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Unique newspaper coverage of local, regional and global topics - serious and light-hearted.

Salish Sea Almanac ~ 2015

A fortnightly excerpt about life on a rural island - Priscilla Ewbank's Saturna Notes column is our longest running feature and a must read for everyone who loves the Canadian Gulf Islands.

Farm stand fun

January 22 

Hooray! All of the frivolity and festivities are over, the sun is on the increase, the days are longer—the new year has begun. Snowdrops are almost blooming. Baby goats are just being born, hens are getting broody, the eagles are coming home and the light and sun are marvelous and restorative on the south-facing bluffs when the sun shines.

Jim and Lorraine Campbell celebrated their 70th Wedding Anniversary on December 29. Their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and many friends went to Salt Spring for a celebratory lunch.

‘Congratulations!’ I say to two vibrant, capable, educated people who chose each other and forged for themselves a marriage and an uncommon life together that has benefitted themselves, their children, our island, and our region at large. Lorraine is currently at Lady Minto and Jim divides his time between being with Lorraine and being on the farm.

February 5

Already, the air is so warm, even with rain and fog and wind, that it seems that spring is in the air. We have enough rain that the ground overflows, the waterfalls are roaring, and the depressions of your footsteps fill instantly. All kinds of moss are an absolute brilliance of green everywhere.

The south-facing sandstone cliffs of Mount Warburton Pike ridge glisten black with running groundwater. This year gives irrefutable evidence that if you can store the rain as it falls on your roof, you could use water all summer with abandon.

I went up to Brown Ridge in late January to escape the fog and lighten my heart with sunlight. It was a clear day and Pender’s Mount Norman, Salt Spring’s Mount Maxwell, Mount Constitution on Orcas Island and, far away, the Washington State Olympic Mountains, were gleaming above a sea of fog. Me, the dogs, the ravens, the goats and the goatlets frolicked in the heat and warmth of the sun, which lasts now until almost 5pm!

Saturna Island had a splendid Christmas Bird Count. Each year the event gets more serious, with attendees from prior years educating themselves and more bells and whistles being added. An experienced birder had come to visit and tour around the week before and then joined for the actual count, and even the pre-bird-count-day scouting about.

Ilka Olsen has been our leader for several years and has greatly expanded the scope and the general enthusiasm. Saturna counters found 77 species and a total of 4,745 individuals. The marvelous weather allowed for a coastal contingent of two kayakers paddling over to Tumbo and Cabbage, and for an around-the-island boat crew to range freely—they made the biggest difference in numbers and species. Appies were enjoyed at the pub for the after-bird-count review.

Maureen Welton helped organize and will be in charge next year. Parks and Recreation has supported this effort for years and we are grateful.

February 19

I have been a bit cavalier with the breaks in the rain we have gotten—now when I hear the quiet on the tin roof inside I drop everything and hustle out to get those chores done. I know January is the wettest month—the month of wet dog towels, dripping raincoats, forlorn chickens, the possibility of day after day of rain, and snow drops, narcissus and fruit trees swelling up with buds.

I went down to the school yesterday to join in with the Strong Start program. Saturna has such a batch of younglings now. Saturna Elementary’s primary room is chockfull with blocks, finger paints, words to live by, books and the littlest chairs and tables. Every Thursday the kids, parents, teacher and assistant get together for three hours. Tiny Isla, the youngest at three months, sat in her mother’s lap taking it all in with a milk break and diaper change. The two- and four-year-olds were enthusiastic for anything, and kindergartener Reaghan knows all the songs and has wonderful anecdotes about the books being read.

Education on our island is a blooming and diverse opportunity from birth to graduation. A provincial initiative, Strong Start, or Early Learning For Families in School District 64, is in many of the Salt Spring schools and all of the outer Gulf Islands’ schools. Saturna’s pilot project started in the fall of 2009 and has had four teachers so far.

March 5

I live in the middle of Saturna Island. Even from here I can hear the Mayne Queen on the rare occasions when she blows her foghorn. We had some fog in February and Navy Channel and Plumper Sound must have been closed-in—we only had wisps up here—because she blew her foghorn at regular intervals while bringing in the morning passengers.

When I first lived here in the 1970s, you could always tell approximately what time it was, not only because of the light of day, but also by the sound of the ferry. She used to sound her whistle as she came into Lyall Harbour and as she left, three times a day. As a young adult on Saturna, I had a good way to row and a long way to walk if I wanted to go into town. When I heard that deep sonorous blare, I picked up my pace and ripped down the hill to jump onto her deck.

It’s rare to hear her now and it is fun to think that even with all the best and most refined navigational gadgetry, when the fog folds down, she blows her horn long and loud as she noses down the channel between Pender and Mayne, heading for Lyall Harbour. I think we have been so fortunate to have the grand old Mayne Queen for as long as we have—scale, size, best crews and we know her secret—she has the sassiest engines and she sails when the big Spirit boats are confounded and staying in port. She brings us home, fogbound or windblown.

March 19

With all the moonlight we’ve had in the last weeks, the green surge of growth must be sun and moonlight propelled—spring is barreling along. I find myself not yet in sync with daylight savings time—my desire for dinner and the time for dinner are not meshing yet.

Equinox—the world around us is so dramatic with change. Sun in the morning to rise to, moonlight lighting your way at night, and warmer, longer evenings full of stars. Outside is compelling. Focus and self discipline is required to keep indoors, doing the inside-gotta-get-done bits of life. Little ‘siren’ outside chores sing to me. This simply must be done—shovel, clippers! It will just take ten minutes—and it does, too. Then, another perfectly nice little job presents itself and away I go, no longer chained inside to all the tasks that are required.

April 2

What a joy to be in springtime—all the beauty, light, growth and youngness just seems to create resiliency in us people. I keep waiting for the Haggis Farm garter snakes to appear, then I remember: wait! What will they eat? First, there have to be slugs slithering about eating the young garden sprouts for a snake to come out of hibernation.

The salmonberries are just starting to blossom, the red flowering current is in full pendulous array and what do you hear—male Rufus hummingbirds just back from central America or maybe Mexico. There are small flocks of swallows over our big farm pond and the turkey vultures pulled in last week, lots of them. None of the returning species come home just to visit us humans and provide us with beauty and delight—they are on a mission for food and good baby-raising opportunities.

Two days ago I was plucking kale from the garden and I heard a sound like a parachute popping open. The sparrows and juncos that assembly-line feed on the feeders went silent. Heading over the bakery was a merlin hawk, legs down like a plane set for landing with a junco firmly clenched in its claws—everybody has to eat!

April 16 

Emily Guinane and Dylan Gale are growing an agricultural business with Saturna Nettle Pesto. Saturna does have nettles in abundance and they grow all by themselves! Emily and Dylan lived here fulltime for a couple of years and now visit regularly from Denman Island. Both have education and experience in market gardening and orchard fruits and most importantly love the farming process.

They started several different products under the mother company Wild Nettle Foods; a range of herbal teas foraged from Saturna and the Saturna Nettle Pesto. The nettle idea came from local chef, Hubertus Surm’s Saturna Nettle Fest held around this time of year. Emily and Dylan made up the pesto for the event—to rave reviews.

The teas proved too energy intensive for a longer seasonal span but the pesto product found a ready market. Now in their third year they have doubled production from last year. Each year they have refined their production process, and marketed differently adapting to feedback and with innovative shifts they have decided upon.

Because the product is created and frozen when the nettles are at their peak, it occupies a small part of the year for total production. Nettle Pesto is marketed in stores and Farmer's Markets in Vancouver and Victoria and from Cortez to Saturna Island the product has found wide acceptance.

April 30 

The garden is packed with flowers! A friend just got back from the Niagara Peninsula—most southerly part of Canada—and reports that the tulips are just breaking the soil line and residents are still subdued from the winter that piled ice on top of drifts and reached to the tops of doorways.

We have garter snakes and slugs emerging, butterflies, wasps, every day a new migrant bird returns for the summer and tons of yellow tree pollen is wafting over everything—hear that sneezing?

Last weekend at Haggis Farm, we were burning a fall and winter’s worth of debris in two huge bonfires. It was a grand endeavor burning lots of large unwieldy feral rose bushes, invasive weeds, expired chicken ladies, volunteer firs and cedars, and prunings from the backroad to the pond. Four of us were working hard to roll those roses onto the inferno and reorganizing the fire as it burned down.

The middle of April saw an initiative that drew the Southern Islands together by focussing on the marine environment between us. Festival Active Pass showcased the wild creatures with whom we coexist in this species-prolific area of the Salish Sea. This year’s host was Mayne Island, next year the organizing epicentre will be Galiano. Active Pass is a globally recognized Important Bird & Biodiversity Area.

Rob Butler, a masterful speaker and lifetime biologist, who wrote The Jade Coast-Ecology of the North Pacific Coast was a main presenter on Mayne Island followed by many other events.

Transportation was provided to attend events on both Mayne Island and Saturna. About twenty Mayne Islanders came to Saturna to join in Saturna’s impressive events.

May 14 

Haggis Farm may have eaglets again this year! Yesterday evening, without a doubt, there was a big white head with a yellow bill tucked into the nest. I have been checking regularly and have seen the pair lounging and kibitzing around close enough but never in this very hidden nest. The nest is like none I have seen before—tucked in tight to the trunk of a fir, with the old-growth fir perch tree 100m away.

Exactly what they do at our big pond—besides take long baths in the spring that fuels the pond and stare at the wild ducks and an ill-advised pair of Canada geese—I have no idea. There are not even regular chicken dinners. The Haggis hens suffer regular flurries of terror from the eagles on their fly-bys but they only manage to nab one or two a year and roadkill is mostly limited to banana slugs. A puzzle—always so much more to know about the wildlife even though we have lived here for 30+ years.

May 28

Last week I went to Salt Spring Island to visit a friend on the school boat. I’ve been missing a whole line of action out there on the water. Though after graduating from Saturna Elementary, all three of our daughters rode the school boat day-in-day-out, I haven’t checked in for years with this whole busy flow of kids and adults.

Gulf Islands Water Taxi’s Graduate pulls into Saturna dock at 7:27am Monday to Thursday, at about the same time the mailboat arrives to deliver Saturna’s newspapers and mail into the hands of Canada Post contractor Clint Davidson—who used to ride the school watertaxi himself.

New deckhand, Jason Funk, steps off the back of the boat, line in hand. He lets off the departing passengers and takes a new bunch on. Twenty kids from Salt Spring get off with three teachers who were heading to the Saturna Ecological Education Centre for the day.

Boarding the boat were our two middleschool kids going to Pender school, our two highschool teens going to Gulf Islands Secondary School (GISS) in Ganges on Salt Spring Island, Saturna School Trustee Susanne Middleditch also going to Ganges for a schoolboard meeting—and me, a local on a $25 inter-island trip opportunity to Salt Spring for friendship and commerce. Students get first priority on the boats, teachers and school district officials are next, and then the public.

As he pushes off the wharf, Jason signals the all-clear to captain Alfred Reynolds. He leaps back on and the boat is away, slowly passed the ferry landing and government wharf, the two six-cylinder Volvo diesel engines picking up speed to 16 knots going down Navy Channel. The water was splendid and the boat just shot along.

At Port Washington on Pender Island, our middle-school kids got off and a cascade of about 40 GISS students rolled on and some Penderers going to Salt Spring Middle School. The boat was packed.

Alfred reminded me that, in September 1980, Bob George and Jack Hughes started trading the yearly School Board Nº64 contract back and forth between their companies. By the end of the ’80s the board was awarding three-year contracts and Jack Hughes of Gulf Islands Water Taxi (GIWT), the present owner, ended up with the longterm contract that the company has held ever since.

The Graduate holds 50 passengers and the Scholarship 48. The contract is based on running time of each boat with a fuel price clause. In the morning the Graduate and the Scholarship leave Ganges Harbour on Salt Spring at about 6:30am. The Scholarship heads to Sturdies Bay on Galiano, stopping at Miner’s Bay on Mayne Island for highschool and middle-school kids. In the afternoon the boats start the trip back, leaving Ganges at 4:30pm.

The return trip from Salt Spring is packed again and we follow the morning route in reverse. At Saturna, Alfred picks up our weekly Salt Spring doctor, Manya Sadowski, and those twenty Salt Spring middle-school students heading for homeport.

We jump off, saying our goodbyes, grateful for the friendliness of Alfred and Jason and conscious of their dedication to our safety that extends to the well-kept boat. The Graduate slides away—I am almost home and I had a great day, successfully travelling as a foot passenger inter-Islands.

June 11

Kids and grandkids have left and the last of the cars have swirled out of the driveway—me and the dogs waving as they honk goodbye. The hubbub and uproar has suddenly evaporated. After a weekend of family packed into every corner of the house, in the quiet I wonder where those threads of my current life are. I could wash all the bedding, or have a cup of tea on the porch, or do the bills and bookwork...

We were so busy—one grandchild couldn’t wait to get his new-to-him keyboard from the Saturna Recycling’s garage sale up and running and our granddaughter was already making plans for her August month with me.

We went down to the community hall to hear piano pieces, saw a fawn on the way to East Point, an eagle forging up from the tideline with a handsome fish, and a cormorant diving and gobbling small fish regularly. Living in a rich landscape and engaging community, you plan stuff for the family and between what you conjure up and what just happens, visits are always full to the brim.

June 25

This is the month of graduations and end-of-school celebrations for young, old and middle students. Saturna Island had lots of high school graduates this year. We haven’t had any Gulf Islands Secondary School (GISS) graduates for an interval of years—this year two of Saturna’s own are graduating from GISS.

Gone are the days when a steady little stream of our kids went first to Saturna Elementary, then Mayne Middle School and then GISS on Salt Spring. Nowadays Saturna has a well attended Strong Start for our babies and toddlers right up to kindergarten, students at Saturna Elementary, middle students watertaxiing to school on Pender Island, and students coming from all-over to attend Saturna Ecological Education Centre (SEEC) for part of their highschool education. Four SEEC students are graduating from Grade 12 this month.

The proud families of our two Gulf Island’s Secondary School graduates rode the schoolboat over to Salt Spring to attend Anya Bruhn’s and Allison Gaines’ graduation. The two young women have been good friends since they started school and Anya spent her years at GISS boarding with Allison’s family on Salt Spring. Anya has a broad range of strengths in biology, comparative civilizations, and law. She has received two academic awards from GISS. After graduation she will spend a year working and travelling before continuing her education.

Allison Gaines graduated with a District Academic Achievement Award for continued high marks, two awards: the Saturna Elementary School Bursary and one from Island Women Against Violence recognizing and honouring her several years of volunteer service. Allison’s summer plans include working two jobs on Salt Spring this summer and in the fall attending Nova Scotia School of Fine Art and then Dalhousie University with the objective of achieving a degree in Architecture.

Both young women received a gift of $500 from the Saturna Lions for successfully graduating. Local parents were impressed and pleased that the Southern Gulf Islands’ extended communities supported their 137 high school graduates with bursaries and awards totaling around $120,000.

Our community is proud of all of our students and enjoys having the vital energy and fun their presence creates as their parents and grandparents shepherd them along with love and guidance and our larger society educates them.

July 9

Water; the feel of it, the effect of it, drinking water, buying water, watering plants, sweating, ice water, dogs panting, rain... The talk and observation of sun and water is a constant in the community right now. Fire bans, limited water, heatstroke... The chatter is constant, as is the nagging concern of when we will return to our normal range of temperatures and some rain.

Many tourists are coming, probably with the assurance of clear skies to camp and explore the island. The sheep are restless, roaming for forage in the brown grass and the chickens storm the chicken bucket for the juicy scraps. We islanders barely recognize ourselves, swathed in hats and sunglasses and covered in light shirts. This is June and lovely is the blue sky, the shifting light and the sunsets—but the island’s vegetation looks like it does at the end of September, before the rain comes.

Solstice weekend, many Saturna Islanders participated in Tour des Iles. Saturna’s population is so small that it was like when we had a large group that were enthusiastic about going round carolling on Christmas Eve—some people had to draw the short straws to stay at home and host the singers!

For Tour des Iles, some took advantage of the chance to travel to other islands and some stayed at home to host. One of the originators of the tour, Paul Brent, was the hardworking bus driver for the three days. His favourite memory is of the newlyweds he took to East Point who lucked out and saw a wonderful social orca display and were entranced.

Our own Breezy Bay Blues Band hit the concert tour trail courtesy of the Tour des Iles and was a smash hit on Galiano at the Hummingbird Pub. The plans are to repeat the idea next year, ironing out the wrinkles and adding even more inspiration.

July 23

We—with our coastal beauty, good air to breathe, lovely temperatures, and a climate cycle that seems to have remained steady during my lifetime—seemed to have been unscathed by climate change on the ‘at-home’ sphere.

However, this last spring and early summer has been a wake-up call for me. On the radio I hear the forecasters saying, ‘Another glorious sunny day’ and I think, ‘No—this weather is creepy.’ The first morning I woke up to an orange, smoke-filtered sun and my throat tight from smoke, I was weirded out and depressed.

I am alarmed by the way we are whizzing through the plant bloomings. With plant systems being stressed it stands to reason that all the insects and their prey are going to be knocked off their interlocking timing too.

What is my part in this and how can I responsibly act? Nothing like direct experience to jump start the brain into thinking ‘so this is how this will play out. How can I be an active part of a solution for myself and for us all, especially since governments do not seem to be leading in any meaningful way?’

August 20

In the midst of islanders’ summer-camp for visiting grandchildren, the joy of our children coming from afar for family gatherings, pears, blackberries, and plums ripening, seals pupping, long summer evenings and swimming in gorgeous sea water—BC Ferries has presented its proposed 2017 scheduling for Galiano, Mayne, Pender, Salt Spring and Saturna Islands. Now deep in summer, we must drop everything and pay close attention to the consultation meetings underway. As reported in last edition’s Island Tides, we have to be alert to our marine highway’s fate.

Look at this proposed regime and compare it with the schedule you use now. Precipitated by the new Intermediate Class ferries coming into service, you may have some nasty surprises. Saturna Island sure has. All Southern Islands’ routes are affected. As I sometimes tell my grandchildren—Gramma is getting cross!

Does the scheduling work for your island? Do you get what we all want as coastal communities: a reasonable business day in town and good weekend scheduling for tourists and others? Can you, within reason, make your businesses and your social inter-connections work?

Kindly support us all by getting very informed and thinking about your island’s healthy economy and social structure. Support our shared right to connection on our marine highway—hold BC Ferries accountable as service providers.

Dash thoughts that any island is acting as though it deserves better service at the cost to its neighbors. Healthy access allows us all to participate meaningfully in our inter-island shared school system, emergency services, park visitations, newspapers and other literate links, tourist providers, recycling efforts, cultural experiences, businesses, governance—our shared identity as Gulf Islanders and our right to build lives in our island communities, with our personal capital, our mutual efforts, and our creative ingenuity.

September 3

Our ferry—our Mayne Queen, the ferry that brought me to Saturna Island on May 1, 1970; which brought my husband, Jon, and his two daughters to Saturna where we found each other and became a family; which carried him for 30 years around the Islands doing business for Saturna General Store and Haggis Farm Bakery; which, for free, brought our youngest daughter back from Saanich Peninsula Hospital when she was one-day-old, and which brought Jon’s ashes home last year—our ferry is celebrating her 50th year of service to the Gulf Islands.

That’s right! She did her first round September 7, 1965. For years, we had full-on food service at the food bar, and the ferry ladies were hired from Saturna Island. You could set your watch by the Mayne Queen, the blast of her horn for every port of call. You can still depend on her ferry crews to be the best, on her to sail in all weathers and if the other ferries are late we can make up the time and get to town on time. Dependable, safe, efficient, a marvelous size and just real pretty, she is our boat, our Queen.

We Saturna Islanders can hear her as she is coming down Navy Channel and even recognize some of the crew’s voices—‘This is Lyall Harbour: Lyall Harbour, Saturna Island. All passengers, please proceed to the car deck’. Lucky, lucky us to have such a classy boat—truly Queen of the Fleet and our Homecoming Queen!

On September 8, Southern Gulf Islanders can meet her down at the dock on her mid-morning run. There will be cake and speeches to honour her years of magnificent day-in and day-out service to the Gulf Islands.

September 17

On September 8, enthusiastic Saturna Islanders showed up at the ferry dock to celebrate our venerable Mayne Queen on the anniversary of her 50th year of serving us Gulf Islanders and to pay honour to the crews that run her so well. She blew her whistle most of the way down Navy Channel and arrived at her midmorning stop with flags flying. Islanders cheered—it was so exciting, especially for all the kids, this event being the culmination of their first day at school.

Disembarking passengers were probably somewhat confused by the delightful fooferaw, but all rose to the occasion. A wonderful banner made by Jillian Tebbitt was displayed as she docked, that said it all: ‘Thank you, Mayne Queen for 50 years of splendid service!’

We piled up the stairways to the upstairs lounge, lugging three cakes from Haggis Farm Bakery for the day’s festivities. Saturna thanked the crew and ‘party’ organizer, Captain Michael Toevs with a corsage, a print of Saturna Island with all of her physical and cultural highlights painted on it—including the Mayne Queen—and everyone singing a rousing ‘Happy Birthday!’

A quick enjoyment of cake together, smiles and laughter and then those who were not sailing on to Mayne and Pender disembarked and waved her goodbye as she sailed on to Village Bay, Otter Bay, and Swartz Bay.

During her midday lay-over at Swartz, many of her former crew members came to visit with current crew members, sign the visitor book , eat cake and enjoy the celebration. From the crew’s comments it was easy to hear that they love the Mayne Queen and are as proud of her as we are. The crews value being a part of Islander’s lives, getting to know us, and making a difference as we all grow older—ship and all!

October 15

Coming home on the 7:10pm Mayne Queen (from my 50th highschool reunion in Sacramento, California) we had a ringside seat for the entire lunar eclipse, from full moon then dark to pulling into Lyall Harbour with full light again. BCFerries should have sold seats!

We have had a run of glorious days—blue, warm and ideally suited to harvesting orchards and cleaning up the bounty of summer. Suddenly we see birds on the move. The migrants are spreading their wings heading north and south on the flyways. Mysterious bird songs are heard for a week or a day or two as a migrant stops in your garden to refuel. The eagles are off salmon fishing. Night hawks and swallows are gone and there are way less turkey vultures.

The sheep think that pileated woodpeckers are angels delivering manna—we must have three pairs that blast into the King apple tree canopies sending huge candy red apples plummeting to the ground while they find the apple just perfectly positioned for pecking out a meal.

The resulting apple whumps alert the apple patrol sheep and the flock pours into the orchard, scuffling and barging to collect the bird-fall bounty. Enticing boxes of apples on the ground as we go up and down the ladders picking the fall harvest requires the farm-hounds to be ever vigilant—they can’t believe their luck at being officially allowed to rout the sneaky sheep from the orchard full tilt!

October 29

Big, crunchy gold leaves are everywhere. This is a gardener’s dream year for mulching gardens with truckfuls of maple leaves. The evergreens are dropping debris everywhere. Car windshields and air intake grilles are stuffed with tawny fir needles and cedar leaflets and road edges are rimmed with gold as the long, dry summer’s desiccation falls.

The last dragonflies are hunting in the pastures and at Haggis Farm one lone hummingbird regularly does the rounds. In the last week, I have seen, in quite different places, the tiniest of snakelets—like spiffy, new shoelaces—speeding along. They must hibernate soon and emerge with the rest of the crew late next spring when the sun warms the soil.

November 26

Rain has brought sweeps of mushrooms popping up and our rough-skinned newts are on the move—at the slowest pace ever. Hard to tell which moves faster—an emerging mushroom or a rough skinned newt. Once that road asphalt has a skim of rainwater on it and the roadsides are spongy with red-brown needles, you see them; tiny dinosaurs, little toes splayed out, one leg lifted for locomotion and then the signal goes out for the next leg to lift and it does. What a delight but don’t pick them up they are somewhat toxic.

We are now drenched! The sheep are washed as white as sheets on a clothes line in the wind. The little creek is roaring out the culvert that crosses under our road. I can hear the waterfall from the house as the weight of water crashes onto the rocks and ferns below­–no more demure trickles wending through maidenhair ferns!

Something of note in the local bird world has happened in our neck of the woods. We have crows back. When Jon and I first lived at Haggis Farm, in winter in the late dusk, I would see a dark bunch headed off southeast to somewhere, evening after evening. Now, for years, our raven pair has had the farm to themselves but Richard Blagbourne reports seeing a murder of crows cavorting and riding these recent gale force winds off of Warburton Pike ridge. Crows have been spotted at Money’s and I have heard them in our pasture. I would love to know the small and larger happenings in our local waters and islands that have created this raucous return.

December 10

We are getting close to the Solstice! At Haggis Farm on these dazzling blue days of brisk clear weather, ‘sunrise’ is at 10:15am and ‘sunset’ is at 1:30pm, as the sun skims the trees. Solar passive heat is gorgeous; the house warms immediately, and then cools as the sun sinks.

The nights are delightful with stars and the moon big and shining. Our big pond has frozen, except for the spring area at the eastern edge. The small ducks, golden eyes, and buffleheads have no paddle-room and have flown off!

That prediction of an artic outflow from the east, which really didn’t eventuate, was enough to get me draining outside water pipes and considering antifreeze in the vehicles.

I was grateful that there was no arctic wind for those cold days; I haven’t gotten out the really dedicated cold weather costume yet! The garden has escaped penetrating freezing and the two regularly visiting Anna’s hummingbirds have worn out the remaining fuchsia flowers. Now the air is soft with a rainy front coming from the west.


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