White, White Everywhere!

Clipped By A “Clipper”

“Alberta Clipper” is an interesting expression for a blizzard. Maybe more quaint than saying “a snow storm coming in from the northwest.” I actually like to watch a snowstorm, but you don’t ever want to get caught out on the roads when a “clipper” blows through.

We didn’t see it coming, though Bob did see in the forecast that snow was to start in the afternoon. The temp read -4 C when we headed off to the city Monday morning with the confidence that “snow starting” couldn’t be that bad — at least not until after dark. We’d be home long before that. We had a proper lunch at Boston Pizza, seeing fat flakes drift down; before we’d finished our meal it was snowing fairly seriously. “We’d best get our groceries and head for home before the wind picks up,” Bob said.

I hurried through my shopping but by the time we were loading the car it was snowing heavily and the wind was a force to be reckoned with. As we left Saskatoon around 1:30, the main highway was still okay. Visibility was reduced and drifts starting to build up on the few curves but our lane was okay most of the way to Delisle. Still, we knew we were heading into a genuine blizzard!

By the time we reached Delisle traffic was just creeping along with visibility almost nil. When we turned onto the highway south, heading home, we faced a complete white-out. Not a trace of a road anywhere. We barely saw the tip of a stop sign and the top of the railway crossing. It was a real challenge to get turned around without getting hit; we were very thankful when we made it safely back into Delisle.

We called friends who live there but they were in the city, just starting for home. The storm had moved eastward rapidly, though; they soon turned around and got a motel room in the city. There they met their boarder who was likewise storm-stayed. Rays were kind enough to let us stay at their home even if they weren’t there. Even getting to their place wasn’t easy, with big drifts building up on the more open streets, but we finally made it and settled in for the duration.

All highways hereabouts were soon closed. Our daughter, in another town for an appointment, had tried to get home but gave up and ended up getting the last motel room. After seeing emergency vehicles heading to accidents and calling 911 for a driver who drove into the ditch in front of her! I’m so thankful none of us had to spend the night in our car in a ditch! This storm blew in so suddenly, though, I wonder how many people did?

The temp was -33 this morning, slightly breezy with brilliant sunshine. Ah, the variety of a prairie winter! 🙂

Trip To BC, Anyone?

The RAGTAG DAILY PROMPT today is SKOOKUM

I’ve never heard this word used as an adjective. Rather, I immediately thought of Skookumchuck, a town in British Columbia that I have heard of. So a bit of research was in order.

Skookumchuck is a small town — 90 or so residents — on the junction of the Kootenay and Lussier Rivers. The town is located in the southeastern corner of the province, 54 km or 33.5 miles north of the city of Cranbrook. As the crow flies — if crows fly over mountains — it’s about half way between Lethbridge, Alberta, and Kelowna, BC.

On the western side of the main Rockies range, the town is near a few different provincial parks — Premier Lake, Whiteswan, St Mary’s, Skookumchuck Narrows. Googling the locale I can see how it would be a gorgeous place to visit.

Here’s a picture of the Kootenay River hoodoos, shared by Brigitte at Unsplash

Whitewater Rafting Anyone?

SKOOKUM means strong, powerful or turbulent; CHUCK means waters. The Kootenay River flows through Skookumchuck Narrows and spills into the Sechelt Rapids, one of the areas prime attractions. Water speed can exceed 30 kmph in this stretch, forming some amazing whirlpools. The RDP claims that SKOOKUM can mean “evil spirit.” I don’t find this anywhere in the info, but maybe the Chinook tribe that named that part of the river thought of spirits as they watched the rapids and whirlpools boiling through the tide plain?

Perhaps the locals there can tell us if those rapids are safe enough for rafting, but I’m an onlooker only when it comes to that sort of sport.

Things that Crepitate in the Night

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today was CREPITATE.

Never heard of it? Well, perhaps you’ve encountered some of its relatives:
CREPITANT – making a crackling or rustling sound
CREPUSCULE – Twilight
CREPUSCULAR – relating to or resembling twilight; active during twilight

DECREPIT – worn out or ruined by age or neglect
DECREPITUDE – the state of being decrepit
DECREPITATE – roast a substance such as salt to cause crackling, disintegrate audibly when heated – rather the opposite of popcorn. 🙂

CREPITATE and its cousins originated from the Latin verb crepitare: to crackle or rustle.

And now to use these crinkly words. Last night I read a short memoir from the winter of 1919-1920, one of the most severe on record here in western Canada. The writer told of how a family spent it in a log cabin near Olds, in the southern Alberta foothills. Ill use some of her memories as seed for my story.

Winter hit us early that year; snow came in October and stayed. Hit us hard, too; when it got cold, it stayed cold. Worse yet, we as a family had to move to an abandoned shack twenty miles away after a chimney fire damaged our home. We arrived on our wagon with our smoke-smelly belongings just before sundown and looked at the decrepit cabin that was to be our home this winter.

“Doesn’t look the best right now,” Mother said, “but hopefully it’ll be snug. It was home to another family just two years ago.”

Dad put his arm around her. “We’ll get a fire going and warm up the place. And we’ll do what we can to make it livable.”

My seven-year-old brother Willy and I eyed the steep hill not far from the house, thinking with delight about the sledding days we’d have.

The Rockies loomed in the crepuscule as we moved in, crunching through the deep snow with our stuff. While the last things were being unloaded, Mother began shifting the kindling wood beside the cook stove with the thought of making a fire. Crepitant sounds came from one corner and Father had to evict the first of our tiny tenants.

“We’re apt to see a few crepuscular critters come out tonight,” he said. “Skunks and raccoons move into an abandoned place pretty quick.”

Our problem didn’t come from skunks, thankfully. But once the house was warm we did hear smaller creatures crepitating under the floor boards and wondered what they were. A couple of days later as we were finishing our supper Willy dropped his spoon on the floor and forgot to pick it up. The next morning as I helped Mother set the table I noticed we were short a spoon. “Hey Willy, didn’t you pick up that spoon last night?”

He groaned and scrambled under the table to retrieve it. A moment later he held up something small and dark between his fingers. “Look! The spoon’s gone, but see this. An arrowhead. Wow!” He was thrilled with his find.

“Pack rats,” Mother pronounced. “Likely that’s the rustling we’ve been hearing. We need to be careful not to leave anything shiny laying around.”

A lesson we learned the hard way. Buttons, bottle caps, and other small objects left lying would disappear overnight and we’d find small, pretty stone in its place. We’d nod and say, “Our pack rats are trading again.”

Dad worked at making the shack as cozy as possible and Mother made it as homey as she could. Willy and I had great fun on that hill. It proved perfect for our sled and we the abundance of snow softened our tumbles when we rolled down. Near the top of the hill a poplar sapling stuck out of the snow and Willy decided one day to carve a big W in the white bark.

In spring we moved back to our house that had been “in the fixing” all winter. While we were happy to be home, we thought about the old cabin and one day in June we all got on our wagon and went to have a picnic on the hill there.

When we got to the cabin we were amazed to find there was no hill. Rather, there was a big slough full of cattails where the hill had stood. There were smaller trees around the slough, but the poplar we thought was a sapling turned out to be tree twelve inches around the base of the trunk. We knew that must be our tree, because Willy finally spotted his W – 25 feet up the trunk.

We spent all that winter playing on a huge hill of snow!

The Living Sky

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is VARIEGATED SKIES. Considering this province has taken as slogan, “Saskatchewan, land of living skies,” you can imagine we see lots of variegation when we look up. It’ not all just flying bugs, as some suggest when they hear that phrase.

I woke up before 5am and couldn’t sleep, so decided to start my day with a cup of coffee and a quick check of my In-Box. When I passed the west-facing window at 5:30, I saw an almost full moon with a few bands of clouds hovering just above. It’s pretty nippy out there, too; our temp shows -27 C.

We here on the Canadian prairies aren’t alone in the living skies dept, though — it’s just that we get to see so much sky, the land being so flat and all. Here’s an ocean scene from Greece, courtesy of Pixabay, with lots of variegation in the sky.

Since I’ve taken up paining, I’ve been studying the Impressionist artists, especially Monet. They’ve been quite successful at illustrating living skies, dabbling away with blue, grey, violet, tan, coral and cream. Here’s a painting from Unsplash, shared by the Birmingham Museum Trust, entitled CROWS, that shows a lovely variegated sky:

Now it’s time to enjoy a second cup of coffee while I make some down-to-earth plans for today. I’m cooking both meals at the Villa today and dinner tomorrow, so that will take some Planning. Have a great weekend, everyone. Maybe you still have some last-minute shopping to do today? Stay warm and safe.

Small Delights

Good morning to you all. The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is the word FUMBLE. Well, I fumbled around for awhile this morning in the internet world, but have finally got RESULTS!

I have a web filter on my PC. At some point about three months back it decided it had some issues with G-MAIL. For the most part the issues were resolved without open conflict, but right about that time I changed the password on my main G-mail account. This threw the elves who are supposed to forward my main G-mail into confusion — a confusion I haven’t been able to sort out ever since. When I tried FIX ACCOUNT, I get a prompt saying “We cannot connect to your server.”

Thankfully I have a laptop that accepted the new password and got on with mail delivery, but not my PC. I got a “How to fix this” instruction from my web-filter company, but got nowhere. I still get mail in my second G-mail account — reserved for certain duties — but nothing in the main one. Why, oh why?? So I’ve been using my laptop almost exclusively for the past few months, since everything there works as it should.

Now I will admit how technically dim I am: Only this morning I messed around in Google and found out how to access my main G-mail account online. Delightful! (Yeah, I shoulda known this long ago. 😉 ) Anyway, I read the mail in my main G-mail IN-BOX right here on my PC. Tra-la-la!

I notice Word Press has changed some things again — but at least I’ve re-discovered how to do colourful text. 😉 I’ve been so neglectful of my blog this past while that I’ve decided that today I’m going to post a number of haiku, so I’ll start with this one — a senryu, really:

 techno-victory
she finally accesses
her message center

SMALL DEBTS

I owe — and I must pay! The Government of Canada has sent me two letters now (which would normally cost about $1.60 in stamps) to tell me that they’ve overpaid me $1.45 in OAP benefits and I must pay it back by cheque or postal money order or they will deduct the entire sum from my next month’s pension cheque. It comforts me to know that our government is consistently bureaucratic — if that’s the word for statistical fumbles.

Now a quick note about our weather: It’s COLD here! We’ve had a really nice spell this week. I think yesterday the temp was about -4 C first thing in the morning. Unseasonably mild for the middle of December. However, the air had a damp feel to it and the north wind was raw, so we knew change was coming. This morning it was -15. I think the temp is to be -25 on Christmas Day. Here’s another haiku on the matter:

snow angels
their childhood frozen
for a day

And Dec 25th is only — GASP! — ten days from today. In the city yesterday we picked up a nice gift for someone on our list In spite of all the determination to do better, resolutions we made in Christmases past, we still tend to leave gift buying for the last few weeks. 😦

Have a great day everyone!

Forecast: Dry and Smoky

this sad country
bird bath emptied in the night
by a thirsty doe

The prairies are definitely in a dry cycle this year. Most of our “Possibility of thunder showers” forecasts have evaporated and all the sloughs are dry. Since there’s no water lying anywhere near, I’ve been taking pity on the birds in our yard and putting out several basins of water in the back yard for them. It’s been a joy to watch them from my kitchen window, coming and splashing about, as well as dining on hapless insects floating on the surface.

Last week another creature found my water bowls. Early one morning I saw a doe drinking out of the largest basin so I be sure to top it off at dusk every evening. Several mornings now I’ve found it right empty and a number of telltale hoof marks on the ground. Last night I filled it to the brim around 9 pm and there was only a dribble in the bottom this morning.

Our yard light provides another source of nourishment for the birds, too, judging by how many birds are harvesting bugs on the ground below every morning. This morning I saw robins, sparrows, a kingbird and a brown thrasher feasting there.

There are many fires burning in northern forests; I heard of over a hundred burning out of control in BC alone, plus fires in Alberta and northern Sask.. All this week our atmosphere has been hazy with smoke, sometimes it gets rather hard to breathe. Still, I dare not complain when others closer to the fires are in thick smoke every day and many communities have been evacuated because of encroaching infernos. It must seem a daunting, maybe even hopeless, task to fight fires on every hand, but I’m so thankful for those brave souls out there doing that work.

We’re taking a holiday this week, going to a part of our country where rain is plentiful. In fact, there’s rain in the forecast almost every day this week — I just wish we could bring some back with us! Meanwhile, I hope the creatures around our yard can find another source while we’re away.