Wednesday, May 24, 2017

summer birth

 a new born Canadian Tiger Swallowtail!
And all sorts of summer today
a hummingbird
windflowers blooming
and me
tripping over 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

cross foxes

How awesome to watch some cross foxes
 here it was doing a leap in the air
while watching them for probably a half an hour, the bigger one was hunting all the time and made several leaps in the air. 

 they were aware of us watching, but we kept our distance, and maybe as luck had it, some talking bicyclists passed above them the same time we arrived, as we stood motionless . the foxes visibly aware of both us and bicyclists, but no way to flee, we blocked one way and the bicyclist the other. The bicyclist had not seen the foxes and kept biking, they being gone and we standing still, the foxes resumed their activities.

They did leave when we moved. We know there are fox-sized animal made caves in the bank below, and i once flushed a fox while hiking on the hillside above. One went in the direction of the hillside, the other, i think, just stayed.

 Later close to home we saw the elk...A few days okay i was telling someone about my saskatoon i often get a good harvest, as long as the elk don't trim the bushes...we'll see. I don't mind.


She/he, what always gets my attention, moves so much like a human.

This is the fourth bear now that i know off ( and at least two different ones) this spring that visits my yard, and this one is NOT walking past, but obviously crossing right through it. Yesterday i did discover she did find my buried compost. So burying compost doesn't work obviously.
I am already eating more peels then ever, have little compost, and i am not willing to give up composting. I am a real advocate of looking after my own garbage, instead of giving it to the government to look after it.

I read Charlie Russel's work again this morning, after the encounter. He tells us to build trust, but also not to feed them garbage. hmmm

I do like the trust thing, this bear appeared very friendly

Although (looking at the path she took i assume she was here yesterday) In the photo the brownish new green is a willow tree, it had a ripped off branch,(two inches diameter) and bear paw prints underneath.

Why the willow? bees? who are non-stop buzzing around it's female flowers that are blooming. the new green? the flowers?

As you see in this picture, my yard could be more open, less  stuff.  ( openness is one of the things i believe in to keep wild animals from liking my yard too much.

 Don ( my husband) is not too worried, he believes they will move on when Nature finally will explode into good  food to eat. And yes vegetation seems a little sparse for the time of year, possibly due to drought and cold nights.

But what do i do in the meantime? I DO NOT want to habituate bears in eating garbage. For my sake, theirs and my  human neighbours.

For today i keep the compost inside.
These bears here didn't  seem to have touched my dry heaps of compost...
I always do wet composting, maybe i change to drying it, draining it from all water, having it dried up a bit before i bring it outside.
and eating eating eating whatever i can myself instead of creating waste.... peels are mostly quite healthy!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Green leaves!

Yesterday and today we finally had some rain, and slightly warmer temperatures, meaning the highs are not much higher but the lows were higher,  above zero celsius the last few days...i think.

Here and there a wash of light green over the poplar trees, the leaves are coming out.

And  finally flowers!

Today May 13, 2017
the bluff cinquefoil, ( Potentilla arenosa)

beautiful jacob's ladder 

yesterday May 12, 2017 on the top of the mountain, she might already have been blooming for a while, the douglasia

lower down finally a Northern jasmine, very tiny ones

and on top again , we found one blackish oxytrope

Monday, May 8, 2017

Empetrum nigrum

Today i fell in love with Empetrum nigrum
an empress
of course i always loved her
her freshness, her darkness, her locale
recently she did reveal herself to me
but today meeting her
in the wild
in full regalia
i was swept of my feet
i tell you, you do have to kneel before her
because looking down on her, you won't see her

let me introduce to you
the tiniest of tiny
the moss berry flower

Sunday, May 7, 2017

soapberry flower

and more

 bear berry
  a lichen

Friday, May 5, 2017


It rained once last month, when i look for the data of Whitehorse, it say 7 mm precipitation for April  2017. That sounds about right for here in Mendenhall.
My heart goes out to the people who have too much water now.

It did snow here this morning, it melted and made the surface slightly mosit
and i did find a flowering kinnikenick in that weather, i snacked on them.
and for lunch amazingly i found some coltsfoot flowers, they taste very good, i blanched them.

and yesterday i am happy to say, i finally found a blooming townsendia ( i don't eat those). I have been looking for it to bloom for a month, but with the weather maybe dry and sunny, the average temperature for April 2017  +3 C

I am also still winning birch sap.

When foraging i always do take care to take little of what there actually is.
and something else i don't eat but is blooming;
a cotton grass and juniper and a moss

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

free meal with a free drink

Another gorgeous spring day with many new sights/sounds/smells and tastes!
and a first yesterday;....the realization that this beautiful weather ....well one here in the yukon always has to realize that it could be quite different.. lets keep it at that
The free meal with free drink

no not spider legs

Aspen catkin in a stir fry and collected half a cup of Birch sap

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


I am glad i do have readers here, :) as i don't track it, i never know.

I got this lovely note from a friend who also lives in the wilds along the Alaska Highway

I have enjoyed following your writings and photos of Spring in Keeper of Wild Places. Thanks.

We took what is probably our last walk across the river ice yesterday. It is darkening a lot and candling with some open places along the shore. We went to our "secret garden". We had avoided it because of the shooting blind. But we wanted to see what was happening with the plants. And we did see our first Crocuses in bloom there.

The day before we saw tracks in the mud of a black bear and a little cub on "highway one" across the river. Now we have to wait until the ice breaks up and clears and we can canoe across. The resident bald eagle pair are back at the farm.

The Farmers Market starts, May 18, 2017. I have all the jewelery I can possibly sell, but I am still making some items just for the fun of making them.

Let us know when the Townsendias bloom. Maybe we can all go back to see them at the salt flats then.


Sharon Wisemyn

Thank you Sharon and here a photo of the eagles farther up river, Don and I 'first' spotted one sitting on the nest at April 15, 2017

Monday, April 24, 2017

Spring Azure

Spring, warm sunny days and cold nights
So things are happening but somewhat slowly
Today i did saw 'my' first Spring Azure, a beautiful wisp of bright blue fluttering ahead of me on the path. resting on the ground whit it's wings closed

and there the spruce grouse, wanting to drum  but found me on its path, and did not know what to do.( there was lots of drumming to be heard today.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

grouse drumming

Even when staying fairly cool, we woke up to -10 C this morning, everyday there is  something and a lot....
of Joy.
Today i walked by Elfin creek and it is flowing.
And i heard a grouse drumming (mating behavior)
yesterday we saw chickadees excavating a nest in a dead tree.
I found the crow berry buds
a few more days and the will be blooming, i realized last summer i had never seen crowberry blossom. They will be quite pretty, but they are extremely tiny, i had a hard time finding the flower buds, here in the  macro photo you can actually see more then with the naked eye

By accident this
ended up on the screen
I don't know what plant it is.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Bears and bees

Yesterday walking to my favorite crocus hill in the back here
I stopped in my tracks, because something in the distance looked like a bear, then i figured it is probably  a dark boulder.
....a moving boulder
 The beautiful black bear didn't seem to notice me and i sat down and watched it for a while, while it was clawing in the hillside and obviously eating something (maybe the crocuses i was looking for).
I went back, under the cover of little poplars, while looking over my shoulder occasionally, no he/she didn't follow me.

 a first of the season  for me, the bears are up!
and simultaneously in my yard the first bee was out, one.

recognizing an animal from a long distance, i like that.
scanning the hillside for movement
The other day distinguishing sheep from patches of snow, we found sheep have legs and snow patches don't. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

all sorts of finds

This morning we woke up to find a little dusting of snow on the forest floor. Not in the yard, the gravel having stored more heat during the day, melts or evaporates a snow dusting.

Yesterday  Don and I went for a drive again, as i have always tried to avoid driving anywhere and take my walks starting at the house. I do enjoy his 'need' to go for drives out in the country :)
We ended up at his personal archaeological dig and indeed the   natural erosion taking place had uncovered quite a lot. 
Don and I we like to tally now. Having covered approx. 100 km distance, round trip (walking and driving)
we encountered:

20 gophers
1 hawk ( probably Northern Harrier)
1 ROBIN ( our first this season)
20 sheep
3 juncos
1 mourning cloak
1 deer
and at the very last, one more walk up a hill
2 crocuses (our first of the season)
here is one of them

Sunday, April 16, 2017

butterflies and a moose

all these first... what does it mean?
I tell Don, who is the one wondering, it is like meeting a very good friend you haven't seen since last summer.

This year the first mourning cloak i saw in the yard was April 9 2017
That is still quite early

spring log 1998 - mourning cloak on April 16

I do remember '98 proved to be a wonderful butterfly year . I remember because  i had just bought a butterfly book the summer before. And it seemed my eyes where opened to see butterflies.

When looking at weather graphs, which common sense tells weather is related to the happenings in the Natural world .... 

April 9 for a butterfly, according to my notes is at least a week early to all the other dates i collected for the mourning cloak, who is a hibernator and can come out on any given warm day.

Last year i didn't record it, but i have a photo of mourning cloak here on April 3, 2016
Last year spring came extremely early.

Spring Log 2005
March 6 squirrels active
first week of March -melting snow
                               - 2 owls
April 4, moose in the yard
April 22 - moose on the hill
April 26 - on the highway , a moose, porcupine and black bear.
April 27 2 fox sparrows 
last week of April -mosquitoes
May - snow totally gone
May 2 golden crowned sparrow

This year we saw a moose  on March 20 and yesterday, April 15, 2017 on the Kusawa road!
It does seem we did not see many moose around here for a few years, and this year 2 already

and yesterday Don saw his first mosquito

Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

the length of Spring

Here in the Yukon we do enjoy a long spring. For me it starts in February and ends in June. So three months plus. Winter  5 months, fall 1 month really just September, and summer 3 months.
Springs is lovely slow untill it all explodes gloriously somewhere in May.
So yesterday  no new sightings
Wednesday i did check out the townsendia with Mary Withley and the buds had swelled ...very slightly

As i was raising awareness for the grasslands in Southren Alberta ( where the townsendia is probably a more regular occurrence) it has come to my attention that the flowers are blooming in the coulees.( see my fb page)

Entering my old spring logs here and looking out into the forest i had the idea that the last ten years had been wetter then the first 10 years i lived here. I figured with all this talk about climate change there must be some data that reflect that. NOT SO, at least i can't find that kind of data. It means i have to read every individual page of what the weather was like at any given month and then make my own graph.
This is surprising to me...
So on my search i did find that March 1996 was exceptionally warm and average  of -1.1 C
compared to this year -14C
If i want to invest the time and work, i will try to make a graph, just to see what is going on. It is not that i don't believe climate warming. Yet

For me, i am very optimistic about the future. ENJOY NATURE  I believe that smelling the roses ( ehhh for now like yesterday when the sun does get very warm, it is smelling the dry grass, wonderful summer smell)
will eventually overcome all difficulty in the world. Smelling it right now right here. 
haha me running after crocus buds.

20 years ago

                                                                       April 19 2017

spring log 2000
April 13, mud play
April 19 swans flying over
April 20 geese flying over
April 21 a mourning cloak
April 22 crocuses on the hill
April 26 juncos and white crown sparrow in the yard
April 28 crocuses blooming along the driveway
April 28 snowstorm
April 29 Audubon's warbler
May 1  took mulch of the garden, coming up: nettles,rhubarb, iris, bluebells,platain,sweet william, coltsfoot.
May 2 Robin arrived
May 26 and 27 big rain showers
May 29 green leaves  aspen coming out
May 31 bee
June 2 summer has started

Looking at the data of that year on environment canada
March 2000 the average temperature was - 2.7C
and precipitation was a total of 1.8 cm that month

again compared to this year
Oh right Government of Canada doesn't have that data yet, i had to go to another site...forgot which it did say Average -!4 C, which seems fairly accurate as we had a cold March.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

spring log 1996

 in my yard at the Takhini river road Yukon


feb. 20 a flock of red polls
feb. 24, 8 am -40C
march 4 squirrel sighting
march 6 laundry outside ( which might mean it was warmer and clear skies)
march 7  -27 C
april 15. the creek flows
in april  swans and geese flying over and grouse drumming
april 16 dinner outside (which indicates nice weather)
april 18  one robin
april 19 first rain shower of the season
april 26 snowshower

This year the redpolls were in my yard here in Mendenhall, march 11, 2017,(maybe a few days before, i didn't write it down) which was much later then they were sighted in Whitehorse. Note that i did feed the birds for a number of years....not anymore. I might have been feeding the birds in 1996...


The first of the season, spring 2017, starting last night,  little flurries, now dry, 5 minutes ago specks of water, half an hour ago white stuff.
Accumulation ZERO! meaning it evaporates.

And yesterday instead of updating this spring log,  Don and I went out all day. The way we like it these days, we drive slowly, stop frequently, look, walk, pick herbs and have french fries at Otter Falls. We went as far as 14 km on the Aishihik road, left at 11 am and were back at 7 pm.

I always feel i should drive as little as possible (using oil products as little as possible) to know that over 8 hours we ( two people one car). We did drive approx, 130 km, round trip.

What we saw
13 swans
3 eagles
2 dark hawks
2 magpies
3 grey jays
10 gophers ( ground squirrels)
8 sheep
2 chipmunks
5 butterflies, mourning cloaks and probably comma's
dozens of grasshoppers
hundreds of crocus buds
male flowers coming out on one poplar, aspen
flowers on juniper, almost blooming

 poplar, trembling aspen

juniperus  horizontalis

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

spring log

I don't know if i ever put all my spring records together in one place? I have kept records, but as i kept them on pieces of paper or objects( objects so i would have a collection of objects with notes on it, papers getting lost in my care. But the objects are scattered too, and the writing fading.

Ha the computer being my  personal best organizing system.(Actually i do have little faith in computers for the long run, if anything there already is so much information, we might still not find what we are looking for)

for now
randomly archiving

feb 26. bison
march 3. after a 2 week cold spell still -40 in the morning
march 5. -26 C in the morning
                22 inches,1/2 a meter snow accumulated over winter
first week of march. Hairy woodpecker pecking on the house
2nd week of march. birdsong
march 28. 2 red polls
                squirrels chasing eachother
april 6. above zero temperature
april... black bear
april 7 and 8 we went to the summit, when we came back it had melted a lot here in the yard.
april 30 biked to the narrows ( kusawa) on ice.
may 3. snow practically gone

later today i will enter relevant observations from this year.
the last bison we saw....
sept 20 2016
This being a good crocus hill
same hill in  April 2016
April 23 2016
and the week before
April 17, 2016
this year:
April 10, 2017. the weather very warm, plus 10 C , the crocus bud still very small and only a very few, yesterday we saw 2.
Don did see an orange butterfly! probably a comma.

Monday, April 10, 2017


awe, a scared ground squirrel.
Is this his/her first time out this spring?
It was my first  gopher sighting for the season. this was two days ago, and yesterday my first butterfly.
It is all happening. One mourning cloak, possibly two.

About names, i am particular about names.
Call me anything you like, but i want to call you by the name you were born with or the name you most prefer.
 To me this is a gopher,  it is not socially correct anymore to call it so, apparently it is a ground squirrel, it is, i know. But i feel when saying hi to them, calling them by their 'correct' name, i am somehow...
It just doesn't seem right, to address them as ground squirrels.
So it is gopher to me and my gophers, but when speaking to people, i will use the name ground squirrel.

And happy happy, Don looking over my shoulder, says; A gopher, where did you see that? Thank you Don.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Townsendia hookeri

Today, April 8 2017, an Easter Daisy distinctively in bud, hard to see with the naked eye, but the macro setting on my camera makes it quite clear.
I am very happy about that. And the way my brain works,  wanting facts, which btw will be forgotten by next spring, hence  i like to write it all down. And to continue that thought, the Internet has made it all possible for me to actually know, most of the time, how to find what i wrote. My paper notes are  total disorganized, not even in, piles.
I am trying to find out what makes flowers come out. I suspect it is daytime temperatures above zero,  I figure looking at all my notes here and everywhere, that for the first flowers to bloom in spring we need 3 weeks of daytime temperatures above zero.  It seems to work for crocuses.
Now i don't know this Easter Daisy (Townsendia) very well yet, but i now do know this one, growing 15 min. walk from the highway (where i drive by once a week)
When i found my first Townsendia it was by accident, May 12 2010 ( see my Jozien's  Yukon wildflower blog. All the  8 early flowers, that i know, were blooming that day. Now i checked the temperature for that year. Interestingly the temperature started rising above zero, March 24. This year March 26. So very similar.
Now i also know that  on normal years ( and this probably one of them) I find the first crocus by the end of April.
I do think now that townsendia will be right there blooming along with the crocus, just a slightly different habitat. We only see few last year crocus clumps today, and no buds.

crocus bud

Thursday i was in town, my April wild flowers article in What's Up Yukon had come out the day before, and as i do enjoy the attention i get from that, the talk went to crocuses. I had written we need at least another week before the will bloom. But as it came to be i happened to be sitting beside two women in  a local coffee shop, these two women,  individually!  - Were already crocus hunting!- Instead of what you might think, trying to tell them it was sure to be another week. I got up bright and early friday morning (8 am) and went up to my  hill sized mountain in the back here. In a warm swale, indeed, i found the beginnings! They look a little fragile though, i wonder if they had come up early in February with a warm spell, only to be stopped in growth in  our cold March. Now April warm again, i think they will make it.
And if i could  say, "you write it and it will be" as in "you dream it and we build it" I don't know who said that.
But my previous article, before the wild flowers, was about  halo's and all
and there it goes 
yesterday from that mountain 
i watched
a 22 degree solar halo! I had not seen one all winter.

If you are interested ( if there is a you:) do read my article on What's Up Yukon's website, search my name , jozien keijzer.
And :) i will read some blogs again, to be part of  the community of bloggers. I do find after i read a blog, and i like what i read, i have this longing to just press 'love'....

I wonder if Mother Nature needs our comments?