The adventuresome life of a Great Pyrenees/Newfoundland dog in Northwestern Ontario

Posts tagged ‘cold weather’

Things That Go Creak in the Night

Last night was terrible. I hardly got any sleep at all. Something was going on outside. Something very noisy. Every few minutes, it would pop, or creak, snap, or crunch.

Let’s be clear. I am not talking about Elizabeth’s knees here. She wasn’t even moving until I woke her up around midnight to make her aware of the situation out there.

Sometimes it sounded like someone was walking out on our balcony. Sometimes they were jumping on the roof, I think. Once it even sounded like someone was tapping loudly on the bedroom window. That last one really startled me.

As the night went on, I grew increasingly agitated. When Elizabeth told me to lie down and go to sleep, I went over to Kay’s room to try to get her to check on what was happening. She just snored back at me.

I pounced on Elizabeth’s bed, which, most of the time, doubles as my own. At first, Elizabeth spent some time trying to make me feel better. By five, though, she was getting a bit rude. I don’t understand why she was so cranky. I was just doing my job. And I was truly unnerved by all the strange snaps and pops. It was kind of like those banging lights the summer people like so much. They drive me round the bend with anxiety. By five o’clock, I was panting constantly and pacing wherever I found a little space. I tried hiding under the bed, but I’m too big for that.

At five, Elizabeth got so fed up with my distress that she told me to go outside and “see for yourself, Stella. There’s nobody there!”

I tore out the door and ran round the house, into the woods and over to Al and Joanne’s. Elizabeth was right. There was nobody anywhere. I was out until almost seven making absolutely sure. Then I was too hungry to care about anything other than eating.

And I was getting cold. Last night when we came home from the bookshop, it was -7 C. By midnight, the temperature had dropped to -22 C. Elizabeth says that the rapid drop in temperature was what was making the house and decking creak and make all those strange noises. I’m not so sure. I think it must have been aliens. I couldn’t check the rooftop, where a lot of activity seemed to occur, for tracks.

We’ve had a very busy day today. We’re both very tired. And now, as we near closing time, it is really beginning to show.

I found the camera and took this picture of Elizabeth this afternoon.Don't drool on the computer, Elizabeth! We need it to write my blog!

I found the camera and took this picture of Elizabeth this afternoon.Don’t drool on the computer, Elizabeth! We need it to write my blog!

She got even when she found my quiet place in the storage cupboard under the stairs...

She got even when she found my quiet place in the storage cupboard under the stairs…

 

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Elusive New Doggie Neighbours

So far this winter, it has been pretty quiet down our way. It was very warm until after New Year’s, so the wet splashy stuff didn’t harden and get thick enough until after the deep freeze hit, and then it was too cold for people to go out. It’s warming up a bit now, and I am once again being driven to frenzied barking by the howls and high-pitched whines of those stinky machines some two-leggers like to race on the river once it’s hard. I hate them.

But last week, when it was very cold out – so cold that even I had to cut my patrols short – we had visitors. Doggie visitors. Strange Doggie visitors.

When the temperatures plummet to -35 C in the wind, I don't stay outside long. Not even my built-in paw protection seems very efficient then!

When the temperatures plummet to -35 C in the wind, I don’t stay outside long. Not even my built-in paw protection seems very efficient then!

Elizabeth says that these were prime specimens of their species. In all the time she has lived through winters in this climate, she has never seen them like they were last week. We first saw them when we were on our ride into town. Elizabeth didn’t have her camera, so she couldn’t get a photo, but they were dazzling, running low to the ground in shimmering rainbow-coloured scarves. If she’d got out to take a photo, someone driving up to us might think Elizabeth had got tangled up with one of them. They were that close to us!

“What are they?” I asked.

“Stella,” she said, “those are Sun Dogs!”

They didn’t look anything like dogs.

Apparently, the First Nations people used to believe they were spirit-dogs who pulled the sun through the sky. Usually, at least when they appear in our part of the world, they seem high in the sky, one on either side of the sun. But sometimes, Elizabeth says, conditions may give rise to more than one, so it really does look a bit like a sled of sunshine coming directly toward you, pulled by a team in the fan formation. I guess. If you have a really good imagination.

Mush on, puppies!

Mush on, puppies!

Here's a picture of just one of them. You can sort of see the rainbow effect, and how it arcs around the sun. The other dog is directly opposite and equidistant from the sun, so they are perfectly matched.

Here’s a picture of just one of them. You can sort of see the rainbow effect, and how it arcs around the sun. The other dog is directly opposite and equidistant from the sun, so they are perfectly matched.

It’s like an ice rainbow that’s only partly there, Elizabeth explained. The sun’s light is refracted through ice crystals in the air.

Whatever. I like the traditional explanation better.

The next time we saw them, Elizabeth was at home, and she grabbed Kay’s point and shoot so we could show you. We have trees in the way, so the dog on the left is obscured a bit, but you’ll get the idea. This time, the dogs were so bright that they looked like mini suns on either side of the real sun. The rainbow is hard to make out because they are so bright.

I kind of like them. And as they charge through the sky with their cargo, they don’t even sound a whisper.

Wildflower Wednesday 14

Things are winding down in the Wildflower world, but we found a few to show you yet this week.

Remember the Dandelion wannabe we mentioned last week? It’s dusty from the Big Gravel Path, but we took this photo of it for you:

Narrow-leaf Hawkweed - Hieracium umbellatum. You can see the tell-tale leaves in this photo.

Narrow-leaf Hawkweed – Hieracium umbellatum. You can see the tell-tale leaves in this photo.

I know you’ve already seen this flower here, but this picture illustrates its main identifying feature better than the last one we showed you. See the peculiar teeth along the leaf margins? Those are only found on the Narrow-leaf Hawkweed.

Generally, thistles have a basal whorl of leaves (like an inverted Christmas tree skirt) as well as smaller leaves growing up the stem. Hawkweeds are missing the basal whorl and are less sturdy looking plants.

Fireweed - Epilobium angustifolium, so called because it often grows prolifically in post burn areas. There aren't as many growing on the 'Estate' as usual this year.

Fireweed – Epilobium angustifolium, so called because it often grows prolifically in post burn areas. There aren’t as many growing on the ‘Estate’ as usual this year.

These beautiful flowers grow up so high that I have trouble seeing them. You can see in the photo on the left that they are as tall as Tansy, even taller sometimes! This one was over a meter high.

Here's a close-up of the flower for you to look at. This one has already started to develop some seed pods lower down. You can just see them at the bottom of the photo...

Here’s a close-up of the flower for you to look at. This one has already started to develop some seed pods lower down. You can just see them at the bottom of the photo…

The Fireweed is the territorial flower of The Yukon. It isn’t quite as tall there, Elizabeth says (she’s seen it when she’s been to visit her brother), and the colour is more intense. She says that with such a short growing season up that far north, it needs all the power to attract pollinators it can muster!

Way back eleven weeks ago, we showed you the Bunchberry flower. This week while we were out on a Wildflower Safari, we found some berries to show you:

Bunchberry - Cornus canadensis Berries.

Bunchberry – Cornus canadensis Berries.

There always seem to be Buttercups growing, right through the summer. We haven’t shown you any this year because they catch the wind so much, and it has been a very windy summer. But this week we managed to find a flower that was in a sheltered spot:

Here is the flower of a Tall Buttercup - Ranunculus acris. buttercups all have those shiny petals, but if you look closely at the flowers, you can often tell what type of buttercup you are looking at. We'll show you the different ones next year, perhaps.

Here is the flower of a Tall Buttercup – Ranunculus acris. Buttercups all have those shiny petals, but if you look closely at the flowers, you can often tell what type of buttercup you are looking at. We’ll show you the different ones next year, perhaps.

Already there are frost warnings popping up in the overnight weather forecasts for very near here. Elizabeth is hoping that her garden gets a bit more time for ripening. But a frost will put an end to the wildflower season, too. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

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