“FRASER VALLEY WINDS” is a phrase bound to provoke shivers in islanders this time of year.
It’s a reference to the icy breezes that funnel southward out of British Columbia’s Fraser River Valley, a place commonly mentioned by our Canadian neighbors in statements such as “That Fraser River Valley is quite the blooming deep freeze, eh?” To which some guy named Graeme, or perhaps “Gord,” will reply, “No doubt aboot it.”
The Fraser winds are upon us, blowing from 46 miles north-northeast. The thermometer outside the Nuthatch’s window is stuck in the Fahrenheit 20s, with a wind-chill factor skidding into the teens.
With the predicted plunge in temperature I finally took the (still-blooming) fuchsias in off the deck early this week. I hung them in the woodshed to take a chance at reviving in June. I chopped more firewood. The electric heat pump gets us through much of winter, but on these briskest days a fire in the woodstove is required to keep the cabin cozy.
Yesterday we celebrated Barbara’s 66th birthday. Just the two of us, COVID-style, though masked neighbors came knocking with cupcakes and gifts. Daughter Lillian planned to drive up from Seattle and catch the water taxi Saturday morning for a repeat celebration, but snow forecasts appear to be putting the kibosh on that plan.
We awakened to a snow-frosted world this morning. Just a half-inch overnight but enough to add a glistening mantle to the salal and swordfern. Sunshine briefly broke through the clouds, and Galley Cat insisted on going out to frisk up the rocky knoll behind us. As I made coffee, outside the kitchen window birds were mobbing the nearly-empty feeder. I counted a dozen juncos waiting on a nearby fir bough. While the brew dribbled I stepped outside in slippers and robe to replenish the seed supply from the galvanized can on the back porch. As I stepped around the corner to the feeder dozens of birds took flight in panic, emerging from under the porch, beneath the rain barrel and from every perching spot nearby. It felt like an arctic migration.
Once back inside I looked out again, directly into the eyes of a young buck deer who had stopped by to munch fallen birdseed and keep up his energy on the frosty morning.
Days like this feature repeat trips to lug wood in from the shed. Extra cups of hot coffee and a few extra minutes with a crossword puzzle. Time to sit and jot some words about it. In a while I’ll bundle up in my winter coat and Elmer Fudd hat and stretch my legs with a walk to the mail shack.
Just another February day, with Fraser winds. Stay warm.