From Loon Lake Rod – Clearing away the last traces of Fall

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

Well now is the time to turn the clocks back to standard time – and to store the outdoor furniture for the winter. One old saying went something like “clocks forward and garden furniture out, clock back and garden furniture away.” The clocks go forward again on March 8, 2015 however, I would be most surprised if outdoor furniture could be used in comfort then. I am glad for the earlier light in the morning these dark months; somehow it makes the day start better for me.

This past Summer and Fall there has been so many lovely opportunities for living outdoors with the fine weather we have had. I like to have a few chairs and benches scattered around the yard, although I find that I rarely sit in any of them for any length of time. Shortly after sitting down I see some plant that needs trimming, something that needs to be tidied, a pot of plants that needs to be watered – and move on.  At the end of the morning I need to then take a tour and collect up the coffee cups I have left sitting by the seats and benches.

Here, as October ends we are saying goodbye to the last of the Fall colour – it has been really spectacular her this year. Now I have the pleasure of raking up all those leaves and using them to mulch and blanket the planting beds and add nourishment as they break down. All the micro-organisms in my garden are so happy for that winter blanket.

To the end of October there have been only several nights with a light frost this fall, which is most unusual for Loon Lake Road. Plants are still growing and blooming that would usually be frozen back weeks ago. Sweet peas, carnations and calendula still present their cheery flowers and sunflower seeds planted by the squirrels are sprouting all over the place.

Long range predictions and the study of signs that indicate what kind of weather we will have for the winter is a science in itself. Some claim that colours on woolly bears or the volume of berries on the ash are not indicators of winter weather, others believe they are. I have no tried and true measuring stick but I did read that weather forecasters have suggested that we may have a warmer winter than last year due to weather conditions now taking shape in the southern Pacific region. Warmer is okay but please let’s not have rain and fog – if I can choose I would like snow and clear skies.

Residents of Loon Lake Road have likely noticed the absence of election signs along the road. Yes this is the time to elect a director for the TNRD, however as Sally Watson was the only candidate nominated for Area E and she has been acclaimed elected.

In my observation, rural areas like Loon Lake Road have had better local government from the TNRD when the chairperson is not also the mayor of Kamloops. The area directors are hard working and most listen to their constituents and I am grateful that at least the local level of government seems to be working well for us.

By late October all is calm along the lake as the last boats are taken out of the water and residents prepare their docks and waterfront for winter and ice. The attention has shifted from fishing to hunting in these cooler Fall months, before the lake freezes and it can be used for winter activities. A few migratory birds are dropping by. Someone reported seeing a couple red breasted mergansers on the water, enjoying a rest before continuing their journey. The resident population of Clark’s Nutcrackers however have been disturbing the peace and quiet with some very loud and discordant choir pieces – they make me really curious about what they are saying. More Steller’s Jays are visiting my feeders and displaying a most greedy appetite for just about anything I put out. The little nuthatches and chickadees are having more difficulty getting to feed with the big guys always on the feeder.

Road work crews have been busy patching holes in Loon Lake Road. At this time, and given the conditions of the road bed, it would seem to be a never ending job as the patching gets worn away quite quickly and is often gone again by the Spring. I notice the difference mainly in the sound. Before the holes were patched along my way every vehicle pulling a trailer – and that is often most vehicles – hit one or more of the holes resulting in loud bangs echoing around the valley. Now the only sound is the usual motor and tire sounds. Thank you Interior Roads.

Now is the time along Loon Lake Road for stocking up the last stuff for winter like getting in that last load of wood. It is easier to find a bit more time for crafts, hobbies and just hanging out. This year I collected several large bins of pine cones which I used to fill a large conical shaped wire mesh to use as winter decoration in my yard. When I finished closing up the wires on the project, I set the cone tree on a planter. The next morning I came out to find that some hard working creature had removed about half of the cones – and they were gone.

I suspected a pack rat and expected I would find the cones piled up in a nearby out building, but no such luck. Pack rats are really quite funny beast in terms of what kinds of things they like to take – and I guess that is where the “pack” part of their name comes from. The pack rat or whatever worked amazing hard and long to pull those cones out through the fencing mesh and take off with them. Not a crumb was left  lying beneath the planter. Sometimes wildlife really does amuse me and set me to wondering. There were lots of fresh pine cones lying on the open ground under a pine just a few meters away – so why work so hard to get these? And where did they take them? Surely, not for their Winter craft projects.

Barbara Hendricks