Thawing out

Water streaming under the snow

We’re having a winter warm-up here in the Bogs today.  There is still plenty of snow and ice to be found, but you can hear the water rushing downhill under the snow and ice.

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157: Sunday signage, a snowman and some tapping

(Sign for s sign store in Mantua, Ohio.)

First things first:  Thank you all for your well wishes.  It must have worked.  After the best night’s sleep I’ve had in weeks, I woke up this morning pain-free and feeling great.  Thank you, thank you, and thank you.  And you too.  🙂

M and I did go skiing today.  We have to drive through the town of Mantua to get to the place where we most like to ski (Chapin Forest Reservation).  Not everyone appreciates driving through Mantua, mostly because you have to slow down to 25 mph to go through town and the local cops are usually ready, willing, and able to give you a ticket for speeding.  (Frankly, it’s a speed trap, especially in the summer months.)  One of the reasons I enjoy going through Mantua is because it was (well, still is) the home of one of my favorite signs (pictured above).  I love the play on words.  The place is for sale now.  I don’t know if that means they moved or if they went out of business.

(The promised snowman.)

This blown-up doll of a snowman was not the only snowman we saw today.  The snow has finally acquired a texture good enough for making snowballs, snowmen/women, snow penguins, and snow forts.  It’s been a strange season in that regard, with snow so fluffy and dry that making a snowball (much less a snowperson) was almost impossible.  Kids of all ages must have been out having a good time yesterday and today, building snowpeople in their front yards.  We passed quite a few of them on our way to the ski trails.

We had a great time skiing.  I almost didn’t want to stop.  We went further than we have before, which is par for our skiing course.  Each time out we go a little further, a little longer.  This will probably be out last chance to ski this season.  Rain will be arriving tonight and it will be warm tomorrow.  It will cool down a bit after that, but it won’t be a major winter-type cool down.  Upper 30’s, low 40’s.

(Do you know what this is?)

I was thinking of leaving that caption hanging out there without an answer but that hardly seems fair.  One of the other things you would see right now if you were to drive through Mantua are collecting buckets hanging from the maple trees.  Any idea what they might be collecting?

I wrote this post a couple of year ago, describing the annual tradition that involves maple trees, taps, and collecting.  I didn’t have many visitors to this blog at that time.  Perhaps it’ll get a few more readers now.  Just in case you don’t feel like visiting an old post, I will tell you that the bucket represents a sign of spring in these parts.  The maple trees are being tapped for their sap which will be turned into some of the tastiest maple syrup you’ve ever had.  I know most folks think of Vermont or Canada or other places up that way when it comes to maple syrup.  But Ohio has some really tasty maple syrup, too.  If you want to read more about it, go see that old post I linked to a few sentences ago.

We capped off our day with margaritas on the porch.  The sun was shining, it was warm and lovely out there, and it seemed a good day to do a little celebrating.  M is firing up the grill for our black bean burgers as I type, reminding me that I should get upstairs and get to work on the rest of our dinner.

The only slightly sour note to the day is that I seem to have lost a year’s worth of photos from my external hard drive.  C’est la vie.  We’ll either figure it out and find them or we won’t.  I’ve been having a series of problems with the computer lately, things working off and on, and M did some maintenance on it today.  It may be time to look into getting a new one.  In the meantime, I will continue to sing love songs to my current computer as it seems to me electronic equipment (and cars) work better for me when I tell it how wonderful it is and give thanks every time it works.

It is a custom that began with my first car, a 1960 VW beetle.  The car was only 15 years old when I started driving it, and it lasted a few years after that.  M and I gave it up when the front end fell off on our way to a picnic.  The guy at the shop said you can only weld so much before there is nothing left to weld on to.  We replaced the VW with a 1963  Ford Ranchero.  But that’s a whole other story…


137: Hiking to the dam

(Train station.  Oil Creek State Park.  Pennsylvania.)

When we last saw our intrepid cross-country skiing, hiking couple, they were making their way to one of the Oil Creek State Park train stations for the purpose of trekking across the snowy trail to the ice control dam.

Actually, one of us trekked.  The other decided skiing was the way to go.  The one with the camera trekked/hiked.  And I gotta tell ya, it was slow going.  The snow was deeper than I thought, having only experienced it in this area on skis this trip.

(Walking along the railroad tracks.)

I’m not entirely sure that was a public trail beside the tracks.  Who can tell in winter?  There were no “keep out” or “no trespassing signs” and it was obvious the tracks were not being used this time of year.  The lucky part is that there were tracks in the snow from a truck or some other vehicle, making it a little easier for the hiker with the camera.  The cross-country skier seemed to benefit from it too.

(The dam.)

You may be wondering why we would take the trouble to hike a mile to see an ice control dam.  Two miles round trip.  Well, we drove past it, slowed down to look, and both thought it would be interesting to get a closer look as neither of us have ever seen anything like it.  The road to the parking area near the dam was closed and, after consulting the map (one of those things on paper, not a GPS, something we don’t have), we saw the possibility that we could hike to it from the other side of the creek.

You may be wondering what an ice control dam is.  Me too.  It’s not easy to find information on this particular ice control dam.  I finally found an article called Ice Dams:  Taming An Icy River which explains it all nicely (leave it to Popular Mechanics to explain things nicely and well).  Basically, it prevents a build-up of large chunks of ice (an ice dam) which can then cause flooding in a place where you don’t want flooding (towns, etc.).

Although not tall, it still provided a number of layers to look at, especially with all the ice and snow.  You could see where the rains from a few days ago had brought the water levels up as there were large chunks of ice laying around along with some trees and branches.

Looking at the dam from our perspective at the time, to the right the creek appeared frozen over.  To the left, the water ran mostly free in channels with small chunks of ice floating on top.

It was fascinating if you’re nerdy the way we are.  And even if you’re not if might be.  The way the ice and snow build on the dam and the water sometimes flows under a thick cover of ice was certainly not something I see all the time.

(Close up of  a small section of the dam.)

I must swear too much.  I keep typing “damn” where it should be dam.  Damn.  I did it again.  But corrected it so you can’t tell I did if I hadn’t just mentioned it.

(A blue wall.)

I was busy watching the creek on our hike to the dam.  On the way back I took a good look at the walls of rock to our right and found that water had seeped through the rocks in the same way as at the Blue Wall.  It wasn’t nearly as impressive in that it wasn’t gathered together in one, half-circle space, but it was tall, blue and pretty cool.

So endeth our adventures of last weekend.  Thank goodness.  That means I can move on to current events.  Not that there’s a lot to report there but it’s nice to be caught up.

Sunday skiing

We had fresh snow yesterday and overnight so you know what that means…  skiing!  We were up early so we decided to head north to Chapin Forest Reservation where we’ve found the best cross-country skiing in our area.  To date.  We’re new at this.  There may be better places to go.  We just haven’t found them yet.

(Fresh snow.  Chapin Forest Reservation.)

Since we’re getting a little better at skiing, we went further than our first trip out there, exploring the trails a bit more.  M thinks we should be able to go from one side of the park to the other, have lunch in the lodge, and then head back on our next outing.  We’ll see.

(Snow at seat level.)

I’m beginning to run down.  I’ve had a lot of aches and pains for the past few weeks.  I normally bully my way through it and keep moving, but it may be time for me to rest a little because it’s getting pretty bad.  It’s time to spend time soaking in the disco tub.  Do some gentle and restorative yoga.  Just rest and recover so I’ll be ready for a long skiing adventure.

Today’s CD: David Byrne, Rei Momo.  You can listen to some of the songs here.

You probably know David Byrne from Talking Heads.  Once again, I like the Latin-infused rhythms and sounds.  One review I read described it as merger of Latin American music with Brit-pop-wave with a definite Talking Heads flavor to it.   It’s certainly eclectic.  (I wonder how often I’m going to use “eclectic” to describe individual selections in what has to be a truly eclectic collection of music that M and I have gathered over the years.)


136: Presque Isle Lighthouse

(Presque Isle Lighthouse.)

As I was going through the photos from Monday morning’s jaunt around Presque Isle, it occurs to me that the sky was almost perfect.  I like the way the clouds almost match the snow and ice, with hints of blue showing between them.

I had planned to walk over to the lighthouse when we finished on the beach and ice dunes.  I wanted to be closer for some of the photos.  But it was so cold out there.  The wind was harsh and my face was starting to hurt so I ended up making a dash for the warmth of the car instead of getting more pictures.

We left Presque Isle, stopping at one or two more beaches along the way to look at more ice dunes.  Then we made our way to Oil Creek State Park which is about an hour’s drive south of Erie.

(Near the visitor’s center.  Oil Creek State Park.  Pennsylvania.)

The Oil Creek Valley in Pennsylvania is the site of the world’s first commercial oil well.  The state park has a variety of interpretive exhibits where you can learn about the early oil industry, oil boomtowns, oil wells, and transportation.  The park also has a lot of hiking trails some of which, in the winter, are used for cross-country skiing.

(The warming hut.  Oil Creek State Park.)

M and I had been to Oil Creek State Park several years ago.  We went in the fall to do some hiking.  I think that may have been before I got a digital camera as I can’t locate the photos on my computer.

I did not take photos of the skiing trails since I wasn’t sure what we would encounter along the way.  It’s a good thing I left the camera behind as I had a pretty good spill at the beginning.  Before we’d had a chance to warm up, we were going downhill and around a curve, something I wasn’t ready for so down I went.  It was my one and only fall on this outing.  We did the beginner’s loop first and then gave one of the intermediate trails a try.  All in all, we were out there for about an hour.

When we finished skiing we drove over to one of the park’s railway stations so we could make our way along the tracks to see the ice control dam.  I’ll be back with photos of that (and a miniature version of the Blue Wall) tomorrow.

Another blue-sky day, followed by another gray-sky day

The sun was with us once again yesterday.  It was nice to have two sunny days in a row.  We’ve had a weird combination of snow, sleet, and freezing rain today.  Messy.

(Yesterday’s view of the creek.)

While out walking yesterday I very much wished for a pair of snowshoes.  The trek through the crusty snow, very deep in spots, was difficult and it took me twice as long as usual to walk to the creek and back.

(Sun and shadows in the woods.)

Little things caught my attention yesterday.  A feather sitting on top of the snow:

And ice sculptures.  There were little ice sculptures everywhere.

(Wrapped in a leaf.)

(A small wave.)

(Ice bubbles.)

There were also some very cool icicles hanging about on the shed.

(An inside look.)

I took the camera with me today but didn’t get much in the way of nature shots since I ended up standing under the barn extension for a good deal of the time I was out there.  The snow, sleet, rain mixture was all rain until shortly after I came back inside when it turned to all snow.

(Waiting for spring.)

I got tired of watching the gray and the rain so I turned the camera on some of the objects sitting or hanging around under the extension to the barn.

(Sunshiny sledgehammer.)

And that, folks, is about it from the Bogs for today.  Thanks for visiting!


133: More from the woods plus storm update

(In the woods at Wilderness Lodge resort.)

I know I wrote that I would tell you about Monday.  And I will.  But as I was sorting through the next batch of photos from our second trip around the ski trails on Sunday, I realized that I hadn’t even gotten to the best part.  One of the reasons we decided to take up cross-country skiing was to be able to go deep into the woods faster and with less effort than walking through deep snow.  Had we been walking on Sunday, we never would have made it as far back into the woods as we went.  Not just because of the difficulty in trekking through deep snow.  You are not allowed to walk on the ski trails at Wilderness Lodge.  It ruins them for skiing.  (Reminder:  You can click on any of the photos to see the slightly larger version.)

As I show you some photos from that portion of our ski adventures, I’ll tell you a little about yesterday’s outdoor walk.  I was wrong about the sleet.  Or at least partially wrong.  There must have been some freezing rain as there was a coating of ice on everything.  I took some photos, but the ice doesn’t show up well because the coating was so thin and the lighting was so terrible.  It was dark and gloomy, the way it looks before a big storm.

(M, way ahead of me on the trail.)

A red-tailed hawk was flying overhead, making a big racket.  Perhaps he was warning the rest of the critters about the incoming storm.

(I love the way the trees form an archway.  That’s M up ahead.)

I started this post on Tuesday, by the way.  I decided it to get it ready to auto-post in case of a power outage.  While I am not such a perfectionist that I’ll be upset if I miss a post due to an act of Mother Nature, I had the time so I thought I might as well get a post ready.  Just in case.

Getting back to yesterday’s walk, the temperature was a little warmer than we experienced during our skiing adventures but felt colder.  I don’t know if that’s due to the coating of ice or if it just felt that way because of the gloominess.  The snow was crunchy and most of the time I was able to walk on top of it rather than sink in as usual.

(Going back to the lodge.)

Thus ends our first skiing adventure (and yesterday’s outdoor walk).  I’ll be back with Monday’s winter fun on Thursday or whenever the power comes back on if there is an outage.  (I have an auto-post for that, too.  I am so organized.  lol!)

(Admiring the icicles after skiing on Sunday.)

Today

We still have power this morning so I’m going to get this updated and posted.  When we went to bed last night the sleet was coming down pretty heavily.  At some point it changed over to rain.  I woke up once thinking the spring rains were upon us, complete with a rumble of thunder.  Then I realized it could be freezing rain and all the happy thoughts of spring were banished for the moment.

Around 4:30am there was quite a bit of crashing going on.  I thought it might be snow and ice sliding off the roof.  Now I’m not so sure.  There are plenty of tree limbs on the ground this morning so it may have been the trees complaining about the wind which had picked up considerably.

I am just back from today’s walk and lemme tell ya, it is brutal out there.  Seriously brutal.  We have sustained winds of 22 mph, gusting to up to 35 mph.  There is a mixture of snow and sleet pummeling us right now, causing white-out conditions.  I could barely see when I was out there trying to refill the bird feeder.  Both the wind and the sleet-snow mixture sting any exposed skin.  It is currently 32°F but feels like 19°F.  The temperature is steadily dropping as the morning progresses.  We should be down into the 20s by noon, and somewhere around 10°F tonight.

I took the camera (under my coat) but did not take any photos.  I would like to have captured some of the strange looking ice formations on the shrubs.  Maybe later. I’ve been known to take risks with the camera but this was too much, even for me.  The wind and sleet-snow combination would not have been good for the camera, much less picture-taking.


127: Musical interludes

(Airiness.)

One of my resolutions this year is to include more music in my life.  To sing, to dance, to listen.  I have been turning on the radio every day while I exercise or clean.  Or I go to blip.fm if I’m in the mood to make my own playlist or listen to something specific while I’m at the computer.  Or I visit Radio WTH for a dose of “Just Damn Good Music.”

Today as I was dusting (somebody’s gotta do it) it occurred to me that M and I have a mighty fine music collection of our own that I could be listening to.  While we do have plenty of vinyl (and a turntable to play it on), I decided to start with the CD’s.  I realize CD’s seem to be almost as obsolete as vinyl now that most people have some version of an MP3 player, but our CD collection is fairly up-to-date within our range of likes.  However, being a pretty extensive hodgepodge of music, pulling one at random meant a blast from the past.

Today’s CD:  The Pat Metheny Group’s Still Life (Talking).

It’s been a long time since I last listened to Pat Metheny.  The music took me back to our time in Chicago and a summer night lying on the grass listening to Pat Metheny at an outdoor venue (the name of which escapes me at the moment and I’m too lazy to look it up).  I was not too lazy to wander over to his website, though, and spend a little time listening to Pat Metheny radio.  Head on over (click here) and check it out.

Outdoor adventures

M and I went to Quail Hollow State Park yesterday for an hour of cross-country skiing.  The trails were a little slick.  Not really icy, but with hikers having packed down the snow by walking all over the ski tracks, our skis would slide all over the place in spots.  Most spots.  It wasn’t comfortable skiing, especially when the legs slide in different directions.

(In the woods at Quail Hollow.)

We haven’t seen the sun since the weekend.  It has been dark gray and gloomy.  The snow had taken on some of the grayness but we’re getting a fresh coating today which has brightened it up.

(Skiing at Quail Hollow.)

I’m heading out in a few minutes to do some skiing around Breezy Acres.  I need the practice, and that will help me meet my outdoor commitment for today.  Even when it’s gray and gloomy, I gotta get out there.


126: The Marmot

(Marmot.  Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.  August 2010.)

I asked this marmot to step in as a placeholder of sorts for me and he (or she) has graciously agreed.  I need a little break from my usual rambles and long blog posts.

The break will give me a chance to catch up on email, read blogs, leave comments, and all kinds of other good stuff.

Today’s outdoor time will take place late in the afternoon.  M and I are going cross-country skiing at a nearby park.  I’ll take the camera along in case I have time and light to hike around a little after we ski.  Even after taking the ski lesson, I am not confident enough to bring the camera along while I’m on skis.

P.S.  After doing the post about spacing and handwriting (see This and that), I’ve read a few other blog posts on both subjects.  I particularly like Quinn’s post, Bye-Bye Handwriting.

For a sample of my handwriting, click here.  It’s an old post at my other blog, Bountiful Healing.