Montana Fields

We try to get out to Montana every year in October for some bird hunting and photography and hiking. This year, we arrived to about an inch of snow. While it is beautiful, it is quite chilly. The good thing about it is that rattlesnakes don’t like cold weather so I didn’t have to worry as much about Emma and Ruby getting bitten.

You may remember Emma as a puppy four years ago. We had great hopes that she would someday become a good flusher and retriever of game birds.

She hasn’t disappointed us. In spite of being quite small, this English field cocker spaniel is full of energy and her cuddly nature takes a back seat when it comes to finding birds. Nothing gets away from her.

If you thought the prairies were only boring grassy fields, you couldn’t be more wrong. The coulees are full of prickly shrubs, birds, and small animals. A fat hare came tearing out of the shrubs here and just as I was about to snap a photo, my battery died.

But later I caught this mule deer running away from all the commotion. I traipsed along behind the Captain and Emma as they did their pheasant hunting thing, hoping for something interesting to photograph, and I saw something the deer had left behind last year — an antler shed. It was only the second time I had ever found one and I was quite happy about stumbling across it.

After the snow from the day before, the mostly clay ground was “wettish,” and while we had heavy clods of mud on our boots, Emma’s feet were getting harder and harder for her to pick up. Besides collecting many burrs in her fur, she had huge clumps of clay on her feet. Here she is getting them soaked off, just before I took the comb and scissors to her curly ears to remove the burrs.

She is usually so energetic, we weren’t sure this was our Emma flaked out on the couch after the day’s outing.

It was Ruby’s turn to go out today, but she is sick. We think she drank some bad water. This has happened one other year and we have given her some meds that we hope will fix her up in a day or two.

PS Now, two days later, Ruby is feeling much better. We are so relieved.

 

Giving Thanks

This weekend, these wild turkeys came to visit the area behind our trailer as we stopped for the night near St. Regis, Montana, on our way to eastern Montana.

I know there will be a lot of domestic turkeys eaten in Canada over this weekend, as we give thanks for the good things in our lives. These wild turkeys are thankful too (that they are not on our menu).

I know that I’m tasty,

But let’s not be hasty,

I tell you I’m tough to the bone.

It’s one lucky matter

I’m not on a platter,

So I’m giving thanks of my own.

 

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!

 

Storing Food for Winter

Linc is at it again. Doesn’t he look happy?

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And why shouldn’t he? The two filbert trees in the front yard have been harvested several times by the people,

but still, a lot of nuts are falling to the ground every time a breeze blows by.

Linc wastes no time in getting down there to retrieve them.

Yesterday I took pictures of his stash, and so, having been discovered, he has found a new hiding place.

He doesn’t spend any more time than necessary out in the open; just long enough to determine if there is a nut in the fallen husks.

When he looked up to the deck of the house, he knew someone was watching him, and made a dash for safety up the trunk of the black walnut tree.

He was soon down again though, and scampered at high speed to a new location for his stash behind the woodshed.

I tried taking a video of him rushing out into the open to grab a filbert for his winter food supply but Linc is so fast, that when I tried to keep the camera focused on him, it was hard to keep him in the picture at times. The video is wobbly and not great quality, but you can see him peeling the husk from the nut and running away with it. The second nut in the bunch was a bad one as you might be able to see in the video.

 

 

I’m sure he’ll be back again tomorrow. He does most of his work in the early morning, when it’s still quiet in the neighbourhood.

He must have a lot of winter food put away by this time, judging by how quickly he works.

 

Place mats

Recently, my nephew got married and I had no idea what to do for a wedding gift. He had been living with his partner (now wife) for several years so they really didn’t need more gifts.

I finally came up with the idea of place mats, because that  you can always use extras or switch them around for a different look.

These are from a pattern called Take Four, probably because it uses four different fabrics and makes four different place mats. I made eight altogether so there are two of each pattern.

For the back of the place mats I used a solid piece of each of the fabrics used on the front, so the place mats are reversible. If you spill something on one side, you can quickly flip it over to use the other side.

It’s not a difficult pattern, but you have to pay attention to the different colour sequences so you will end up with the intended look.

It was a fun project and I thought of the newlyweds a lot as I sewed.

I hope they will always have enough food to serve on these place mats.

A Great Review for Marlie

Many years ago, the Captain and I lived on the Queen Charlotte Islands. The name of the islands has since been changed to Haida Gwaii, but it’s still the same remote, wild place. It was a magnet for adventurous nature-loving people back then, and even now it attracts a certain type. Among those who want to live the non-urban lifestyle, you’ll find:

fishermen who feel a burning need to risk their lives in horrendous weather,

adventurers who love the amazing scenery,

people who love nature and animals,

people who love the solitude of lonely beaches, and beachcombing.

My novels about the Charlottes and the West Coast are mainly about women living in  “a man’s world.” It is rough and tough for them, but somehow, they grow stronger as they face the challenges of island life. Of course, love is always in the wings. It is with these elements in mind that I wrote three of my five novels: The Wind Weeps (free download on Amazon and Smashwords), its sequel Reckoning Tide, and now my latest novel, Marlie.

Below the book cover image, I have copied the latest review of Marlie, in the hope of interesting you in reading this book that is dear to my heart.

I love Anneli Purchase’s work. It is straightforward in the way that Nature is straightforwardly pragmatic and indifferent to suffering, ego or justice. This we know, but the shock never diminishes.

This story is set against the scenery of the wild where you hunt to eat and bad men get what a bad man can take. Strong men and women suck it up and the only snowflakes are under the wheels of your truck or blizzarding in on the pitiless wind.

Marlie is a woman from the city starting over maybe in the liberal belief that you ever can. There is no fake sentimentality here. She finds happiness but only via conflict and brutality. Nature respects no weakness but only men are truly cruel for pleasure. Survival and the perception of beauty allow a space for romantic love in this atmospheric and beautifully written story. If you love the mechanics of writing look out for the poetry of vocabulary from the stern roller through to humpies in the scuppers.

You will need to shower off the sea salt when you put this book down. I read this story in the heat of an Italian summer but I was there in the Charlottes looking north to Alaska. Now that is writing talent.

*****

You can find Marlie on all the Amazon sites. Just go to amazon.com or amazon.ca, or amazon.co.uk and type in Marlie. If you have an e-reader other than Kindle, you can find Marlie on Smashwords.com. It is affordably priced so as not to break the bank.

 

 

Ripple Rock

Every year when the captain (my captain, that is) takes his commercial troller from Vancouver Island to the Queen Charlotte Islands on the northern coast of British Columbia (and back again), he has to go through a tight passage called Seymour Narrows.

Located just north of the town of Campbell River, this stretch of water was described by Captain George Vancouver as “one of the vilest stretches of water in the world.”

Whenever I have accompanied “my” captain through the narrows, I’ve nearly given myself an ulcer beforehand, as Seymour Narrows has such a terrible reputation. Yet each time, going through the passage has been a piece of cake, with calm waters. That’s how it should be, if you wait for slack water, between tides.

The passage through Seymour Narrows is now much safer thanks to the removal of the tops of Ripple Rock,  a submerged twin-peak mountain that lay just nine feet beneath the surface of Seymour Narrows. According to Wikipedia, it was a serious hazard to shipping, sinking 119 vessels and taking 114 lives.

In the case of the William J. Stewart, when it struck Ripple Rock  in 1944, I’m not aware of any loss of life, and the ship was beached and later restored. It was due to be scrapped in 2017.

On April 5, 1958, after twenty-seven months of tunnelling and engineering work, Ripple Rock was blown up with 1,375 tons of Nitramex 2H explosive. It was quite the project.  A 500-foot vertical shaft was built on Maud Island, and then a horizontal shaft of 2,370 feet  was drilled out to Ripple Rock. From that point, two vertical shafts were drilled up into the  peaks, with shafts for the placement of the explosives. Very advanced technology for 1958.

I think those columns of smoke are blowback  from the explosion, coming out through the drilled shafts.

The explosion spewed debris almost 1000 feet into the air falling on land on either side of the narrows.  After the blast, the two peaks were 13.7 m (45 ft) and 15.2 m (50 ft) underwater.

Some very smart engineers had the foresight to detonate the charge at a time when the tide was running its fastest, so the rocks  blown off the tops would not fall straight back down onto the peaks, but rather, be swished along beyond them.

Even after the top of Ripple Rock was removed, it remains a challenging route. In March 1981, the Star Philippine, a freighter, ran aground in the narrows.

When the captain was coming home from a summer of trolling, he took pictures of his navigation instruments as he went through Seymour Narrows quite close by Ripple Rock. The red triangular icon represents his boat as he is heading south, just past Ripple Rock. Arrows show the direction of the tidal flow at that time. You can see the depths of the peaks as 15.2 m, and 13.7 m.

In the monitor of the depth sounder below, you can see the twin peaks of the rock. The reading is taken on the far right where the scale is marked. This tells me that the boat has just passed the second of the peaks of what is left of Ripple Rock.

Even knowing that the rock has been topped, I still have a healthy respect for this stretch of water. The colour photos (near the beginning of this post) of the swirling eddies are recent, well after the explosion of Ripple Rock, so you can see that going through Seymour Narrows when the tide is running full is still not a good idea.

My preference is to stay on land whenever possible.

 

 

 

Aitch Two Oh!

No rain all summer, until a couple of days ago. At last, at last, the skies opened up and water poured out.

The drops of water on the deck made beautiful rings on the wet surface. (Well, I guess they look pretty ordinary, but I was overjoyed to see them.) Ask me again in January if I still love rain.

For you–haiku.

 Thirsty plants revive,

Wildfires sizzle and burn out,

Rain pelts down on them.