Where There’s Smoke….

They say where there’s smoke, there’s fire, but I’m learning that even where there’s no fire, there’s smoke.

The rising sun glowed red through the smoke haze that drifted in and settled over the lower mainland of British Columbia. Wildfires continue to burn  hundreds of miles away, in the BC interior, but the smoke has arrived in Vancouver and also across the water on Vancouver Island. I’ve heard reports of it spreading south past Seattle.

My usual view of the bay and the hills on the farther side is now screened with a smoky veil. I took some pictures of the Comox Glacier today and could barely see it.

First I’d like to show you  photos of the glacier taken quite a long time ago on a normal day, even with a few clouds. Now, below, are today’s photos, taken on a cloudless day, but with smoke drifting through the region from the wildfires.

 

“Where is the glacier?” you may well ask. If you look hard, you will see it there behind the smokescreen.

The air smells like a campfire minus the hot dogs and marshmallows. It’s hard to find a refreshing lungful of clean air. Eyes, nose, mouth, and throat are dry, dry, dry. Add to this the extreme heat and drought, and it is a miserable state of affairs.

Here is the view of the estuary. If it were winter, you might think it’s a normal misty winter day on the coast, but it’s the beginning of August. That sky should be blue, and so should the water. That haze is not mist, but smoke.

Summer is supposed to be a time for camping, tenting, swimming, fishing, barbecuing, and sitting around a campfire at night. The extreme fire hazard puts the idea of summer camping fun in a different light. The simple act of striking a match has the potential to destroy whole communities. Hundreds of little animals (and this year, even many large animals) have died trying in vain to escape the fires.

Please be careful when you are camping or even just out walking. If you are a smoker, please be mindful of what you do with your cigarette butts, or even the ashes that fall from the cigarette. The vegetation is tinder dry.

This past spring when it continued to be wet and cold, I wished for warm, dry weather and I remember saying that when it finally happens we’ll wish for rain. And here we are!

I am now wishing for rain.

Walking Off Calories

After the usual overindulgence at Christmas, a walk was in order. Not too far from my house is a great place to stretch your legs. There’s a spit of land that reaches out into the part of the ocean that is between the mainland of BC and Vancouver Island. If you look towards the inland side of the spit, you’ll see the wharf at the Town of Comox.001

Looking back from the spit you can see where it is connected to the main part of the island. The left side of the photo below shows the mainland of British Columbia in the distance and the more open water that has washed countless logs and tree roots up onto the sandy spit. A breakwater of sorts has been built with short logs to make a fence, in the hope of keeping high surf from washing debris across the road that goes along the spit (beside the hydro poles). No surf today though.

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Looking towards Comox again, the chill of the newly fallen snow brings a breeze that stings reddened ears. The sleeping prince and princess of the Comox Glacier are on this photo, but hidden behind a swath of clouds.

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Doesn’t that water look chilly? That’s because it IS.

Comox Glacier

 

We’ve had an awful lot of rain lately. It’s almost as bad as last year at this time. I went back to the news report from Dec. 9, 2014 when the city of Courtenay had unusually high flooding in the city park next to the river. Usually it’s just flooding over the baseball diamonds and some of the kids’ play areas, but last year was bad, as you can see from this photo by Julie Nichol, with widespread flooding over the fields and roads nearby. That’s the Courtenay River on the left and Lewis Park on the right.

Courtenay flooding 2014

This year in December, it has rained a lot again, and almost to the day there was flooding in the low areas of Courtenay.

BUT! At higher elevations, all that rain came down as snow. The owners of the local ski hill on Mt. Washington must be ecstatic to have this dump of snow just in time for their official opening today.

Those of us who did not get up to the ski hill could still enjoy the results of all this higher elevation “rain turned to snow” just by looking up at the Comox Glacier. It has been losing mass year by year, but today, even though it received only a superficial coating of snow, it looks the way it did many years ago when it was still a substantial glacier.

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Several legends are told about the glacier, and one that seemed plausible today says that this mountain is a “Sleeping Princess.” I can see her lying there with her head on the right side of the glacier, chin in the air. But then I took another photo and discovered that the prince may also be lying there to the right. Do you see him there? He has a fat belly.

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It makes me happy to see the rain turned into snow in such a beautiful way, fit for royalty.