measure and I would have had to disconnect and reconnect the cable to use the pipes. So I dug out some roof caps that I rescued from the dump last fall, and which were buried in snow, and laid them over the cable. Chunks of heavy firewood kept the caps from blowing away. When the ground thaws I will build a permanent wooden cover.
In the mean time, the snow kept melting and parts of our road became very icy.
Right around this time my neighbour’s daughter Wren had her tenth birthday party. Jade had been dismantling an old structure so there was plenty of firewood.
Jade, Wren, and Wren’s brother Herb behind.
There were lots of kids
The weather wasn’t too bad but it became a bit squally by the end of the afternoon, and that night presented us with the biggest dump of snow we had since before Christmas.
Friends drove the Chilcotin Highway on the Monday and they said it was pretty bad. I was planning my first shopping trip of the year. Tuesday was the full moon and if I went after it I would have moonlight in the morning. So I set off Wednesday at around 4.00:am in -23C temperatures. And the highway was clear all the way. Brilliant moonlight on the snow landscape makes night driving much easier. The sun rose just before I reached Williams Lake. The journey had taken only 3 and half hours.
Coming home was sunny also, but I could see storms ahead. However, they stayed over the mountains and the highway was clear.
The following day, I got to see the moon set over the mountains. As the sun track gets higher, the moon’s path becomes more restricted. During the depth of winter it sets far to the northwest. Now it went down behind Nogwon.
In the mean time, the sunset point has raced along the horizon. In this picture, it is hovering on the crest of Nogwon, but will clear it at the equinox.
Some afternoons are now sunny and warm although we kept getting little skiffs of snow. On March 14, the first redwing blackbird arrived, followed the day afterwards by the first junco.
I call this picture: Easy Rider.
As a final note to this post, I am including shots of the paintings I did during the winter. Mixed water-based media plus collage. Some are based on Perkins Peak, and some from Nuk Tessli.