This late winter blizzard gives meaning to White-out!
What a difference a day makes. Sometimes my weather predictions are very accurate and sometimes they are not. I have a 50% rating, about the equal of the TV man. I could not include a time frame but I knew that yesterday morning’s calm was the one before the storm. Outside the cabin, the wind is howling through the trees and walking the forest trail to the marsh is going to be very dangerous. Many branches will be falling to the ground and lots of debris will be swirling about. The big “widow-maker” branches are the ones I fear the most, and this is a fear born from experience.
I have lost a very close friend to one of these killers. Albert was a logger. He spent most of his short life in the Coastal Rain Forest and he was a cautious professional; an intelligent, hard worker who was the first to warn me about this danger. His soft smile and enthusiastic demeanor were always a pleasure to behold. His 39 years were filled with adventure, and his knowledge of the forest, its trees, and flora always impressed us all. Even his burly friends could listen to his stories about life in the forest for hours.
Gaining Knowledge through study and experience
His knowledge of birds was impressive, and while he could identify more species than I could, his ability to identify their songs and the sounds they made was far superior than mine. It was Albert that got me seriously interested in birding. One time, after I had purchased a copy of “National Audubon Society, Field Guide to BIRDS, Western Region”, I rushed to his place to show-off my book. He smiled and quietly brought out his copy. It looked almost new, but the odor of chainsaw oil and gasoline was embedded in its pages. This I only realized later, as I began to read the notes that he had written on the pages in an effort to supplement the text by including times of the year, the elevation, and other such data, that could only make sense to a birder.
The fire is blazing in the fireplace but I feel a chill from the air outside. I open the door cautiously and I am surprised by the blinding snow. I cannot see my fire pit very clearly, and I cannot see across the creek to the other side. This is a whiteout! … in late March, a few days short of Spring. This will require a change of gear – if not a change of plans. Another log in the fire and another cup of coffee will help me out with this one. I certainly wasn’t expecting snow of this kind and of this intensity, this morning. It’s pointless to go to the marsh this morning, at least, not now. Even though my white camo would be very useful in this weather, I can’t imagine getting any fine detail to my photographs.
It’s still early, and I am going to make biscuits while I reshuffle my plans. Let’s see; flour, lard, salt, baking powder, an egg, and powdered milk and water, … that should do the trick. The dog is quietly snoring by the fire. Can’t ask him for help, although I’m sure he’ll gobble a few, to taste test them for texture, when they’re ready. What a life! A dog’s life he is living, completely unaware of my early morning concerns.
As I gather my ingredients and get set to mix them, I find it both amusing and annoying that he snoring the morning away. Amusing because I love him almost as much as he loves me. Annoying because I know he is going to wake up exactly when the biscuits … come out of the oven. He is going to walk over to me, his tail wagging, and with a look in his eye that I cannot resist, I will give him one biscuit, and perhaps even more than one.
As I wait for my biscuits, I am now more determined than ever to build this blind at the marsh. I need it to capture these birds in all their splendor. Spring is the season of renewal, all bird species are building nests, looking for mates or courting their mates. What a refreshing time of year and I will miss a large part of it if I do not build this blind at the marsh. My biscuits are done, and as I quietly make my way to the table, he opens his eyes ” on cue” and focuses firstly on the biscuits, and then on me. I’m thinking, “in a nice way”, of course, … you bastard! … he’s thinking … oh! wow … biscuits! … and that’s why I love him.
We share a half dozen or more biscuits and I thank him for his contribution. I will go to the river and try to bring home a few fish to smoke in my new smoker. The path to the river is less dangerous and it is well sheltered from the wind. My dog Scout, his real name and part of his job description, knows the way and I will not need to use my compass to get there. My hand instinctively reaches for the knife on my belt and we will soon be ready to leave.
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions about traveling in winter white-out conditions, I would be very happy to hear about them. I look forward to tales and comments of your adventures. I am leaving for a fishing trip in this weather because the journey is short and the way there, is easy. I do not recommend this type of travel in unknown terrain or circumstance.