We had a visitor last night at Mucky Boots. We're not entirely sure what it was, but all signs point to a bear. Now this shouldn't really surprise us, and maybe it's a sign of how quiet our lives have become, but this visit is the biggest excitement we've had in days!
Kim spotted the first evidence this morning when she went out to the workshop, and it wasn't hard to spot: a demolished compost heap. Our pile of finished compost was completely torn apart, the cement blocks around our in-progress compost pile were tossed hither and thither, and our wheelbarrow was tipped over and had a broken wheel. Kim called me out on the walkie-talkie and by the time I had bundled up and made my way to the workshop, she had scouted the perimeter and discovered two places where it looked like something big and heavy had made its way over the fence, lots of big footprints in the frost (pretty indistinct, but more circular than oblong), and a large area in the orchard where the frosty grass had all been melted and squashed flat - perhaps the place where the bear stopped to nap after its exertions at the compost pile?
Our neighbour Nick calmed us down a little. He said bears will occasionally pass through, and it's only worth worrying about if they hang around or come back. So for the next few days Kim will be extra careful coming back to the house from the workshop after dark, and we'll keep a closer eye on the pets when they're outside.
The cold weather is holding. It has been about 5 below at night for the last week or so, and warming up only to about freezing during the day. (Yes, call us wimps, but this is really unusual!) The salad greens in the garden are frozen solid, and even the tough ones like the mizuna, arugula and mache probably won't recover. It's a good learning experience for next year: the winter greens really need the protection of the greenhouse, not just cold frames and row covers. I'm not as sad about the demise of my winter garden as I thought I might be. This time of year my thoughts turn more to hot, homemade soup and roasted root vegetables, and salads strike me as awfully cold and damp.
The skim of crystals on the pond has frozen to an official layer of ice, which has interfered with Frankie, Petunia and William using it as a handy source of drinking water. Frankie has discovered how to pounce on the ice with stiff front legs in order to break it for a nice cold drink, but the cats are going to have to depend on their doggy brother while the pond remains frozen.