Well, the snow seems to have arrived pretty much on time. I think the 28th was our first real snow day last year and Halloween is sort of the benchmark now for snow and the arrival of winter. So I guess you could say the season is early based on its newly revised schedule…
This is probably my favourite time of bear season. The lakes are still open (likely only for a few more days now) and the battle between east and north winds brings some nice movement to the landscape. Sticky snow hangs everywhere, in the red willows, the yellow lime grass and the crooked spruce. Wilted fireweed and saxifrage poke their weary heads through the snow and even the junk and random lumber in my yard takes on a bit of a peaceful air.
The bears should feel a bit better today too (at least we all assume they are looking forward to winter but you never know…). Yesterday was a good day along the coast. A mother with tow cubs set up camp just east of the old dump, nestled into the willows. We stopped in the morning and watched her nurse through binoculars before she returned to her ten hour nap. She looks like an old bear, especially given the fact that Polar Bear Alert was hazing another bear on the road beside her and she simply ignored them.
Ladoon’s little female has returned, in good shape too. Last year, there were two female bears hanging around his kennel and both had lingering injuries from the ice season. So, as most northerners would do, he packed some antibiotics in with chicken and fed them until they healed up. It looks like she appreciated it as she is back this year so we’ll see how it goes.
Its funny how Polar Bear Alert and Ladoon are kind of mortal enemies but I think they both basically think they are helping bears (and maybe that the other guy isn’t…). Last year, one of the officers sewed up a large wound on a big old male and gave him a shot of antibiotics before they relocated him north. Kind of the same idea, I guess everyone is looking out for the bears here even if we all think everyone else doesn’t know what they’re doing… ha
Now for the bad news… it looks like Manitoba Conservation has officially closed the road to the wheat bears. It was washed out/dug out this summer but people just started driving around it, some getting stuck on the way. So yesterday, there was a big pile of gravel blocking the entrance to the old dump… might take some real planning to get in there now… hmm.
What confuses me is why we had to block another road where the smaller bus operators and film crew guys like me have access to bears? If you want to get rid of the drunk bear problem, why not just smooth out the grain piles? Landscaping that area might actually make something look nicer instead of just ruining another vista… so far, this year Churchill has managed to ruin access to the tundra behind the garbage dump and ruin our one sweeping landscape view by building the new dump behind one of our nicest lakes. Just baffling really…
Aside from that, we had our first char dinner of the season accompanied by our neighbour’s housewarming gift of gin and TANG crystals… which was then accompanied by a lot of northern stories and advice on how to carve soapstone.