In October, we started the winter with a lovely sunny cold spell – went down to -20C one night. But since then, it has been largely mild, dull and windless. In early November the sky was full of smoke again. Some of it would have been slash burning, but this picture showed smoke from the Hell Raving Fire.
It was so mild that the pond, which had been frozen, thawed where the current ran out into a ditch. The ripples in the water are all I was able to photograph of beaver activity, which, unusually, was taking place in the middle of the day.
Another slightly chillier morning. I noticed something a bit odd about this photo.
No, not just that the poor varied thrush had a droopy wing, but that behind it there should have been a tree.
An aspen has dominated the view of the pond. Here it is in an early summer shot.
And again in the late fall of this year.
The picture of the thrush above was snapped on Nov 2. The following photo is dated October 28.
Some time between those two dates, the tree was taken away. I had often marvelled that the beaver had left it alone for so long, as there are not many close aspens by the pond, but now this is all that’s left of it.
Oh well, it is a small price to pay for the wonderful fire-fighting water supply that the beaver have created for me, and the incredible and entertaining life on the pond – and it always hid the ducks when I was trying to take photographs!
In the above picture are a few white blobs on twigs behind the stump – these are puffs of pussy willow seeds. In mild falls I’ve often found new silvery buds already exposed, but when I brought them inside they never came to anything. This year, however, has been so mild that the willows got confused and when I brought them in they opened up. They did not, however, shed any pollen. Taken with my new camera (see previous post.)
Since burning restrictions were removed – very late this year – I have been clearing brush. Our forest is full of fallen beetle kill and riddled with the witches brooms of mistletoe that are a major fire hazard.
I extract what I can for firewood and try and reduce the rest, at least alongside the bush roads that loosely surround my property. Clear ground and the roads themselves will act quite well as fireguards as long as the fire is not too wild. I do this every year but am usually lucky to be able to manage a couple of weeks. Either the snow gets too deep and hides things, or fallen logs and branches are frozen into the ground.
This year, however, the mildness and lack of snow has extended my burning period to a month, and I could still keep going if I didn’t have so much else I wanted to do (such as catching up on these posts.) The really scary thing, though, is that, under the thin skin of snow, the ground is as dry as a bone. It is too dry to freeze. I can pull up rotten stumps with ease and the dry, rotten logs are gobbled up in the fire in no time.
Now for some prettier pictures.
We actually had a real snowfall of a whole 5 cm. Most of it melted by the end of the day, but it was Christmas Card special while it lasted.
The poor varied thrush with the broken wing was still hanging about. It could fly, but I suspect not far, and soon after that I ceased to see it.
As the snow melted the vegetation sparkled.
The mild, mostly dull weather produced a series of dramatic sunrises (all taken with the Nikon Coolpix manual setting – but I had to take multiple hit and miss exposures to achieve the proper effect.)
I have been feeding the birds outside my window since mid October. They always arrive at first light.
Pretty sunsets were less common, being usually buried in cloud.
Because the new book, Birch Goes Hiking, was set in the Bella Coola area, it seemed politic to go to the Christmas craft fair down there. Katie, the publisher of the book, would share a table. Nt only does she know everyone, but she’s a great salesperson. She could sell snow to a penguin. We both did very well!
The trip down the Bella Coola Hill was its usual spectacular self. There was also a surprising amount of smoke; whether from the fires in the area or slash burning it was hard to say.
The narrow bit.
At the bottom there was no snow, but you could cut the humidity with a knife.
Back home, we continued with the thin snow and mild, dull weather.
Often it was foggy.
One evening a bit of a break in the clouds created a sundog. Doesn’t look much in the picture below; the sun is on the left and the dog is peeking from between the trees on the right.
Close up, however, the dog was amazing. The strong light lasted less than a minute: I was lucky to see it.
With such mild weather, it is hard to realize that we are close to the winter solstice. A rare visible sundown a few days ago shows the sun is south of Finger Peak. It will move to the left of the group of trees on the shortest day.