I promised myself that I would add one of these stories here every time I told one. I tell them at one point or another throughout the summer. There will be no chronology - not yet anyway - nor will there be much of a schedule. You never know; I might add a story every day and I might not. This is my life. Every day is an adventure.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Winter Snowfall

If anyone was watching the weather, you all know that night before last and most of yesterday, Mother Nature decided to dump a bunch of snow on us. A neighbor just up river from us reported an official measurement of 19 inches. I woke up yesterday morning to find 4 or 5 inches piled on top of previously cleared objects, like the snowmachine and it was coming down in huge wet flakes - my favorite kind. By the time I finished my advertising and other Facebook sidetracks, a healthy foot or more had accumulated. Since my battery had run out, and since we didn't REALLY need to start the generator yet, I decided to enjoy the day and shovel off the bedroom roof. Of course, I also needed to brush off the eye of our satellite dish - again.

When I shoveled off a spot on the roof big enough for me to stand on, I discovered that our total, disturbed only by gravity, snowfall for the winter was nearly waist deep - funfunfun. Actually, I did have fun. When I got the last crumbs shoved off the roof and was nearly ready to step off onto the ladder again, I looked back - our house is only 12 feet wide plus a few odd inches, and over there on the other side of the roof, already about an inch of fluff had accumulated. No worries though, it wasn't long after that when it stopped snowing and warmed up enough to sprinkle a little of the liquid stuff, fortunately not very much.

Today's task was to shovel off the other nearly flat roof we have here and to snowshoe some of the trails. By the time I was done with that roof, Don was starting up the snowmachine with some dread. Sometimes this much snow all at once can make packing trails a bit of a pain if not a total nightmare. Today, it ended up being a pleasure. The snow stayed where it was packed and it didn't suck the machine off the side or sugar away from under it and sap all traction and steering.

For me on my snowshoes, it meant I only had to lift my feet boot high most of the time. All this snow did cause one problem for me on my snowshoes. A couple years ago we decided to move the outhouse. When it was first built, it was nested on a bit of a hill. Nothing tremendous, but the ground in back was a handful of inches higher than in front. To compensate this, we put the little building up on logs. It's new home was more level and leveled even more by the gravel dug from the hole so we decided it didn't need a log foundation. Take my word for it, if you live somewhere where snow falls by the foot, you want your outhouse up on something. Today, as I was shoveling the snow away from the door, I was standing at least a foot off the ground on my snowshoes. The task was awkward to say the least.

Trails to the outhouse, the dump, and to where I dump our compost all finished, and the day was rapidly waning so I hitched a ride on the snowmachine to the top of our hill so I could pack the trail out to the river before it got any colder than it was. The day was in the upper 20sF (that's barely below freezing C), but it was clearing off and it was best to take advantage of the warmth and get the snow settled down on the trail down the hill and on the ramp out onto the river, even if only by snowshoe. Tomorrow's plan is to brave that trail with the machine. Going down is the easy part, it's the coming back up that could get interesting.

Once again today, I was thinking about winters past plus my fifty pounds, lost but not missed this summer. What with my night-owl husband keeping me up until the wee hours of the morning every night, I still wake up with daylight, which is around ten in the morning these days, and I still have energy even now after shoveling snow and snowshoeing trails. It's just awesome. Thank you HCG!!!

Friday, December 9, 2011


Like last winter, we are planning to spend time in town. Things are much better set up for it this time around. We have gas, and thanks to an incredibly bitter cold November, we have ice on the river. Also, thanks to those -20sF (which is -30sC), it was nearly impossible for us to move around and get some outside things wrapped up and battened down. Then, to top off our troubles (nothing is ever trouble free) Don ran out of tobacco, and he gets nearly sick and rather disoriented whenever he tries to quit. Because of that, and though we really wanted to, we missed a delightful Thanksgiving dinner cooked by my daughter-in-law.

In an effort to celebrate the meal without all the fixings, I heated up some canned chicken, made some turkey gravy and a box of instant rice pudding. I also opened a can of cranberry sauce. It was a pretty thin dinner but it was fun in a funny sort of way.

Now that the weather has let up, we've gotten a couple feet of new snow (fortunately not all at once). It even rained one night, but though it was warm the next day the snow packed really nice rather than turning completely to mush.

Though we have the ramp shoveled in so we can get down on the river with the machine, we haven't actually driven it yet. It's rather steep and it's important that it settles and hardens before we try to abuse it with the machine. There's nothing more frustrating than trying to dig a fairly heavy machine out when its been nosed directly into a vertical bank.

What I like to do is walk up and down the ramp as we are shoveling; it serves to push the snow down where it is needed most and pack it into place as well. I deem it good enough if I can walk up and down without slipping much, and certainly without landing on my duff. This year I did the initial walking up and down without snowshoes, but recently doing so with snowshoes to keep new snowfall packed down.

Today was my second trip out to the river with snowshoes. Since the trail to the river was already packed, I didn't put them on until I got to the top of our hill. It's awkward walking in a snowmachine trail with snowshoes; the track is too narrow and the skis are too wide.

As I walked down the trail, it was very quiet. No little birdies twittered in the trees; no bigger creatures trudged through the deeper snow off among the brush. My own noise was muffled by soft snow as I shuffled along. I never did walk like my mother thought I should, and big, heavy boots are just plain big and heavy. My method of walking is most noticeable when I'm in town, say at the mall. I've always worn my boots essentially unlaced and they do flop. This makes walking with snowshoes easier, but it's a really sloppy stride on a hard floor. It's not so noticeable with shoes, but I've finally succeeded in wearing them all out - I bet you can't guess what one thing on my shopping list is.

A few days ago, when we were out and about packing trails, I was snowshoeing the hill and carrying a can of gas up too. Don was waiting for me at the top with the machine. After several trips up the ramp, and then trudging up the hill, it being the first time this year for me being on snowshoes too, I was coming up the last stretch quite slow. Also, I do much better pulling my kiddy sled behind me than I do carrying a can full of gas, so I was setting it down frequently - it seemed like about every ten steps, but it really wasn't that bad. Don commented that it must be nice being fifty pounds lighter. Oh, man, you have no idea how much nicer it is. Yeah, I was pooped, but always, walking up that hill, summer or winter, I used to take old lady steps. Now the only time I take old lady steps is when I'm purposely shuffling in order to pack the snow.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I Really Must Laugh

I have never been one to worry about my clothes. How well they fit. Whether they match. How worn they are, or stained. Not unless I'm going to work anyway. Now that I've lost over 40 pounds, most of which is gone from my butt and from my belly, things fit - well - differently. It is only to be expected of course, but sometimes something will take me a bit by surprise and I have to laugh about it all.

Back in 2008, when I was in Fairbanks publishing my book, I bought a few clothes. One thing was a pair of pajama pants, they were hard weave (not a knit fabric) and they were comfortable enough, but a little tight for sitting. I hardly ever wore them. Recently I figured I better start wearing these clothes I'd bought way back when or I would completely un-grow them and miss my chance. It was a near thing with those pants. A couple more inches from around my middle and they would be falling off. I'm going to have to shorten the elastic in the waist. haha

Another thing which struck me today. At the same time, in Fairbanks I found a jacket, and I've worn it a lot since then. It's a very nice jacket with fake sheepskin lining and a nice brown cotton shell, with a hood too. It is my winter jacket 90% of the time. I bought it because the sleeves weren't a foot too long AND I could zip it up. Something very important to me, especially for a winter jacket. I put it on today for the first time since last winter. The waist is now very loose, though not so loose that I won't continue to wear it.

My boss gave me a summer jacket a couple years ago. They had to guess at the size and it turned out to be too small in a way. The sleeves are a bit long but the waist was like three inches short of zipping. Since it was a summer jacket I wasn't too worried about that. If it was raining, I had a poncho to wear when I drove the boat. Otherwise it worked well enough. It too was plenty warm enough for summer's chilly morning boat drives. By the time summer's rainy season started I could zip it up and now this jacket too is a bit loose around the waist. haha I'm not giving it up though. It's a great jacket and it has my name monogrammed on it.

There's another laughable thing I wear and smile about. For years I've wanted a new pistol belt. The one I have was getting too short. Even on the last hole, it was tight, and I had to wear it up around my ribs. Now, though I still wear it on the last hole, it now hangs loosely down around my hips where I like to wear it.  If it weren't for my pistol making for a lopsided weight, I'm sure I would lose it entirely. My pistol sits down on my thigh out from under my elbow; all I need is a tie-down for it to ride like any good gun-slinger's pistol should ride.

There are other things I've un-grown - things I never thought to have trouble with. Yeah, I'll surely have to go shopping when I hit town.

Friday, September 16, 2011

It is what it is

My life is what my life is, and this time of year there is nothing to it but to wait for the seasons to change. I pulled one of the two boats we had in the water today. I'll keep watch on the water level. So far, it's raining enough to maintain things, but that's got to end soon. There is one thing going in my life right now that I'm rather thrilled about. I'm losing weight for the first time in a long time and I feel great - greater by the day.

I consider my body like unto a machine. A well-cared-for machine operates well and lasts long. This 'machine' however has been overloaded for a long time, and we all know that can lead to problems. My problems were sore feet, a stiff back and poor sleep. Poor sleep can also lead to problems but to date, I'd managed to avoid them.

Now that I'm shedding all those extra pounds, my feet aren't sore anymore and I'm sleeping tons better. My back is still stiff first thing in the morning, but then I'm no spring chicken anymore either, a few aches and pains are to be expected when you reach my age. My age - well back in June I felt about 80. What did I know what 50something was supposed to feel like?  My weight gain had been gradual over the last 30 years, and over the last five or so it would fluctuate from five to ten pounds as I went from winter's quiet to summer's work and back again. That didn't mean that I still didn't end up a couple pounds heavier at the end of it all.

July 24 was the last day of my first session with the hcg drops and I had lost 30 pounds over the 40 days previous, ending at 173 pounds. No longer did I feel like I was an 80 year old grandmother badly in need of retirement. Now I felt like, heck, I say I felt ten years younger, but I'm thinking I felt better than that - younger - nearly like a kid again - haha - well almost.

There is a six week break between sessions and during that time I continued to lose the weight albeit at a slower rate. I was at 160 pounds when I started my second session ten days ago and already I've shed over five pounds. It's been a long time since there has been a 5 as the middle number of my weight.

My husband keeps saying little things like, "There's a lap between your knees and your belly." and "I can feel some ribs now." Course that's not all he says, but that's all I'm willing to put on here. hahaha No I'm not getting bony. It's just that it's been a long time since ribs and hip bones have been findable without some digging.

My goal is somewhere in the 130+ range, hopefully less than 140 pounds. It's where I was way back when. It looks like I just might get there. This old 'machine' is more than ready to unload all this extra weight. It's certainly not doing me any good.

The biggest question I get is, "How do you deal with eating only 500 calories?" I don't understand calories and I don't count them. Heck, it would take me an hour just to weigh or measure what I eat to figure it out and I am too lazy to put that much effort into what I eat, plus no one ever counts all the extra calories that are floating around in your body already - that's the fat I'm talking about - that unwanted extra weight. These drops tell you body that they count too. So what if I only consume only 500 calories or so, I've got plenty to spare. I just don't eat what the diet says I should avoid and gestimate how much I am eating. It's working so who am I to complain. The people who have been, or are on, this diet have gone to great lengths to invent recipes to satisfy all you cooks out there but I haven't tried them. They look and sound really great. You could probably feed your whole family from these dishes and you'd all eat better. After all, you don't really need oil or sugar. I'll email a list of those recipes to anyone who wants to try some. Heck, I'll send anyone the whole pdf and you can read up on the study if you like.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Calling 9-1-1

9-1-1 It used to be just a phone number for emergencies. Now, it has a whole new meaning. Even ten years later, it still shudders my nerves when I hear something related to 911 or 9/11. I and my family are very far removed from the horrendous happenings in New York, so I know no one there; I'm not even sure I know someone involved second hand - someone who had family for personal friends there. A selfish part of me wants to say 'get over it and move on', but those words never make it out. I'll never say them, not ever. This whole world was totally rocked by this one senseless act; we will never get over it. We won't even get over it when everyone responsible has been properly punished for the crime, not even when it has become ancient history. Look at Pearl Harbor. I don't know the numbers and I'm not going to look them up, but the attack on Pearl Harbor had much the same affect around the world. Sure, there was a war going on and we were taking a back seat at the time, but the senseless loss of life was much the same, and it had the same affect then as the 9/11 attack did ten years ago. It brought us, fully enraged, into the war.

Now, ten years later, maybe some of the rage has worn off. The enemy, the terrorists, are far harder to find. They don't wear the uniform of the enemy. They are hard to see. They lie to get away in order to blow themselves up in the company of some other innocents in a market square or in a hotel lobby. They get their children to do things no child should be thinking of. And it is all in the name of their God or their Prophet. Maybe I'm getting this all wrong, but how can any religion, any teacher of said religion, teach that it is the greatest heavenly task to kill people who don't believe the same things? Many say it's not the religion that teaches this. I'll have to take their word for it. I've never read the Koran. I've never read the Bible either, and yet so many crimes have been committed for that too. That's why I'm scarcely a Christian. I guess that makes me an atheist.

I do know that some peoples think differently than I do, and I don't mean they have different ideas, I mean their brains operate differently. Have you ever read a book written by a Chinese person? Very complicated, and not such an easy train of logic to follow. I can only think that these terrorists think differently too. It just boggles me though. Surely, no matter where you are or how you grew up, wrong is still wrong. Killing innocent people is wrong. How can it be otherwise?

They say we aren't innocent though, but I can't see the crime. That America is predominantly Christian can't be the crime, surely. Ah me, I totally fail to grasp it all, and I can only say, 'we will never forget' and I, for one, will never forgive.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My hcg Diet

One day my girlfriend, Sandy, sent me an email telling me all about this wonderful stuff she found. She was so sick and so disheartened by it all – she figured she’d be dead in another ten years, if not sooner. But now, as if by a miracle, after hundreds of trips to different doctors, it was all going away, and along with it about a pound a day of fat. A POUND! That’s a whole box of butter just being chucked out every day!

I was totally thrilled for her; her updates were just amazing. Finally, something had been found that made the fat go away without us having to start training for the Olympics or something of the sort. I mean, have you watched Biggest Loser? Personally, I don’t like that show, though perhaps those people need that kind of abusive discipline. I don’t.

I have always considered myself a strong person for a woman. I mean, read my blog. I lift and carry. I walk. Okay, so I don’t do it every day, but still. During the summer I work at a fishing lodge and I probably end up walking well over a mile if not miles every day, and that’s not counting the mile I walk to and from the boat every day in order to go to work. During the winter it’s a different story. Since I’m not working at the lodge, I spend a lot of my time sitting in front of the computer. But I still go out and split wood nearly every day and sometimes twice a day.

I also consider myself healthy. I’ll take aspirin for some aches and pains now and then but I have no other medications to take, not counting the inhaler I use for my bronchitis – one little inhaler has been known to last me up to four years, so even my bronchitis isn’t much of a nuisance.

Of late though, I’ve been feeling really quite old. I love where I live but living in the wilderness of Alaska is not for the old and infirm. I’ve always known that the day would come when we would have to move to town. I mean, if you can’t do the chores necessary to get along, the only alternative is to hire someone to do them for you or move to where life is a little easier.

Well, after hearing of Sandy’s success, I simply had to give this hcg diet a try. I was over 200 pounds now and I’ve been toying with the idea of quitting my job – it was all I could do to make it through an entire day. My feet hurt. My back hurt. I was tired all the time.

At work, I keep the cabins clean, which involves making or changing beds every day and some of those beds are the upper bunks – kids always choose the upper bunk. And since I hate the idea of carting a mop and bucket around, cleaning the bathroom floors was a hands-and-knees job.

When I first started working here there were ten cabins, half of which had a bathroom. Also on my cleaning every day list was the bathhouse which was two bathrooms, each with two sinks and two showers, and the floors here too. There was also a third bathroom but that was just a toilet. Then there were also four outhouses to maintain. When I first started working here, I was able to make it through all of that by noon most days, and then my afternoons were filled with maintaining the flowers and berry beds as well as the assorted trees and bushes. Thank goodness I didn’t have to mow too.

Since I’ve worked here, one bathroom was added to a cabin. In the last couple years, two cabins were taken out of the guest cabin list – a relief for me though they were seldom used anymore.

Believe me, taking care of the bathhouse, eight cabins and the yard is a big job and I was feeling like I wasn’t doing it the way I should. My boss gives me a raise every year and every year I was going out of my way to take short cuts. I felt guilty about it too, hence my thoughts of quitting.

Regardless of my work or my life here, I have been looking for some way to lose all this extra lard I’ve accumulated over the last 30some years. I did the math; on the average I gained at least two pounds a year.

I always check out the diet section at the store when I go to town – they all say ‘exercise and eat right and take this wonderful pill, and watch the pounds melt away’. ha ha ha I even tried a couple. So much for that theory.

Last year I ordered the drops from Sandy, only they didn’t get here before I was grounded to home. I did finally get them in February only to discover that both bottles had broken in shipment – I was so bummed. So as soon as planes were flying again, I sent her another check. I was going to try this stuff. I was desperate (though likely not so desperate as Sandy was when she started).

She told me she felt great, that she had energy again, that all her ailments were simply melting away, but I just thought it was due to weight going away. I had no idea.

I learned that starches are supposed to convert to sugar, which is where your energy is supposed to come from, but too much and it converts to fat, supposedly to be broken down into sugar at need at a later time. However, in some people that fat never breaks down; it just keeps building up and you have to eat more to get the energy you need, only too much of it is converted to this fat rather than the energy – a vicious circle.

Hcg breaks that circle. It tells your body it can burn this fat now, all you need. The fat converts to the sugar, which gives you energy. And oh my God the energy! I’m not talking about something like a caffeine buzz either, just energy, the energy you need to do whatever you are doing. Come the end of the day, I’m tired. I’m 55 years old; I’m entitled to be tired after a long day, and I love taking naps in the afternoon when I get the chance.

No longer do I look at the clock and think, ‘I’ve worked 2 hours, let me take an aspirin so I can make it to lunch so I can sit down for a while.’ And then in the afternoon I say, ‘I’ve done this flowerbed, do I have to do the next one or can it wait until tomorrow? Maybe I’ll go find some bushes to trim or some rocks to pick up, then maybe I’ll go home early.’ Nope – the other day I did all the flower and herb beds in one day. I had blisters on my hand from it, but job done and I was proud of my accomplishment. I’m back to working like I used to – getting the bathhouse, all the cabins and outhouses done lickety-split and polishing the gardens like they haven’t been for a while. Yeah, I keep them weed free and always have but there’s a difference now.

I’m carting around 30 less pounds of lard and that’s part of it, but my feet don’t hurt any more and my back doesn’t hurt any more. I’m not watching the clock any more. Though this summer I’m not eating lunch with the crew. I’ll pass through and grab an apple or banana or whatever’s available within my diet and that’s it, I’m off again.

When I first started working I was proud of the fact that few of the younger people could keep up with me, and since I was always all over the place, finding me was usually rather hard. I’m that way again and it’s wonderful.

My son asked me when we were moving to town. Like I said before, I knew the day would come. I told him, now that I feel 10 years younger, it’ll be a while. I like living here and I want to stay here as long as I can. Sure, we’ll spend some time in town each winter (maybe), but frankly I’d much rather stay out here.

With this session, I almost reached 170 pounds. My next session starts in September. I won’t be working then, so maybe the pounds won’t come off as easily – we’ll see; there’s still the walk to the boat dock I can take every day and that’ll help. Maybe I’ll put in a snowshoe trail around the parameter of the property – now that’s an idea – we’ve a 20 acre plot, rectangular in shape – anyone care to do the math for me? How far is that?


Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Frightening Evolution of Birds

As a cat sees it.

A girlfriend gave me a kitten some years ago when we lived in a little 10' by 12' cabin. It had two windows and a door, a tiny shelf for a kitchen and some shelves. The rest of the space, what we didn't need for turning around in, was filled with the wood stove. During the course of the winter, little tweety birds fluttered around outside our front window. It was cold, so I took to sprinkling a bit of corn flower on the outside windowsill. It served to bring the tiny birds a lot closer, and our kitten would sit on the table, which was under that window, and avidly watch those little birds, chattering away with excitement.

As spring wore on, the birds got a little bigger, and as it got warmer, the kitten, named Ishtar, got to play outside a little. She discovered camp-robbers, little gray birds maybe two or three times the size of the little tweety birds, which had moved on.

Some time later, we were visited by a flock of magpies, in fact, one of them drew little Ishtar way up into a tree, but she made it down.

In the continued evolution of things that go fluttering in Ishtar's world, a raven stopped by for a visit. Since he was still around a second day, I tied a chicken neck to a tree branch so it hung about two feet from the ground. Too far up for the bird to reach while standing. He was really rather funny to watch as he tried to get it. Ishtar wasn't brave enough to go after this one so she stayed on the table and chattered at it through the window.

A few days later, the god who makes all things grow bigger simply got way out of hand. Ishtar was sitting at the window, anxiously awaiting any fluttering creature the great outside had to offer, when suddenly an otter (bush plane) flew low over the house in preparation for landing somewhere behind us. That was just too much. I swear you never saw a cat move faster. She was off the table and across the floor, under the kitchen shelf as far behind whatever was there as she could get.

With a little encouragement, she came out of there, but things that go flutter outside the window weren't so interesting anymore.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Cold Shower

The very first year I worked out on the river, the lodge I worked at had two separate buildings for the camp bathrooms. One of them also housed the washer and dryer, giving me reason to be in the building. One day, a man came in, his arms full with his change of clothes and assorted toiletries, obviously intent on taking a shower.

I told the man, the propane was out and that he should just go to the other building. It wasn't as if they were clear across the camp from each other. If the buildings had been a couple feet closer, they would have shared a corner.

"Oh no," he says. "I don't mind a cold shower."

"The water's real cold here," I warned him. I did. The water in the river comes directly from a glacier and I doubt it ever gets warmer than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. And since the water for the shower houses comes from a well that's not really all that far from the river. I know a glass of cold water from the tap is every bit as cold as a glass of water from the frig, maybe even poured over ice-cubes - refreshingly cold, but too cold for a shower.

Needless to say, the guy didn't spend much time trying to take a cold shower. He came back out and said, "That water's cold!!!"

All I could say is, "I told you so."

Friday, May 13, 2011

Yard Work

Yep, most of the snow is gone and a healthy chunk of the yard is dry enough to rake, so guess what I did for a couple hours this afternoon. I went outside and did a little raking. This time of year is kinda risky for me, but the spruce trees aren't dusting the countryside yet and last year's dust didn't get to me either. Allergies are a real pain, but they only last for a little while, thank god. The last thing I need is to start sneezing and coughing cause that only aggravates my bronchitis, not that it's all that bad but it is annoying.

Working in the yard, though, reminded me that I haven't told you about the otter who camped out under out house a couple falls ago. I was out cleaning up the yard and burning trash, and occasionally throwing a stick for the dog when she went charging off into the tall grass off back by my ex-garden. I didn't see anything so whatever it was was smaller than a bear and definitely smaller than a moose. I didn't even see the tall grass waving except where the dog was so it was smaller than she was. I wasn't worried until she yelped. She's never yelped. She might growl. Once in a while she'll bark, but she's never yelped. I dropped what I was doing and called her back into the yard. She's always been good at coming when she was called, but she didn't want to this time. When she did come, she had blood on her nose.

I hustled her into the house before taking the time to look at the damage. She now has a scar across the top of her nose about an inch long and it healed up quickly.

The next day, I kept an eye peeled for our mysterious visitor. I also kept an eye on the dog. Just in case our visitor was still hanging around somewhere. No, I wasn't going to go beating through six-foot grass and weeds to look for something that might be hurt and pissed.

As it turns out, Gizmo wasn't interested in going off into the tall grass anymore. In fact she wasn't all that interested in chasing sticks either. She kept an eye under the house but I didn't really notice it at the time; she was just hanging around the house really close.

That night, Don kept hearing things like a far-away motor, but there was no boat traffic anymore, the season was over. If anyone was running around in a boat, it wouldn't be big enough for us to hear from here. Plus it was late in the evening. I went outside to listen, but didn't hear anything. This happened a couple more times.

The next day, I heard it, and I heard it from outside. Something was under the house. Of course, since I'd told Gizmo 'no' it became 'mine' and therefore off limits and okay to be in the yard. She was just keeping an eye on it. Mind you, I still didn't know what it was, but I now knew where it was. I, very carefully, went under the house to try to see what it was. Whatever it was, it was small cause it could hide among all the stuff under there.

I suppose I got to within a couple feet of it, but I never got a very good look at it - a tail here - a cheek there - and then it was hiding behind something else. Why was an otter camping out under our house? Maybe it was hurt from the fight with Gizmo, but the little pieces and parts that I could see didn't seem any worse for the wear. I could see it well enough to tell that it was a full grown otter. Maybe it would get a little bigger, maybe it was a female. I couldn't tell.

I was trying to burn some fish that was too mushy to can, so I decided to rescue it from the fire and give it to our guest, maybe he was just a little messed up from the fight and was too weak to hunt. Maybe I could entice him out far enough so I could tell. No luck there.

It snowed that night, three or four inches. When I went to see about our guest, he wasn't there, neither was the fish, so he went away full. I found his tracks in the new snow heading out the back of the house and off through the garden, on to wherever he'd been going in the first place.

That was the extent of the visit. I never saw it again. I haven't seen too many otters this far from the water. There used to be a family we'd see at least once a year down by the boats - no idea where they stay.

I saw one once years ago running through the edge of our yard during winter. It was really rather comical to watch as it gamboled along with the occasional slide mixed in.

Friday, April 22, 2011

April Showers Bring...

I stepped outside my door yesterday morning and realized that there was a sizable spot of bare ground out there, off to the side of the main trail to the steps. In front of the steps there's still an inch or two of ice - don't worry, it's not slippery, it's too pitted to be slippery.

Now that's not the first bare ground to show up; the first one was under the exhaust of the generator, which sits on top of the doghouse. Putting it there for the winter is tons easier than trying to keep a hole dug out for it on the ground, and the exhaust keeps the snow 'down wind' melted to a distance of roughly three or four feet and the top of the doghouse is easy to scrape off.

Back to the real melted spot. So far it is the only spot of bear ground that I know of. I'm sure there are more. Places like under the big spruce trees always have less snow and at the rate of melt I'm sure the bare ground around those trees is growing daily. I also saw that the four-wheeler no longer has snow on top of it, but the snow around it is still every bit as deep as the four-wheeler is tall - around waist deep there, give or take a few inches.

Other trails: the trail down to the fuel drums now looks like a trail in new snow, if you ignore the dirt darkening the snow in that trail. You see, the new snowfall we had a little while ago is still white, but where it was disturbed the dirt underneath was found by the sun that has been shining for weeks nice and warm every day. The darkness of the dirt absorbs the sun's heat and melts the snow faster than the white of new snow, so since the trail down to the fuel drums is pointed primarily in the same direction as rays of the at it's hottest, it had become a bit of a trench. The trail to the outhouse or the freezer are both sideways to that source of heat and so are melting sideways. The said dirt, visible in all trails, melts the snow to the side, each fleck of dirt moving to the north a tiny bit every day, thus creating a false trail, so to speak. Now, if I were to walk where the trail appears like it should be, I would quickly be wading in snow that is still more than knee deep. However, walking on the packed part of the trail isn't easy. It too has been 'burned' sideways by the angle of the sun's rays. Yeah, it's interesting walking around out there these days.

Last night, it started raining, and it is raining still, now the clock around. I know 'rain' means many different thing to different people. If you live in Texas, rain comes down in buckets and can cause flash floods, an interesting detail found only occasionally in western novels. Here such a goose-drowner happens only once in a great while. Our normal rain is sure to get a stroller wet, and driving an open boat in the rain is highly unpleasant but all in all, it's rather pleasant if you don't have to be out in it.

The rain, nice as it might be, does complicate my problem with walking around outside. Since it didn't freeze last night, and likely won't again tonight, getting to the fuel drums for my little can of gas might be interesting. I may have to plan on wet feet tomorrow morning. Then again, it may work out better than I think it will. I like little surprises like that.

Now that the rains are falling and the nights aren't freezing, one more step towards spring has been covered. That's not to say there won't be more freezing nights but they are numbered I'm sure. Any time now I'll be seeing small flecks of green and I'm not talking about the perma-green trees.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Nature's Opera

There was coyote song on the air this morning, and it was so echoing and so varied that opera was the first thing that came to mind. Like opera on stage, it is sung in a different language, and unless you can speak Italian, there's no understanding the words and one must depend on the actors, the scenes and the costumes in order to understand the story, and of course, knowing what the story is ahead of time helps immensely. Unlike opera, rather than lasting a couple hours, coyote song is over in moments, leaving the air echoing emptily, leaving my ears searching for another note.

With coyote song, there's no knowing what the story is. There's no script to follow or look up online. Some say they are calling their brethren to the hunt, and some say they are calling to the kill. I've even heard they'll call in frustration as the quarry gets away. Whatever the reason, in my opinion, it is pure heartstrings.

Ever since our foot of brand new snow, I've been out early to fill my buckets. My thought was to have most of my buckets full of nice clean water, and when I have all but two or three full, I'll circulate the last of them until I run out of snow to collect. Last night it froze (it's 25F right now). I was outside, packing this crunchy snow into my buckets when I heard this soprano note climb and fall, echoing through the trees. There must have been half a dozen of them sounding off, imitating each other as if they were singing 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat'.

I wish I had more operatic terminology so I could make it clearer. Take my word for it, it was so pure and stunning it took me a moment to identify what I was hearing.

There are other opera singers out here. Unfortunately they seldom occupy the same stage at the same time. The lonely wolf cry, something I seldom get to hear, is the soloist tenor. The woodpecker, which I did hear this morning, is the percussion. Sometime next month maybe there will be swan song and goose song and maybe even some duck song. Before too much longer there will be the whip-o-will song back in the swamps, at least that's what I think they're called. I hear they are calling a mate, and I hear they are really quite comical about it. Unfortunately, I've never seen it.

So tell me, what sounds do you hear on a quiet morning when most of humanity is sleeping?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Winter's Last Gasp

I woke up this morning to a fairly thick snowstorm outside my window, and when I let the dog out, I saw upwards of two inches of snow on the steps. Course it looked deeper so I went out and measured it.

It's well into April; last gasps are supposed to happen in March, or well most of the time they do. March was beautiful. Clear skies, cold nights, and warm days. All this week it has been clear skies most of the time, warmer nights - most of them barely getting below freezing, and very warm days reaching well up into the forties during the day. It did try to snow once a couple days ago, but it was scarcely enough to give a white dusting noticeable on various dark objects and gone by the end of the day.

This is the time of year when I dread going outside, even to go to the freezer. The path to the freezer is still three feet deep in snow. I know this because I broke through the other day and was suddenly sitting on said path, and I don't recall my foot touching ground.

This is the time of year when the packed part of any trail becomes narrower with each sun's crossing, when all the tree trash blown out of the trees over the winter has started eating at the snow, creating a choppy surface sure to twist the ankle of any unwary creature. And now that I think on it, this is why moose, and other assorted bovine-type creatures, have the leg structure they do. Mother Nature long since created them to be able to walk most anywhere without twisting an ankle.

Now that there is a brand new layer of snow over those trails, twisting my ankle is more of a certainty. Fortunately, my excuses for going outside are few and I'm very familiar with the hazards, so the worst that will happen to me is that I fill my shoes (again) with snow.

I wear my shoes most everywhere, most any time of the year. I put my winter boots on when I know I'm going to be wading around in snow for an extended period of time. Even if I'm wearing my snowshoes, I prefer to wear my shoes. Back in November, when I was packing the runway the hard way, I was wearing my shoes with my snowshoes. Though I might not have developed blisters if I'd worn my boots, neither would I have managed to get most of that runway packed in one day. The only other time I wear something other than my shoes is when I start walking to work and have to wade across a muddy spot along our trail. Spring runoff creates a small creek, and when the ground thaws out the mud seems bottomless. That's when I wear my husband's knee-high waders, at least until I get to the boat. These poor things, made by Timberland, have covered a lot of distance on my feet over the years, and if ever I see another like them, I'll get a new pair. They've spent their fair share either in the oven over night or hanging over the wood-stove drying out after I've filled them with snow once too often and they start feeling soggy.

It's hard to say how long this snow will last, not long I'm sure, but the white will slow the melt and cover the ugly for a little while anyway. Spring is the ugliest time of year. Things are no longer white, draped in winter's glory, nor are they green, bursting with summer's promise of bounty. Even fall's colorful glory is by far prettier than spring.

But such is the time of year. Now is the time when I start thinking about accumulating enough water to make it from gathering the last of the snow to collecting the first of the rain or going to work, whichever comes first. Now is the time of year when we should be gathering firewood, but with my husband's seemingly constant migraines, it looks like that may not happen this year. Weather change, be it good or bad, and even if it misses us directly, gives him a bad headache and running a snowmachine, not to mention the chainsaw, becomes a painful prospect for him. Aw well, we may still get out there - there's still plenty of time, and now maybe just a little more.

Back last October I posted a spring rant I'd written on my other blog, before this one existed. There I talked about the ugliness of spring in town, sad really. Out here I go out of my way to pick up my trash, any trash wherever I am, even going off out into the brush to pick up what a bear drug off. Last fall, on one of my last trips out with the boat, a friend tossed a soda can on the beach. Sure, it wouldn't have been there come spring, but out of sight does not mean gone. So what if it's somewhere else. So what if it ends up at the bottom of the river crushed to an unrecognizable lump of aluminum. So what if it will cause little damage in the grand scheme of things. It is trash and I won't litter up my world. I picked up that can and tossed it in my boat. I don't know if my friend even noticed, I didn't say anything to him. But another friend there saw and noticed the entire thing. He smiled. Even here at home I'll pick up after my family. A couple winters ago my son was out here. He and my husband both smoke (trying to stop), and at the time they had cigarettes with filters (store-bought cigarettes). Their habit was to stand outside and smoke (giving me a break), and then flick their butt somewhere in the snow. Roll-your-owns I don't worry about, heck, I don't even find them come spring, but cigarette butts are another thing. When I started picking them up by the handful (almost), I started hollering. I believe in taking care of my world the best I can. Too bad so few people feel the same.

Do you take care of your world? Make me feel better about spring; tell me how.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Getting Lost

Becoming lost really is relative. One day, several years ago, during moose hunting season, I decided to walk along a ridge above a small creek. There was a game trail along this ridge and there was a foot or so of snow on the ground so I was wearing my snowshoes. Since it was hunting season, I was also carrying my 30.06.

Cutting across the landscape are some size-lines. They are man-made lines cut arrow-straight through and over any and all terrain. Some of them go on for miles and miles, and some start and stop after covering much shorter distances. If any of them parallel another, it is purely by accident. I don't know what their purpose is, but I believe they were an aid in making topographical maps.

Near my home is one heading roughly east and west. About a half mile to the west is another that crosses the first at near ninety degrees. My goal on this day was to hike around this ridge until I encountered that first size-line and then head on home, going out of my way by maybe a mile from our normal trail.

Needless to say, I missed the size-line and continued walking on, ending up on the second size-line. Having never approached the size-line from this direction before, and being just a mite stubborn, I walked much, much further than I should have, and I did find a small herd of moose - perfect for shooting. No, I didn't shoot one. I had already been walking for maybe a couple hours (did I mention I was stubborn), but I wasn't stupid (not much), I had no desire to hike an entire moose out that far on foot. My shot would probably bring my husband and two sons as fast as they could get there, but it just might take all night to get the entire moose home.

Still not finding the landmarks I was looking for, I decided there was nothing for it but to turn around and follow my trail back to the beginning. Yeah, I was an idiot; I should have come to this decision long ago.

Needless to say, my rifle was getting heavier by the mile and my arms were starting to feel like they were going to fall off. I was SO so so glad to run into my men as they were trying to hack their way along my trail with a snowmachine, some miles before I made it entirely back to my starting point. And thanks to their trail, I could now take my original target trail back to the house.

I'm sure my husband acquired several gray hairs that day, just as I'm sure my boys did a little more growing up - fear of losing a wife and mom to the wilderness of Alaska would do that to a person, but I was too exhausted to notice much by then. I gave them all a hug and handed over the tonnage that was my rifle, and trudged on for home, leaving them to get the machine turned around and follow.

To this day, I have never lived it down. I wasn't quite lost; I did have my own trail to follow back, but my family didn't think of that. Needless to say, I try very hard not to be so stubborn.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bear Play

Yes, bears do play, and sometimes it's rather comical. Catching a bear playing is really quite hard. I myself have only seen the play come out once and that was in a two-year-old cub. My first encounter with bear play was our very first summer here. We had only just taken a look-see, paced off our property corners, and had the surveyor come out and put our property on the map. On our next visit we brought the weed-eater and a small one-gallon gas can and we brought back the chainsaw and I'm sure we had a machete or two; it was time to clear the yard and see what we could make of the place so we could start building.

I picked a spot that was more grass than anything else, but six-foot grass can take a bit to cut. What brush we found fell to the machete, and small trees met the chainsaw. We decided to call it quits when we ran out of gas. We were all pooped anyway, even though the afternoon was barely half over.

Not wanting to carry all our tools back and forth every day, we found a place in a tree where we could hang the weed-eater and chainsaw, but there just wasn't anyplace to hang the gas can and we hadn't brought any rope. Maybe we could have thought of something, but really who's going to bother a gas can? So we stuck it in the fork of the tree.

Now, as I've recounted in a previous post, I live roughly half a mile from the river, so when we returned the next day we had the dubious pleasure of carrying a full sized can of gas. I'm sorry, carrying five gallons of anything is heavy lifting as well as awkward. Don carried it sometimes, but he also carried the gun and I'd rather he be able to use that, so I carried the gas. The boys were still young though my oldest could help too.

When we got to our tree, everything was just as we left it - everything except the gas can was gone, and not only move but totally not in sight. Well, we had to get on with our work and we had gas so we didn't spend much time looking for that little can. In truth, I can't remember when we found that gas can. As my yard stands now, it was clear across the front of the yard and down in a tiny cleft in the ground, totally out of my present keep-the-grass-cut yard but not far. The boys found it when they were playing, and if they were playing here, we had already moved here, though I think the house hadn't been built yet.

They came running up to us. "Hey mom, look what we found." They presented us with the little red gas can, but the poor thing would never hold another drop of gas. It had a multitude of holes in it all over, most of them quite small but ranging in size from toothpick size to a couple big enough for me to stick my little finger in at least up to my first knuckle. Considering all the holes and how far it was away from its starting point, at least one bear had a blast playing with it. I wish I could have seen it. My mind fills in all manner of details, rolling and kicking it up into the air, tossing it, shaking it, tackling it and rolling. Maybe there was two cubs and they wrestled over it. There's no way of telling.

I remembered this story because I now have another gas can that was similarly played with. Last fall it was down on the gas barrels and one day I found it on the other side of the trail. I didn't think anything of it and I didn't look very close. Planning to use it this winter, my husband wanted me to bring it to the house. Only when we were going to fill it did I see the holes. Something must have interrupted the play this time. And now, thanks to the receding show, it has become visible again.

If you watch bears carefully, you will see dog behavior, cat behavior, and even people behavior. They are fascinating creatures, and yes, they do play.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Battle for Season

The wind hums through the trees, sometimes a light breeze, sometimes a wannabe gale, struggling hard to push back the sun's heat.

The sun shines bright, higher and higher every day, five minutes longer than the day before, patiently advancing toward spring despite the wind's struggles.

The snow is now polished to a high sheen, glowing brightly in the afternoon sun. One step, once covered with a bit of packed snow, now only has a small patch and may be dry tomorrow. A small gas can, once covered by the last snow, is now visible, as if the last snow never happened. I went out and got my buckets of snow today, discovering in the process that the sheen was all polish and no ice, one small victory for the wind, in the battle over season.

The not-so-pretty part about this time of year.... They call these months the starving months. It was -1.1F this morning when I got up, and got up to about 10F during the heat of the day. For the assorted creatures out there, most food is either buried deep or frozen very hard, and if not enough stores were hidden away, and even if it was, it would be running low. Heaven forbid the industrious squirrel forgot where one of his stashes was hidden.

Small birds chatter merrily as they flit from tree to tree, searching desperately for seeds the wind might have left behind.

Moose eat the tender shoots and branch ends from the assorted bushes and small deciduous trees - whatever they can reach. Plenty of those still visible, but thanks to the incessant wind, such browse is freeze-dried, as evidenced by an orange-red pee spot too small for a moose and yet way too big for anything else. His struggles clearly visible as he plows chest deep through the snow in search of something he or another hasn't already found earlier.

The tracks I saw, or didn't see, as I walked to the river this afternoon. One moose. I suppose it's possible there were two, but I doubt it; I didn't think to try to count. The tracks were old but the trails were still quite clear. Young, maybe two years old, pretty young to be all alone, though not unheard of. Since he was peeing red I doubt he'll make it to spring, but I can always hope.

I didn't see any squirrel tracks, and I don't recall hearing one, but that doesn't really mean much, it was pretty cold.

I didn't see any rabbit tracks, but that doesn't mean much either, there's not many around - too many coyotes. Then again, I haven't heard any coyotes calling either, but that's not saying much, they don't call during the day all that much.

Mice, well mice don't leave many tracks this time of year, though I have seen some here and there throughout the winter. Nothing is going to bother the mouse population, they're safe and sound in their grass-lined tunnels deep under the snow where all the grass and their seeds are free for the taking - industrious little creatures. When the snow is all gone, there will be an impressive maze left behind to be raked up or merely obscured by new growth.

Spring is coming, I can feel the heat in the sun, though the wind is still out of the north and quite cold. The snow is very dry, still less than a third of a bucket of water per bucket packed with snow, and I pack it as hard as I can. I'm concerned that the rivers will be late in filling, delaying my going to work. Then again, last spring the sun heated us up to 80F for nearly a week in May, which got me there in time to meet the first employees getting off the plane - that's a first.

Tomorrow is the start of the Iditarod sled dog race - The Last Great Race. Ride a sled behind a team of a dozen or so dogs all the way to Nome. It's an amazing spectacle. Watching it on TV, well, watching it on TV just isn't the same. This year will be a cold one for them. The moose will be dangerous, willing to fight for what little solid footing the trail may provide to give them a break from plowing through the deep snow, even if only for a little while.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Global Warming

Is it about warming, or even about weather change like they claim, I don't know, but things are different lately. Everyone's interested in the polar bears and the glaciers melting. At first, I couldn't see why everyone was so worried, I mean, my winters seem to be colder every year.

For years, 'normal' winter was an average of ten degrees above zero Fahrenheit to ten degrees below zero, with cold spikes in November and February where it might get as cold as -30ish (F), but those spikes lasted only two or three weeks and it was back up, and then it would warm up into the 20s and 30s and snow (sometimes a little - sometimes a lot), and then back down to average. Come the latter part of February, the longer days start having an affect on the heat of the day, and by the end of March things start to melt.

Lately, the November cold spike kinda went away, which put freeze-up off until much closer to Christmas - really kind of a pain for me, but we can't control the weather. And the rest of the winter has been really quite cold, spending most of the time down around -20 if not colder. You know it spends a lot of time down around there when 0 to 10 above feels like a nice day.

Once was the time when a hot summer day was 70 degrees (F), and those days didn't show up until July. Any more, 80 degrees is fairly common and sometimes warmer, and they've been known to show up in May, if only for a few days. I still start melting at 70, and long before it gets to 80 I'm searching for dark corners and shade, and wishing for a root cellar.

Some time ago I friended this guy on Facebook who was all for dams and culverts to divert water to Californian farmers. Not that I have anything against farmers, I like oranges, when I can get them, and I'm all for everyone making a living. But my discussions with him prompted me to think about the cycle of weather.

Water evaporates, becomes clouds, and once enough accumulates up there, it comes down in some sort of precipitation depending on the time of year and the temperature. The more evaporation, the more precipitation, which, in this case, means more snow. It takes snow to make glaciers and the ice caps at the top and bottom of our globe. Not that I know how all this works, but in my thinking, running water and thrashing waves in the ocean are going to evaporate more efficiently and faster. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm not getting the whole picture.

When I brought this concept up to said friend, our conversation stopped. He said he'd look into my theory, but he never got back to me. So, are dams and culverts to blame? Probably not; I'm certain there's far more to it than that, but my train of thought leads me to think that 'global warming' isn't really such a bad thing. Warm air holds more moisture, more moisture in the air means more snow coming down, more snow means more of a nice white covering on the tops of our glaciers, which will slow down their melting. Glaciers were formed because there was more snowfall than melt during the turning of a year. So we want more snow, and we won't have more snow if we don't have more, wetter, precipitation.

What do you think?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Snow, Snow and More Snow

You all know what snow is - that's that white stuff that comes to cover the ground every winter for most of you, but how much thought do you give it, really? Warm days and cold night can cause snow to melt and then freeze, making your streets and highways slippery and dangerous. Many cities keep fleets of snow removal equipment, massive snow-blowers, plows and dump trucks. Even cities in Alaska have such equipment. I really don't know all that much about how cities deal with the snow aside from what I've seen, but out here we don't have any of that equipment.

Many of us out here have some sort of groomer for making our trails nice and smooth, but still there is no snow removal involved, it is merely rearranged. There are many different styles of snow groomers, but in general they are a long piece of construction with some sort of cross-piece in the middle and at both ends for stability. The center cross-piece can have some sort of reinforcement - one we used to have had a heavy metal blade. What these contraptions do is scrape snow off high spots and drop it into low spots along the trail, and in the even that you have finally scraped all the high spots down, the snow then filters over the grooming board and onto the trail behind, of course by that time, it's quitting time - there's no real point in grooming the trail any further.

As our need for a smooth trail diminished, we traded off our long groomer. Now, our biggest concern is a smooth runway so we use a drag of some sort. Most of the time we borrow our neighbor's old steel bed-springs. It's mostly his runway and it works quite well. Our keeping it packed and groomed allows him to come and go freely whenever he wants so he doesn't begrudge us it's use.

Well that's trails and the runway, but what about the rest of the yard? The yard, like all the rest of the trail gets packed, either by the snowmachine driving round and round the house or by foot as I make at least one trip a day to the woodshed - no need to mention the outhouse. Outside of that, there's the assorted roofs.

Our generator shed is our greatest concern because it's the flattest roof we have. It is slanted but since there's no heat to help, the snow will never slide - not until we start running the diesel generator again sometime in the spring when it gets above freezing for the greater part of the day.

The woodshed is the next roof we worry about. Though build sturdier, there's no point in pushing luck and with mineral paper on top, it'll never slide. If we get some really heavy snow, I have to get up there and shovel it all off.

Our bedroom roof is also nearly flat but since the house is heated, the snow up there generally creeps off by itself, so aside from keeping an eye on it, I don't worry about it much.

The task of shoveling roofs is mostly decided by what kind of snow we are getting. Have you ever gone outside after a nice fresh snowfall and thought, "I'm going to make a snowman today."? When you have lots of snow every winter, it's something kids love to do. Now you all know how to make a good snowman. You scoop up a big two-fister of snow and start making it bigger, pretty soon you're rolling this big ball around and watching it get even bigger by the moment. But have you ever tried and had the snow just sift away between your fingers? Refusing to make a ball without a lot of force and maybe even the heat from your bare hands? This is dry snow, and dry snow doesn't pack worth a darn. It also doesn't weigh much and that's because, though it's wet and white, there's not really much water there. It's the nice big fat snowflakes that make the great snowmen.

To give you a little perspective, if you've not read earlier posts, I collect snow in buckets to melt for washing and drinking water. Nice wet snow packed into a bucket generally gives me about a half a bucket of water. So far this year the snow has been really quite dry and I'm only getting a little more than a quarter of a bucket worth of water. So, because the snow this winter (so far) is so dry, I'm not worrying about shoveling roofs (yet).

In my totally non-professional opinion, we are having something of a drought. Yeah, there's snow, and yeah there's rain in the summer. Everything is green and growing healthy, but once was the time when ten feet of snow wasn't unheard of. I've seen it twice in my time out here. I'd say average (since I've been here) is around five feet of snow. I think we're a little behind here, though I don't know what the professionals say. There's only around two feet of settled snow out there now and the temperature has been bitter cold for a long time, far longer than normal (again in my opinion), hence the dry snow.

When the temperature drops, the air can't hold as much moisture. That moisture squeezed out of the air shows up as frost coating most any surface - it can leave the trees looking really quite beautiful. Therefore, when it warms up, suddenly there's room for moisture and, wallah, snow, very dry snow. Eh, I probably have it all wrong but that's what it seems like. All I know is, when it goes from a long term of minus teen something to a degree or two above zero Fahrenheit and then it dumps two feet of snow, it's always really dry. The best snowman snow falls when it's much closer to freezing if not slightly above.

So what do you do with snow?

Monday, January 3, 2011


I have this bad habit. The army tried to break me of it, but in truth, they didn't do a very good job. I watch where I walk, and by association I watch the ground all around. Because of that habit, I notice tracks. I like to think I can identify quite a few tracks. I've got a really rather good book with several nice drawings.

There's always been one puzzle rattling around in the back of my mind. Ever since I was a kid, I wondered about something. Do you remember the show, Daniel Boone? There was this one episode where an Indian woman was teaching Daniel's son (I think) how to track. While the boy's eyes were closed she walked around the woodpile. As she walked around the pile, she picked up a log in one hand, switched it to her other hand, and then replaced it on the pile. Of course the first thing the boy said when he told her what she'd done was "So, you walked around the woodpile, so what." or something of that nature. But that wasn't good enough. Looking closer at her tracks, he could tell she'd picked up something, he could tell when she switched hands, and he could tell when she put it back down. I always wondered how that was possible. It has been a mystery that has been hanging onto a tiny corner in the back of my brain for all these years.

Well, I think I've figured it out. I love snow, especially the packable kind. It lets me see tracks clearly. Did you know that if you're carrying something heavy in one hand, no matter how carefully balanced you are, both feet point toward the load to some degree. A tiny detail I didn't know. Now a years old mystery has found an answer.

In other tracking news. The other day, on my walks down to pack the runway, I think I saw martin tracks. The spacing was about the same as what a cat might make but the feet were like four times the size of a cat's feet and because of that, the tracks sank only a couple inches in the fresh snow.

I also saw the tracks of a young moose - very young, though not too young to be on his own. Normally he'd be hanging around his momma for another year but he wouldn't be dependent on her for food. I wonder what happened to her. But such is life and he has a good chance of making it. There's not many wolves or coyotes around here and he wasn't having any trouble finding something to eat - the snow isn't that deep.