Yesterday, I drove over Rodgers Pass and down out of the mountains. My brother and I went for a drive about, over dirt roads that we have been driving since we were teenagers. The winder was sharp, nearly impossible to look into and made it feel less than pleasant, but I stopped to take a few pictures to share this amazing landscape.
Oz convinced me this morning, because its warmer now at 20°, to go for a walk with him down to the creek. It might say 20° at the house but it is much colder down by the water. The sun is far behind the mountain so deep in the valley so the creek is cast in a chilled twilight.
The frost in the shadows here builds up nightly, making some rather fantastic creations.
Once under the cedars and next to the creek it felt as if the temperature dropped even further than is was just in the mountains shadow.
As expected the first thing to happen was the boy and the dogs went skidding across the ice.
Only then did they set to exploring.
Most all of the creek is frozen over. Only a few pockets remain open.
This hole stayed open last winter until it was nearly -40°.
At this point my camera was getting cold it enough it kept an error reading. I managed to get a few more shots before heading back up the mountain to the Little Cabin and the fire place.
This morning Oz began his apprenticeship so we braved the cold and headed out. The car was not at all happy to be started with the near sub-zero weather, but after some protest and squealing it took us down the mountain. The sun was just coming up over the mountain ridge line as we wound our way down to the main road.
We got there just in time and warmed up by Q’s fire place before I headed back towards home. Today I will edit! On the way though I had to stop to take a few pictures.
On the radio is said it was 3° and I that feels about right. It doesn’t take long for the exposed fingers or the poor camera to feel very cold.
It was cold enough Thor didn’t even want to get out of the car to walk with me.
Cold weather is not my favourite thing, but after being outside in it the fire feels twice was wonderful and the coffee twice as rich.
For the last year it seems I have been in an endless round of edits. Books written over 20 years ago have been fighting for the light of day and chapter by chapter have clawed their way from the battered pages of old notebooks and old floppy disks. This last week I have been compiling chapter names, page numbers, title pages and debating dedications. Today I ordered the proof for book 6 in the series and while there is one more book before I step back from this series, to dive into another, I can see the end top of the wall. So forgive me in this blog, (as I have mentioned earlier) if I don’t edit.
As a lover of words, of clever phrases, of well written and clever insights, I have been known to cringe when I look back at some of the rough draft things I have poster. Then again I remind myself that those things I have read that follow strict rules either of formula or grammar laws I find less then enjoyable. This blog is not however supposed to be about writing. It is about the moment after the order notice came back saying my book proof would arrive on the 3rd. I felt my shoulders drop just a little. I noticed my coffee was just on the cool side and it was snowing like the depth of a Narian Winter outside.
The dog looked at me hopefully!
“Yes please!” She seemed to say.
So still in my fuzzy jamma pants I slipped into boots, grabbed my camera and a go mug of fresh hot coffee. Stepping from the warm indoor and away from the computer, away from the music and away from the endless rounds of nit-picking how to say “said” as many way as possible and not sound like a jack ass, I entered another world.
Dashing outside the dog stopped, she looked at the snow fall and back to me to make sure I was seriously going to join her on such a great day.
The snow had been coming down since about 4 am and pushing 1 pm it had all but hidden the knee deep foot paths that criss cross the yard from one point to another. A path around back to the water tanks, another to the fire pit; cutting across to the propane tank, to the green house/storage shed and a twisting trail to the solar panels that need to be kept swept clean.
The fire pit seems lost at this point, only the nearly buried chairs even shows where it hides under the deep blanket of snow.
We waded through the snow to the road with the idea I might hike up tot he spring and try to find the stump I had sat on a month ago to listen to birds and soak in the sun but once on the road looking at the 4 feet of snow on my path and down at my rather unlikely hiking gear I decided to stay to the road. So we walk from one end of the property to the other.
Thankfully more than one of the neighbours on this little road come though and keep it plowed. Even so the snow was past the top of my boots and trying to get down inside. Even so it was hard to turn back.
There is a beauty to winter that can not be grasped from behind the wheel of a car trying to get to work. With such views I can only be grateful I do not have to attempt to wind my way down this road to get to work daily. Editing seems a small price to pay for the option.
It is hard to walk in such a reality and not dream up new stories, eager to be told. A hundred old notebooks whisper at me “remember us? We have such scenery in our pages remember out heroes.”
All the snow on the trees is from today alone. Yesterday sunshine and a gust of breeze now and then had left the trees clear, their limbs and needles clean and lifted upward.
For all my desire to be planting things, to be breaking ground for building and sinking in roots it is impossible to not be caught up by the beauty of a mountain forest draped in winter.
On such a day, in such a deep silence, where the loudest sound is the snow falling, you can almost imagine snow dragons watching from the mountain cliffs above you, of fairies catching snow flakes, or ancient Elves and Druids whispering blessing on the forest and all those who walk among their trees.
So often people who dream of the “off grid” life are lured there but stunning images of a little cabin next to a creek or a lake. While beautiful such sites are normally a summer vacation home. You can get away with this in warmer climates but here in Montana this is a bad idea.
One of the most important things you can do in a sustainable space is have a garden
and while it might seem wise to put it near a water source this often leads to seasons too short.
While it feels wonderful in a hot dry summer to be near the water for the same reason it will frost late in the spring and frost early in the fall. This can lead to a great deal of disappointment and frustration.
A standard rule is that from any water you need to be at very least 50 feet away and elevation does count. Cool air will follow the shape of the land.
It is always ALWAYS a good idea to take a full season to watch the land, to learn how it moves with sun, wind and water. Before you put in a long term garden (and that is very important) using pots for the first year is a good idea. It allows you to move your garden much easier than digging it up and remaking it.
Gardens will be dealt with this spring as I put in new beds.
(the picture of the frozen creek is from early Nov. While frozen and frosted out about 100 feet from the creek itself just past that point it was my tomatoes were still producing with minimal protection.)