Funnily enough, the days seem to get longer only in the evening at first. There was almost an hour extra daylight in the afternoon before I noticed much difference in the morning. The above picture was taken mid January – already the sunset point has moved quite a bit from the shortest day (when it sets to the left of the bare cottonwood tree.)
Most of us felt we could not leave our houses for long when the temp was in the -30Cs, and several events were scheduled for the last half of January – we all wandered if we were going to be able to attend. Fortunately, the weather warmed just in time – not above freezing, thank goodness, but much easier to deal with. No bringing the generator inside to warm it up so I could run it to heat the vehicles’ blocks. No stuffing the stove and banking it down before I left. No splitting twice as much wood as we had been doing. However, the warmer weather did bring more unsettled weather.
Tsilchgot’in Language Lessons
The first event was a lesson in the local language, Tsilchgot’in (anglicized to Chilcotin.). The lesson was held 2 hours’ drive away at the bottom of the Tatlayoko Valley, south of Tatla Lake. That morning was foggy at home but sunny at Tatla. When you can see the Niuts, the drive down there is spectacular.It is much warmer down there and there was hardly any snow.The lesson was held at the Lincoln Creek Ranch, now owned by the Nature Conservancy of Canada. I watched the bird banding down there a couple of years ago.Our Teacher was Linda Jack from the Tsi Deldel (Redstone: literally Rock Red) reserve.All of us found the language extremely difficult, not only to understand, but also to pronounce. At some point, missionaries had attempted to write the language with the Latin alphabet and a few extra symbols, but this did not help most of us very much.
For example.This means: I am learning Tsilhgot’in (You can see that I am unable to type the cap above the “s”, which is why I have hand-written these examples.)
My attempts at pronunciation is in brackets underneath. However, I still can’t transcribe the sounds accurately. The “got” in Tsilhgot’in is not quite goat and not quite cot, but somewhere in between. The thing that looks like an apostrophe isn’t – it is a hook and denotes a tiny pause before the next syllable.This is: Good Morning (literally, Morning, Good.) The thing that looks like a question mark isn’t. Note it has no dot at the bottom. It is written in front of a vowel, usually at the beginning of a word but sometimes in the middle. Guzun, or Good, has another difficult pronunciation to transcribe. The “z” there is like the “gn” in lasagna. The “n” is like a soft ng.
Here is another tricky one. I have made two attempts to transpose hizun. It means ; My Heart is Happy, and is the nearest thing in the language to Thank you.
Words and phrases that are connected in English are not necessarily connected here. Yes is snow. Najas is It is Snowing. ?inkwell is Mum, se ban is My Mum.Sa is Sun. Sa Tildin is The Sun is Shining. Lha sa gulih is The Sun is not shining. (The Lha sound does not happen in English. The nearest I can describe it is the Welsh double “ll”, which is the way I have written it. Something like the German “ch” followed by la.
So you can see we are having lots of fun!
The weather warmed even more until we had a few days where the temperature peeked above zero in the afternoon. Our first thaw of the year. It even rained a bit at Ginty Creek. Down at Tatlayoko, it poured and the remains of the snow turned to ice. There was no sign of the mountains, but in low lying areas, fog made hoar frost. This is downtown Kleena Kleene. I remember when the building used to operate as a store.
Northern Hawk Owl
One time when I was driving through there (yoga classes have started as well) an owl sat on a tree.It seemed quite small and was silhouetted against the sky so difficult to identify. But when I got home and could blow up the picture on the computer, I saw it was a northern hawk owl. They hunt in daylight but are actually quite rare. I have seen one only once before, and that above the treeline at Nuk Tessli.
I am having fun with the clarke’s nutcrackers as well. They were shy around the feeder at first, and I welcomed them because they were common at Nuk Tessli and very much part of my life there. But now I am not so sure….
One of them took to walking up and down the skylight over the bay window, whacking at the glass with his powerful beak. It is breeding season for these birds and I assumed he was attacking his reflection.This was not only irritating, but it was quite worrying. Not content with hammering at the glass, he also tried to rip up the caulking. I did not, of course, want to lose the light through there, so I stapled mosquito screening over the glass. He certainly didn’t like it as much, but he still goes up there sometimes. In a week I have repaired the screening twice.
It has not stopped him staking his territory, though, for now he is attacking his reflection in the glass walls of the greenhouse. I don’t want to cover them up, because then he’ll concentrate on the verticals of the bay window itself (he already pecks at some parts.) This means that before the sun has hit the house, he is whacking away and he does so periodically until after the sun has gone. It is highly annoying but, unless I want to live in the dark, there is nothing I can do. If I am working inside (such as writing this post) I keep a munitions dump of rolled up socks by the laptop and throw them at him when he gets onto the bay window.
Pharis and Jason Romero
The next major event was a fantastic concert. Principal entertainers were Pharis and Jason Romero. They were excellent. They live on the far side of Williams Lake (about 5 hours away) – I have known Pharis since she was a young teen. I knew she was musical but had no idea how wonderful this couple were.Starting the program, however, were our own local Thompson Family. They never cease to amaze.(Teo had to have a box to stand on to reach the mic.)
Snowshoe on the Dunes
I had been trying to arrange a snowshoe event at my place, but at first the weather was too cold, then it was too warm! Finally we had a day of not-too-bad weather, and up onto the dunes we went.It was doggy heaven! (Five canines altogether.)Most of my friends live east and south. For them to come west to my place is quite an expedition for them!
The weather was warming as we finished out hike. Snow was clogging onto the snowshoes. And now we had a real thaw – a couple of days of warm winds and temps up to +5C. Fortunately, my snow remained much the same and when my neighbours had rain and sleet, I had more snow.The above picture was taken as I set off for the third Tsilhgot’in lesson. Down at the Lincoln Creek Ranch in Tatlayoko, there was no snow at all. It seemed very weird to see this. Instant spring.Climbing out of the valley on the way home, we ran into a guy moving hundreds of cows. He probably chose a Sunday thinking there would be no traffic; instead he met a dozen vehicles all heading up onto the plateau at once!
And now we are into February. The weather continues mixed, but we have on the whole had a lot more sun this year than for many months. The days are certainly getting longer and both the sunrise and sunset points are suddenly travelling quickly along their horizons. I love to watch this – I never saw it at all last year as there was too much cloud.(On the shortest day the sun rises to the right of the trees.)
And just to make sure we are not too complacent, the temperature was down to -30C again this morning!