Sunday, 25 July 2021

Horseshoe Lake Fog

     I have been doing our early morning walks with Kona at Horseshoe Lake instead of Koeneman Park because there are no mosquitoes at Horseshoe Lake.  This morning there was a heavy fog blanketing the Fraser River, but only a slight fog at Horseshoe Lake.   The fog gave a nice quietness to the scene.

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Saturday, 24 July 2021


    I hate to see people using biocides (herbicides, pesticides, poisons), but they continue to do so even though there is plenty of evidence out there they they kill a lot more living things than what is targeted, including people.

    We liked to walk Kona at the airfield.  It is rare that any planes land or take off, so it is a good place to walk the dog.  A couple of months ago when we went to the airfield to walk, they were about to spray a herbicide along a 8 ft (2.5m.) strip on both sides of the tarmac.  I assume the reasoning behind doing this was that it would lessen the amount of mowing they have to do out there.  

    We avoided walking at the airstrip for a long while, until we felt it was safe for the dog again.  When we returned, we observed that indeed, the grass on both sides of the runway had been killed, but I found it interesting that not all the plants there had died.  The photo shows a healthy Canada Thistle (an invasive plant) and some dandelions survived, note all of the grass is dead.  If they don’t mow, the thistle and dandelions will be able to spread their seeds around, and without competition from the grass, (now dead), they will insure their progeny new homes along the runway.

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Friday, 23 July 2021

Clearing Skies

     Even though forest fires continue to incinerate huge sections of BC, the winds must have changed and so at least for now, the skies of the Robson Valley are free of smoke.   There is no guarantee this will last but for now, we can literally, breathe easier.

    I liked the way the sun blasted through onto these peaks while the mountains in the foreground remained in the shadows.

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Thursday, 22 July 2021

What's Wrong With This Picture?

    It’s the hand.  Look at it, it doesn’t have a glove on. 

    During our mosquito infestation, if I was just going to do something quick outside, I would forgo the netted hat, gloves, and windbreaker and just rush outside, quickly do what I had to do, then rush in before I was totally devoured by the bugs.  That is what I was planning to do yesterday when I went out to get some spearmint for our iced tea.

    I walked past the raspberry patch, (a hotspot for mosquitoes) to get to the mint, then after I picked the mint I walked past the raspberries again, then I realized that I hadn’t been the victim of a mosquito attack.  There was a nice brisk breeze blowing and no doubt that helped keep the bugs away, but I couldn’t help to also hope that maybe the mosquito population was on the decline.

    I threw caution to the wind and decided to take advantage of the situation and pick some raspberries.  I did it without wearing a hat or gloves.  Don’t get me wrong, eventually some mosquitoes came out of hiding as I worked my way around the raspberry plants, but their number was tolerable, and I was able to pick raspberries with out the burden of netting and gloves.  It was like normal summer.

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Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Orange Sky, Fraser River


    After our jam was over last night and I was loading the instruments into the car, I noticed that the Sun was again a Day-Glo orange color from all of the forest fire smoke (something I can’t really replicate on a photograph).  I decided to pass on taking a photo from where I was parked in front of the train station because of all of the electric lines and clutter, but as I drove home, I had to stop several times to take some pictures as I drove along the Fraser River.  Here are a couple.

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Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Pea-Pickin' Dog

    I was out in the garden yesterday, swatting mosquitoes and putting down mulch and when I had finished, I called out to Kona who was also in the garden.  Usually she comes right away, but I got no response, so I called her again.  Again I got nothing, so I went to look for her.

    I found her in between the rows of peas, picking pea pods off of the vines and eating them.  What a dog.

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Monday, 19 July 2021

Mountain Showers

    Thankfully we are now getting some rain and showers to quench our parched landscape and lessen the forest fire danger.  I took this photo the other day at Horseshoe Lake Road.  I liked the moist feel of the photo.

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Sunday, 18 July 2021

Smoke Sun

    In 1883 the Krakatoa Volcano erupted violently, spewing massive amounts of high into the atmosphere.  The year following the eruptions locations across the world experienced brilliant orange sunsets caused by all of the Krakatoa ash in atmosphere.  There were a lot of paintings done of those extraordinary sunsets that you can see by doing a search online. 

    I thought of that yesterday evening at 9:00 when I saw the orange low sun as we drove home from visiting friends.  It is not as dramatic as the Krakatoa sunsets because ours is just made by the ash from all of the forest fires burning in BC, but I guess the principle is the same, only to a lessor extent.

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Saturday, 17 July 2021

Splosh, Splosh, Splosh

    The other day we took advantage of Horseshoe Lake Road, now that it is no longer under water, to walk Kona.   As we started on our walk we noticed that the horses were back in the pasture after being removed when it began to be flooded.  It seemed that everything was back to normal, although we could see there were still some big flooded areas in the pasture.

    As we walked, we kept hearing splashing sounds coming from the pasture.

    “A couple of horses must be walking around in the huge puddles,” I thought, but when I saw them they were grazing in the grass.  Then I realized that there was still eight or ten inches (20-25 cm) of water still in the pasture, we just couldn’t see it through the grass.  It was like the horses were standing in rice field and every time they moved we could see the water splash up.  

    I am wondering if all this standing water is going to contribute to the mosquito problem.  So far the townsite of McBride isn’t suffering much compared to how we are at our house.  I sure hope they will be spared our misery.

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Friday, 16 July 2021

Mosquito History Repeats Itself

    They say that history repeats itself.  A newer version says that history doesn’t repeat itself, so much as rhyme.   Despite the newer version, history does sometimes repeat itself.  See the photo above, that was taken in 2014.  The exact same thing happened yesterday, when I had to deck out in mosquito protective clothing to pick my peas.  History not only rhymes, it does also, sometimes repeat itself.

    My old university friend Gary McCullough, who last year, inspired by all the misery that mosquitoes had caused in the Robson Valley, wrote a piece about mosquitoes that I used in my blog.  This year he has once again, inspired by our mosquito invasion repeating itself, written an essay about mosquitoes through history.  Here is Gary’s essay:

One Way The Citizens of Robson Valley

Become Part Of History


    Last year in July -- when the mosquitoes are engaged in annual warfare with the residents of Robson Valley -- I submitted my description of the ancient Italian city of Paestum that has some of the best preserved Grecian ruins anywhere.  When the Greeks built the city, they created bogs in an effort to channel water, and that attracted mosquitoes.  The Greeks abandoned the area due to the mosquito infestation; the Romans (who loved Greek culture) moved in and took over; they couldn't stand it either; and they left.  Thus, the temples are well-preserved since humanity avoided them for centuries.


    Never forget, in all that follows, mosquitoes carry diseases.  The Paestum mosquitoes were more than just pests for the Greeks and Romans: they were death.  However, at that time, people didn't know that mosquitoes could be deadly.  They blamed diseases like malaria on miasma or "bad air."

    The history of Paestum where mosquitoes played an important role is not a rarity.  Throughout the story of human life on Earth, mosquitoes have influenced history.

    Take, for example, the United States' Civil War.  When the war began and Union soldiers were starting to go into the woods and swamps of the South, they had less resistance to mosquito-borne diseases than the Confederate soldiers, and the Union ranks were lessened and weakened by malaria and other diseases.  However (and to prove that mosquitoes can be turn-coats as well as pests), later in the war, the Union had much greater access to quinine (the malaria treatment of the time), so the tables were turned.  Also and lest we forget, twice as many soldiers died from diseases like malaria in the Civil War than died from battlefield wounds.  For every soldier killed in battle, there were two who died of diseases.

    Did you ever wonder why the city state of ancient Athens would sometimes be easily victorious in one battle and be easily defeated in another battle?  Part of the reason was mosquito-carried diseases.  One of the factors in doing battle BC/BCE was how many men of fighting age were well enough to fight.  It was the same with the Romans.  A malaria plague in 5th century Italy is thought to have contributed to the fall of Rome.  Think of it: if you were intent on besieging and conquering Athens or Rome and if you were patient, you could wait for a summer infestation of mosquitoes to decimate the place.

    Much of the reason for the African slave trade in the United State was the result of the mosquito-borne diseases brought into the Americas.  In pre-Colombian times, there were very few domesticated animals, by far the greatest source of what would (and will) become diseases that effect humans.  Europeans came to the Americas; they brought animals and diseases with them, and -- through mosquitoes -- the diseases were contracted by the indigenous peoples who died 'en masse.'  The Europeans had enslaved many of the native people, and -- when enough had died that the diminished workforce effected production -- the natives of Africa became the source of slave labor.

    "But those times were long ago," you're thinking, "Nothing like that happened in modern times."  Right?  Wrong.  In WWII, the Germans re-flooded the Pontine Marshes to increase malarial mosquitoes to be used as weapons against the Allies.  In the Battle Of Anzio, the number of Allied soldiers who contracted malaria was far above the average.

    Lastly....  There are estimated to be 7.6 billion people in the world.  There are estimated to be 100 trillion (with a 'T') mosquitoes.  That's 7,600,000,000 vs 100,000,000,000,000 ... it's no contest.  And -- even more importantly -- there is even a lower ratio of humans to mosquitoes in McBride.  So, remember, McBridians, whenever you're bitten by one of those aerial pests -- and you know that you will be bitten -- you will become a part of history that goes back at least 2,500 years.

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(Sources include Charles Mann, Timothy Winegard, BBC Sounds, Mosquito Magnet, Smithsonian Magazine, Smithsonian Science News ... and Orville Jaebker, my professor of American History, in a post-grad' course -- the Civil War & Reconstruction -- at the University of Evansville.)


Thursday, 15 July 2021

Smoke and Mosquitoes

    Supposedly mosquitoes don’t like smoke, but that doesn’t seem to be the case around here.  Smoke from distant forest fires blanket the Valley and around our house the mosquitoes are as thick and aggressive as I can remember.  It is hell being outside.  

    Yesterday we drove up to Prince George.   Mosquitoes had gotten into the car when we got in to make the drive and we were swatting them all the way up to PG.  Once there.  It was a different world; a world free of smoke and bugs.  The skies were blue and clear and you could do normal things like walk around unhindered outside with out being bothered by mosquitoes.

    I am usually happy to get back home after a trip to PG, but yesterday that was not the case.  When we returned, we were once again submerged into the caldron of smoke and mosquitoes.

    We didn’t really know how we were going to get our purchases from the car to the house without filling the house with mosquitoes.  We lit two mosquito coils and placed them beside the carport door to discourage the beasts.  It helped some, but when I opened the back hatch of the car the mozzies flooded into the car as I attempted to unload our supplies.

    This morning when I was going to drive into McBride, I rushed from the house to the car to avoid the mosquitoes, but the mosquitoes from yesterday were still inside the car waiting for me.    Doing anything outside is horrible.  I will have to go outside and pick peas when I get done writing this.  I am already dreading it.  I will wear a coat, gloves, and netted hat, but I am already relishing the thought of coming back into the house after I finish the job.

    What a miserable summer.

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Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Summer Wear

    You might wonder why I am wearing my winter hat, coat, and gloves in July.  It’s not because of cold weather, today it is supposed to get up to 32°C (90°F), so I don’t really need them for warmth.  The reason is all of the damn mosquitoes.  Hoards of the devilish pests now saturate the air around our house and at Koeneman Park.  So far its been okay in McBride and I hope it remains so because tonight is our outdoor jam at the train station.

    We get three types of mosquitoes in the Robson Valley.  First out in the Spring are the big dozy ones.  They are slow, easy to kill, and don’t really present much of a problem.  They are followed by the middle-sized mosquitoes.  They are a bit faster and a bit more irritating.  The last type of mosquitoes are the worst.  They are small, numerous, very aggressive, and quick.  They find you immediately and often seem to hit you, instead of flying around you.  You can feel their bite more.  That is the type we are getting now and I can’t express the depth of my hate for them.

    The mosquitoes are tolerable as long as you are moving, but the second you stand still they are all over you.  I can’t seem to get this message across to Kona, who likes to stop and smell all the scents on pieces of grass, that we have to keep on the move.   It has been hell trying to water the garden in the evening.  It is frustrating being in the house all of the time and I end up thinking; I need to go outside and do things, but once I am out there, it doesn’t take me long to remember why I was staying in the house.  

    I sure hope this curse doesn’t last too long.

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Monday, 12 July 2021

My Hostas Are Suffering

    My Hostas didn’t much like our extremely hot temperatures (40.4°C. 105°F) or the lack of rainfall that went with it.  Their leaves had begun to die along the edges before I noticed and watered them.  They concentrated what energy they had in putting out flowers.  Even with their desiccated leaves I think they are still beautiful.

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Sunday, 11 July 2021

Our Bottomless Bottle of Stain Remover

    About 20 years ago some friends sold their house and moved back to Belgium.  When they did they gave us some of the things they didn’t want to take with them.  Among those items was a bottle of stain remover for clothes.  We, of course, don’t use it every time we do the laundry, but we drag it out every time we have something that is really dirty.  Still, its amazing how long we have been using this bottle, and we still have plenty of the aged cleaner left to use in the future.  It seems like there is no bottom to the bottle.

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Saturday, 10 July 2021


     Seeing or hearing an ambulance is never a good sign, but in a small community like ours, seeing an ambulance is more personal, because we probably know the person inside.  In a big urban center where  hundreds of thousands of people live, an ambulances going by probably doesn’t mean much, but when you know most of the people who live in your area, it can be stressful.  We become concerned every time an ambulance goes by our house.

    This morning when we drove down the road, we saw the flashing lights of an ambulance parked in front of a house.  Immediately our minds began to race, wondering what had happened and who specifically was in trouble.   A bit later, sirens blaring, the ambulance drove past Koeneman Park as I was walking Kona.  We still don’t know situation, eventually we will learn from the grapevine, but we are hoping for the best for whoever was involved.  

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Friday, 9 July 2021

Summer: Heat Wave, Flood, and now Smoke

    I used to look forward to Summer, but our recent Summers are making me wonder why.   So far this summer we have had to deal with an extraordinary, brutal, and record-smashing heat wave, then the river rose to a historical level, inundating low areas and our road.  Now smoke from the hundreds of forest fires burning across BC is filling up the Robson Valley, obscuring the mountains and impacting our breathing.   Suddenly, every summer has become an ordeal, instead of something to enjoy.  

    In 2018, distant fires gave us a Summer of Smoke, which was repeated in 1019.  Last year we got torrential rains which caused flash floods, mudslides, and an horrendous invasion of mosquitoes.  I am hoping that this year’s flooding will not cause a similar mosquito explosion.  We’ve already experienced enough grief for one summer.

    I apologize for the rant, but I needed to get it off of my chest.     

    Below is a photo of the evening sun, colored by the the thick haze of smoke.


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Thursday, 8 July 2021

Yes, We Have No Potatoes

    Not a very interesting photo; just a flooded field, but this field is the one where, back in June, members of McBride Community Garden spent an evening planting potatoes they were planning sell to raise funds.  Well, that isn’t going to happen now with the potato plants under water.

    This is the second year in a row where we lost the potatoes we planted, due to flooding.  Last year it was the enormous amounts of rain that caused the flooding.  This year it was the intense heat, melting the snow on the mountain tops that caused it.  

    Seems like that definition of insanity:  When you keep doing the exact same thing and expect different results.  

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Wednesday, 7 July 2021

Leaves After Flooding

    Well, the Fraser River has now settled down into its normal bed after spreading out into the bottom land of the Robson Valley.  The other day while walking Kona in Koeneman Park, I couldn’t help but notice the silt-covered Thimbleberry leaves that had been under water during the flooding.  They appeared ghost-like compared to the untouched and new leaves.  It was a striking image.

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Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Clouds Building Over the Mountains

    I seem to have a cloud theme going on in the blog over the last couple of days.  During the day yesterday the clouds started building up over the mountain ranges that hold the Robson Valley.   Daytime heating causes the clouds to form over the mountains and that often results in rain.   Fortunately we did get a nice rain shower a few hours after I took these photos.  

    Getting the rain lessens the threat of forest fires, which was beginning to concern us, and it was also very welcome to the veggies in the garden, and to the poor gardener who had been having to water it every night.

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Monday, 5 July 2021

Evening Clouds

    The other evening while we had our visit with friends, sitting in  their rose garden, I noticed an interesting cloud formations playing out in the sky and took the photo above.  Later on our drive back home the clouds continued their display and that photo is below.

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Sunday, 4 July 2021

David's Rose Garden

    Don’t jump to conclusions, although my name is David, this in not my rose garden, I am too lazy a gardener to produce something as grand this.  This garden belongs to friends who we visit every Saturday night.  Last night we did our visiting sitting in lawn chairs surrounded by David’s roses.  What a idyllic  setting for a visit.  The evening was a perfect temperature and the mosquito coils kept the pests at bay.

    As you can see David has quite a variety of roses, it is hard to keep him away from nurseries when they go to town.  He is one of those gardeners who takes the time to do everything right, and clearly all that effort pays off.  All his roses are healthy and beautiful.   He has them properly manicured and labelled.  It is a treat to be able to share in the results of all his gardening efforts.

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Saturday, 3 July 2021

Mother Deer and Fawn

    Driving back this morning from my early walk with Kona at Koeneman Park, this mother deer and speckled fawn walked across the road in front of us.  Luckily we were in the car because Kona, of course, freaked out with an eruption of frantic barking and could not be calmed down.  The deer just looked at us, pondered the barking, then decided it might be better to move on.

    I am happy to report that the Fraser River has retreated a bit and is no longer covering our road.  The extreme heat warning has ended and we woke up to more normal temperatures this morning (17°C, 62°F).  We are much relieved and would be more so if we would get some rain without lightning.

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Friday, 2 July 2021

Taking Advantage of the Flood

    While a flooded river can be very dangerous, the Fraser’s overflow water in Koeneman Park has no current or hazardous bottom, so it was a relatively safe place to cool off during our 40.4°C (104°F) temperatures and people were taking advantage of the newly created pools of water.  I took this photo after we got done walking Kona through the flooded areas at Koeneman to cool her off.

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Thursday, 1 July 2021

Won't Be Walking On Horseshoe Lake Road

    We do a lot of our afternoon dog walks on Horseshoe Lake Road, but I guess it will be a while before we do our next one there.  Like all of the low lying land in the Valley, it is now flooded (photo above).  The Fraser River continues to rise and the photo below shows the water that is now totally covering the low area of Mountain View Road where it runs along the river.  

    The good news is that our temperatures have cooled after yesterday’s 40.3C (104.5F), and today’s high will be a more tolerable 30C (86F).  Sadly the Fraser has not yet peaked, supposedly that will happen tomorrow.

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