Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Distant Glow of Arctic Magic

 Last night with the wind finally still and the skies clear, it was fine night on Bear Lake.  We've had a foot of snow since Saturday night and the wind came behind to sculpt it round our house and outbuildings.  Most of the day it blew, carving dunes on the roof pitch and filling trails I'd cleared with the snowblower.  
        One doghouse is complete covered now and I may not dig it out since old Nelson will sleep on the porch on a chair but not in a doghouse.  Out on the lake, a pair stalwart kite skiers waded through knee deep snow with their dogs to spread their kite on the wind in a splash of red and yellow.   Two men and three dogs seem to be trying to harness a giant Phoenix of a bird, which leaps and jerks away and stumbles across the snow with crippled wings.   At dark they gave up and left the lake to the wind, which came immediately to cover their trail.  
        Our moose is still around to get Snape, the newest of out dogs, to barking, and the ptarmigan flew by the window in a flock of nearly twenty on Saturday.  The rest of world is snow and sleeping trees.   Out on lake side where the spruce and hemlock come right down to the shore, the wind gets the trees and snow moving until there a great avalanche of snow off the limbs tumbling down into the forest and lake and up in great clouds of dust like snow that is not quick to settle to earth.  By late evening I am hopeful for seeing the aurora, and I do about 11:30 but it is a pale wisp of light in the sky, not the dramatic stage show of dancing light one would see in the arctic sky.   The aurora from here, just north of 60 degrees is like watching a football game from top row of the stadium,  its exciting and pleasing but not quite dramatic.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Winter Life

Bear Lake in January is a black and white photo.   What little light there is comes in just over the southern horizon and the combination of spruce forest shadow and almost oppressive white of the snow seems to extract all but the brightest colors, a skiers red anorak, a yellow school bus, the orange snow machine.
At first look, one might think the lake and its shore is deserted, abandoned by the wildlife of summer.   Some are gone, but others have moved in or stay year round.  A flock of ptarmigan have taken lease on the willows along the shoreline.   They leave their trails in the snow as they work through the willows eating buds and perhaps bark.   They are hard to spot, for they are literally white as snow with only black eyes and a flash of black at the tail when they fly.   Spot one, then keep looking and slowly others appear when your eyes adjust to see them well-disguised against the snow.  We also have a moose hanging around; a male with one antler jauntily angling off one side of his head. T hree dogs tied in the yard do not deter him from browsing the willows between the house and the lake.  He uses the snowmachine trails and groomed ski trails to shop the pickings along the lake shore, often taking his midday nap out in the open on the lake's blanket of snow.

After last week's two feet of snow we have been busy with 'snow management".  As much as we like snow too much of anything is a pain, in this case a pain in the shoulders and lower back.  Some berms are over our heads and the trails from pole shed to dog lot and woodshed grow narrow.  The forecast for the next week or more is for cold and windy.  before long, we will be wishing for more snow.