Saturday, January 2, 2010

SLUSH FUN

We're enjoying a cold spell here in southwestern Ohio. The temperature when I got up this morning, an hour before dawn, was a measly 7˚F. Now, an hour before noon, we've barely doubled that reading. And yes, I can hear you folks in Canada and Minnesota, and atop those Pennsylvania mountains chuckling derisively: Seven degrees isn't cold! Try seven below, or minus twenty-seven!
Well, I agree. It isn't cold by your standards. But it's the coldest weather we Buckeyes in this corner of the state have experienced so far this year—and by that I mean this winter and late fall, which actually had some pretty cold temperatures for autumn. Still, seven degrees when you're wearing unlined house shoes, no socks, pajama bottoms and an old sweatshirt, is cold enough to make you hasten at tossing out cracked corn for the ground feeders…scoop, fling, scoop, fling, scoop, fling! THEN QUICK BACK INSIDE BEFORE ANY OF THE NUMB PARTS BREAK!
Yessir, we Buckeyes may be winter wusses compared to some, but we can really highstep and hustle as it comes to doing chores when it's cold. You don't find many of us stretched out beside the road looking like popsicles.
Luckily, there's almost no wind with this cold—or at least none making it over the low hills on ether side of here and down to the river. When it comes to wind, this place is rather well protected. Sometimes I can watch the tall trees along the tops of the hills tossing and whipping like they might snap off any minute…and yet down here, snuggled beside the water, there's not enough breeze to ring the wind-chimes hanging from the eaves.
The cold is having it effect on the river, though. The surface flow is already starting to look like a frozen margarita. I expect by tomorrow morning, or maybe even this evening, there'll be ice shelves extending out from the banks, and some of the quietest pools and eddies may be frozen over completely.
The eddy across from the cottage—the
same riffle as in yesterday's photo.
Given Bernie's question about the river freezing [see the comments from yesterday's post] I thought it might be fun to take some shots of the river this morning, and then maybe make similar ones later on, depending on how things change. That way you'd sort of get to watch the river freeze in places without actually having to put on a half-dozen layers and stepping outside; a view minus the momentary discomfort.
And now, if you'll excuse me, I believe I'll go and climb the ladder into the attic. I have a box of long johns stored up there…and I think I'm going to need them.

26 comments:

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Well Scribe - I have to admit you are right.....you are a wuss. Why 7 degrees F. is downright balmy compared to our weather up here in the great white north!! Three days ago it was -12 F. here, and folks could still be seen taking leisurely walks on the trails nearby. Mind you, we do know how to dress for the weather and our stores carry the latest in the lightweight thermal garments. French Canadians are also very style conscious, so you will see many bundled up in the only the chicest (?) of garb.

But when you are not used to it, I'm sure it bites.

The brook that crosses our property descends from a nearby mountain and is in quite a hurry to get to the bigger rivers and the sea - so while some ice forms near the edges, it never completely freezes over in the winter.

In contrast, the Richelieu River into which our brook drains does freeze over and the municipalities nearby test and signal when it is safe enough for skating, hockey, dog walking, winter kites, and a sort of wind-surfing on the ice. (The Richelieu drains out of Lake Champlain in N.Y. State and heads into the St. Lawrence.)

Hope you found your long johns, have the fire roaring and are staying warm. It's been snowing steadily here for about 30 hours, but it is a fine snow and the accumulation is only about 8 inches so far. Beautiful winter weather - except, perhaps, for driving. But we Northerners don't balk at that either. My husband never slows down and is known for doing pirouettes and continuing along unphased (while driving on the icy roads too!)

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

cluck.

Bernie said...

More great photo's Grizz....the reason I asked about the river freezing is that my sister lives beside a river in northern New Brunswick and they (myself included when I am there) skate, ski doo, curl and play hockey on it, we also use to sleigh down the hill onto the river....it was so much fun, one of the reasons I enjoyed winter so much when I was younger....actually New Brunswick is getting a nor'easter this afternoon until tomorrow night. I was just talking with my sister and it is really coming down there.....snowing lightly here and is -12F.......:-) Hugs

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bonnie…

In our (myself and my fellow Buckeyes in the collective sense) defense, this is, as I said, our first cold spell of the year/season. Give us a few days of it and we'll temper in—we'll grumble, but it won't keep anyone inside. (Except maybe my daughter and her husband, who are wusses and hate winter. But they have to work, which necessitates going outside, so they'll just grumble all the louder.)

Speaking for myself, I know how to dress (don't always do it, but do know how) and have pretty much a full range of the latest/greatest miracle fabrics and garments, outerwear and underwear, boots, gloves, toboggans, face masks, etc., that L.L. Bean, Cabela's, Gander Mountain, Bass Pro Shops, Orvis, and similar outfitters sell. I used to do a lot of steelhead fishing in northern Michigan, and nothing teaches you more about dressing warm than steelheading. (And falling off an ice shelf or tripping over a rock and taking a head-to-toe dunking in a swift river when the air temperature is down around minus-10 and the wind is slicing across Lake Superior like a chainsaw through a pumpkin…well, that improves the old learning curve a might, too.

Hereabouts, in this lower corner of Ohio, somewhere around 21 or 22 below is about as low as it gets, though I don't know what the historic low for the area is. Generally, a -16˚ or -17˚F occurs about every year. But a genuine cold spell for us is really -10˚F or so for several days in a row. A few years ago I camped out for several nights down in the hill country when it bottomed out at minus-19. That was rather brisk.

I've really never minded the cold. I'd rather be cold than hot—though if you have asthma, cold air can often set you to coughing.

Snow driving is also no big deal. I used to do an average of 100,000 miles annually, and I swear half of that was on snow. If you want a good laugh, you ought to be down south—Georgia, South Carolina, etc.—when it snows. The first snowflake falls out of the sky and three-quarters of the population abandons their vehicles smack in the road, whereupon drivers and passengers dash in a fearful tizzy to the nearest house, and throw themselves upon the mercy and hospitality of total strangers. They may hole up for days if additional snowflakes appear.

A few, of the reckless-fool types drive on, choosing to ignore snow, icy roads, and any considerations for cornering and braking distances. For the northerner who's calmly taking everything in stride, this is where you find yourself a nice hill or busy intersection, park safely on some side street, then walk back and watch everything from buses to police cruisers, fire trucks to Hummers, bang into each other, the curb, walls, light poles, parked vehicles, trash barrels, the occasional storefront. It's just the greatest show on earth.

Some years back, on a day when a little storm deposited a full 4 or 5 inches of snow on much of the South, I visited a cousin would worked for a big insurance company in Atlanta. No one was in the building except for those from northern states. Half the city's police force had called in sick. Hospitals were begging for nurses and other personnel to come into work. We stood by a big bank of windows and watched I don't know how many cars spin and skid and run into each other on the same hill. No one got hurt. But a dozen drivers would watch the one before try and negotiate the curve unsuccessfully by racing at it and trying to bull their way around…and then they try, unsuccessfully, to do the same thing. Why they thought it would work for them when it hadn't worked for a single other driver was a mystery. But it sure furnished some great laughs—in fact, we finally had to come away from the window because we'd been laughing so hard and loud that my cousin's contact lenses were messing up and I was starting ache in my sides.

One can only survive so much fun…

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Lynne…

Cluck?

Hrumph! Well…I'm simply wounded to the quick by your cavalier attitude.

One does not lightly cluck and imply one's fellow buzzard aficionado is a chicken! Even though that may be the case. We're dealing with respect for a kindred blogger.

You ought to strive, always, to maintain a demeanor of sympathy and understanding, at least in print—regardless of whether you were smirking as you typed. Decorum in such matters is vital.

Did I cluck at you when you set your own woods on fire? I did not. Cluck not, least you one day find yourself being clucked back at. Let he (or she) among us who is without sin throw the first cluck…

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bernie…

There's just a bit too much current—and not enough deeply cold weather—for this river to freeze over completely. Even the slow stretches and pools, which do freeze over, aren't safe.

Ice fishing on local lakes and ponds, which do regularly freeze, is seldom really safe—though I've certainly done a fair bit of risk-taking over the years. Now, the northern half of the state does produce safe ice on lakes and ponds most winters; Lake Erie offers ices fishing around the Bass Islands area. But even up north, frozen rivers are iffy when it comes to being really safe.

We received a bit of snow last night. I forgot to mention that in the post. But only enough to whiten the ground.

Stay warm and safe.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Alrighty then....you've provided more than ample proof...you are certainly not a wuss!! You've done things in the north, I cannot match. Let's declare this blog wuss-free!!

In Canada we don't even have to venture south to enjoy the ineptitude of drivers unaccustomed to driving on snow - it's a hoot to watch them in Vancouver - even in Toronto....Here we plough pretty much through whatever comes...there, a skiff of snow immobilizes everything.

Take care...

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bonnie…

Now I didn't say this blog was wuss-free…just that this first cold snap (okay, to you, cool snap) was sufficient to make us round, smooth nuts (Buckeyes) shiver a bit. Not that we ran to the bookshelf and got out our copies of Robert Service's poems, or began checking e-Bay for bargains on sled dogs.

I am an admitted wuss. Just not a cold wuss…rather an arachnid wuss. (Maybe that's why I prefer cold to hot, huh?)

My real problem is that I often overestimate my capacity for self-abuse, so I dash outside, underdressed for the weather, whereupon my nose throbs, my ears turn into castanets, and my spinal fluid becomes an icicle. My parents assumed I'd come to have some common sense about this—or that I'd at least learn from my mistakes. Time has proven them wrong on both counts.

madcobug said...

This is just to much talking about how cold it is or was-- Burrr. Great shots of the river. Helen

Wanda said...

I have grandsons like you...some still come here in short sleaves, they run from the car to our basement, where the wood stove is, not today though, they must know their limit. An older one even camped out a few nights ago. I too would much rather be cold than hot and would rather vacation in the mountains than on a hot beach. But!!! It is awfully cold out there tonight!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Helen…

What else is there to do about the weather except to complain? But…perhaps it does make it sound colder than it is. So I'll desist. Why, at this very moment beyond my desk window, it is a paltry 12˚F and dropping, and you don't me saying a single word of denunciation. Instead I'm practically giddy with anticipation of an impending plummet to the predicted single-digit low.

(Glad you liked the photos. I really like the top two.)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Wanda…

Now see, your grandsons are showing signs of a common sense streak. They know their limitations—or are, at least, learning them.

I never did and never will. Old bears seldom get smarter…just older.

Tramp said...

As the sea froze we often observed a phenomenon we called pancake ice when the sea surface took on a waxy quality and small circular ice structures started to form. I had always thought that this only happened to sea water, but last winter I saw this on the Berounka river near here. Perhaps it is a feature of moving water freezing.

Jayne said...

LOL... I know what you mean. I see posts from friends in Minnesota showing their thermometers at -30 and laugh at our being all but frozen here with lows in the teens and highs in the 30's. Why, we'll have to endure that for an ENTIRE week says the weatherman. Brrrrr. And mention the "S" word, and schools close as there is a rush to get to the grocery store to buy milk and bread.

Will be interesting to see what your river does in the cold. Stay warm, and hope you find those long johns!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Tramp…

Huh. I never heard of "pancake ice" before, but I've never been at sea in cold conditions. I'll have to do some reading up. You may be right about the moving water business. I do know the water in the river takes on an odd look as it begins to freeze—indeed rather waxy or gelatin-like.

One of the things that keeps me going every day is the fact that even regarding the commonplace, such as a stream in winter, intimate knowledge and close observation only prompts deeper questions, as heretofore unrealized mysteries are revealed. I like that, the endlessness of it all…

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jayne…

We all live amid our own perspective; many things are merely relative. I remember when a good friend did three duty tours in Vietnam. Living in that hot, humid, jungle/swamp country for years and becoming acclimated to such conditions. When he got mustered out, they sent him to Hawaii for two weeks R&R and flew his wife over. Put them up in a nice hotel room a block or two from the beach. He told me he never spent two colder weeks anywhere in his life. He put on every piece of clothing in his duffle, including his flack jacket—and still spent days and nights shivering and shaking. He bribed a maid at the hotel for several extra bedspreads, since the rooms didn't have any sort of heater. And he took his pile of cover to the beach where he sat huddled against a palm, watching his wife cavort in the surf in her bikini. "Everybody started calling me Linus. My wife couldn't understand and stayed mad half the time." He said it took him almost a month before his body reregulated.

So, though here, this morning, it was 2 degrees when I got up—there are doubtless folks who would consider that a warm spell.

Gail said...

Hi Grizz-

the beautiful pictures are very calming in a powerful and mysterious way - and very helpful given the magnitude of how 2010 began. i wrote about it if you get a moment.

me

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

I've been rehanging kitchen cabinets all day—and we're now at the rewashing and replacing stage. But I'll try and swing by your post.

I like these photos, too…

Jenny said...

Those are beautiful, beautiful pictures. Hard to believe that something so destructive can be so gorgeous. I am originally from NorthEast Ohio. And I remember the ice storms well.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jenny…

Ice can be destructive for sure. But in the spring, when winter's store of ice suddenly breaks up and all moves downstream over the space of an hour, like a giant scraper, it helps to scour out new holes, rearrange things, and in many ways renew the river. Like giving the bathtub a good cleaning!

It is pretty. too. As these photos, and others sure to come, will doubtless show. Glad you liked the shots.

Carolyn H said...

Griz: I've had the 7 degree temp too--plus the wind. 30+ mph. not fun. Makes me wish I could hibernate for a few days!

Carolyn H.

The Solitary Walker said...

Late on this... Was there talk of margaritas? Make mine a big one!

So now we know you've only an average talent for self-abuse. And you're still perturbed by our lovely little 8-legged friends.

Oh dear... And that pic of you does so look like a young pre-bearded Ernest Hemingway... How looks can deceive...

I think Bonnie's wuss-free declaration may have been a tad premature ;)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Carolyn…

No wind here—or not much I could feel along the river. Which is fine by me; pure cold in not such a big problem until you add in wind. That's when you want to crawl into a snug shelter and stay there—hibernate, like a bear, until the birds come back and it time for wildlflowering.

I imaging, up there on your mountain, that once the leaf protection is gone, wind becomes a big factor. There's always a trade-off…wind for views, river for the occasional flood. Still beats concrete and steel and exhaust fumes, though—doesn't it?

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Solitary…

Here you come, late to the party and hoping to sniff out a margarita. A big one, at that!

Well, okay, but only because you're a friend.

Who said my talent for self abuse was only average? I'll have you know I've dang near killed myself more times than a centipede has toes. I stand head and shoulders above the average redneck fool. In fact, I've gotten myself into painful, uncomfortable situations the average redneck fool would have to finish the eight grade, go to group therapy, and talk with his sister and the proprietor at his favorite bait shop before he could fully understand. I can show you scars and x-rays that clearly demonstrate a graduate degree in self abuse.

As to wussiness……I clearly admitted same in my earlier comment. I just defended my actual lack of wussiness re. cold temperatures. And between you and me, I bet Papa had more peccadillos, quirks, and full-blown phobias than you could shake a double-daiquiri at. After all, he ended up committing the ultimate act of self-abuse.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I take back my cluck...

:)

Just sayin, it was minus 37 in International Falls, Minnesota last night.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Lynne…

Yeah, I know it isn't really cold here—certainly not by the standards of Minnesota. But when you're not used to it, it sure feels cold.

Besides, being a macho outdoor type who lives by a river and practically gnaws his own firewood with his bare teeth, I can't have a lady birdwatcher cluck at me…even if she is a nice lady, a good birdwatcher, and knows the difference between genuine cold and "a mite nipppy." A fellow has his pride, even us wussy Buckeyes. :-)))