Category Archives: Animals

West Coast Travels

At the end of the fishing season this past summer, the Captain was ready to head home.  A new phase of the adventure begins with the rising sun.

Along the way home, he stops to check out this little building. You would never guess that inside this shack is a pleasant surprise.  A cemented enclosure fills with warm water through a  pipe from hotsprings behind the cabin. Step inside and have a soak to take the ache out of your bones.

The falls at the head of Lowe Inlet splash relentlessly. Except for the odd raven chuckling in the treetops, the rush and gurgle of the water are the only sounds. If you think you might want to try casting a dry fly towards a coho, be sure to take your bear spray with you – just in case.

 Need a warm cabin for drying out those wet clothes? This Fisheries cabin at Lowe Inlet, aptly named the Lowe Budget Hotel,  is very cozy after the Captain has spent some time trying his luck fishing in the cold mist of the falls. 

He remembers to follow the rules about the woodstove, posted on the wall. Don’t want to risk burning the cabin down.

Almost there. Running the boat down Grenville Channel.  Beautiful trip but there’s no place like home.

Meanwhile at home, I’ve been writing, and thinking about my fictitious character, Andrea, who has had an experience that seems bizarre at first. But in truth, this has happened to other women who have ventured out to the coast.

How did a city girl like her became trapped in an isolated cabin on this remote coast? Will she ever escape this lonely place where she must live with a man who is mentally deranged?

You can download The Wind Weeps (FREE), and then you can find out the conclusion in a sequel, Reckoning Tide, that is only $2.99. When did you last get so much enjoyment and entertainment for such a small price?

Why not get them both today at amazon.com or amazon.ca and smashwords.com?

You can find them all with supporting reviews at my website www.anneli-purchase.com

Will You Be My Chum?

We have five species of salmon on the Pacific coast. Some, like the chinook, sockeye, and coho are highly prized. The other two, pink and chum, are also delicious when they are in their prime. The pink has softer flesh and is good in a barbecue or steamed, smoked, or canned, while the chum is mostly used for canning and smoking. It is also being used for its roe.

After spending four years in the ocean, the chums will swim up a river to spawn. On their way from the ocean to the river,  chums go through  dramatic changes in the shape of their body. The head features change so the jaws are more curved and pronounced, the males growing teeth that serve them in their aggression and dominance over other males. This toothy look has earned them the nickname “dog salmon.”

The flesh also begins to break down, enabling patches of fungus to grow on the skin.

Here is one that has those patches all over its body. What was once a silvery salmon is now looking more like a barely living fish cadaver.

The chums make their way upstream, often in pairs. The female lays her eggs in a gravel bed and the male fertilizes them. Then, exhausted from their long journey, they waste away and die, littering the banks of the river and getting hung up on rocks and log jams.

Of course, in nature, not much goes to waste. Usually the eagles occupy these trees that overlook the river, but now they are the resting place for seagulls who have gorged themselves on the stinking flesh of the chum salmon.

There they are at the dinner table on the far left side of the stream.

On the opposite shore, to my disgust, I see fishermen throwing lures into the river in hopes of snagging the dying, putrid chums which are too exhausted to take the bait anymore.  A month ago, some of these chums might  still have made a tasty meal, but now? If you don’t want to eat carrion, why torture these dying fish?   Fishing, is a fine sport, but this???  This has nothing more to do with fishing. I don’t know what to make of it. Words fail me!

Below is a 13-second video of the salmon on the other side of the bridge from which these pictures were taken. The chums are most likely already spawned out but are still going through the motions until they exhaust themselves. You may notice that most of them are paired up. The noise in the video is, unfortunately, made by the cars going by on the bridge behind me.

 

Redheads

“Yikes!” This guy was caught red-handed – well, maybe more like red-headed – vandalizing the maple tree. Just look at the holes he’s put into the bark! I guess they make great toeholds for him.

Who would think there is something inside that bark that makes it so enticing for him?

“Hold on,” he says. “I think I can hear something wiggling around in there.”

“Mmyeahhhh … worth having a poke around.”

“There he is! I can feel him in there. Tasty little morsel … if I can only get him out of there. I’ll follow it up with a slurp of syrup from the sap.”

“Yum! That was good, but what a lot of work for a snack. Gotta take a breather for a sec.”

“What’s that you say?” He’s shocked that I’ve questioned him. “Holes in the bark? So what? There’s tons of them. What’s one more?”

“But don’t you see that if you keep going around in a circle you’ll soon ring the tree?”

“So…?

“Well, the sap has to go up and down the tree to keep it alive.”

“But I’m a sapsucker. Duh! It’s what I do!”

“I don’t know how much more of this I can take. I held so still for her when I saw she had her camera.  But enough is enough.”

“I’ll pose for this one last picture and then I’m off. I can always come back later, when her arm gets tired, or her eyes hurt from squinting against the sun, or – hee hee – when her battery dies. All that zooming really eats batteries. 

Now. Where was I? Oh yes, continuing on this line of holes my buddies and I were working on last week.”

What’s in a Name?

Dunkirk, Zurich, Malta, Glasgow, Cleveland, Devon, Rudyard, Harlem, Jordan, Belgrade, Amsterdam-Churchill, Havre, and Manhattan. These are names of places all over the world, but they are also names of places in Montana.

On our way home we stopped for the night in Zurich. Not Zurich, Switzerland, but Zurich, Montana. It’s a tiny farming community where the people drive their ATVs down the middle of  the road if they’re taking their trash to the local garbage dump. You just have to slow down and wait until they make their turn into the dumping station up ahead on the left.

Then you can continue on to the little gem of a community park where they kindly allow campers to stay the night for a mere  ten-dollar fee for electricity. Such a peaceful location.

The community hall was not in use the day we were there, camped in the corner.

The view from my trailer window is of black cottonwoods that whisper as they drop their last golden leaves. The only notably loud sound was made by the pheasant who cackled enthusiastically before taking wing out of the creek bed beside our trailer.

I thought it odd that Montana has so many names that duplicate other places in the world, but on looking more closely at the map, I saw names of a completely different sort:  Poplar, Wolf Point, Plentywood, Buffalo, Cat Creek, Musselshell, Rattlesnake, Lodgepole, Sleeping Buffalo, Whitewater, Crow Rock, Grass Range, Forest Grove, Roundup, Deer Lodge, Cut Bank, Sunburst, Sweetgrass, Fox Crossing, Chinook, Gold Butte.

Montana names are such fun!

 

Oh Deer, Deer.

Dear me, these mule deer are late for school. They are just down the hill from the school beyond the fence.

See them there, talking about whether it’s wise to skip school. The leader of the pack reminds them that this school has been closed since 1966, and the teacher is long gone.

But what to do about this fence. Who will go first to show how it’s done? Finally, one of them hops over and the rest follow, running until they are out of sight. They are already far away from me, but they’re taking no chances.

This white-tailed deer is a bit braver and as long as I didn’t try to get out of the truck it posed for a couple of pictures. You can see the line where I didn’t have the window lowered enough.

They’re only deer, whether mule deer or white-tailed deer, but I like to take a picture of them because they are such en”dear”ing animals. Maybe I watched too many Walt Disney movies, but I love seeing these gentle animals.

By the way, if there are any truck experts out there, I’d appreciate knowing the models and year of the trucks by the school.

I will be on the road for a few days, but will answer your comments when I am connected again.

Pioneering

“Someone” lived here once upon a time. “Someone” must have worked very hard to make ends meet, cook meals,  raise children, keep warm in an uninsulated house in extremely cold winters, and  keep their spirits up when the nearest neighbour was miles away.

I can’t imagine anyone being that tough, to live out there so isolated and to work so hard on the land, fighting the elements.

I peeked into the house and saw the kitchen stove still in its place. It must have run on propane, as I doubt they had electricity until later years. They probably had to bring the water to the house from somewhere, either with buckets, or from a shallow well that you had to pump by hand.  Either way, it would have been a chore to heat water for a bath.

Most likely the nearest  neighbours were the local birds and other animals like coyotes, porcupines, deer, and rattlesnakes.

The pronghorns must have been a wonderful sight to see then, just as they are now. These antelopes were about half a mile away when I tried to snap a shot of them.

The one in the photo below looks like it might be trying to grow antlers. A young buck, maybe?

 

Another neighbour’s feed house tells the story of the climate in this area. Do you think it’s windy much?

You have to be very tough to live in this country. It’s one thing to visit here, but to actually spend a winter in this harsh place takes a lot of fortitude.

So Much Bull

What’re YOU lookin’ at?

I was just admiring your unique earrings. But shouldn’t they be on a girl cow?

Harrumpf! Come over here and say that.

Oh sorry. I meant to say they’re … ah … er … elegant.

I think that’s a lot of BULL-tweety.

Well, who am I to argue with this guy? I was just trying to be nice, when all I could think of was rib-eye steaks and chateaubriand.