From Loon Lake Road – November brings community closer together

Barbara Hendricks' monthly column of community news and events in Loon Lake.

Quick change of seasons

November is one of my favourite months because every day can be so different from the day before.

The valley frequently takes on the appearance of a very different country. In early November the leaves were turning but still hanging on many of the fruit trees, the grass was green and the chrysanthemums were blooming as in late summer. One week later came frost and then rain; leaves and plants turned brown and gave up for the year. The following week brought snow, turning everything into a brilliant landscape of white on white; even the fences were highlighted with lines of snow which sparkled in the sunlight.

No November dullness here and no need to travel to see a different place.

What will the weather bring?

In November we often talk about forecasts and predictions for the coming winter. Many long time residents have their own signs and omens for severe winter weather approaching such as horses with long, shaggy coats, extra berries on the mountain ash, more owls coming down from the north for the winter, a corona around the moon in November and so forth.

I checked with the Farmer’s Almanac which is well known for its weather forecasts; the Almanac forecasts that our winter this year will be milder and drier than normal, and they predict that weather in BC at Christmas will be stormy, especially along the coast.

The full moon this week is named by the Almanac to be the “Frosty” Moon, also known as the “Full Beaver” Moon, so called because this is a busy time for beavers as they make the final preparations for winter.

The weather at Loon Lake has never been easy to forecast but I can tell you with good certainty that we will have periods of relatively mild weather followed by periods of cold and there will be periods of snow and fog offset by periods of sunshine and clear night skies. I hope you enjoy whatever it is that winter weather brings our way.

Accept what you can’t change

While we can’t do much about changing the weather we can do something about preparing for it.

When I was growing up here in the 1950’s, all the children looked forward to those big snow storms that dumped great quantities of snow as it meant a holiday from school. We also welcomed cold weather as there was no school bus running if the thermostat registered minus 30 or lower.

Early settlers here were, like the beaver, very busy in November getting in supplies for the winter – firewood, extra fuel, kerosene, root vegetables all set away in the cellar, bacon, hams and sausages hung in the cold room and some meat hanging in a shed. Flour, cereals, coffee, sugar, beans and so forth were stocked in larger quantities.

My mother and other farm women also liked to have a good supply of rendered bear fat for making pastry. Loon Lake Road had no BC Hydro service yet, which meant no deep freezers but everyone had pantries with many jars of home preserved vegetables and fruits as well as meats. Every farm had a milk cow or two and some chickens so supplies of fresh milk, butter and eggs were assured but chicken feed and mash for the cows and other farm animals had to be hauled in and stored.

As a result of these preparations, two or even three weeks of bad weather with poor roads didn’t really affect people much. Of course a good team of horses and a sleigh could get along on snowy roads that a car could not. Some residents had generators that they would run for a few hours in the evening for light and to listen to the radio.

Evening entertainment was playing cards and board games, reading and telling stories, sometimes even signing songs. Sometimes a craft session would occupy all of us – I remember once a spool knitting bug hit us and we would all sit around evening after evening under the kerosene lamp knitting those long tubes. Television wasn’t missed because we had never had it and we enjoyed listening to the radio, including the radio dramas.

Today many residents of Loon Lake take it for granted that they can just drive out and get what they want when they want – and usually they can as the road is well maintained during the winter. They count on the TV to keep up with their favourite shows each week.

However I do think that the wise resident would set in supplies of necessary provisions for a minimum of two week so if the unpredictable happens there is no need to panic or worry, just sit back and enjoy the lake as usual, maybe even pulling out an old board game or two. Chess anyone?

Prepare for the worst

The earthquake on the west coast followed by the hurricane in the east brings the focus on emergency preparedness and ability to communicate to residents about emergency situations.

Two weeks after Hurricane Sandy, some residents of New York City were still without power. Should a major emergency happen in BC with widespread power loss, Loon Lake Road would be very, very low on the priority list for repairs so we should be prepared for a long wait. As many homes here are on water wells and rely on well pumps for water for cooking, washing and flushing, a good store of water is also a good idea unless you live right near a place to get water with a bucket.

November travellers

November has been a very sociable month for visits and visitors as outdoor work and recreation slows down. Some more residents have closed up their homes for the winter and headed for other locations for the winter. There appears to be an increase in the number of full time permanent residents and those who come back frequently during the winter for snow and ice recreation.

Late migrating birds are also enjoying the open waters on the lake, including the swans which are always wonderful to watch. So far this season the bird population on my patch consists of the usual chickadees, siskins, jays, and nuthatches. This year there are three Stellar’s Jays at the feeder and I always enjoy the antics of these sociable birds that are quick to remind me each morning to put out their food.

Barbara Hendricks