Saturday, January 17, 2009


One thing about 83 hours below zero is, it makes 15 above feel like spring. After three days of temperatures between 30 below and 5 below, today we woke up to a balmy 15-degree day. Of course, the wind has picked up, and snow flurries are flying, so once I strapped on the snowshoes and got out on the prairie it didn't feel quite as good.
A friend posted a video yesterday of himself throwing a cup of boiling water in the air outside his Minneapolis apartment. Supposedly at 20 below the water will turn instantly to steam. Well, his more or less poured out on the ground. It was anticlimactic to say the least. When I got home, I noticed this great icicle growing up out of the ground beneath the vent from our furnace. To think that hot steam was turning to ice this quickly is kind of freakish.
This kind of cold doesn't bother me, really. You know it's going to happen, and it doesn't last more than a few days. The heat runs all the time and rooms are still cold, but you put on a knit cap inside and some wool socks and hunker down. School was canceled for elementary and high school students for two days because it was too dangerous to stand at the bus stop. Otherwise, people went on as usual.
I was feeling a little homebound, so it was good to get out on my snowshoes. However, the wind was really intense, and the drifting made it hard to trudge around. I am not a believer in using poles with snowshoes; I think they end up becoming a crutch. But it did mean I fell twice getting tangled up in drifts. On Christmas and the day after there was perfect weather and about a foot of snow, and I ust loved walking around on the deer tracks. I saw a poor vole some hawk had stuck on a thistle branch, and the tops of grasses are really lovely. Now the snow is up to about two feet, and it's more work. The deer tracks are drifted over. My brother and sister-and-law go out cross-country skiing on the property quite diligently, and it looks like a lot of work. But that's part of what I like about winter: the Puritan or pioneer sense that there's something good about working hard in your environment. It's a virtue I found lacking in both Northern and Southern California, and remember telling people in Palo Alto that I really missed having something to struggle against, even if it was just the weather. In Southern California it was better-- at least you had the density of population to struggle with.
Last Saturday Steve and I went cross-country skiing out at Quarry Park. It's a giant old quarry and there are lots of granite rock piles around. In the summer people swim there (think Breaking Away). In the snow it was quite beautiful. The ski trails out there are also lit at night, so I'd like to get back there this season. We were skiing over an hour and hardly saw anyone, though the parking lot was full. Then we did the inner loop, which was more crowded. I never understand what it is about National Parks or other places that you only have to go about a quarter-mile off the trail and suddenly you're alone. It's kind of wonderful.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

God love you for loving the cold. Some people were just meant to live up North. In TN, if we get more than 1 inch of snow, the whole town shuts down, schools close, etc. It's hilarious! I can picture you in your snow shoes but I'd love for you to post a picture. Enjoy the snow.