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! 🙂

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.

Me And My Water Pots

The Ragtag Daily Prompt word today is VESSEL

Not having a lot to say about fancy pottery or ships on the ocean, I’ll just write about my small vessels and the morning ritual I’ve been carrying out since June, when the local water sources — mainly sloughs — were drying up and there was no water for the birds.

My water containers sit on the wanna-be lawn between the house and the woods to the east. They are: a large round plastic dishpan, a mid-size enamel basin, like the old hand-washing basins of days gone by, and two flat pans about 14″ in diameter. If these are all empty, I quickly fill my pitcher and slip out to refill at least one container for the birds that are still coming regularly to drink and bathe in the early morning. They often seem to be waiting for me to show up. 🙂 Our October weather has been so warm and sunny that the robins are staying longer; I even saw a couple of meadowlarks yesterday!

Later, once properly dressed and fit to be seen by motorists passing by, I fill a vessel in the sink — a five-gallon plastic bucket and/or a one-gallon Rubbermaid pitcher — and head outside to replenish the total supply. Yes, I’m a sympathetic nut, but our prairie is just so dry now! I repeat the refilling at dusk. Some mornings I’ve found all four of my containers licked dry, so I know desperately thirsty creatures have come in the night.

I often wish I could get a glimpse of my nocturnal visitors but I’ve only seen a doe and fawn a few times, and their prints in the soft ground where water has splashed. One night I saw what I thought was a raccoon, and another time a fox (?) ran through the yard, but it was moving pretty fast for ID-ing it. Do these come to drink, or one just happened to run through?

A lot of work, you say? I like the birds and am happy to watch them having a good time out there. Also, I wake up very thirsty in the night sometimes and I don’t wish that kind of thirst on anything else. Deer can drink from cattle troughs, but smaller animals may not be able to, so I’ll keep filling basins as long as the weather holds. I hope and pray there will be at least some snow cover this winter — or our wildlife will really suffer.

And that’s all I have on the subject of VESSELS.

Welcome October

Hello everyone.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today was STILL. And since there are still a few hours left in this day, I’m going to write a few sentences at least, to let you know I’m still here, still relatively healthy, and still have noble aspirations about being a more faithful blogger. I want to say a hearty thank you to those who are still following me and reading what I have to say, when I do get around to saying it. 🙂 I’ve thought of many things to write about, but my musings would make awfully long articles!

I’m also still painting and enjoying it, though it feels like maybe the initial infatuation with my new hobby isn’t as keen. Hopefully the passion will settle down to a quiet and steady love in my life now.

I got back into doing some genealogical research in Sept and discovered that one of my Allen ancestors was born in Salem, Massachusetts in 1632. That’s twelve years after the Mayflower landed and four years after the Confidence brought the Goodnow-Goodenow (etc.) family to America. Interesting to speculate whether my ninth gr-great Allen may have known my hubby’s thirteenth gr-great Goodenow.

He’s been reading the book Hillbilly Elegy by J D Vance. Vance writes about growing up in a depressed area, a hopeless setting that he was able to find his way through and out of. I gather the conversations have been repeated just as spoken and are littered with the colloquial obscenities.

I’d like to compare Family Tree roots with that James Vance someday. His ancestors possibly came to the US back in the 1700s and were well settled in Kentucky before the Civil War. My Vance ancestor and his three brothers came directly from Scotland around 1830. They obviously passed through New York state, where Joseph met and married Sarah Allen on his way to purchase land in Ontario. Whatever made her follow this widowed Scottish stranger with a small son? I hope they had a good life.

I’m reading the book Call the Nurse, by Mary J MacLeod about a forty-ish couple who were bored with their humdrum life in southern England and decided to pay a visit to the Hebrides island of Papavray, the place his father had left as a teen. They went for a holiday (in the 70s?) with their youngest two boys, fell in love with the remote isle and bought an impossibly run-down shack. Mary had been a home care nurse, so found more than enough work immediately. In this book she tells about the years they spent there, as well as the situation and culture of the people. It’s very interesting reading so far.

Another STILL in our world: it still doesn’t rain. Interesting cloud shapes drift over and catch the eye of this artist, but maybe only a few drops of rain fall once a week. I still put out water basins every day for the wild creatures. The robins seemed to be long gone from this land until a couple of weeks ago; suddenly there are lots of them again. I see them bathing every day in my tubs. At night some other creatures come to drink, mainly deer I’m guessing. I thought I saw a raccoon in our yard one night. Deer can drink from any cattle watering troughs that may be around, but smaller animals can’t, which may be why some mornings all four basins are licked right dry.

Well, enough for this time. I’m going to try again to post daily, even just a few lines. As FlyLady says, just fifteen minutes a day–that’s the key. Yesterday I conquered Mount Wash-more and today I’m chipping at the Ironing Hill. 🙂