Jack’s Walk

Sand and snow, ©voyager, all rights reserved

Our area is due to have a snowstorm later this afternoon with 10 – 15 cm of snow expected along with high winds. Right at the moment, though, it’s just bloody cold. This morning it was -13º C, but with the wind chill it felt like -24ºC so Jack and I didn’t stay out long. This photo was taken at the lake and for a moment I imagined we were on an ocean beach watching the surf come swirling in.

Jack’s Walk

Yesterday I posted a photo of some animal tracks I’d found in the snow that I thought might have been made by beavers. Well, they weren’t. Chigau sensibly suggested I google images of beaver tracks in the snow and I found lots of photos and none of them look anything like what I found. The photo below is one of the best images that I found and I’m sharing it in case anyone else wants to stalk beavers in the winter. They have 4 toes on their front feet and 5 toes on their back feet and the tracks are big, about 15 – 18 cm.

Well, now I know what to look for. Lofty and rq were both correct that the tracks I posted yesterday were made by rabbits. Here are a few more tracks from the same area. I think they’re also made by rabbits.

x marks the spot, ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack’s Walk

Unidentified Tracks by the River, ©voyager, all rights reserved

What is that strange wide arc? ©voyager, all rights reserved

Thankfully, yesterday’s rain storm didn’t turn into an ice storm so all my beloved trees are safe. It did, however, get cold again overnight so there’s a fair bit of ice on the ground making walking a bit treacherous. Jack and I decided that the sidewalks were too slippery so instead we went out to the river to look for beavers again. I’m pretty sure I know where their lodge is now, but I couldn’t get too near it today because of slippery and unstable ice. We found quite a few tracks going to and from the river in the area where I suspect they live, including this set that had a strange wide arc in one place that I thought cold have been made by a beaver tail. I’m no expert on tracks and marks left in the snow, but maybe someone reading this is. Are these beaver tracks?

Jack’s Walk

It seems that the normal weather for the month of March has arrived early in Southwestern Ontario. Overnight our temps climbed from -10ºC to +4ºC  and with the warming came lots and lots of rain. Overnight it was freezing rain, but by morning it was just a steady, cold downpour. All our snow is melting into compacted sheets of ice and the rain is just laying on top making everything slick and slippery. At least the ice isn’t coating the trees, for now anyway. The temp is expected to drop below freezing by early evening and we can only hope that the rain will stop before then. It grieves me to see the big, mature trees heavy with ice and the saplings and dainty birches bending like contortionists desperate to save limb and life.

After a careful assessment, Jack and I decided that the back yard was as far as we would venture today. Even explorers and voyageurs need a day off now and then. So, sorry, no photo for today. Just kidding…here’s a fascinating tree I found at our local park last week. It’s dying, maybe already dead, but it’s decay is beautiful. I apologize for the bad light, but it was a gloomy January day. I wanted to take an initial photo with the intention to return and perhaps make a study of it. You can click for full-size to see some of the patterns on the bleached and barkless areas. The next photo is a piece of fallen bark that lay at the base of the tree. I moved it to a rock to take the photo.

©voyager, all rights reserved

©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack’s Walk

Jack is not ready to go home. ©voyager, all rights reserved.

Here are some things I’ve learned from Jack.

  1. Winter is the most wonderful time of the year, especially if there’s lots of snow.
  2. Cold weather gives you energy and calls for prancing and pouncing.
  3. Chasing invisible mice through the snow is great fun.
  4. Smells are more interesting in the snow.
  5. Yellow snow is especially interesting and requires long and careful sniffing.
  6. You need to leave p-mail in more places when there’s snow, so tank up.
  7. A walk around the neighbourhood will take 50% longer because of all the above.
  8. Scooting in the snow feels nice and is a great way to wipe your bum.
  9. Lying down in the snow is fun and makes your belly go bright red.
  10. Lying down in the snow is also a great way to make your walk last even longer, so stop and drop often.

Cracking the Iron Curtain

[Note: This is not a historian’s overview of the events, so if you want to pick at the historical details, feel free to do so but don’t expect me to participate. I have compiled several sources of information and added my own personal impressions. That is all.]

It was two weeks in the frigid January air, two weeks waiting for an unknown future, two weeks that culminated in a night of violence but a final victory, of sorts.

The Barricades (LatvianBarikādes) were a series of confrontations between the Republic of Latvia and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in January 1991 which took place mainly in Riga. The events are named for the popular effort of building and protecting barricades from 13 January until about 27 January. Latvia, which had declared restoration of independence from the Soviet Union a year earlier, anticipated that Soviet Union might attempt to regain control over the country by force. After attacks by the Soviet OMON on Riga in early January, the government called on people to build barricades for protection of possible targets (mainly in the capital city of Riga and nearby Ulbroka, as well as Kuldīga and Liepāja). Six people were killed in further attacks, several were wounded in shootings or beaten by OMON. Most victims were shot during the Soviet attack on the Latvian Ministry of the Interior on January 20. One other person died in a building accident reinforcing the barricades. Casualties among Soviet loyalists are considered likely, but the exact number remains unknown. A total of 15,611 people have registered as having been participants of the Barricades,[citation needed] but other data suggests that more than 32,000 Latvians took part.


There’s a small photo gallery here (25 photos).

[Read more…]

Jack’s Walk

The River Thames, ©voyager, all rights reserved

Finally, it’s proper winter in my part of Canada. On Saturday we had an old-fashioned snow storm with lots of blowing and drifting and when it was over we had an accumulation of about 15 cm of snow ready to be shoveled.  On Sunday, though, the sun broke through and everything sparkled and glimmered and the world was so bright that I needed shades. Today the sun is back again and its glow on my face felt warm even though the temp was only about -12 C. Jack is as happy as a tick and spent our entire walk snorfling in the snow chasing imaginary mice and pouncing like a cat on the tracks left by rabbits. I  may be a bit giddy from all this light, but it’s a glorious day and walking with Jack felt like a treat.

Jack’s Walk

Millenial Trail, ©voyager, all rights reserved

I’m sorry that Jack’s Walk didn’t get posted yesterday. It was one of those days. The day began suddenly when a painter, painting in my friend V’s living room, fell 5 feet from a ladder while holding a gallon of white paint. V and I were both still sleeping soundly when it happened, but the sudden crash and cries of pain woke us both bolt upright right away. The fellow was already up and trying to mop up, but his forearm was lacerated and there was blood. And paint. Everywhere. My first thought was actually “Wow! That’s just like in cartoons!” and I had to stifle a nervous giggle. My next thought was “Oh, shit. Where’s the cat?” and finally, when I’d taken in the whole scene, it occurred to me that I’m trained in first aid and should be doing something more useful than standing there gaping. It was just so spectacular to see. Probably a once in a lifetime thing to see. I wish I  had pictures, but it didn’t even occur to me to take one. We sent the painter home with an icepack and encouragement to see a Dr. and then began the tedious chore of wiping up white paint spots from literally every surface in the room. The small spots dried quickly and required some scraping and the large spots just schmeared and made more of a mess. By the time I looked at my watch it was 12 o’clock and I had a 12:30 train to catch. The rest of the story is familiar to every weary traveler; hurry-up and wait. It’s about missed connections and not having a chance to eat. It’s about feeling grubby and irritable and wasted, but then finally it’s about being home. A Very Good Place to be.

Mornings of the New Year

Another round of sametimesameplacing, this time with a variation (and no, it’s not the darkness). So first, the classic shot:

I freely admit, this is a week ago, so maybe it isn’t quite as dark anymore…
©rq, all rights reserved.


This time, however, here’s a peek back towards the station and the town, just as the outbound (outbound from the capital, that is) train is arriving:

©rq, all rights reserved.

We have since received a lot more snow, which has all melted again, but at least it looks a little bit like winter.

Today’s song talks a lot about December, but it still sounds great in January. It’s from Blue Rodeo, a classic Canadian band previously mentioned by voyager:

Hey hey I guess it hasn’t hit me yet
I fell through this crack
And I kinda lost my head
I stand transfixed
Before this street light
Watching the snow fall
On this cold December night
And out in the middle of Lake Ontario
The same snow is falling
On the deep silent water
The great dark wonder
Into the waves of my heart
Into the waves of my heart
Of my heart
Sounds like home to me.

Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

Yesterday’s walk by the river was a little more challenging than I bargained for so today Jack and I chose an easier walk and went to our quiet little path in the forest. This spot is another of my happy places. Ive been coming here for 15 years, initially with our first dog Lucy and then adding Jack to our pack. I know every bend of the path, each tree and stump and if I close my eyes I can walk the entire path in my mind. I know where the trilliums grow and the special spots where the red trilliums hide. I’ve walked this path with only the light of the moon and my every sense was heightened, I know it in each season, the ebb and flow of green, white, yellow, orange and red. I’ve watched young trees grow strong and old trees grow weak and I grieved the year that 18 grandmother trees toppled together from the weight of ice. It’s familiar and a comfort and today it was a welcome break from being a voyageur.

Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack and I put on our voyageur berets this morning and went hunting for beavers in the wetlands of Canada. The morning air was frosty and a constant westerly wind bit at our cheeks as it blew past us. Conditions on the ground were challenging with large muddy areas lightly covered by a wafer thin sheet of snow and ice that easily buckled under the weight of the dog. We picked our way upstream with me slipping and sliding and Jack looking anxiously over his shoulder to  make sure I was still upright. We didn’t get too far though when the route became     clogged with tangled brush and reeds that ultimately forced us to retrace our steps in retreat. I think we were getting close to the lodge in this area. We found several gnawed trees and a whole patch of gnawed off saplings. At first, I thought the sapling patch would lead straight to the den, but nope. The beavers haven’t set up shop here, but I think they’re close by. Maybe tomorrow we’ll try the other bank of the river to see if we can get farther.