I harvested some of the icicles from my watering hole. Gary heated a wire to put a hole in each for hanging. The rest of the ornaments are from candy wrappers and Christmas cards, plus the aluminum foil star. We just got home yesterday from Anchorage—Gary was best man in my cousin’s wedding on the solstice—so we haven’t gotten around to the popcorn and cranberry garland yet. We were afraid the birds would finish it off before we got the other ornaments up!
We’ve been a little disappointed by the contribution of our wind turbine. A Chinook wind came through a few days ago, warming us into the low 40’s. The turbine spun and hummed enthusiastically, but whether the tower’s too short (because we couldn’t manage to get that last ten-foot segment on it), or due to interference from nearby trees, or simply not enough steady wind, the turbine isn’t generating much power yet. That leaves us almost entirely dependent on solar power, though we do have a gas back-up generator.
We don’t use much electricity; we’ve switched back to using propane lights almost exclusively. We might turn on the radio for news in the morning or music in the evening, but that takes very little power. What does require energy is charging batteries on tools and computers, and our internet connection. So I’ll make this post a short one.
The sun’s trajectory is starkly lower now. No longer strong enough to make the climb over the trees, the sun now peers lazily through them. We discovered that shade was putting the panels to sleep by mid-day. As much as we hated to do it, we had to top off several nice trees and cut down a large old stand entirely. Gary being the only one actually doing anything, he really hated to do it.
The spruce forest has grown up fast around our place; pictures from the sixties show very few trees. Now hundreds of shrub-high trees foretell an increasingly forested future, so we know what we cut will grow back. Still, it doesn’t escape us that no matter how small we try to make our footprint on the environment, we are cutting down trees for lumber, firewood and, sometimes, simply because they are in our way.
Sunrise: 9:20 a.m.
Sunset: 5:59 p.m.
Weather: High 10, low -2, sunny and hazy. No wind.
A cloudless night brought a cold still morning today. It was just above zero when I got up, blue and beautiful.
I followed Ella up the hill, intending to capture the progress of the snows as they reach lower and lower. Each photo represented just a fragment of the panorama, and I had barely gotten started when my camera battery died.
Forced to savor the view without a viewfinder, I put my camera in its case and paused. Ella was lying beside me. I turned to the view behind me, and not thirty feet away stood an enormous caribou bull. He was approaching slowly, curious perhaps. His antlers looked to me like an elegant flourish rather than a weapon, but it did strike me that I was out-armed. Startled, I grabbed my walking stick, and the movement in turn startled him. By this time Ella was alert and heading his way. He didn’t flee, but he did turn away. I had turned homeward, and we looked back at each other over our shoulders.
High 44, low 0 degrees, sunny and clear all day
8:24 a.m./7:02 p.m.
Snow started just before 9 this morning. I took this picture at 11:15. Then we got really busy clearing up the yard of things we might not be able to find again until Spring. But it’s clearing now, and most of the snow has melted away.