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the downhill side

February 14, 2014

No, I’m not talking about the alpine skiing in the Olympics, although I truly appreciate the distraction.  I’m referring to the fact that we’re over the hump of this particular winter.  February is my least favourite month.  I really appreciate the person or persons who decided to keep it brief.

It’s not that there aren’t any rays of sunlight this time around.  The best is, oddly, the copious rain Quadra has been having the last few days.  Precipitation has been so sparse of late, islanders have started fretting about empty wells later this year.  One of the springs from which we get water for our micro-hydro system had nearly gone dry.  That usually doesn’t happen until mid-July.

But with 3+ inches since Tuesday, the springs and their outlet creek are roaring again.  The drenching has also wiped out the snow that immediately preceded it.  And it marks the end of the longest cold snap Jude and I have endured here in nine years.

Mind you, it was not Saskatchewan cold.  They’d probably call it shirt-sleeve weather there.  However, it was frigid enough to freeze our ponds 4 inches thick.  We ventured out on it.  It wasn’t smooth enough to slide on, due mostly to the weeds on the surface that the bufflehead and merganzer ducks pull up as they feed.  It was fun to watch our dog Slinkee try to negotiate it, though.

Our ponds have frozen before, but nothing like this.  Slinkee and I were outside in the midst of the snap when we heard a huge sound that I can best describe as an alligator bellow.  We looked at each other, then the skies for the great blue heron that’s been hanging around.  (We ruled out a gator immediately.)  The heron makes the loudest noise I’ve ever heard from a bird, but it’s more of a croak than a roar.

My next thought was a cougar.  There was no sign of one.  Nor was there any type of aircraft around hovering or breaking the sound barrier.  It wasn’t until a few days later when Jude and I were on the ice that we realized it was in fact the ice, competing against itself for space as it expanded.  I’m willing to throw out a comparison to tectonic plates shifting, but I’m likely on shaky ground scientifically.  And certainly metaphorically.

The noises were not as loud as the bellow, although they did command our attention.  Then we started noticing long cracks in the ice.  We went back ashore to our amply-heated home and reruns of the morbidly-cheerful, always-quirky Six Feet Under.

  1. February 14, 2014 5:56 pm

    Six Feet Under is better every time I watch it!

    • February 17, 2014 12:43 pm

      Hey, Beanie. How is winter treating you? Season Four of Six Feet Under starts Thursday on our version of HBO. I must admit that I cheat by reading episode summaries on IMDb. I understand that a lot of plot will revolve around the disposition of Lisa’s cadavers. Aren’t the openings amazing? They range from heart-breaking to hilarious.

  2. Gordon permalink
    February 25, 2014 9:01 am

    I guess my eyes are going. Would have sworn the title was “Downhill Slide” and figured it was going to be about our growing over-the-hill gang. Instead, nature. The ice is nice, but I think I like the idea of an alligator following you from Louisiana a lot better.

  3. March 6, 2014 6:32 pm

    I love Six Feet Under. Thanks for thinking of us in Saskatchewan. I hope you won’t be walking on that ice again; soon it will be very unsafe, and then——–ta da! Spring!

    • March 9, 2014 12:53 pm

      Today is the warmest day we’ve had since November, a rockin’ 8. It certainly feels like spring, which means at least two more snowfalls of significance. I enjoyed your new blog, but it wouldn’t let me comment. I think
      our affiliation with WordPress has something to do with it.

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