Monday, December 15, 2014
Here are drag marks made by the beaver as he dragged trees that he cut down.
The weather has been strange this winter. We have had some very cold snaps, and some very warm spells with very little snow. Currently there is hardly any snow left on the ground. Not enough for skiing or snowshoeing, but the lake is just right for skating. There is no snow over the frozen expanse of the lake, making a perfect 66km ice rink. We went out yesterday and Kesten tried skating for the first time on real skates. He loves it! He keeps begging us to go back. It looks like we'll have at least another week of snow-free weather to enjoy the lake for skating. After that we'll move to the outdoor oval that they make at the high school.
Yesterday I also went for my weekly ramble in the woods. As I was heading up the trail, I caught sight of a snowshoe hare bounding ahead of me. I walked a little further and then plopped down into the snow to sit quietly and watch. At first the forest is silent as it cautiously observes me but after a few minutes of stillness on my part, the forest accepts my presence. The quiet gives way to the noise of the chickadees chirping and the squirrels scolding. Twigs snap in the forest, as unseen animals move about. I sat still and quiet for about twenty minutes. Finally, growing tired of being still and frozen in the butt, I turned my head to look behind me. There on the edge of the trail I saw a snowshoe hare, quietly watching me. He froze when I moved, hoping that his camouflage would keep him safe and I snapped a quick picture (too bad it didn't focus on him!).
As I shifted my body around to get into a better position, he took one hop, back into the cover of the bushes, but keeping one eye on me. I took another picture and then he disappeared from sight.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
The Christmas season is in full swing! Fun events and busy weeks are the norm these days. Last week we headed out to our friends' farm for some visiting and a tour of the animals. Kesten and Cedar rode around in style!
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
What fosters a sense of wonder in children better than magical, twinkling Christmas Lights?
Cedar has been enjoying time under the tree, on her back looking up, and on her tummy trying to inch forward towards those sparkly lights.
Sunday, November 30, 2014
We went on our annual Christmas Tree hunt this morning. It was -24c. We were bundled up so warm that only our eyeballs and some cheek were exposed. But that was still too cold for the kids. After five minutes we took them back to the car and I was left to find a tree by myself. I ended up cutting down the first Douglas fir I could find and lugged it back to the car. The thing was very heavy and my arm is still sore from dragging it. And man, is it an ugly tree! But in those kinds of temperatures, you can't be too choosy. The tree has no branches at all in the back and the star on top sits lower down than the top branches. Of course we could trim those a bit, but I like the eccentric look of our tree. I think this one may even be uglier than the crooked S-shaped tree we got our first Christmas here.
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Winter has finally set in. After weeks and weeks of waiting-waking each morning to look out in the hopes of seeing a transformed, white world and finding only dirt and frost- winter is here. November 24th is too late for our first real snow, the animals of the forest have suffered for it. The snowshoe hare, betrayed by its already white fur, stood out against the brown earth. The camouflage so cleverly meant to protect it in winter is now the cause of its death. The grouse found no comfort in deep insulating snow tunnels when the temperatures plummeted at the beginning of the month. And the voles, who would normally feast in shrouded safety under a blanket of snow have been left exposed to the predators of the woods.
But all that is forgotten now. We finally did wake up to find a world transformed. It snowed and snowed and snowed. And then it froze. Hard. And a storm blew in. The howling and whistling wind sent snow in a flurry around our house. The windows are covered in ice and the chickens are half-buried in a snow drift. The whirly-birds in our attic are screeching an un-earthly tune. Day and night, they scream out some sort of exotic music which clashes with the low and warm melody of our happy house. The sound of wind howling down our chimney makes me feel cold and sets my nerves on edge. The wood floors of our living room are icy and a draft blows in around the door. We tack blankets around the cracks in an effort to keep out the cold.
The wind has stopped now, but the temperature is still around -20c. I went out to the woods today, to feel alive. Bundled in layers, I didn't feel cold at all, except for a nip on my cheeks. The woods are silent, but the signs of activity and life are left stamped on the ground. The snowshoe hares have rebounded from their unfortunate winter start. Their tracks are abundant, creating highways through the dense brush. No sign of moose yet, but a few deer have passed through the trails. I see no animals on my walk, but I am sure they see me. I get the impression that the animals are watching me, inches from the trail, waiting to burst out the moment I am out of sight. The odd times that I have caught an animal off-guard are so thrilling- those times are one of the reasons that I keep going back to the woods.
When I reluctantly leave after a couple of hours in the forest, I step back into my warm house, cheeks glowing, hair wet from melting frost, and an incurable smile. I love winter.