Snow Day Photos, Quotes, and Notes

We recently had two snow days in the Greater Vancouver area. Schools were cancelled in many communities in the region, traffic was disrupted, and people were inconvenienced. The snow-covered world was beautiful to see and photograph, however.

Snow can certainly bring problems, which are sometimes serious in situations such as traffic accidents or the isolation of people who need help. When no one is in trouble, though, exploring a snow-covered area can be magical.

In this post I share photos that I’ve taken in the last few days, quotes about snow that I like, and some notes about the joys brought by a snowy environment.

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Snow and a creek

A snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky unbidden and seems like a thing of wonder. Quote from Susan Orlean, a U.S. journalist and author

The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found? Quote from J.B. Priestly, a British writer (1894-1984)

Snow creates responses that reach right back to childhood. Quote from Andy Goldsworthy, a British sculptor

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Another creek and three mallards

The photo above shows a different creek from the first photo, although the two creeks eventually join. If you look carefully, you may see three mallards in the water on the right of the photo. Two of them are males. In front of them is a female. You may also see the falling snow against the darkness of the creek background. The group of ducks didn’t seem to mind the snow.

I see a male and female mallard each February on the creek. They pair up in preparation for mating. This year I saw two males and a female, which I’ve never seen on the creek before. One of the males disappeared for a couple of days, but during the current bout of snow I discovered that he (assuming it’s the same bird) has returned. The female seems unperturbed about having two suitors. It would nice to known the outcome of the trio’s association.

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A snowy trail near my home

There’s just something beautiful about walking in snow that nobody else has walked on. It makes you believe you’re special. Quote from Carol Rifka Brunt, an American writer

Silently, like thoughts that come and go, the snowflakes fall, each one a gem. Quote from William Hamilton Gibson, an American artist, writer, and naturalist (1850-1896)

Kindness is like snow—it beautifies everything it covers. Quote from Kahlil (or Khalil) Gibran, a Lebanese-American writer and artist (1883-1931)

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After the snowstorm

A covering of snow can be magical, as J.B. Priestly said. Fresh, untrampled snow on a path is a welcoming sight. It always seems like a personal invitation offering me a chance to explore a new world. The fact that this world will disappear soon makes it especially enticing.

Familiar objects are covered by a fresh and sparkling coat and items that are unattractive in their ordinary lives become beautiful. If the snowstorm is followed by a blue sky, the combination of white and blue can be wondrous.

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Attractive tree trunks beside a snow-covered walking trail

One local weather forecast predicts that rain will fall today, which means the snow will gradually disappear. Another forecast has issued a snow warning. Given the frequent inaccuracy of the predictions and a temperature that is hovering above and below the freezing point, the weather situation in the near future is uncertain.

We may or may not get more snow this season. My part of the world generally has mild winters, but nature may have at least one more treat in store for us. I hope she does.

Plants in the First Snow of the Winter in Burnaby

We recently got the first snow of the winter where I live. I hate driving in snow, but I love walking in it (as long as the ground isn’t icy) and I love photographing it. A delicate collection of fresh snow on plants is a lovely sight.

When I walked to a local food store to buy a few items in the late morning, the snow was more like hail and wasn’t settling very much. When I left the store five or at the most ten minutes later, the hail had turned to real snow and the road that had been black when I entered the store was now white.

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Mature English ivy near my home

Of course, I had to walk along the urban trail to see what I could photograph. Where I live, an “urban trail” is a wide tarmac or gravel path with natural, semi-natural, or cultivated borders. It enables pedestrians and cyclists to travel safely and pleasantly through urban and suburban areas. The trails pass by or near popular areas such as parks, schools, shopping centres, and medical offices. There’s a photo of one section at the end of this post.

The trail travels near my home and passes through some areas with trees and other plants that existed before the path was created. These areas are always interesting to photograph. They provide a chance for nature study as well as a useful route to a desired destination.

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Juvenile English ivy beside the trail

The first plant that I photographed after I left the store was the mature English ivy (Hedera helix) shown in the initial photo in this post. It looks quite different from the juvenile stage, which is shown above. The juvenile leaves are lobed and have the ability to climb. The mature and reproductive stage has oval leaves and doesn’t climb. The first plant still has the clusters of stalks that bore the purple berries.

Some people find ivy and its ability to spread horizontally and vertically a nuisance, which I understand, whiles others love these abilities and think the plant is attractive. It’s certainly an interesting plant.

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Western sword fern in the snow

The western sword fern (Polystichum munitum) is a common and very noticeable sight in my part of the world. The fern is evergreen and can therefore be appreciated all year long. It grows in the wild and in a cultivated form. The fronds grow in clumps and lean outwards from a central point. Each bears leaflets, or pinnae. Unlike the case in many ferns, the pinnae don’t divide into small ones.

Each pinna has a lobe pointing forward at its base, as can be seen on the frond on the left in the photo below. The frond also shows rows of brown dots on its undersurface. These are called sori. Each sorus (the singular form of the word) contains spore cases that release reproductive spores. The sori of the sword fern are green at first and turn brown later.

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A closer view of western sword fern fronds

English holly (Ilex aquifolium)  is an attractive and introduced plant that is sometimes considered to be invasive in my part of the world. I actually photographed the plant below as I was going to the store along the trail. You may be able to see a few pieces of hail on the conifer leaves on the bottom left of the photo.

I always enjoy seeing a holly bush with its lovely red berries, especially around Christmas time. The plant does seem to be spreading in my area, though. I hope it doesn’t become a problem.

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I often travel along the urban trail where I took the photographs shown above. Its borders vary considerably. In some places they are carefully cultivated, as shown in the photo below. In others they are wilder and left to their own devices, unless they interfere with the trail itself or with the water flow in the creek that travels beside one section of the trail. I took the photo of the sword fern in one of these wilder areas.

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A section of the trail on the day after the snow

As can be seen in the photo above, the snow generally doesn’t last for long where I live. We may get a little more this weekend. As usual, though, the weather forecast may not be accurate. If the snow does appear, I plan to take more photos along a different section of the trail and at a higher elevation.

Eagle Creek and Squint Lake in Burnaby After Snow

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The bridge over Eagle Creek

On New Year’s Eve, I published a post about my walk beside Eagle Creek to Squint Lake on a sunny December 31st. Today I describe the area on a snowy day. We don’t get much snow where I live. When it does fall, it usually appears after Christmas and doesn’t last long. In February, 2017, we got a nice deposit that created some picturesque scenes. I visited Eagle Creek and Squint Lake with my camera to take some photographs of the scenery before the snow melted. The creek drains into the lake and then continues on to the larger Burnaby Lake.

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Squint Lake and mallard ducks

The Origin of Eagle Creek

Eagle Creek is created by water that drains off Burnaby Mountain. With an elevation of 370 metres, Burnaby Mountain is low compared to the nearby mountains on the other side of Burrard Inlet. It’s a great place to explore, though. It offers a forested conservation area with trails as well as a park with wonderful views of the inlet and its surroundings. Multiple creeks drain off the mountain and continue through the surrounding lowlands.

Urban Trails

I travel beside Eagle Creek and to Squint Lake along an urban trail and a park trail. Urban trails are wide paths with a surface made of gravel or tarmac. They allow pedestrians and cyclists to safely travel around the city of Burnaby to places like schools, shopping centres, libraries, medical offices, and parks. They are also great places to get some exercise. For the most part, they have attractive and landscaped borders. They connect to the urban trail system in Vancouver. Burnaby adjoins the city of Vancouver.

Park Trails

Burnaby has places that are in their original forested or treed condition (except for the trails that have been created for people to travel through them), such as the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area. It also has a great collection of parks. The latter sites are often more developed than the conservation area. They have areas of natural and sometimes landscaped ground as well as artificial trails and facilities for the public. Even areas such as these, which I classify as “semi-natural”, are enjoyable places to observe nature.

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The frozen section of Squint Lake

Eagle Creek

Eagle Creek flows through various types of landscape on its journey to both Squint and Burnaby Lake, including culverted and channelized areas. In some places, it’s located by an urban trail. In others, it travels through parks. It sometimes travels through undeveloped ravines. Immediately after it leaves Squint Lake, it passes through a strip of natural habitat in the Burnaby Mountain Golf Course. The lake is also part of the golf course grounds but is open to the public. I plan to one day follow and photograph the creek’s interesting journey.

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A great blue heron

A Great Blue Heron by Eagle Creek After Snow

The great blue heron (Ardea herodias) is an impressive bird because of its size. I photographed the bird above from an urban trail beside Eagle Creek just after the snow had fallen. I quite often see a heron in Eagle Creek or in a nearby creek that drains into it, but this was the first and only time that I’ve seen the bird on a street lamp.

Despite its name, the bird is more grey than blue, though the plumage does have a slightly blue tint. It’s a wading bird with a long bill, a long thin neck when it’s extended, long legs, and a wide wingspan. It generally catches aquatic prey but will also eat land animals. The subspecies of the bird in the Vancouver and Burnaby area doesn’t migrate but stays here all year.

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“No Skating Allowed” sounds like a sensible idea.

Bridge Over Eagle Creek and Squint Lake Park

I always want to follow a bridge over water in order to see where it leads. The bridge in the first photo in this post leads to the main part of Squint Lake Park. The park contains pleasant trails through the remnants of a forest as well as a softball field, tennis courts, a small playground for children, and the golf course. One section contains a skunk cabbage patch that is beautiful in the spring. A sign by the bridge warns people that the creek is a route for salmon fry and implies that the water should be treated well. The fry are released into the creek at suitable times of year by a group known as the Eagle Creek Streamkeepers.

Despite the park’s name, it’s located to the north of Squint Lake. To reach the lake, a traveller needs to bypass the bridge and the main part of the park and keep walking on the trail beside the road to the golf course entrance.

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The bench where people often sit to admire or feed the ducks.

Squint Lake

A coating of snow or ice often changes the landscape dramatically as well as beautifully. While I don’t like driving in snow, I enjoy walking in it. The partially frozen surface of Squint Lake and the snow-covered trees are a lovely sight. 

Mallards are the most common birds seen in the lake and stay there all year. People often sit on the bench to feed them. The birds are confident as they come on land to get the food, though they do leave if someone gets too close to them.

Some of the golf course area is open to the non-golfing public, such as the lake, landscaped areas, and a place to buy coffee. The city of Burnaby offers a free WiFi service at public facilities, including the golf course. Visitors can’t go on to the grass unless they have paid to play golf.

So far the only snow in my area that I’ve noticed was a very light fall that didn’t settle and soon turned to rain. The situation is different at the top of Burnaby Mountain, which often gets snow in winter when the communities at its base don’t. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next couple of months. If it does snow, I hope to get more pictures of the creek and lake.