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

Posts tagged ‘my house’

FIRE!

On September 10th, we were all enjoying a lovely Sunday afternoon. I was outside enjoying catching scents on a boisterous breeze while I lay on guard in the driveway. Kay and the Scribe were downstairs watching Eric Lamaze as he and his horse jumped over obstacles at a place called Spruce Meadows.

Eric was halfway through the course when something incredibly scary happened. There was a crack, and I saw one of the tall Balsam Firs along the little gravel path teeter in a gust, and fall, fall, then hang, while the powerlines that run past the house, past my palace and on to Al and Joanne’s house lit up and made the most horrible sounds: TZT TZZZZZT TZZZZZZZT. There was an explosion (I was already running for the house to warn my two-leggers of DANGER), and then more of the TZZZT sounds.

I don’t mind telling you I was too scared to bark. I curled up in the corner of the house beside the door to keep anyone from coming out, and I watched, and I listened as the explosions and TZZTs continued.

Almost immediately I got to the door, I could hear movement in the house: Elizabeth racing upstairs to see what was exploding. She thought the problem was in the house, something she could stop. But she couldn’t find anything.

Elizabeth then looked out the Dining Room window and saw the smoke, then the tree hanging on the hydro lines over the gravel path. She ran to the door to get me inside, and I willingly came in. I’d rather be with my beloved two-leggers in a dangerous situation. Then she ran to the old phone in the kitchen, the one that doesn’t rely on electricity to operate. She dialed 911. I could tell she was just as scared as I was.

“Fire!” she cried when someone answered at the other end.

And then it got scarier yet.

As she was talking to the emergency people, the tree finally broke the first of three lines. I could hear the explosion on the phone from where I was standing, and Elizabeth yelped. It must have hurt her ears a lot. “The line has just come down,” she yelled to the lady on the phone.

The lady was trying to find out where we lived. Elizabeth started again when the second line came down, and another explosion came through the phone. The connection held, though, and she continued after another yelp, and the third line came down. Elizabeth cried out again both in pain and fear, because now she could see more smoke.

She told the emergency lady that a fire was starting, that the bush was extremely dry (we hadn’t had rain for some time) and that the winds were very strong. “There are people living just a few hundred yards up the hill, and this fire is going to move fast,” she said. “Please, get the fire service here fast!” She had to tell the lady all this because the phone calls are answered nearly a thousand miles from here, and people there have no clue about our situation.

The lady told her to call again if she saw flames or if anything changed.

I hoped the wind didn’t change. It was blowing away from the house. If it changed, we’d have nowhere to go, and the fire would reach us very quickly over fifty feet of tinder dry forest. The live, sparking wires were across the road and might blow nearer the car, too. I didn’t think we could get Kay down to the river fast enough, and it was too cold for her anyway.

Elizabeth ran down to her room for a better look and saw eight foot flames licking up the hill. Oh, no, she thought. This is going to be bad. She ran back to the phone and called 911 again. They assured her that the trucks were on their way and would be there soon.

Kay got upstairs and wondered what had happened that the power had gone off. Elizabeth explained and I went to the livingroom with Kay.

Figuring there was nothing left that she could do, Elizabeth grabbed her camera and went outside. By then the flames had eaten anything close enough to show from the house, so we don’t have anything dramatic to show you. The firetruck arrived within ten minutes of her first call. I stayed inside, but Elizabeth was able to take enough pictures to give us a photo documentary:

By the time Elizabeth got outside, mostly just smoke was visible from anywhere safe to shoot.

 

But where there’s smoke, there’s usually still some fire.

 

Thank goodness the fire fighters and their trucks arrived quickly!

 

They get the area affected watered down, but there’s still some smouldering going on… Where do they go from here?

 

It’s a good question. The lines are still live and sparking, and they aren’t sure where the electricity is going. They need to wait for the Hydro men to come and call to have the power cut, otherwise the firemen might be electrocuted.

You can see the downed lines in the following photos, from the pole close to Al and Joanne’s house, past my Boreal Palace, and dangling behind the parked Growly Beast. And there they are in the last photo, hanging from the pole that holds our transformer.

Then the fire trucks left. We didn’t know what was going on.

It turned out they were just backing out of our little gravel path so that the hydro truck and the linesmen could get in and down to work.

 

Their first order of business once they had the power turned off on the main line, was to get the tree down. The firemen helped cut it into smaller bits and to get it cleared off the gravel path.

 

The linesmen ground the wires so no one gets any nasty surprises while working on the high voltage lines.

 

Now that it is safe to work the hoses again, a little conference ensues…

The hoses are moved to a better spot,

And the fire fighters go back to work.

 

They report back to the boss fireman,

And then, our heroes of the day decide that their work here is done. It took an hour and a half to get the fire completely out.

Then the labourious job of splicing the wires, winching them back up, doing the double checking and fine tuning and final tightening begins. Here’s a little gallery of the process – just click the first photo and then you can flip through them quickly.

It wasn’t just us that were affected by this tree falling. Several thousand people in the area west of us went without hydro for the time all this was going on, too. Kay and Elizabeth never did find out whether Eric Lamaze finished his competition or how he fared.

We went up later to check on things as the boss fireman asked Elizabeth to do. He wanted to make sure that there were no hot spots that might flare up again after they were gone.

We took a good look at the remains of the tree that had fallen on the lines.

 

The view from the Little Gravel Path going up our hill has changed.

After a closer look, we could see there was nothing much left to burn. Kay wonders if all those burnt tree roots will mean the end of many more trees soon.

That’s enough for this post. But the story isn’t over yet…

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Season’s End

Things are changing on the Campbell ‘Estate’. It’s really beginning to feel like Autumn. I can almost smell it in the air. I get to smell a lot more air these days because I’m sleeping outdoors in my kennel again. I like it out there, but I also enjoyed nights in the two-legger house. Elizabeth’s bed has a more elevated view than mine, and a cuddle usually comes with that, too! She tends to get upset when I woof at night-time passers by though. Not so much when I’m out in my house. Pros and cons to everything…

Speaking of being able to smell autumn in the air, I understand that two-leggers are generally more visual creatures than nasal, so I got The Scribe to take some photos of some Autumn indicators for you this week (That’ll prove this isn’t all just up my nose!).

Autumnal Danger in the Woods

The other day, Elizabeth heard a strange noise in the woods behind the garden. It sounded like someone was snapping a lot of twigs running through the undergrowth. Alarmed (Is it a bear? How do I get safely back in the house from the garden?), she decided not to panic before calling to see if it was just me getting tangled up in some pursuit or another. I heard her and came to her from the other direction.

“What’s that, Stella? Who’s that in the woods?”

I couldn’t tell her without going to check it out. Into the forest I ran…

OUCH!

It was raining spruce cones and twigs.

We have many tall White Spruce on the ‘Estate’.

The Scribe took a photo so I could show you one of the noble White Spruce (Picea glauca) I am responsible for watching over each day in my role as Head of Security here.

The Scribe took a photo so I could show you one of the noble White Spruce (Picea glauca – it’s the tallest of the tall trees here) I am responsible for watching over each day in my role as Head of Security here.

I’m going to give you a closer look at the top of that tree. It isn’t dying and going brown…

those are seed cones up there!

Those are seed cones up there! Hundreds of them!

It’s a good idea to avoid the vicinity of these trees at this time of the year. Red Squirrels are away up there at the top, chewing through the twigs with cones. The noise we heard was the twigs falling through the tree branches and on down to the ground. The squirrels retrieve and run with the fallen cones to a station where they feel safe stripping them of the tree seeds inside!

Red Squirrels are very busy gathering in evergreen cones. They're very messy about collecting the seeds!

Red Squirrels are very busy gathering in evergreen cones. They’re very messy about collecting the seeds!

Squirrels are like me in a way. They like to find a big rock to work on. That way they can see all around. If danger comes along, they have plenty of time to dash to the nearest tree. They are very fast. I know, believe me!

Changing Colours

There's a lot of colour showing up in the woods now. These Bracken Ferns - Pteridium aquilinum look lovely in the morning sun.

There’s a lot of colour showing up in the woods now. These Bracken Ferns – Pteridium aquilinum look lovely in the morning sun.

Their colours change quickly from green through yellow to orange-brown. Then, before you know it, they're brown and crunchy underfoot!

Their colours change quickly from green through yellow to orange-brown. Then, before you know it, they’re brown and crunchy underfoot!

 

Shorter Days

Another thing we’ve been noticing is that bedtime seems to be coming significantly earlier now. And the nights are cooler.

On Saturday night, Elizabeth put me to bed, then she came outside again with her camera. She has decided to experiment a bit with her camera and taking pictures at night. There was a beautiful crescent moon on its way to bed, too. She took several photos, and made one into a poster with a little poem she wrote for it. I asked her to show it to you, just so you don’t think I’m the only poet in the family. She doesn’t write much in the way of poetry. She is trying to get more writing in general done, though. I thought putting some here might encourage her to do more!  ~;op=

Luna Falling mini

 

Happy New Year!

My Fortress in the Boreal Forest. Elizabeth put the lights on momentarily so you could see it better. I don't need lights.

My Fortress in the Boreal Forest. Elizabeth put the lights on momentarily so you could see it better. I don’t need lights.

Last night I celebrated the passing of the old year by going to bed early with a big cookie in my cozy palace in the snowy Boreal forest. When Elizabeth walked me out she pointed out how nicely she had shovelled my pathway and built a little snow ramp up to the bridge using the freshly fallen snow (more for her convenience than mine, I assure you!). Once into the forest on the other side of the bridge the path is packed with just our paws. The ground is too uneven to make for good shovelling. Maybe, if we ever get enough snow for Elizabeth to put her nifty webbed paw extenders on we can make a better path.

Path Elizabeth packed using her webbed paws. Not enough snow for this yet this year. Too bad. They make travelling through the snow much easier for everyone in the forest. Even the wily wolves like them!

Path Elizabeth packed using her webbed paw extenders. Not enough snow for this yet this year. Too bad. They make travelling through the snow much easier for everyone in the forest. Even the wily wolves like them!

It was -30C with the windchill when I went to bed. When it gets that cold, I like to stay in my house until it’s time to go for my morning walk. My house is well insulated, and I have a full-sized bed that covers half the floor, and my big, fuzzy Queen-sized blanket, which Elizabeth tidies up for me every morning so it’s ready to cuddle up in at night. When the temperature rises into the high teens, I like to pull my blanket outside and sleep under the stars. That also allows me to better keep an ear open for the sneaky deer, the rascally fox and the wily wolves. The flying squirrels make a bit of noise in the trees around me, but they’re pretty harmless. Everybody else is usually asleep.

Last night was a bit different, though. Even through the walls of my palace I could hear strange banging and popping noises interspersed with whistles and fizzles. The sounds were coming from some distance through the frigid air – sounds are always louder, I’ve noticed, when the air is really cold. I don’t like these sorts of noises much. They make me a bit nervous because they aren’t natural sounds. Sometimes I hear them over at the neighbours’ in the summertime, and the first time I did, I also noticed that they were accompanied by explosions of glittering light in the sky. Everyone knows that bright lights in the sky are dangers that no-one can chase away. The best thing to do when you see those is to run into the shelter of your den and wait out the firestorm. So, I stayed put in my house last night.

In the morning, Elizabeth comes out from the two-legger house and I meet her at the gate. In the summer she has managed to catch me off guard; she can walk pretty quietly, and if I’m in my palatial den, I might not hear her coming. I think she gets a wag out of catching me snoozing like that. Well, she would if she had a tail… In the winter, though, I can hear her a mile away because her paws make a great crunching noise on the packed snow of the path.

Sometimes we go for a walk together, but when it’s really cold, Elizabeth doesn’t like to go for a walk. On those days, she lets me attend directly to my patrol of the estate. I get a good run in, checking out all the usual haunts of all the usual intruders. Once I have cleared the area of all the undesirables, I run back home for breakfast at the two-leggers’ house.

Unlike my two-leggers, I just love the snowy cold weather months. There’s nothing better than lying in a snowbank on one of my ‘mountains’ as I watch over my territory. I could stay out on patrol all winter long without ever coming indoors. They only thing I don’t like about winter are the iceballs that form between my toes. They’re such a nuisance! The worst of it is that I must stop to remove them or my feet begin to bleed. So far I’ve been fortunate enough that iceball removal hasn’t coincided with wily wolf arrival. I have bad dreams about that happening….

The arduous process of iceball removal. Dig one out, chew it up, get another one, and so on. Then you need to do the back paws...

The arduous process of iceball removal. Dig one out, chew it up, get another one, and so on. Then you need to do the back paws…

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