Posted by: Dave Neads | December 12, 2007

Winter Beds In the ARK


“Sounds  like we’ve had snow”, I thought as I awoke this morning. There is nothing like the hush that falls over the wilderness after a fresh covering of snow. Our house is quiet anyway; no furnace fans, no freezer or refrigerator noises, just the odd ticking of the wood heater as the steel body heats and cools.

No, the primeval silence that spreads across the land after a big snow is different. It has a special quality of snugness, of cocooning, that is unique.

We live in a valley on the western edge of the ARK, about a third of the way up the northern slope so we have a good southern exposure. The toe of the ridge has a little hollow in it and that is where we built our house. We are nestled into the land just enough that the winter winds blow over the roof, not directly at us.

I think of our own little niche in this micro-climate and think of the way all our neighbours in this wild place–the moose, deer, coyotes, whiskeyjacks–have their niches as well. They’re usually under the protective skirts of a spruce thicket or the broad arms of old growth firs which truly act as roofs to keep the snow off their beds.

Winter refuge is the secret to living in the ARK and, just like we do, the animals gravitate to specific winter ranges to find protection, warmer places, forage and comfort. These ranges are found in the valley systems of the ARK and in times of heavy snow or cold these special places, hidden in little pieces of wetland or clumped on a south facing dry slope, mean the difference between surviving or being starved by deep snow or killed by extreme temperatures.

This is the wisdom of the wild: Learn the secret places, learn to use what the ecosystem and the climate provide, learn to hole up when you need to and learn to exist in the world around you.


Winter Bed


  1. I’d love to see a pic of your snowfall!

  2. I think that living with snow is one of the defining elements of being a Canadian.

    Another blogger just posted a picture of winter in Montreal and, although I have not been there for many years, I felt a longing and a familiarity for the city where I grew up.

    The snow there was not like winter I experienced in other places I’ve lived, like Toronto and Winnipeg.

    Here on the west coast, I have learned to ski in the backcountry, to build igloos, and to enjoy being away from all urban places. If you know how to manage the cold and the conditions, snow is wonderful, dramatic and always changing. A warm home, far from a road, buried in deep snow, is a treat that I have experience only once. Thanks for conjuring up these images.

  3. Okay…..

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