On the Weather Network website today they have a red banner marked Storm watch with the added promise of a “messy mix” … a delightful term. Last year we had been puzzled as to why the meteorologists kept forecasting light rain when it was coming down buckets and we asked a (retired) meteorologist friend the reason – turned out they have a definition of light rain (up to so many mm rain in an hour) and even if it comes down in buckets so long as that amount is not passed it is still “light”. So what is a messy mix we enquired to be met with a “huh?”, a suggestion that we meant an Eton mess (look it up) and the startling revelation that a messy mix is, well, a messy mix. Strange terminology these chaps use – and they say meteorology is a science.

So it’s going to be a case of battening down the hatches, rounding up the whisky collection and sitting it out for a couple of evenings – about time we had a decent dump of snow, messy or not. Haven’t had the snowshoes out yet this winter, maybe at the weekend?

Meanwhile, out there is the wastes that actually are deep and crisp and even, the photographers are again “mousing” for Snowy owls in the hope of getting yet another flight shot for their collections. Greatly to be deplored as it leads to dependency and has, on occasion, caused injury and death to birds attracted into the path of a car as they swoop on their bemused pet-shop prey. One municipality has banned the practice this year – good for them – and warning signs are beginning to go up. One can only hope that the malefactors see the error of their ways, though I don’t hold out much hope.

Interestingly, although quite widely practiced, this activity is seemingly illegal in Quebec. The Quebec Ministry responsible for natural resources and wildlife adopted in December 2009 its bill 52 to amend the Act respecting the conservation and development of wildlife. The new section 30 reads as follows: No person may use a substance, object, animal or domestic animal to attract or attempt to attract an animal or class of animals, except on the conditions determined by regulation of the Minister. (http://bit.ly/wzyXc9) That sounds like mousing to me – such a pity the wildlife officers do not enforce the law.