Large Flakes?

Looking out the window this afternoon, I saw huge snowflakes. Or were they leaves? But they were floating so easily, like snow. More and more flakes came down, and yet, not enough to say, “It’s snowing,” and besides, it was just a tad too warm. Something didn’t feel right. I went to investigate.

I picked up some of the “snowflakes” and saw that they were feathers. They kept falling from the sky. I thought of the German folk tale about Frau Holle who shakes the featherbeds (goosedown duvets, in our modern western world) in the sky and makes it snow.

I traced the path of the feathers to their origin and strained my eyes to study the top reaches of a fir tree. For a few minutes I saw nothing, but at last I made the culprit nervous.

A huge eagle took off from the tree with its dinner in its talons.

I knew from the feathers that the eagle’s meal was a duck. The harsh reality of  life and death in the animal food chain always leaves me with mixed feelings. Both are beautiful birds, but why does one have to eat the other? Couldn’t they just eat pancakes instead?

 

 

Pane Pain

The birds know that summer is over and it is time to go south. They don’t like to be too cold anymore than I do, and it’s hard to find food  if there is snow on the ground. Even cold rain doesn’t make it a hospitable environment for providing seeds and/or insects for birds to eat.

The air is fairly vibrating with birdsong, as the birds gather in ever growing flock numbers to eat like crazy and do little practice flights in preparation for the big trip  south.

Unfortunately, with so much activity many of the birds try to fly through my windows, thinking there is a flight path to the other side of the house. It breaks my heart and sometimes their necks or wings, when they hit. The guilt I feel is huge.

After hearing three thumps on my windows in a short space of time, I found a bar of soap and drew lines over the panes so the birds could see that there is a barrier in their flight path.

One little warbler type had hit a corner window just before I soaped it. He had a soft landing on a deck chair cushion. He stayed there for several hours. I worried and felt so bad for him as I watched his tiny traumatized wings quiver.

Then, apparently the time was right. He pooped and flew away. I hope he doesn’t have a bad headache. I’m so glad he survived.

Baby it’s cold outside

The first snowfall of the season has dusted the tops of our local hills at last. This year it’s a welcome sight, not only for the skiers, but for the townspeople who have been under a “Boil Water Advisory” off and on for weeks, due to the heavy rainfall and flooding.

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The sun even came out for a few minutes to highlight the cool hilltops.

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Everyone is talking about it, even the ducks, dscn7445a

 

With all the rain that’s fallen here,

We ducks don’t cry, but rather cheer.

But as the chill turns rain to snow,

We start to wonder where to go.

Maybe we will be in luck

And fields won’t turn to frozen muck.

The corn and grain in farmers’ fields

Is filling for the strength it yields

But if it freezes, in our strife

We’ll have to eat aquatic life.

 

Turning Seasons

The colours of fall are amazing. As we drove through Montana on our way back to the coast, the brown hills near Missoula impressed us with their brilliant deciduous growth in the valley bottoms.

Even before learning the name of the huge trees with almost black bark, I have loved the look of the black cottonwoods. In Montana’s ever-present breeze the leaves whisper soothingly. It does the soul good just to stand quietly under one of these trees, close your eyes and listen.

I don’t know what the red shrubs are that don’t mind getting their feet wet in the creeks and rivers, but I saw the same shrubs growing in the small waterways of southern British Columbia as we drove home. dscn7290If I were a painter, I wouldn’t hesitate to set up my easel here.dscn7288Or here! I love the white bark on the trees below. Are they birch? Poplar? I don’t know, but they’re beautiful.

Notice how yellow and brown the grass is. It’s usually fairly dry here.dscn7296

Now see how green the grass is in the photo below. We are on the coast and the wet weather reminds us that we’re nearly home. That tree floating in the bay is a Douglas fir that was washed away from the banks of the river and has floated all the way into the estuary. It was a very tall tree, although it may be hard to tell from the photo. I later saw this same tree in a video clip someone posted to the weather network.

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Just a couple more miles to home. We’ve driven past flooded fields and a cresting river. So glad we live on high ground.

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Dorothy in Kansas?

Four years ago we camped in Montana and I learned how close it was to Dorothy and Toto’s Kansas. We parked our 19-foot trailer in a clean, new RV Park. The Captain decided to do a reconnaissance trip while I settled in to catch up with my email.

“Perfect,” I thought, “I’m going to enjoy my little bit of alone time.” Twenty minutes later, disaster struck.

When we first arrived, the Captain put up the trailer awning. You would think he knew about raising sails…. I made the mistake of suggesting that this was not a good idea because northeastern Montana is prairie-like and the wind whistles  unimpeded across the land. Of course, as soon as I  said “Don’t,” he did. Why don’t I learn?

“If it’s too windy, I’ll take it down,” he’d said.

He left. I settled in,  enjoying my laptop and connecting with friends by email. Moments later, the whole trailer began to shake. A big gust of wind buffeted it. Visions went through my head –  the trailer with me inside, bouncing across the prairie like a giant vinyl tumbleweed. I pulled the curtains aside and looked out the window. The canvas was billowing high, and the aluminum support on one side had collapsed so the awning hung onto the trailer at an odd twisted angle.

53More gusts. I had to do something or we might roll over. Outside, I stood wondering what to do. If I did the wrong thing, a big wind gust  could rip the awning or the aluminum supports out of my hands and smash them into the trailer. One support was higher than the other. I tried to lower it one notch at a time by opening the lever and un-telescoping the support. You would think that was the sensible and easy thing to do, except that the pin that holds the telescoped part in place is no longer responding to the lever action when I try to release it. The pin is either broken off or hanging by a thread. I muscled the thing to push it up and used needle-nosed pliers to poke the metal pin back through the slots that held the support in place, but all it did was slide into the next slot down and the struggle began all over again. The old whiplash injury in my neck began to scream in pain at the effort and I had to give up for a while. More gusts of wind. I tried again. More neck pain. I gave up and resigned myself to becoming a tumbleweed.

52I didn’t get much emailing done, or enjoy my “alone time.” I fretted until the Captain came back.

What I had struggled with for two hours took him less than five minutes to fix.

“Huh!” he said, “I didn’t think it was going to be that windy.”

I was dying to say “I told you so,” but what would have been the point?

Winter Begins

Monday, December 21, 2015 at 8:49 PM Pacific Standard Time

That’s when the northern hemisphere is leaning the farthest away from the earth. After that, it will come back closer to the sun by tiny degrees. Officially it’s the beginning of winter, but to me, it means the worst is over and we are beginning the journey back from the darkness and heading for spring.

Monday will be the day with the least amount of daylight. The night before that (tomorrow night) will be the longest stretch of darkness. That’s okay. I can hibernate for one more night before getting all excited about adding a minute or two of daylight to each coming day.

This fall, it has been one wind/rainstorm after another here on Vancouver Island. But a few days ago, the wind switched to the northwest and the blast of Arctic air brought some of that moisture down in the shape of snowflakes.

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With the newly fallen snow, it seems that the Christmas carols are now more festive and meaningful, although I always wondered why snow has this effect on us, since the original Christmas story took place in a desert and obviously it was warm enough there, because not even the wise men were wearing a parka.

I hope the snow stays up in the hills. I don’t need to go play in it or make angels in the snow. I’m happy enough to look at it from the warmth and comfort of my living room.

 

 

 

Glimpses

While driving along a country road, we saw these mule deer and stopped to admire them. The one on the left must be Frida Kahlo’s brother, judging by the unibrow.  The other didn’t want to move lest he disturb his little beanie that was balanced between his antlers.DSCN4142

I said, “Hi. You guys look so amazing. Would you mind if I take your picture?” but they stuck their noses in the air and said, “Sorry, girl, we’ve got to run now. Make an appointment with our agent.” And this glimpse is all I got of them. Even so I had to hurry to document their departure.

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We drove on a little farther and in a very short time, the sun tried the same trick on us. This was the last glimpse we had of the sun for that October day. But I heard it say, as it waved goodbye, “See you tomorrow!”

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