I think we can all agree 2020 has been a dumpster fire we’ll all be glad to see the end of, but December has brought brightness as well. We had a very pleasant, quiet Christmas, and here on the north side of the world, we’re on the brighter side of the solstice now, with more light coming back into the world every day.
We are having an incredibly bright full moon with brilliant clear skies, and the moon on the snow is like a wan sort of daylight, casting clear shadows at midnight.
You couldn’t quite read a book out there, but it’s close.
I’ll have a post up in a day or two with a full rundown of my books from the past year (including some freebies and sales!). In the meantime, I hope you’re not having too rough a time with these last days of 2020. Realistically, the arbitrary switchover of the calendar doesn’t make that much difference, but there’s something in us that likes milestones and fresh starts. Here’s to a better 2021.
… and the country gave us Election Day 2020. I voted for the first time when I turned 18; I still remember how excited I was about it. I haven’t missed an election since. I’m older now, a lot more jaded (especially lately) but I still believe that voting is the way you wish the future into being.
Today we hiked over to check out where the beaver lake used to be until about a week ago. We found many fascinating things, such as: fallen trees! Mud! Holes!
… maybe you had to be there.
Whole lotta trees, whole lotta mud.
There were also some obvious channels dug by the beavers in the bottom of the former lake. I can’t really think of a natural process that could have made these.
Here’s basically the same view as above, but from a week ago:
Meanwhile, the creek is just back to being a creek, now running between 4-foot banks of mud that were deposited on the lake bottom.
And so many gnawed trees. So many. Beavers … why are you like this.
With this one tree along the (former) lake shore, they also ate its roots and dug around it, making it look weirdly like a cutaway view of a tree.
And I found a chokecherry tree growing wild, with some fruit on it:
And I got a (slightly) better picture of this cottonwood tree that’s gnawed through to the point where walking around it is kind of … uneasy.
It was a nice walk, but I miss the lake and really hope the beavers are okay. We’ve been leaving the area around the beaver house alone and trying to be quiet when we’re out looking around, hoping not to spook them off. They might’ve left for greener, damper pastures, though.
So, for background, we live out on the highway with a creek in our backyard. Adjacent to our property, there’s a section of the creek that’s been intermittently occupied by beavers ever since we’ve lived here. It was unoccupied for a while, but a couple of years ago a new set of beavers moved in and rebuilt the old dam. We didn’t see them for most of the summer, but their dam-building ways kicked into high gear this fall, and we’ve been enjoying going out and looking at them, checking on the progress of the dam and watching them swim around, dragging branches from place to place, and preparing for winter.
Their pond start out small, but has been growing in size, rearranging the creek’s course and reconstructing that entire section of creek. It’s been really fascinating to watch.
They’ve done an astonishing job of clearing out the trees in what used to be a wooded patch of valley and is now basically a lake, including gnawing through 50-foot cottonwoods.
It’s fun though – I mean, they’re cute, they’re not bothering anyone, and we like going out in the evening to watch them.
I don’t have very many pictures of the actual beavers because they’re usually seen from a distance and mostly swimming, so it’s just beaver heads. We’ve been trying not to go too close so as not to bother them. They seem to be largely unaware of us; they’ve never seemed to mind us being there.
Tonight, however, I went out for my evening tour de beaver, and the lake was … GONE?!!
We worried at first that someone had actually done it – destroying beaver dams is a thing that happens, sometimes out of necessity (because they do tend to build their dams in places that can threaten human infrastructure like roads). But we’re pretty sure the dam simply collapsed under our recent rains, especially since the beavers are fine. We saw three of them out there, busy trying to rebuild.
So hopefully they’ll be okay. It’s late in the season for it, but they still have the creek and plenty of food, and they also still have most of the previous dam. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve managed to rebuild a tidy little lake by the time things freeze up.
While August and early September often bring heat waves in more temperate parts of the country, here in the North late summer is slipping rapidly into fall – gold patches in the trees, the last of the ripe berries, a crisp dead-leaf smell in the air.
Rogue Myths and Echo City are cranking quietly along. I’m donating half the proceeds from the first two months of Rogue Myths, which comes out to about $210, to a couple of charities.
I got the edits back on Hollow Souls from my beta readers, so that’s easily on track for its Sept. 29 release.
I’m really looking forward to fall and Halloween this year. I love autumn, and all that goes along with it: the colors and crispness, the smells of woodsmoke and dry leaves, the return to sweaters and hot drinks and comfort food. In these Plague Times, when there’s no travel, no visitors, and my husband and I are both working from home, we need those little things to break up the routine and make each part of the year fresh and unique.
I hope that you and yours are safe and healthy, as this most difficult of years heads into Northern Hemisphere fall.
Our summers are so short here. It seems like summer has hardly begun, and then you look up and realize that a chilly undercurrent has crept into the nights, there’s a hint of that sharp autumn scent, and a few patches of yellow have begun to appear in the trees. I love autumn – it’s my favorite season – but I’m not ready to let go of summer yet, especially as it’s been a cool, rainy one, so it hardly feels like we’ve had much of a summer yet.
But there are plenty of compensations, like this afternoon’s rainbow …
Or the little moose family that came through our yard a few nights ago.
I turned 44 in July, and enjoyed an extra-tall, frosted and decorated mini birthday pancake in lieu of an actual cake, provided by my Lovely Spouse.
Things are cranking along on the story front. I’m sending out a new story every Tuesday on my mailing list. Sign up here!
Here’s a sampling of some of the stories I’ve sent out over the last few months:
I hope you’re having a good summer – or a good winter/spring if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere! I’ll leave you with this playful little selfie of me and my delphiniums, after I realized I had accidentally dressed to match.
Winter is the deep freeze, and it’s been around -30F since before Christmas with few breaks, dipping as low as -60 or colder in parts of Interior Alaska (the cold bit — the coasts are typically much warmer). But that’s what it does here, and in a way it’s a relief, with the warming Arctic and all that goes along with it, to have a halfway normal winter for a change.
I’ve just done a much-needed site update, cleaning out old links and making sure the Books, Short Stories, and Shows pages are up to date. (Aside from Alaska Comicon, where I’ve already reserved a table, the shows later in the year are still very much TBD, but these are the ones I’ve done in the past.) I also did a big update on my Lauren Esker website.
I really haven’t had much that’s new lately, aside from writing under the Lauren Esker and Zoe Chant pen names and Sun-Cutter‘s ongoing progress, but there are big plans afoot for 2020. I’m planning to reboot the Gatekeeper series (currently writing the last book in the trilogy) and I have another series as well, a historical series of steampunk murder mysteries set in the 1930s. I’ll have more information on both of those and a publishing schedule for the year to come soon.
Meanwhile, enjoy another glimpse of our frozen world.
Our summers here in the north country are short, but what they lack in length they make up for in fullness of experience. Here in late July, the harvest bounty of both wild foods and gardens is starting to ripen. We are having an amazing raspberry year — a wealth of lush, sweet berries free for the picking all around the yard. I’ve been gathering handfuls as I work in the garden.
We’ve had a few projects going on this summer. Our bridge over the creek self-destructed in the ice last winter. This was the second bridge we’ve lost, the first having been taken out in a flood a few years ago, so Orion decided to build a better, stronger, HIGHER bridge this time, one that hopefully is far enough above the creek to avoid the ice and the flooding.
We have had glorious wildflowers this summer, and currently the fireweed is in full bloom all around the yard and along the highway – you can see some of it in the bridge picture above.. There’s an interesting patch of white fireweed (or rather, pale pink) along the highway near our driveway turnoff that’s been there for the last few years. I keep intending to collect some seeds and see if I can get it to grow in the yard.
We also have a lot of multi-branched fireweed growing around the yard, like this complete over-achiever next to the deck.
I’m also putting in a new flowerbed at the edge of the woods …