St. Bernard, Nova Scotia
It is all Saskatchewan's fault! As long as they hang on to their -40°C temperatures (-52 with the wind chill), their Arctic airmass is blocking our weather. While our temperatures can't compare, the stagnant airmass is keeping us cold enough for it to continue snowing. So enough of that macho stuff already. You've made your point: you prairie folk are the hardiest. We all admit it. Now let that cold air move out of here!
As you can tell, folks here on the coast are getting thoroughly sick and tired of snow, snow, and more snow. It started on Dec 13th and just hasn't stopped. We've been shovelling for three weeks straight. It is the topic of conversation at the General Store: Can you get out of your driveway yet? Do you still have gutters? Although we often get bigger one-day snowfalls, they usually melt within a few days. This on-and-on stuff is getting on people's nerves. We actually set a new record for the most snow ever in December.
Today, the temperature was forecast to moderate and we were supposed to get rain. Great, we though, it will melt the snow. After a few minutes of rain, though, it started to look awfully white and fluffy. Yep, more snow! Now they are saying it will turn to rain overnight. I'll believe it when I see it.
Still, with nothing else happenning except shovelling, I figured I would post some of the prettier pictures from the last few weeks. The phrase "winter wonderland" is usually spoken with a voice dripping with sarcasm here these days, but it is pretty to look at.
We had planned to visit my mother in New Westminster at New Year's, but that trip was postponed due to weather: another snow storm with bad roads. Instead, we spent a quiet New Year at home.
We did attend one cultural event this week. One of the members of the Denman Island Photo Club, Bryan Treen, opened a new exhibit of his work yesterday evening. His specialty is long-exposure black and white pictures, and his photos are stunning. The opening of the show was well-attended, with rather a lot of people squeezed into a limited space. It was a good chance to come out of hibernation and mingle.
One of the interesting things about this show is the venue. It is at the Kafé Klatsch Bistro, the most popular eatery on Denman Island (there are only two). The Bistro is under new management since the summer, and the new owner has made quite a few changes. In addition to decor and menu improvements, they now have regular art shows, a new one each month. Instead of ordinary restaurant decor, the pictures on the walls are original artworks by local artists.
We chose to walk to the event, since it was just down the hill from our place. We quite often walk "downtown", and have acquired a reputation for our odd habit of walking. In a place like Denman, where being odd is normal, it takes quite an effort to get a reputation for oddness, but we seem to have managed. As we were leaving the photo show, putting on our reflective vests and checking our flashlights, we had to fend off offers of rides: "Are you quite sure you would rather walk?", asked in an incredulous voice.
The good new is that we haven't had any more snow since last Monday. All this week, they kept promising us rain, but it never materialized. The weather radar showed Victoria and the lower mainland getting a good soaking, but we barely had a few sprinkles.
Between the lack of a good rainfall and the fact that the sun, when it shines, doesn't get above the trees this time of year, the snow remaining on the ground is taking its sweet time about melting. Having said which, it has gone down quite a bit with the warmer temperatures,. There are now bare spots on the ground, mostly under trees and where we have shovelled it. It feels strange to walk about on bare ground again.
As you can see from the second photo, there are places where it will take a long time for all the snow to melt. The big mountains are where we dumped the snow from the deck, including all the snow that avalanched onto the deck from the roof. There is another equally big mountain of snow at the other end of the deck.
Last year, in the first week of January, our daffodils had started to poke their heads up. Just out of curiosity, I went up to the end of the driveway today to see if I could see any. Most of them are still under a foot or so of snow, but, in one clear patch, I spotted one little shoot. It is barely half an inch long, and it looks a bit cold, but it is unmistakeably a daffodil.
This week, we picked up our tickets for the documentary film festival next month. It is a day-long event featuring over 30 documentaries, and is one of our must-see events of the year. We are looking forward to it, and are already studying the program to decide which films to see. It is not physically possible to see them all, sice they run simultaneously in several venues, but you can rent any of them that you missed after the festival is over.
I am continuing to putter in the cottage. I now have all the corner trim in place in the bathroom. We are getting a new bathroom door next week. Once I have it installed - a bit of a challenge, with no actual 90° corners in the framing - the room will be ready for painting. The front room only needs a closet door before it will be ready for painting.
This week's weather has consisted of pea-soup fog and frosty overnight temperatures. All week long, we have been hearing the sound of the foghorn on the M.V. Quinitsa, our ferry. In the cold air, the sound carries well enough that we can hear it clearly and quite loudly, even up here on the far side of the ridge. The poor folks near the ferry terminal must just love the sound by now!
The fog tends to be patchy. Some parts of the island will be almost clear, while in others you can barely see across the road. Generally, if we have fog here on the ridge, downtown will be clear, and vice-versa. It deposits hoarfrost on the trees overnight, which then drips off them onto the dry leaves below with a clattering sound during the day.
The fog cleared to a light mist this afternoon, allowing shafts of sunlight to peek through the trees. It was quite pretty.
The little patches of sun that reach the ground are not enough to melt any more snow. With the cooler temperatures this week, melting has just about come to an end, though quite a lot had melted before the weather cooler off. Earlier this week, we were able to get the car down the driveway for the first time in a month.
In frosty weather, I keep an old bath towel over the windshield of the car to prevent frost from building up. This is particularly important in case we get a fire department callout: you'd hate to have to take time to scrape the windshield when someone is in urgent need of emergency medical care or someone's house is on fire, yet you couldn't go without doing it.
I was glad I did this on Thursday morning, when, just as I was about to sit down to breakfast, my pager went off announcing a structure fire. We have been extremely lucky that we have not had a house fire on Denman for two and a half years. However, all those weekly practices paid off. We responded rapidly (9 minutes from the time of the page to the first vehicle at the scene) and worked well as a team to get the fire under control quickly. It was the first time we have worked with our new fire department auxilliary members, and it was very successful: they ran the tanker trucks and helped with other equipment, freeing up the regular members for the actual firefighting. The house was badly damaged, but we managed to save the structure.
All on an empty stomach.
We attended an interesting cultural event last night. One of our friends here on Denman, Neil, was among the producers of the well-known film Koyaanisqatsi, which came out in 1983. The film, which has become a cult classic, is a feature-length documentary on the disfunctional relationship between modern society and nature. It has no plot or dialogue, yet it tells its story beautifully and clearly with images and music alone. Neil showed the film at the Arts Centre, taking a bit of a chance on what kind of audience he would get, since it is not everyone's cup of tea.
The Arts Centre, when set up for movies, comfortably seats about 20 people. When we arrived there, with plenty of time to spare, the place was packed, with only two seats left. In fact, people kept coming in behind us, and they had to borrow extra chairs from the community hall. The total must have been around 40, probably the biggest movie audience on Denman Island in the last five years. The event was a fundraiser for the Arts Centre building, so it was quite a success.
On the way home, the fog had lifted, and the sky was velvety-black with thousands of brilliant stars and the Milky Way arching overhead. Naturally, a Denman audience would "get" what the film was about!
The weather continues to be cold and foggy. In fact, you could hardly call this weather at all: it never changes. All the weather systems coming in off the Pacific Ocean head north to Alaska or south to Oregon, leaving us with the same old lack of weather.
My poor rain gauge has taken a dislike to these conditions. I presume there must be some condensation or frost inside the electronics because it has been giving me crazy readings, such as 150mm of rain in one minute. I have to manually correct my records avery day.
In fact, there has been no precipitation at all for a couple of weeks now, except for a skiff of new snow last night. This January is going to be even drier than last year. I hope that is not an indication of how the rest of the year will unfold.
I am continuing to make progress on the cottage renovation. I finished casing and hanging the bathroom door, and started priming the walls today. The next task will be painting, at which point, it will actually start to look like it should. The end will be in sight.
I have been doing quite a bit of on-island consulting work, fixing people's computers. You would be surprised how many people have sick computers: viruses, complicated upgrades, dead Internet conections, you name it. It is a good thing that Macs never really caught on, because, with all the Windows PCs out there, I can always count on something breaking and needing repair.
On Friday night, we attended another concert in the Concerts Denman series. This was a program of piano music played by Sara Davis Buechner. She played pieces by Bach, von Weber, Dana Suesse and George Gershwin. It was an excellent concert and fairly well-attended but, surprisingly, it was not sold out.
When there is nothing else interesting to photograph, I can always count on the critters to be cute. Here is a picture of two young deer sharing a pile of sheep food that Wendy put out for them. With the cold and snowy weather this winter, we were concerned that the deer, particularly the young ones, would have a hard time finding food. We learned that they love sheep food, which is available at the feed store in town for quite a reasonable cost. Between that and the last of our apples, they seem to be surviving just fine.
Owen, of course, doesn't need an excuse to be cute.
Copyright © 2013 Keith Walker
Last modified: 20-May-2013