From Loon Lake Road – Water, telephones and more winter

Barbara Hendricks' monthly column of observations and opinions from Loon Lake.

January represents a new beginning with the new year being celebrated at least three times – on Jan. 1 on our standard calendar, followed by the new year according to the Julian/Orthodox calendar and now the Chinese new year at the end of the month. So it is still time to once again wish everyone a Happy New Year. This coming new year will be the year of the wooden horse in the Chinese calendar – with the wood aspect being a focus on greenery and nature. According to one source the wooden horse signifies unexpected adventure and surprising romance. I am not sure if that is something to desire or something to avoid but I will take it in a positive way.

I like new beginnings – a new year, spring time and a new gardening season and even September with its new school year still seems like a time for a new beginning. The gardening season starts in winter with a careful study of seed catalogues and seed listings online. It is sure great to be able to access the small local seed distributors through their on line listings and it is a great way to find good seeds. Another interesting gardening event is the Cache Creek Seedy Saturday on Feb. 1. Members of the Loon Lake Garden club are quite looking forward to the event and will have a table there which we hope people will find of interest.

In mid month there was a bit of a flurry about a “boil water advisory” for residents connected to the water system – which was rescinded quickly. The issue was about particles in the water which came about as a reaction to the chlorination method from the “mineral rich” water of Loon Lake. The chlorination was shut off to reduce the particles and the complaints about the water quality and thus the boil water notice was put into effect. After some reaction from users, the chlorination was restarted and the boil water notice rescinded. No problem and all are happy – maybe.

I notice however that both simple notices – the boil water notice and the notice rescinding the boil water instructions were prepared for the TNRD by a private consulting company. In my opinion some things have hit bottom when staff of a government agency need to hire a consultant to prepare a boil water notice and a notice that the boil water notice has been rescinded. Are TNRD staff members not literate? Surely those highly paid workers should have the ability to be able to compose a simple public notice.

I would prefer that my tax money be spent on more research into the quality of water in Loon Lake and how and why the water is becoming so “mineral rich” and that TNRD staff be required to be educated enough that they can prepare simple public communications. I remember that in the 1950s there were research biologist studying water and fish in Loon Lake so there should be some form of long term data for comparison. Whether the information is still available though is another question what with all the federal government’s closing of research libraries and denying scientists access to previous work. The TNRD surely has some responsibility related to the amount of new residential development they have allowed close to the lake. There are more than 450 dwelling units including houses, resort units, cabins, annexes and all kinds of travel trailers and motor homes constructed or parked and occupied within several hundred meters of Loon Lake’s shores. The past decade has seen a major increase in the number of motor homes and travel trailers parked  wherever a flat space can be bulldozed and rented out all summer  All that waste water from bathing, flushing, laundry and cleaning all year round is going into the ground and moving on down.

Many residents have reported that the telephones have been out of order frequently this month with no indication from Telus as to the cause of the problem. I don’t always notice that the phone hasn’t rung for a while, I just enjoy the freedom from those calls announcing “Hello I am calling from Windows about your computer.”  When I get such a call I usually leave the phone off the hook and let them talk to themselves. The best answer I have heard was from a neighbour who doesn’t hear so well and who responded in all seriousness: “No thanks, I wash my windows myself.”

Bird watching here in the winter is one attraction of the nature and countryside at Loon Lake. Most birds at the feeder are the usual winter residents and I have noted about 14 different species. The most unusual that I have seen this year is a spotted towhee – a cute little fellow with a very distinct chirp. Earlier this year there were two varied thrushes scratching busily under the shrubs. However the poor unfortunate birds became food for a northern pygmy owl. I was sad to see the birds killed but it was also very interesting to watch the owl. The thrushes were almost as big as the owl so it could not fly off with its kill. Instead it worked hard for more than 30 minutes to drag the corpse over to a sheltered area under a rock and sat there for the longest time eating on it. Next day it returned and ate more, finally after the third feeding, the remains became light enough that the owl could fly off with the rest. What fascinated me with the owl were the eye-like markings on the back of its head and how it could turn its head 180 degrees – so one moment it was facing me and then as it turned it looked like another face looking at me. I find I am not the only one who likes to watch the birds at the feeder – one day I looked out to see a bobcat also hungrily watching them. February 14-17 is the Great Backyard Bird Count and I will be out counting, but hopefully the bobcat won’t be.

There were reports that a cougar was sighted in various locations along Loon Lake Road or was it tracks of a cougar sighted? Rumours are never very precise. Meanwhile a local rancher has lost a calf and a goose to a bobcat. Winter is a lean time for wildlife and predators are smart enough and desperate to try to get food where ever they can find it; meaning that people with pets and livestock need to take precautions to prevent losses.

Groundhogs Day approaches and we will have our forecast on how much longer winter will hang around.  It is a fun kind of tradition, however I am sure our local groundhogs will stay curled up in their dens and not be curious about their shadows for some weeks yet. Enjoy the winter everyone and do try to get outside and active.

Barbara Hendricks

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