Warm and cold were battling it out here in the Bogs this morning. We had what is called a temperature inversion where the air up above is warm, causing rain, but down below it’s freezing, causing the rain to turn to ice when it hits the trees and the ground and everything else in the cold zone.
It’s back! Winter has returned, and not in a very nice way. It started with snow late yesterday afternoon. Sometime overnight it turned to freezing rain and sleet. Then back to snow this morning.
I went out for my walk early today. I didn’t stay out longer than the commitment-required minimum of 30 minutes. The radar is showing more sleet/freezing rain on the way. I’m hoping it will turn to snow before it arrives. But just in case, I decided to keep my walk to a minimum so I could get back inside and warm up myself and the house before the next round of winter precipitation arrives.
It’s very crunchy outside. That’s better than being slippery. Still, everything is iced over to some degree. Putting up the flag on the mailbox, for instance, was impossible as it is completely iced over. Hopefully our mail person will have the good sense to take the mail that’s in there for pick-up without the flag to notify them it’s in there.
I did not go into the woods, although it looks very pretty back that way. The tree branches are being weighed down by the ice, and everything is crackling and crunching. Getting bonked on the head by a falling tree or branch would not be a good thing.
Nature has undoubtedly mastered the art of winter gardening and even the most experienced gardener can learn from the unrestrained beauty around them.
~ Vincent A. Simeone
I’ll leave you with a few more photos of Nature’s handiwork. I want to get this set up to auto-post later today, in case we have a power outage.
And one of man’s handiwork:
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.
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 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.
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!)
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.
I’m going to try to get my post published early today. I have a lot to do so we’ll see how it goes. The weather folks have been yammering on about The Big Winter Storm for the past several days. Round One came through last night and early this morning. The sound of it woke me up around 2:30am. I couldn’t figure out what it was at first. It was a whooshing, shooshing, tinkling sound. I finally got up to look out the patio door. Being dark outside, I didn’t see much so I opened the door and realized some sort of frozen precipitation was falling. Whether it was sleet or freezing rain, I’m not sure. Very likely sleet from the sounds of it and the way things looked this morning.
In case you don’t know the difference, sleet is snow that melts in the sky and refreezes before hitting the ground. It’s a lot like hail. Freezing rain, a condition MUCH worse, is snow that melts and doesn’t refreeze until it hits a cold surface (when the temperature on the ground is below 32°F), causing a glaze of ice to cover everything. This usually results in limbs falling off trees and power outages, not to mention (but I will anyhow) slick surfaces.
Round Two of the The Big Winter Storm is expected to arrive this evening in the form of freezing rain. If all goes as predicted, that could mean a power outage which also means no water as well as no heat. To get ready for that, I’ll be filling up pitchers, bottles, and the tub with water so we can cook, drink, wash up, brush our teeth, and flush the toilets. (When the pond isn’t frozen, we can use pond water for that last purpose.) Cooking can be accomplished on the gas stovetop since we don’t need electricity for that. M will be hauling in firewood for heating purposes.
I also have to get outside for my daily adventure and feed the birds.
The Weekend Ski Trip
As stated in a previous post, M and I made our way over to a ski resort (The Wilderness Lodge) in Pennsylvania on Sunday morning. I don’t think we could have timed it any better. The fresh snow we’d had overnight had been cleared from the roads, and it provided wonderful cross-country skiing conditions for us. When we checked in the woman who took our money and gave us our ski passes mentioned that the forecast had been for an inch of snow and they got about seven inches instead. With everything covered in snow, it sure was a beautiful ride.
After checking in and before putting on our skis, I took a couple of photos. Then I put the camera away. Not being familiar with the trails, and not being confident enough on skis to take it along, it seemed a good idea. M and I decided to stay on the west side trails, behind the lodge, because (we were informed) those would be the easiest trails for beginners. Even the intermediate trails were not too bad and we were able to handle them.
After about an hour of skiing, we went to the lodge for some lunch. I did not bring my camera with me inside the lodge. I wish I had. It was a very winter skiing type of atmosphere. Nothing fancy. There was a roaring fire in a round fireplace as you enter the eating area where people put their gloves and mittens to dry out while they warmed up.
We had a delicious meal (soup and sandwiches) along with some hot tea. We decided to stay away from the bar, the beer, and the wine since we were going back out for some more fun in the snow. After refueling our bodies, we bundled up again for another round of skiing.
This is where things got a little risky. I decided to take the camera. I put it under my coat and hoped for the best. If we had decided to try different trails, I would not have taken it. But we did okay on our first time around the beginner and intermediate trails so I thought I could risk it.
I didn’t remember the first and biggest downhill portion as being as long as it was. I suspect that’s because I took it very slowly the first time around. As I was going down the second time, I wondered where the big hill had come from. About three-fourths of the way down my skis crossed and I went flying forward, crashing into the snow. Thank goodness I managed to land in such a way that both the camera and my body were fine.
There were plenty of people out and about but most of the time M and I had the trails to ourselves. Of course that wasn’t the case when I fell. There was a group of about six people coming the other way to witness it.
With the fall out of the way, and being none the worse for it, I was able to carry on without the nervousness that initially plagued me and have some fun skiing and taking photos. It was so beautiful back in the woods that I really wanted to be able to capture some of it. I’m glad I took the risk.
It was also remarkably quiet in the woods. It was so quiet that when we stopped to listen, all we could hear were our own inhalations, exhalations, and heartbeats in between the occasional whoosh of snow as piles of it, large and small, fell from the trees.
It took us a little longer to go around the loop the second time. We avoided the trail marked “cardiac hill” except to stop and take a photo of M looking as though he just finished coming up the hill. By the time we finished we were both thoroughly and wonderfully exhausted.
The Wilderness Lodge is about 40-50 miles south of Erie, Pennsylvania which is where we went next to spend the night at a hotel there. We had a lovely dinner at a pub near our hotel and then, being so worn out, we crashed around 9pm. That worked out well as we were up bright and early on Monday for our next adventure. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow (or until the power comes back on if we have an outage) for the rest of the story.
It’s time for me to head outside to deal with some chores, storm preparation, and meet my daily commitment. If anything of interest happens, I’ll be sure to come back and update this post. (I don’t really expect that will be necessary.)