Recent storm triggers memory of fishing trip on Lake Chibogamau –

Recent storm triggers memory of fishing trip on Lake Chibogamau –

Blue Jays sitting in a tree

We encountered all kinds of weather and temperature changes heading to Utica twice this week. We started out in the dark on Friday (February 9) and the temperature was near freezing with misty rain that tried to freeze on the windshield, but as we headed south the sky almost cleared and we saw the sunrise in Utica. The clouds moved in during the day, but there were only a few short showers and it was mostly clear on the way home.

Then on the drive on Saturday morning (February 10) it got really exciting at Old Forge. The temperature was forty-five degrees, and it began to rain as I walked down the main street, which fell very heavily and turned into big, thick icicles when I crossed the bridge into Thendara. There was thunder and lightning, and the snow turned into hailstones, expanding from a quarter inch to a half inch in size in a few hundred feet. I stopped near the railroad bridge, where (I) could barely see that the drive was coming down hard…and I didn’t want to lose my windshield. There were cars heading north, but the road was covered in small balls of ice.

The temperature dropped to thirty-two (degrees) in less than two minutes. I sat there until the storm passed and I traveled on balls of ice until I reached the Okara Lakes. Not long down the road the sky cleared and the sun shone for the rest of the trip. I heard on Moose Radio that they had thunderstorms in the Bonneville area that morning, the same system that hit me at Old Forge. I couldn’t find any damage to the car’s paint, but it must have been pretty close to cracking the paint and creating scratches.

It reminded me of a fishing trip we took to Lake Chibogamaw in Quebec, Canada (in) 1955 when I was only eleven years old. My father, my brother Bob, me and my friend Art Lansing were camping in a six-man canvas tent in June on the beach where my father had been camping two years before. A black storm cloud came very quickly from the west with a lot of thunder and lightning. We pulled the boat as far out of the water as we could, tied it up, and got into the tent. The wind was very violent, but the old tent held together as the hail fell on the roof.

Christmas cactus blooms

Christmas cactus. Photography by Gary Lee.

When it was all over, there were a few inches of hail all over the moss on the ground and more than six inches deep where it came out of the tent. We scooped that up and put it in our coolers. The boat was full of water, and was running over the transom by the engine back into the lake. There was a big change in temperature that day, but as soon as the sun came out the black flies hid somewhere and came out in large numbers.

There will be a snow storm coming up the East Coast tomorrow (February 13) that will bring 8 to 12 inches of snow to some major cities, but it doesn’t look like any of it will get here with this storm being pushed out to sea. We may get some snow from the storm coming in from the west on Wednesday or Thursday (February 14 or 15). Maybe some of that snow will still be around for the Inlet’s 22nd annual Frozen Fire and Lights Winter Festival on Saturday, February 24. (There will be) cardboard sled races, outdoor races, kite flying on Fourth Lake, fireworks, and much more. (For more details visit:)

Vieux Arts’ Annual Chili Bowl (held February 17th) in Old Forge from 12-3pm Beautiful ceramic bowls (which were custom made) for sale and many types of chili and mac and cheese (which were made) by local restaurants and individuals.

Bird species change day by day at the feeding grounds, as the birds do not know whether to go north or south. So, they stopped to feed with blue jays, black-capped chickadees, and turkey jays, which numbered more than thirty yesterday. I set out the mist net for a few hours and caught eight new black-capped chickadees, a red-breasted nuthatch, a hairy woodpecker, and a pine siskin.

I had a couple of returns, (including) a Hairy Woodpecker from two years ago, a Downy Woodpecker from last year, and a couple of Black-capped Chickadees from last year and three years ago. This morning, February 12, I had twenty-five pine jays, six purple goldfinches, and only six blue jays. Didn’t see my Carolina Rain today, but she might come back if it snows…she knows where the food truck is.

One local birding story Debbie Haynes told me was that her husband Ross found some Blue Jays trapped in a local boat house. They flew under the boat door when the water was low, leaving space and when they got in they went to the windows trying to get out. He saw them banging on the windows and opened the side door and let them out. There were four dead who either hit the windows hard or died from lack of food. I’m sure this happens more than people know, but creatures foraging along the beach may find these dead birds and eat them.

Karen will have to look at the Christmas cactus for Valentine’s Day, as they are still blooming (twenty new ones at last count). So, it bloomed at Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and since then and now more flowers for Valentine’s Day. Happy Valentine’s Day.

I like my chili peppers on the mild side, but that’s another story. I’ll see you later.

Photo above: Blue Jays keeping their feet warm. Photography by Gary Lee.

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