Issued 4 pm MDT Saturday 4 August, 2012 by Environment Canada:
Cloudy. A few showers early this evening. Amount 15 mm. Wind northwest 40 km/h gusting to 70 except gusting to 90 near the lake late this evening and overnight. Low 12.
July is summer in Yellowknife, and this year it was a dog days of summer kind of summer – an unusually fine one, filled with hot and sunny days, and calm waters. The kind of summer where you are lulled into deep rest by the water, and you store up the memory of warm sunshine in your bones, in preparation for the long winter ahead. The lake has been pleasantly warm and nearly the perfect temperature for swimming. (Who knew that Great Slave Lake was way warmer than Kootenay Lake?!) Our two golden retrievers have been bleached from their usual red to a pale blonde. Husband built them a ramp so they can get in and out of the water from the houseboat by themselves, and they’ve spent many happy hours jumping in and swimming for balls. The house is floating in about 8 feet of water, but towards the island we can stand on the bottom. The dogs love to swim out and join us and hang out by resting on my arms. They also love to swim over to the island and back – two little white faces, side by side in the water, with big dog smiles. Kona, our younger dog, is funny because he always needs to be the first one back to the boat – he can swim quite fast when he wants to. He’s a strong swimmer too – he can easily tow me to the island when I hang onto his tail.
I was happy to see that the warm weather continued into the first few days of August, now that my parents are visiting, so they too could have a sense of the summer splendor of this place. But now that we are firmly into August, it’s clear that the summer idyll is over. The days are still pleasant, but the nights are now cool, and its clear that it’s a different place than last month.
We’ve had a wonderful time watching the birds here – the seagulls so faithfully raising their chicks, and the two grebes still sitting on nests (surely those eggs won’t hatch now?) But things all changed one night last week. We awoke to find one of the faithful gull parents with a broken leg, and another gull seriously, and then fatally, injured. The chicks have all survived, but one entire nest of duck eggs is gone, shells and all. What could possibly sneak up to a gull and injure it, and carry off a clutch of 8 eggs, on a small barren island? A few days later we saw the chicks, now adult sized and able to fly, being harassed by crows, and in danger of their lives. It made me realize how brave these birds are – to come here, and put their hearts and souls into raising their young, in this harsh, uncertain and dangerous world. And yet they do it every spring, in the brief window of suitable weather. What beautiful, bold spirits they have. It made me realize that boldness is called for in this land. This is not a place for timidity, or holding back. Sure, common sense prevails, but once a course is decided upon, one must go forth boldly and fearlessly, and seize the opportunity. This is a harsh and beautiful land, and life is different here. Different qualities are called for, and perhaps boldness above all. (I’ll keep you posted on this theory, it might be that come winter I’ll be saying that what matters most is a good wood stove!)
So, tonight we cancelled our plans to eat out, due to the high winds, and spent some time this afternoon tying down kayaks, the canoe, the motor boats (the Minnow has been supplemented by a bigger, feistier boat lent by some new friends – more on boats later), the ladders, deck chairs, dog dishes etc. We’ve just enjoyed a wonderful pasta dinner from the Whitewater Cookbook, supplemented by a special bottle of Note Bene wine, from the hoarded case that Scott procured for me in 2007. Mom and Dad and husband and I are cozily ensconced in the house, while outside the wind is blowing stiffly at apparently 40 km/h. The waves are hitting the metal boat floats and it sounds quite watery in here! There all are sorts of strange banging noises. It’s windy but not unmanageable, although I’m quite happy to be inside right now. The dogs are snoozing on their blanket by the door, and we are just about to pull the scrabble board out. And boldly play through the winds to come.