A glimpse of my life in the Canadian countryside in January.
A long, late afternoon, Sunday walk at -18 Celsius, with a thin wind blowing. Deciding whether to walk uphill, with the wind at our backs, or downhill, with the wind in our faces. Frozen cheeks on the easier walk home, or toiling (gently) uphill with the wind behind us? Downhill it was, to the rock bluff and twist in the road we call the “cougar crossing”, as it is the site of several spottings, and, from the tracks we consistently observe there, the main deer and predator trail down to the river. Nothing today but a lone deer, who bounded snorting away, to the quivering delight of the dogs – they’re always so thrilled when something happens on our little excursions.
Warmer last night, so the dogs were cold-heartedly evicted from their rugs by the woodstove to sleep out (not so harsh as it sounds – they have a lovely warm doghouse in the hayshed) and keep an eye on things. Wolves have been travelling past on the river ice the last few weeks; neighbouring ranches occasionally have “incidents”, but the presence of the dogs means that the wild canines – aside from the rarer wolves, the thriving coyote population is ever-present – tend to deviate around our barnyard in their routine swing-throughs. It’s all very territorial, in the canine world.
The old dog was missing this morning, so out I went in nightie and boots to call her. Did the complete rounds, accompanied by her frantic compatriot. Back to the house, really worried now, when a small thump from the garage brought the “aha!” moment. She’d pushed the door open (she does that, a well-calculated shoulder bump, just on speculation; one of the house doors doesn’t always latch completely and we occasionally find it open with a smug and smiling dog on the wrong side of it and the cold wind whistling into the house) and then managed to close it from the inside. Greatly relieved, we both were. She’s snoring gently now, sleeping much too close to the woodstove. In a while she’ll wake and grunt and sigh and relocate to the rug in front of the door, where it’s cooler.
Tea kettle on the stove, computer on. No internet. It snowed last night, so back outside and up the ladder to the roof to brush off the satellite dish. Such seemingly small things can disrupt the signal. Rain, a dusting of snow, a really cloudy day. And the high-speed it provides is not all that fast. Here’s a comparison for you. To download a song from iTunes, which, with teens in residence, is a highly popular computer activity in this household: on our old dial-up connection, 30 minutes to an hour. Yes, for one song. Often the download would freeze, requiring a reboot, usually futile. On the satellite system, 5 minutes to 20 minutes, depending on the what point we’re at in the variable speed cycle our provider imposes. With “real” high-speed – the wireless version accessed in town – 30 seconds to a minute.
If there’s one thing I envy the urbanites, it’s their easy and (relatively) cheap access to high-speed internet. My internet bill last month was $240, for the satellite subscription charges and the usage charges on the higher speed ”hub” we’ve recently acquired, which is faster but gougingly expensive. Neighbours recently moved here from the city are outraged; the rest of us shrug, sigh, and take it in our stride. Not that many years ago we were still on a telephone party line here in our valley; a single line and the option of even getting a modicum of internet access was a Very Big Deal indeed. We’re slowly catching up to the rest of the world, though we usually attain things a step or two behind the curve. No NetFlix here! We patronize the sole surviving video store in our closest community, gratefully borrow what we can from the public library’s excellent and ever-increasing dvd collection, and visit the post office looking for the bright red Zip dvd mailers carrying the random selections they’ve picked off our long lists. Funny how it’s never the one you really wanted to see …
It’s a good thing there are books.
Hope you are staying warm in the cold parts of the world, and cool in the hot bits – I noticed when looking at my WordPress “stats” that I have visitors from every conceivable corner of the globe. Welcome and hello and hoping you enjoy your visit as much as I enjoy visiting the many others who share snippets of their reading and their lives through this amazing creation, the internet.
To quote Paul Simon: “These are the days of miracle and wonder, this is a long distance call …”
Happy January, everyone – we’re unbelievably almost a half-month through the new year already!