The eye-level tree line; snow above

Here on Obstruction Island, it really wasn’t bad at all. Well, it was cold.  One morning the thermometer said 7 degrees and it was blowing close to a gale from the NE. But I had the deck plants inside.  The water lines seemed all right.  My worry was getting out on Friday the 20th.  The forecast was promising above freezing temperatures on Thursday.

snowmonWe had snow, just two inches or so, Sun, the 15th, and a lot of wind on Monday.  Heavy snows were forecast for Monday night. When I woke on Tuesday the snow was gone! Rain has washed it away.  Looking across the water to Orcas I could see a line at eye level. Below it the firs were a dark black-green.  Above they were coated in white.  Forecasts say, “snow to 200 feet.” I was looking at it — my eye level.  Our house is about 220 feet.  I wondered if we had a three story house, there would have been snow on the roof.

Tuesday afternoon we had a slush storm and, as the light faded, the snow started.  That evening when I crossed between buildings, I found the slush was freezing under the snow.  Fortunately I was able to get it off the walks before it turned them into an ice rink. The snow continued. Winds came up and blew very hard – 40k — sweeping some areas bare and drifts into other areas.

After the wind dropped on Wednesday afternoon, I walked down to check on the boat which was fine.  There were no other tracks and I thought I might be the only person on the island.

The next day I returned, bringing my art stuff over to the car.  I was teaching on the weekend in Edmonds.

Still no new footprints, but coming down the bank from the nearest house to the dock was what looked like a 14 inch wide toboggan track. When it came onto the road, it went down covering my icy prints and continued uninterupted all the way to the dock.  At the dock, the toboggan track ended. Raccoon footprints scampered down to the beach. I wished I had my camera!

In the Orcas parking lot I put chains on my car — amazingly easy when you aren’t by the side of the road with cars whizzing by. Orcas had deep snow with ice under it. I thought I needed the chains for the 22 hilly miles to the ferry landing.

snowbeachroad to the beach where the coon toboggan tracks were; another wetter snow

When I returned, I followed the “toboggan track” to where it started.  Raccoon prints emerged from under the near cabin. As soon as there was a slope the wide track started.  The raccoon must have been tobogganing on its tail.

On Friday I shut down the water, hoping I was doing it right and waited for the water taxi to take me over to Orcas.  High winds were forecast and our boat was much safer on the Obstruction side than on Orcas. After I’d waited a half hour a fishing trawler came by and I gave him a weak wave. He asked if I needed a lift. I told him I was waiting for the water taxi but it was late. He’d just seen it at Blakeley so we knew I was okay, although I waited another 15 cold minutes.

On Monday I returned in sunshine and bare ground, a more typical NW winter day. The water was fine.  The buildings were fine. The boat was fine. Huge logs had been tossed around on the beach attesting to the ferocity of the wind while I was gone.  As soon as the watertaxi dropped me off, I took our boat over to Orcas and loaded it with all my purchases and art supplies. Another gale moved in that night but I was once again snuggy warm.

When Jeffrey called the next day and said it would probably be another month before they returned, I could cheerfully wish him a great trip.  I was so glad he hadn’t called the week before when I was full of doubts about my ability to cope. He would have heard it and it would have dampened his adventure. (see Crossing the Caribbean).

birdsThis morning the birds are singing in the trees — not the quick chirps of winter but melody! They reminded me that thirty years ago, in February 2nd in Oregon, I wrote:

Even though

the pipes were frozen again this morning

and the stove has been burning all day

I know —

I made it!

Spring is on the way.

The light has changed.

The death time is ending for another year.

Things are possible again….

Little sprouts

Pushing up promises.

Strangely unfamiliar

are the chirps and little songs.

Why are the winter birds

all silent kinds?


©Caroline Buchanan, 2012