Saturday, September 18, 2010

More From the Summer

Our summer was so busy and full and there are so many things to share on here... but the one thing that happened this summer, that I have never experience before, was a flash flood.

Living in Squamish and on the Island, I have certainly experienced floods. In those places sometimes it rains and rains and rains. It rains so much for so long that eventually rivers/lakes/ditches just overflow. This usually takes a while of heavy steady rain though, days or maybe weeks.

The flood here in Fort St John happened after we had had about two months almost without any rain at all. The day of the flood was actually, quite a nice day! But in the afternoon, as is often the case up here, a wind started up. This wind was soon blowing like crazy and the kids came running in from outside (you know it is pretty good when the kids come in, they have been known to chase little mini-tornadoes down the street). Then around 5 o'clock it started to rain... by 5:30 it was raining so hard I took a video of it. (** This video didn't work on here... it is a sketchy, video of RAIN so it isn't very exciting, but it was REALLY heavy rain you could see in a video!)

The only time I had ever seen rain that heavy was when hubby and I were in Florida. We went out for a walk around the South Beach area before we were to catch a plane to the Bahamas (I just had to rub that in a bit). Anyway as we were out for this walk in Florida, it started to rain. We watched everyone run for cover as it started to rain, and we just laughed to ourselves thinking what wimps these people were... We came from the land of rain, here we were in a warm tropical place, a little rain was going to feel nice! Nothing to run from! Well, then it started to rain harder and harder, within a few moments we were practically alone on the streets (everyone else had run for cover!) and we were starting to try to find cover under a palm tree... that was no good so we went for a doorway. It was like someone had dumped buckets of water on us, and was still dumping them from the sky. The edges of the road were full to the sidewalks and little creeks were running down the sidewalks too. Anyway, we wound up having to walk in the rain anyway because we had to get back to the hotel to catch a taxi to get on an airplane, by the time we got to the hotel they just laughed at us and gave us towels to dry off with in the lobby.

Back to FSJ! It was raining so hard and still blowing like crazy and then the lightning and thunder started. We get some pretty awesome thunderstorms up here, some last for hours, some are so close they shake your whole house. This one did both! I quickly cooked up dinner before the power went out and stood at the window watching. The power flickered off and on a few times before it finally stayed off... and then that was it. By 6:45 the storm was over, the sun came out and it was beautiful outside. Hubby gets home from work around 7 o'clock and he barely saw any of the storm (he works about 20 minutes south-east from home). They didn't have any of it at his work.

So once the sun came out and hubby came home, we decided to go outside and see if there were any problems... mostly around our window-well that doesn't drain very well (at all!). So we went and bailed some water out of it (it wasn't too bad though) and picked up the things that had blown around/away. My daughter then noticed that the back alley was a lake... so while we were out there looking at that, we looked over at the park a few doors down from us and saw a real lake.

There is not supposed to be a lake over at this park, although that would be excellent, so my hubby being male, instantly thought about toys and wheeled his inflatable boat over and took the kids for a boat ride at their park. They rowed around for about an hour, there is a large drainage ditch that is supposed to contain the water, but there was just so much it overflowed the banks... by a lot. Overall only a large field and the ditches overflowed, so it was great and they had a ball.

No damage to property, at least at our end of town. The other end of town didn't fair so well, some basements filled up and the movie theatre was filled up the the third row of seats. Also, one house was struck by lightning, although apparently they only had a small fire at their fuse box.

The city requested everyone get an assessment of the damages to make a claim for disaster relief and last I heard they didn't have enough damages to qualify. So overall it was more exciting than damaging. The truly strange part to me was the fact that the next morning, when I got up and looked over at the park, the lake was GONE. Our lake was only there for the one evening and then gone... Another strange thing that came out after the fact was that we got so much rain in those two hours (I forget how much now, but a lot) and yet to the east and west of us by ten minutes, they barely got any rain at all, only a light shower of rain. This included our airport which is where our official weather is documented. This means that according to the records, we had almost no rain for the month of July, well below normal levels...

It was awesome to see and witness such a powerful storm, it makes me realize that I can't even imagine what it might be like in a real hurricane. But there you go, we had a tropical storm... in the prairies!


Another sketchy video, this one showing the lightning flashes, hearing the thunder and watching the lights go out, come on and go out... as well as the kids and the dog!
video

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Fossils!!

In my past life (i.e. before I finished high school!) I wanted to be an archaeologist. I had visions of myself going all over the world on fabulously boring, meticulous digs... I had no disillusion about the excitement level, I wasn't expecting Indiana Jones. I think I was pretty rational in my thought process. When I mentioned my plans to others, however, they brought up a few fairly valid points, one of which was particularly valid; my dislike (some would say phobia) of bugs, of which there are a lot of when digging. So I went in an entirely different direction after high school, but have always kept an interest in all things ancient.

Before we moved up north here we visited some friends who live in this area and he showed us the stone slabs he has at the base of his porch steps... full of fossils. I was captivated, where, when, how did he get these?! He said these particular ones came from a mountain nearby, but there were fossils all over the place up here.
Then we moved up here and I learned more and more about the fossils and finds that have been preserved in the clay that is everywhere up here. So many First Nations artifacts found that there is, in fact, a lot of work for archaeologists in this area. The oil companies (and developments of any kind) must first have the area sampled by archaeologists before they can dig and often items are found.

I have been on the hunt for a fossil of my own since arriving, we have scoured the riverbanks and found many 'possible' fossils, but nothing definite. Auntie Carol came and found a well deserved fossil at the slippery Beatton River, but I never did... until my sister was here recently.
We were again at the Beatton River and on our way down to the beach Allan came across a small pile of rocks with fossils in them, obviously gathered by someone and left behind. That was exciting enough on its own! After a while of swimming in the river though, and looking at the rocks along the banks, my sister, or one of her kids went into the grassy area up the bank a ways, and there were hundreds of rocks absolutely full of fossils. The grass was also absolutely full of ants (biting ones!) so we grabbed a couple of quick bucketfuls and left... perhaps next time we go the ants won't be out and we can look a bit more carefully! So we divided up the rocks between us and now... we have some fossils!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How Did My Garden Grow...


It has been a challenge, to garden up here. I thought I was a pretty good gardener on the Island... not so good at weeding, but very good at growing things. It turns out that may have had more to do with the climate on the Island, than my abilities as a gardener!Slowly my garden is taking shape, slowly the trees and shrubs are growing. Apparently "slow" is the key word for anything perennial up here. My backyard garden which I was bemoaning the state of earlier this summer, looks quite good now. The trees recovered, somewhat, and the shrubs are looking great and my Mom and I added a bunch of new things (lillies, hostas, astilbe, and other plants) which have done really well over the summer. Still it seems slow, and we will have to wait to see the state of it next year.Annuals, on the other hand, grow like crazy! I have never been particularly fond of annuals, except for a little bit here or there... I still am of much the same mind, but they do have there places, and up North is one of them! I have a very plain, rectangular front garden which I planted with veggies and annuals this year.

Early in the summer

Mid-summer

Yesterday!

This front garden has grown amazingly well! I planted quite a lot in it, considering its size, but I figured I might as well fill it up. I was slightly concerned that it would look sparse, being a veggie garden... boy was I wrong! I planted tomatoes, carrots, radishes, kale, lettuce, spinach, peas, zucchini, beans, marigolds that Papa MacLeod started from seed before he passed away this year and sunflowers. The snapdragons came back, all by themselves!
Everything grew and grew and grew! We ate all the carrots and radishes, peas and beans. We are almost finished the lettuce (miniature Iceberg lettuce, it was fantastic!).
I am working us through the zucchini, we ate some spinach (I planted way too much).

The tomato plant is absolutely loaded with tomatoes, however they are mostly green still (they better hurry, we had frost already!). The kale, however, was supposed to be purple and pretty, but it isn't either. It also isn't very tasty. So we left the kale for the caterpillars, who LOVE it! The kids love the caterpillars and the little white butterflies which come before/after the caterpillars! There seems to be another advantage of leaving the kale for the bugs in that the bugs have left everything else alone... including my lettuce which was right beside the kale! Fair trade I think! It has been fun having a veggie garden and the kids love picking and eating everything, which is great. It has also been nice just planting and seeing what happens, knowing it will only be for the year anyway... a bit more "c'est la vie" than I normally am when it comes to my garden!