Monday, December 29, 2008

Obey all signs

During frequent snowstorms driving becomes fraught with hazards, not the least of which is that the road hazard warnings are invisible. This one may warn of a school bus turnaround or a sharp curve ahead -- who's to know?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Rhododendrons, minus 8

Rhododendrons generally grow quite well here in the acidic soil. They don't much like the really cold temperatures, though, and below about minus 2 the leaves begin to curl tightly. The curling maximizes at about minus 8 Celsius, as shown here. In between, the amount of droop-and-curl correlates pretty well with the weather and is a useful gauge of the temperature.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Lights at the Kohan

Christmas lights at the volunteer-maintained community Kohan Reflection Garden. View from beneath the tea house gazebo.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Avalanche arms

High winding roads are all equipped with these arms for winter use. The small sign near the road warns you not to stop in the area ahead due to its susceptibility to avalanches. The arms are lowered if an avalanche has occurred or if the highways department is firing off shells to do avalanche control.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

After Cape Horn

This view is the prize for successfully navigating the highway past Cape Horn.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cape Horn

Cape Horn is a huge steep bluff of rock that forms the southern gateway into the Slocan Lake area. From the highway you catch your first glimpse of the lake. The road was only recently widened (in the 1990's) to a full two lanes throughout. Many locals still think the road improvement was a poor thing. They liked that this place was hard to get to.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Night market

The Christmas by the Lake market by night.

Christmas lights

Simplicity is one of the abiding values of our area, but there are a few people who go full-out decorating the outside of their homes or workplaces with Christmas lights. This is the local dental clinic.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Angry winter lake

There's a huge mountain range in the background, but it's obscured by falling snow.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ice slide

The internationally famous award-winning Canadian Snow Sculpture team lives nearby and among other things they build an ice-slide at Christmas by the Lake every year. It's a huge hit with the kids and adults alike. At night it's lit by red LED lights that run beneath the ice, illuminating the whole thing like magic.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Winter weather

The first real snowstorm of the year. Vehicles in ditches, people bailing out on commitments due to travel difficulties, power outages, that sort of snowstorm. Pretty, though.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas by the Lake

A European-style indoor/outdoor Christmas market and festival, organized principally by the German members of our community. It was new last year and was a huge success.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

End of November

The birch trees are skeletal ghosts of their former leafy selves. The larches have dropped their needles. Low clouds drape the tops of small mountains, obscuring the dropping snow line.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Memorial Hall

Silverton Memorial Hall is one of four community halls. Plain but functional on both outside and inside, it contains the grand piano and has great acoustics, seating about 200 at capacity.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cup & Saucer

Gift shop and café in Silverton, formerly known as Horsefeathers, now the Cup & Saucer under new ownership. Typical false front edifice on a building owned by a guy who is known locally by his "Slocan Valley name" of Moonbow.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Autumn snow

Our first dusting of snow down at town level always comes before we're quite ready to put the summer toys away.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Apple Tree Café

The Apple Tree Café's edifice. It was once the local post office. Then a health food store. For many years now the building has been home to the Apple Tree. The chairs out front are for smokers. There's a place to anchor your dog's leash. And the latest feature -- a small blue dispenser of doggy-doo bags.


It's stacked in everyone's yard at this time of year. Whatever is available, especially birch and red cedar, as shown here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bank of Montreal

Built in 1897 and surviving a major fire which burned most of the rest of main street, the Bank of Montreal building now serves as a small museum and tourist information centre.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dark nights

Power failures are common here, especially in the winter months. There are at least several each winter that last longer than 2 or 3 hours. Wood stoves for heat and cooking-in-a-pinch are fairly standard in homes here. Candles are a necessity too, especially now that it's dark by shortly after 4 pm.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Apple Tree

It's a local institution. They just joined the 20th century by getting a debit machine, after years of resistance. I'm sure the 21st century will never arrive here. They still let regulars run a tab. The owner swears it's nothing as classy as a café, it's just a sandwich shop, but someone made the "new" sign more than a decade ago and so now it calls itself a café.Our favourite menu items are the TCOP (tomato, cheese, onion and pesto) toasted sandwich and the grilled edam sandwich on honey-garlic bread. In summer you can eat at picnic benches in the garden. In the winter you hunker down at indoor tables near the wood stove.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


The economy here is based on tourism and resources. While there is still some active mining the main resource, for much of the past few decades, has been the forest. Summer and winter are logging seasons. Spring and fall are too mucky for the big machines. But after a couple of weeks of hard fall rain it is a good time for burning slash, the brush and small limbs that is left behind after logging. In the evening you can often spot pyres up high on the mountains where selective and small-block logging has recently taken place.

This pile of "slash" was near the highway. More than a simple bonfire, slash piles can be a couple of metres high and twice as wide. The heat from this one could be felt from the highway 30 metres away.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Off-grid dojo

The White Pines Aikido Dojo and Retreat Centre welcomes students from the very young to the very old. The facility is a purpose-built timber-frame strawbale building with a huge space for martial arts instruction downstairs and six large bedrooms and a kitchen / great room above. The whole facility is off-grid. Heat and hot water are supplied via wood and propane. Lighting and other low-draw electrical devices are powered by solar panels with a diesel generator for backup.

There are lots of homes built off the electrical grid around here, but not many businesses.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chip trucks

Our little valley is on a road to nowhere, and we get almost no "through traffic." Except for chip trucks. They carry wood chips, waste wood from sawmills two or three hours to the north, en route to a pulp mill an hour and a half to the south. With the advance of the mountain pine beetle, the amount of wood being logged has gone up, and so has chip truck traffic. On any long winding uphill stretch of road you are likely to end up behind one of these lumbering rigs. Locals love to hate them.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Giant chess pieces on main street watch out for approaching winter weather.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Japanese Maple

The Kohan Reflection Garden has been readied for winter, the bushes fenced or wrapped to protect them from the deer, the benches unbolted and moved to the teahouse, the pond pumps drained and the hoses coiled and put away in the toolshed. The Japanese Maple leaves are slowly falling on the still-green grass. The moderating influence of the lake will keep snow from accumulating in this area until mid-December.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Nikkei Centre Back Gate

The Nikkei Centre is a memorial, museum, garden and living history site that relates to the internment of Canadian citizens and residents of Japanese heritage who were brought to our area during WWII.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Autumn and winter together

The snow line rises and falls as the days trickle by. Today it is lower again, touching the tops of the lowest mountains. Winter seems to arrive from a place, not a time. He is nearer now, creeping down from the mountain tops.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Rose hips

"Rose Hip Alley," a wayside area beside the community garden near the lakefront. A grass pathway about 20 metres long is flanked by bushes like this its entire length.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

House-front businesses

In our village residents with artistic skill or a service or business idea to offer don't need to fuss with zoning and acquiring commercial property. If they have a home near where other businesses are and where people tend to congregate, they just create a space within the home for their business. Tamara and Curtis run this gallery / workshop / store / café near the main intersection in town. Some days there's a hair stylist who works out of a back room too. Their main product is hand-painted garments inspired by Japanese style and motifs. Nuru means "paint" in Japanese. Curtis has roots in the Japanese community here.

There's an enclosed porch with a few café tables, and the coffee and snacks are divine. One summer this place was the official tourist information office. Nowadays it's just an unofficial place for tourists and locals alike to gather local knowledge.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Winter -- due any time

It's that time of year. This year we have a bright new flip-open sign to remind us that winter driving conditions are fair game any time.

This sign greets us as we head out of the village on the three-kilometre uphill drive to home. The road continues for a lonely 45 kilometres over a pass to the next village. There's been no snow yet at these elevations, but some has fallen up on the pass.