Monday, March 22, 2010

River Ice

The Red River is flowing again. It's an earlier spring than "usual", whatever that is. When it melts, the ice jams up along the bends and under bridges, and makes a gorgeous sound when it starts to move.  It was solid enough to skate on just a month ago.  I love the carnage of the breaking ice, and occasionally a tree, or a piece of someone's dock, or other debris gets caught.

The crest of the river is on its way north -- this river is odd in that it flows north, away from the melt.  It would be safer if it flowed south and the later melting season in the north would mean less flooding.  But a quirk of glacial re-arrangement means the Red flows north, and the melting waters from the south get caught up with ice that hasn't yet transformed into water.  The crest is expected in Winnipeg on April 6, but the expectation is that it won't be as high as other years, including 2009.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Meet the new member of our household! I think she's grown at least 1/3 more than when we met her and brought her home.  Lots of eating, and lots of... running, playing, getting to know us.  We are a bit overwhelmed at times, but we all have our skills.  Kai is a master of grooming... the dog lies down and takes it, instead of biting the hand and brush, as she does to me.  Nicole likes to pick her up -- must be good for that upper body strength as the dog grows.  Gabe is up early in the morning and takes her out for her first pee of the day (the outside one, that is!!!).  

I am basically the individual she imprinted on for some reason, so she follows me around like a slavish little fan... a bit annoying, but entertaining.  Doglike devotion.  Undying love.  I hope I deserve it.  Today she discovered the wonders of the good barbecue smells, when Tom fired up the barbie for the first time back here.  Warm day, gusty winds, time to fire up the barbie to celebrate the onset of spring.  And the real sounds of spring showed up last night when I was out with the dog before we went to bed... two honking geese flying overhead.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Bottom of the Birdcage...

Winnipeg in spring is like the bottom of the birdcage -- grit and sh*t. The sand that has beend dumped on streets and sidewalks for months to decrease the effects of winter is left behind when the ice and snow melt.  And we're having an earlier start to spring than usual.  With a few days to go before the official start of spring, it's almost all melted in the city.  Temperatures have been above zero for days now, so the snow piles are disappearing.  The other debris left behind, other than all the trash which people dump, is doggy doo doo.  Thus the effect of being at the bottom of the birdcage.

The City is starting  its spring clean up earlier this year, so hopefully we won't have as much dust blowing around as could be possible.  The rivers are starting to break up... some spots on the Red near my work place are now open water.  But the big ice chunks still will be moving by, which is always a spectacular sound and sight.  Other spots are slush and rotten ice, with water filling the gaps of ski and skating trails.  You know it's almost over when the buds start swelling on the trees, and bits of green show up beside south-facing walls.  And dandelions will be here soon to cheer us on our way.  Fargo (400 km to the south) is dealing with its flood surge this week.  Here's a blog to check out:  Fargo Flooding

To add to our fun, we have introduced a new member to our household.  Kallista the dog, named after a little town near Ferny Creek.  We wanted to remember Australia in some way with the name of the pooch -- names like Adelaide, Alice (for Alice Springs) were tossed around, but Kallista fits.  She is 3 1/2 months old, an apricot-coloured standard poodle.  Bouncy as... still working on the toilet training, but our goal is to pick up the debris, not to leave it to melt all over the city.  The kids are coping remarkably well -- I'm the one who is a bit stressed out about it all, but that's probably because I'm  not sleeping very well right now.  Too much to think about? Or worry about?  Don't know which one it is, but the effects are not fun.  Oh well -- it's happened before and will abate again.  Could even be the dreaded hormones, which always have a way of rearing their effects.

Regardless, we are hearing more birds starting to think about their own expanding households.  And daylight savings time has intruded on our morning light, so we'll have to wait another month before we get the morning light again.  But standing out in the yard with Kallista in the early mornings is gorgeous -- crisp, frosty, fresh.  And the evening walks are fun instead of being wickedly cold. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010

New Skates

How thrilling to have a new pair of skates. I have always loved ice skating, and treated myself to a new pair of skates this year -- combined birthday and Christmas money, which was waiting for me when we got back -- thanks mom!  Last Sunday Gabe, Kai and I took the new skates (and their slightly used ones) out on the Red River Skating Trail for a spin.  In  our absence, Winnipeg re-invented the river trail, and set up a massive competition last year with the Rideau Trail in Ottawa, to handily win the title of longest river trail in Canada.

The groomed trail winds 8.54 km from the Hugo Dock (Osborne area) on the Assiniboine, flows east toward its junction with the Red, and continues south and east along the Red River to the bottom of Hay St., the street that crosses Baltimore -- the Churchill Dock, at the foot of Churchill High School (Nicole's new school). The Forks Corporation is responsible for much of the maintenance and promotion, down to using a vegetable oil powered Zamboni to make sure the trail is as smooth as can be given its outdoor setting.   A lot of fun -- beats skating round and round in an arena, although that has an allure of its own.  I remember going back to the Hans Brinker story, thinking about skating on the Dutch canals, and wishing for the same. Childhood memories of skating on the local creek, my cousin's pond, and the lagoon by the Lake at Firelane 1.   Best of all, Nicole, who has had a challenge balancing on skates, recently received the gift of a pusher designed especially for her by the Rehabilition Centre for Children in Winnipeg.  It's a hot red colour, and lets her feel confident with her ability to move around on two thin little blades.  Cheers to the Rehab Centre.

 Vegetable Oil Powered Zamboni