Saturday, January 22, 2011

BRRRRR-R-R-R!


It's cold out there—and looks it, with mist rising off the pools and riffles, and the water itself looking a bit congealed, filled with slush as it flows reluctantly along. Even the sun seemed to take its time rising this morning. 

When I stepped outside at 6:15 a.m. to put out scoops of cracked corn for the ground feeding birds, it was still dark and the official temperature at the nearby airport had just been announced at -3˚F, the coldest we've been so far this year. Nothing by Minnesota standards, of course—and not really a serious low for us Buckeyes. But still, cold enough that, having not put on gloves, hat, or coat, I didn't tarry in my shirtsleeves while tossing my feed scoops…nor did Moon the Dog in attending to her morning duties.





For some reason—likely the dryness in the air once the temperature has fallen below a certain point, taking with it any hint of dampness—I'm more comfortable during days of deep cold than when it's a few degrees either side of freezing. Especially when there's little or no wind. 


After breakfast, the sun having finally made it above the hill, I went out to make a few photos. THe early light was varnishing the tops of the sycamores along the opposite bank a rich orange-gold. 

There were already plenty of birds around the feeders, the usual suspects—cardinals, titmice, chickadees, tree sparrows, goldfinches, and a Carolina wren, to name just a few. But…no squirrels! I'm not sure if squirrels are smarter or lazier than birds, but squirrels never get up early for breakfast when the weather's bad or it's really cold. Instead, they huddle deep inside the high hollow in the patriarch sycamore over by the driveway. I can just imagine the whole dozen or more of 'em curled into one furry gray ball, bushy tails draped around their faces, snug and cozy in their leaf-lined nest—everyone catching an extra forty winks in order to give the sun time to warm things up for a leisurely brunch.

The weather man said yesterday that today would be cloudy—and that overcast skies would remain throughout the next several days. He also predicted last night's low at 7˚F, which means he missed by 10 degrees. Judging by the blue sky, I'd say he's 0-for-2. He did get the day of the week right, though. 

Stay warm!
 

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22 comments:

The Weaver of Grass said...

Love that photo of the sun just catching the tops of the trees. It might be cold but as long as the sun shines it is bearable, isn't it? I hate it when it is damp, cloudy and cold and barely gets light all day. We get a lot of that kind of weather here and it is so depressing.

Linda said...

The images of the sun lighting the tops of the trees are gorgeous, as is the lady cardinal. I'm glad the critters have a friend like you to provide some easy feeding during these bitterly cold days.

Grizz………… said...

Weaver…

I love to go out early enough each morning to see the sun varnishing the treetops on the is;and opposite the cottage. Something about the warm brightness and the deep shadows just thrills me no matter how often I see it.

I don't mind cloudy days—but I sure stay warmer when it colder and less damp.

Grizz………… said...

Linda…

Yup, me, too—and it's a scene I see every sunny morning. Yet it never grows old. And I also love the lady cardinals.

Hey, I take feeding "my" birds seriously. In fact, we're going to make a feed run to the local farm store later today as I'm almost out of both sunflower seed and cracked corn. Can't have that!

Gail said...

GRIZZ-

just when I thought I couldn't be any more thrilled and impressed I see these breathtaking pictures. My goodness. It is cold here too - below zero at night, brrrrrr is right.

Love Gail
peace.....

Grizz………… said...

Gail…

You mean I'm getting better with age? :-)

It is cold here, too; supposed to be 9˚F tonight, which is certainly warmer than last night's -3˚F. But we'll see how that goes.

Stay warm!

KGMom said...

Maybe I am just getting more practical as I age--while I love your photography (always)--I am wondering: does your little river ever freeze solid all the way across?
It is so cold here--single digits--I wake up wondering: are the birds ok? what about the back-yard hutch bunny the neighbor keeps outside (I can hardly sleep for worrying about that little guy)? Has the water in our in-ground swimming pool frozen?
Mind, I don't really mind the cold. That is, until it gets THIS cold.
And to think some explorers walked to the North or South Pole ON PURPOSE!

Grizz………… said...

KGMom…

Thank you, as always…and to answer you question regarding whether or not my river ever freezes over ( which I'm assuming you meant, since few rivers even in the arctic ever freeze solid) the answer is a qualified yes—that is, sections of the river freeze. In the fourth photo down in this post, you can see open water extending out of the frame to the right (upstream). That is now frozen. If you go back a few posts to the one titled RIVERBANK BY REQUEST, that first shot you see is a better, bank-to-bank view upstream—and all that you see there except for the little bit in the lower lefthand corner is now frozen. This occurred during last night. Moreover, though I haven't been out and about yet this morning, I imagine that frozen section extends for nearly a mile beyond the portion you see, as that's all slow water.

The water in the riffle, in the big pool directly in front of the cottage, and as far as I can see downstream to the bend (about a quarter mile) is open.The ice sheets along each bank will continue to advance out, toward one another, but at the moment, combined, they're not covering more than maybe a quarter of the stream's surface. The water is shallower here, and thus moving ever so slightly faster.

Perhaps I should try and make a few photos as the ice progresses and post them.

I think about the wild things, too—birds and squirrels, cottontails, coyotes—when it gets so cold. Harsh weather is really hard on them, and the reality is that many don't survive. A covering of snow—especially if there's a hard crust on top—makes it doubly difficult or downright impossible for the many ground-feeding birds to scratch out sufficient food. Winter is a tough, tough season on wildlife. Many creatures live a single meal away from death. And sometimes, what they can find to take in during the day is not sufficient to keep them alive through the night. That's why I'm so diligent about my feeders…it's not much, but it's all I know how how to do to help.

I enjoy cold days. If I'm going to live in a snow-belt state, I want my winters to have at least a few days of single-digit to sub-zero days—a real dose of true cold. But I wouldn't want it for months on end, and would never have signed on as an arctic explorer. (Now I would have been good in a canoe poking the way across what's now Canada, following the lakes and streams through the boreal forests, looking for the Northwest Passage—and spending winters in some little cabin eating moose meat and whitefish while snow piled up to the roof.)

ellen abbott said...

one word...brrrrrrr.

I do love the photos though. especially of the birds.

Grizz………… said...

Ellen…

Considering you're holed up in warm Texas, I can see why wintery Ohio would indeed rate a burr-r-r-r on your preference meter. Glad you like the birds, anyway.

Rusty said...

There is nothing quite like damp AND cold.
Our local squirrels seem to be as active as even though the temerature is just below -17C (About 0F). The windchill tonight is forecast to be below -40C, the point where Farenheit agrees. (Grin). I think this cold front is heading your way too. ATB!

Grizz………… said...

Rusty…

Huh, learn something every day—I didn't realize there was a point where the two scales agreed. Your cold makes mine seem balmy. I did note that again this morning, the squirrels stayed in their den hole snuggery until after 10 a.m., that's three hours after their usual feeder visit. Wuss squirrels?

Jain said...

Our weather man is 0-for-umpteen. After all these years, I don’t know why I fall for those forecasts every time.

Our Red Squirrels are active in the coldest of temps. I imagine their frantic antics require a near-constant source of food.

The steam is long gone from this stretch of river. It’s neat to see it frosting your shrubs.

I love the sunrise glow on your treetops. I love it on mine, too; it’s one forecast that I can rely upon, at least for the next few minutes!

Grizz………… said...

Jain…

I've gotten to the point where I consider weather forecasts more "possibilities" than "probabilities." It might rain tomorrow…or it might not. The night's low temperature might be 3˚F…or it might be -9˚F. It might be heavily overcast for the next ten days…or it might be clear skies and bright sun.

The notion of "will vs. might" is what causes the trouble and disappointment.

There are red squirrels on the island across from the cottage—fox squirrels, too—and I usually see them daily, as I did today about two hours after sunrise. Which doesn't mean they weren't active before that, as it's a long island. But I can definitely keep tabs on the gray squirrels, and mine are apparently a lazy or wussy lot—they never come out early when it's really cold or pouring the rain, sleet, or snow.

Because of the riffle, I still have a bit of steamy vapor in front of the cottage, which is, of course, what causes that lovely frost on the trees directly across.

I love to see the morning sunlight in the tops of the tress across the river—though you're right in that it's only a temporary forecaster. So many times to dawn comes clear and bright, only to see clouds move in within minutes.

Arija said...

What a clever weatherman to get the day of the week right!

Damp cold or heat are hard is on joints and seems to seep into the very bone marrow, small wonder you feel better and livelier when the temperature drops.

Your river is splendid any time of the day or year, but I do love its blue and sluggish slurry flow and the golden light brushing the tops of the trees.

NB I recall a poem by arguably the greatest German poet Goethe where a riverwoman enticing the fisherman into the depths asks him whether he has not noticed how much more beautiful the sun and moon are shining from the river's depths.

Water enhances many things not only in its reflections but also in wet T-shirt competitions.

Grizz………… said...

Arija…

As my grandfather used to say, "Even a blind hog occasionally finds an acorn." Same principal applies to weatherpersons.

Okay, I'm really not trying to disparage the profession—it's a rather thankless job. Listeners/readers take any successes for granted and ridicule failures. But they're being asked to accomplish on a daily basis what is essentially impossible—simply because weather is, has been, and always will be unpredictable. You can equip yourself with rooms full of hight-tech instruments, measure all the variables you wish, plug everything into the latest and greatest software program…and a second later something—or everything—changes and it was all for naught. They've gotten better at long-range and near-immediate forecasts, but the 8-24 hour predictions are a crapshoot, and I often think y=they'd be better served to simply walk outside the studio and glance at the sky.

You're right—dam cold seems to penetrate much more than deep cold—at least in my aging body.

The light along the river changes constantly, and with it the look of the water. A glaze of morning sun looks totally different than evening light. I do like to see the dawn caught and reflected in the tops of the sycamores. Water and light enhance one another in wondrous ways, and my photo efforts to capture even a fraction of them fail miserably against the real thing.

Now, re. those wet T-shirt contests, while it may enhance some…it doesn't do a thing for me. :-)

As to

Arija said...

Frankly Grizz, I just threw the wet T-shirt in to get a rise, I like fishing. They do even less for me.

Sunrise, like reflections in water, has a certain quality that sunset cannot quite match.

I think your grandfather and my mother were related, her saying was 'even a blind chicken occasionally finds a barley grain'.

Grizz………… said...

Arija…

What I was trying to say was that a wet T-shirt on me is no enhancement—I just look like a guy who needs a dry shirt. Alas, my days of being mistaken for Johnny Wiesmuller are history. (Yeah, I know, fictional history.)

Probably way back, some thoughtful Cro-Magnon probably grunted out something about "even a blind saber-tooth tiger occasionally gets his fangs around a Neanderthal."

Arija said...

Thanks, your answer gave me the grin for the day.

Grizz………… said...

Arija…

You're welcome. Nothing like a good visual to draw a chuckle.

Hilary said...

Beautiful, golden sunlight in these photos. It reminds me of a place that is dear to me. I love the bird pics and the image of the furry squirrels all cuddled up together. You sure have much beauty around you.

Grizz………… said...

Hilary…

I do live in a lovely setting. The cottage isn't all that much, but you can't beat the river and wildlife just beyond the door. I'm blessed.