Thanks for checking in today! Thursday’s post encourages you to practice your observation skills and practice your design vocabulary. Below is such a practice observation in writing.
I attach the expanding leash to the red harness of my nine year old white Shi-tsu/Bichon cross, pull on my black mittens, then close the red front door. I leave behind the warmth and hazelnut vanilla morning coffee scent wafting around the house. The icy air feels fresh against the exposed skin on my face. I notice the absence of any smell in the outdoor winter air.
Lucky, my walking companion, and I make our way along the 2×4 surfaced breezeway between house and garage. I notice that the red paint is flaking off the deck, mixing with the freshly fallen snow that was recently swept aside to secure safe passage to the four stairs leading to the driveway below. Anticipating the icy surface on the the stairs I hold on to the bannister to the right.
Arriving at the level driveway, where the loose gravel surface makes for easy navigation, our walk begins. Halfway along the 15 meter driveway, I notice to my left snow mounds covering the field rocks that form the meditation spiral in the front yard. The spiral’s walking path leading to the center is easily identified with a level about 20 cm lower than the snow that covers the rocks. My eye wanders to the kinetic metal sculpture situated in the geographical center of the spiral. I fixate on the top section twirling in the icy breeze. Its five coloured glass balls; red, yellow, blue, green and orange, each resting safely in their designated wrought iron rings reflecting the early morning light. Each translucent bauble is covered with a small snow cone tinted by the reflection of the colored glass, adding a touch of whimsey to the overall structure.
Lucky takes turns charging ahead as far as the leash extends, and quickly returning to my left three times, kicking up mini blizzards with her feet. As my arm jerks forward each time she attempts to pull further than the length of the leash. I wonder if she enjoys the cold fluffy snow, or if her feet are reacting to the extreme cold after spending all night in a warm house.
Ten meter tall Manchurian Elms, stripped of their foliage and shrouded in the early morning mist, line the right side of the drive way, protecting the property from the hill traffic up and down Sand Point Road. We continue walking to the entry of the driveway. It is marked by a handmade wooden address and name sign suspended from a wrought iron stand bearing the artistry of the previous owner’s musical inclinations in the form of a brass trumpet and trombone soldered to the frame. A small metal golden finch resting on a branch with a single green leaf tops the stand, providing another unexpected splash of color on this gray day. The two meter tall Caragana hedge bramble precedes the drainage ditch. A fire hydrant, whose red paint is peeling reveals multiple candy colored spots while marking the edge of the property.
Straight ahead a pristine snow covered slope, falls away 45 meters toward the lakeshore. A light gray storage shed, about the size of an outhouse; six boat lifts, an unprotected pontoon boat is propped up on a diagonal cant, and four fishing shacks in various stages of disrepair line the rocky shore line.
The snow covered ice spreads across to the northern lake shore, disrupted by enclaves of fishing shacks, ranging from holiday trailers retrofitted with large stove pipes indicating wood burning stoves for icy days like today, to ply-wood shacks and temporary ice fishing tents in red, blue, black and tan. Trucks and cars are parked close to the structures. It is only 9 a. m. and already the lake ice is bustling with activity. I hear the high pitched sound of augers drilling holes for another attempt to catch the daily quota of five perch for dinner.
Lucky and I turn right onto Tatanka Drive. Checking for traffic we march on, crossing the Sand Point Road fork. The road is wide enough to accommodate two midnight blue salt and dust stained pick-up trucks that meet on the road. The drivers, mere shadows in their respective cabs, wave to each other as they pass and drive on at speed, kicking up loose gravel in the process.
On our left, ten meters from the road’s edge the community cairn, constructed from field stone and mortar and two concrete benches are barely visible with the snow cover. Immediately bordering this area a directional sign contrasts the white landscape. The sign demands attention due to its size, measuring approximately 150 cm x 130 cm. Large yellow lettering strings together the words “Sand Point Beach” on the blue section marking the location of Buffalo Pound Lake on the map.The rest of the surface is painted white and green providing road names and directions within the community. A meter high pile of road gravel is located at the base of the community map. A car width to the right across from the gravel deposit, another sign clears the snow drift. Its background painted white with faded black lettering informs the visitor that there is “no parking anytime”.
Lucky is walking calmly beside me then suddenly she pauses, quivering body focusing straight ahead followed by a charge full speed to the end of the leash. The leash is taught. She raises her front paws, walking tall on her hind legs, making small yelping noises. There, in the patch of aspen shoots, I make out movement. Walking closer I realize it is a bush bunny, the size of a man’s fist, hopping away to find a better hiding spot. The bunny has almost completed its color change and is barely visible to the untrained eye. My dog is slowly losing focus, moving her nose closer to the ground seeking other interesting scents.
We pass the aspen shoots mixed with low brush, dried rust coloured leaves still clinging to their brittle branches. I now arrive at the seasonal campground on the lake shore. Four white holiday trailers face the road edge. They are nestled into their respective spots, bordered by makeshift fences, each trailer hidden between a stand of Manitoba maples, aspens, willows and snowdrifts.
Turning my attention to the right, I look across the low bush lining the snow dusted drainage ditch to a bordering brown wooden fence. Tall Maples hugging the brown fence hinder the view to a small cottage, clad in rust colored wooden siding and topped with a kelly green metal roof. Covering the deck is an all glass sunroom, easy to detect in the winter due to the lack of interfering foliage. The property expands approximately thirty meters further, and is bordered by a road with a sign announcing Metropolitan Place. I count seven seasonal properties surrounding this cul-de-sac. These cottages are currently not inhabited. The snow covering the road is not disturbed by tire or snow mobile runners. My eyes follow several random tracks to a group of five deer. Two does with their off-spring, pausing next to a stand of maple trees in the center of the cul-de-sac, and only fifteen meters away, watch us walk past the small subdivision.
To my right the topography now changes and a steep hill, covered with dense brush and mature trees rises toward the gray sky. I take note of the rising mist that is quickly breaking up. Small patches of blue sky are beginning to push through the cloud cover.
Lucky and I continue on our walk to the beach in a southeasterly direction. We follow Tatanka Drive for another sixty meters until the road forks. We turn left onto Marine Drive. Tatanka, now winds up a steep hill and disappears beyond the crest. On the left the landscape descends close to fifty meters to the lake. The public access for ice fishing is clearly marked with countless tire impressions leading onto the ice, veering off in all directions once they reach the ice surface. The snow covered slope is dotted with trees and brush. Seven boat lifts are neatly aligned in a row along a low picket fence. A wood clad fishing shack is positioned immediately next to the entry of the “ice road”, ready for placement on the ice anytime.
My dog and I make our way twenty meters further on Marine Drive. To the right we pass another steep incline covered with low growing brush. Twenty-five meters above the road surface a mobile home in desperate need of repair is perched overlooking the lake valley. I turn my attention back to the road and we begin to seek a secondary road not marked by an official road sign. On a snow capped fence post, I discover a hand lettered weathered board, measuring about 30 cm wide and 20 cm high, spelling the words “Beach Access”. It is nearly hidden by the latest snow accumulation. The paint is light brown and difficult to make out against the faded wood. The arrow points straight ahead.
The road has narrowed. It is just wide enough for one vehicle now. A secondary road, it has not been cleared of the snow or sanded. Lucky begins to jump, over one snow drift, over the next snow drift using her whole body to catapult her ten pound frame in a criss-cross pattern. I follow with less agility wearing my heavy winter boots. Occasionally, I find myself sinking deep enough for the snow to spill over the top of my boot. I realize that my socks are not long enough and my jeans were not wrapped tightly around my calves, the moment the first grains of icy snow touch my warm skin. The sensation of the cold snow touching bare skin near my ankles is exhilarating.
We persevere in our slow deep crunchy snow walk past a two story cedar clad cottage with attached sunroom on the right. A second cottage, this one with gray vinyl siding, one story high and a large covered deck to the southeast, borders the property of the first. Everything is quiet, there is no sign of life in this part of the community.
Snow covered trees and shrubs obstruct the view of the ice covered lake to the left. The narrow road leads another ten meters to a level clearing. Turning left once more Lucky and I stumble down a gentle slope disturbing the pristine snow cover with first foot prints. A narrow passage between two tree groupings leads to the beach.
The landscape opens up wide. I ignore the “no dogs allowed on beach” sign on the left. The sand is now covered with ice and snow, it joins the lake seamlessly, the edge of the lake is fully integrated. I venture with an educated guess onto where the edge between land and water is located. Tall Timothy grasses, gold, dry and bending to the ground due to a dusting of snow, line the first five meters of beach and demark the beginning of lake ice.
A lonely wooden picnic table with attached benches shows signs of weathering from exposure to the elements. It invites us to take a brief rest before we head home. The sun is well positioned above the hills in the southeast, quickly burning off the gray clouds and revealing an azure blue sky, concurrently illuminating the snow and ice before us. I remove my right mitten and pull a couple of treats from my pocket. Lucky is on best behavior, sitting to my left and anticipating a piece of chicken jerky. I opt for a piece of milk chocolate and let it melt slowly in my mouth, absorbing the creamy taste while the sun spreads her warming rays across the small snow-covered sandy point of beach.
Not up for a walk in the snow? Make yourself comfortable on your couch and begin to look around: What color are the walls of the room, the furniture? Are there pictures on the wall? What does the fabric of the couch feel like? Use your senses to describe your environment!