Beach Morning

Have you ever gone outside on a beautiful, sunny, March morning when the snow is still crusty from the freeze the night before and the sun is warm on your face?

And when you were out there did you ever look at a nice big spot of snow that didn’t yet have foot prints on it and think, “Hmmm?….”

“Ahhh yes!”

“This does feel just like the beach!”

 

 

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Coldest Place on Earth

Winter is winding down. We still have a foot of snow on the ground and the driveway is still covered in ice but the sun has warmth again and the forecast for the week ahead is starting to lean toward spring temperatures. I suspect by this time next week we will have a whole different landscape out the window.

Looking back I think it’s been a great winter-y sort of winter. We are not blessed here in southern Wisconsin to have winters that automatically come with piles of snow and cold weather but this year we were. Of course this year we also had, according to our school’s superintendent, “an unprecedented amount of snow days” and some people didn’t really like that. Other people complained that they ran out of places to put snow along their driveways and sidewalks, I guess they didn’t like that either.  Still other people liked to share the shocking fact that for a bit it was colder here than in Antarctica (of course it was summer in Antarctica, but people using that phrase don’t like when that is pointed out to them). In any case it was undeniably cold here, the weather powers-that-be called it a polar vortex.

I liked to call it real winter but that made people want to facewash me in that lovely winter snow. Fortunately for me, those were also the people who didn’t want to follow me outside into the cold and snow so I was pretty safe. And yes, it was super cold, like pipe freezing cold and “Wow, let’s use the infrared thermometer to take the temperature of the toilet seat because I think my butt is freezing to it” cold.  One could be upset by that or you could just relish in the fact that taking the temperature of the bathroom floor vs the toilet seat vs the living room floor vs the woodstove is a fun game to play with the infrared thermometer you always wanted but never needed. Of course that’s just inside the house, the real fun was outside.

Going outside when the windchill drops to 40 below (for my international friends that’s the same in Fahrenheit and Celsius) is an adventure. There are layers and layers to put on and eyelashes try to freeze together and your boogers certainly freeze inside your nose and if you spill water on yourself while hauling it to poultry it freezes solid before you get inside and, if you really get a good gust of wind on your forehead, the cold can cut through all your hats and layers and give you an ice cream headache just from standing in it.

It’s amazing when it gets that cold!

Reading back on that I fear I have failed to relay the amount of fun that is. Maybe you have to be a certain kind of person to find the fun in just being when the air makes your face hurt. But what can I say, I’m that person.

My (possibly weird) love of the cold is not the point though. The point is, it was quite cold and wintry here.  However as cold as it was outside, I maintain the odd truth that the coldest place around (certainly colder than Antarctica was this February) are gas station bathrooms. How they manage to keep their water running at such frigid temperatures is clearly some form of gas station magic that us mere mortals are not privy too. As much time as I spent outside in the “dangerously cold” weather I was never as cold as I was in a gas station bathroom. In fact I’m willing to put forth the theory that it’s possibly the weathermen had it wrong and this “polar vortex” situation was really just what happens when too many gas station bathroom doors open simultaneously.

How about you? Were you any place colder than a gas station bathroom this winter?

What’s Good for the Goose…

Last week we had an ice storm. 

No, that’s overly dramatic and not very accurate.

Last week we had lots of nice beautiful snow.  Then the temperature did un-winter like things and the precipitation that fell was not snow. One morning I woke up to discover that we no longer had snow. Instead we had white ground covering what looked like snow but was actually ice and it was still raining/sleeting/hailing/anything-but-snowing.

It’s like snow, but instead ice with hail frozen to it’s surface between the puddles of water. Notice the dog isn’t even running- it was that slippery.

I headed out to do the chores and while ice was glistening on all the branches making a beautiful sight it took me an unprecedented amount of time to haul my buckets of water across the ice that was masquerading as a snowy yard to the birds. 

I let my birds out and the geese walked down their ramp and tried to walk across the snow-ice to their water pan but their big ol’ feet kept slipping in old ruts and they fell on their faces.  I would have taken a video but they don’t like me laughing at them and if they found out I had done that they would have held a grudge. You don’t want a goose with a grudge.

Instead, I slipped and slid and swore my way over to the brooder house with it’s winter supply of straw and then slipped and slid and swore my way back over to the poultry and spread them a nice layer of straw so they could stand and walk without slipping. Satisfied they’d be fine for the day I started back toward the house doing my now second-nature awkward penguin shuffle with the tiny steps as slipped in and out of every old foot print I ever made, occasionally flapping my arms like a dancing ostrich to keep my balance.

Then I stopped the insanity, looked back at the geese happily walking on their straw and headed back to the brooder house.

You know what they say, What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander.

And me and the dogs…

Happy with my straw trails, I shortcuted through the non-slippery house to the front to see what sort of beautiful ice coatings I could find and to check out the driveway.

The ice was indeed beautiful.

The driveway was indeed ice.

But what’s good for the goose…

… it looked odd, it was a bit unorthodox but it worked!

 

 

The Best At Remembering

Recently Jane’s snow pants went missing. I’m not sure how regular of a reader you are, or if you live in the area, but this is January in Wisconsin. It’s cold and we do things outside. Snow pants are super necessary.

On the evening it was discovered that Jane’s snow pants were missing, we were on our way to the kids’ cross country ski lessons. Again, when you are seven and the windchill is in the single digits snow pants are super necessary for skiing.

In attempting to track down the snow pants we decided that they were either, still at the ski place from last time we were there, left at Grandma’s where the kids had been since the last time they skied or in the back of the truck in the ginormous pile of bags, ski clothes and general debris.

The only thing we knew for certain was that they weren’t in the truck and so a lively discussion of where they might be started. It was all hypothetical and going fine until Jane panicked when she realized she  might have left them at Grandma’s, about a two hour drive from home.  Then I reminded her that Grandma is a wonderful Grandma who will pack up forgotten items and send them in the mail the next day.

“Really?” says Clara, “I didn’t know she did that.”

“Yeah,” Jane says, “once she mailed me my rainbow crown.”

“What rainbow crown?”

“The rainbow crown that Otis broke and then that one guy was at our house I think his name was uhhh Matt, yeah Matt and he fixed it with that thing that started on fire in his pocket and then I left it at Grandma’s and then she mailed it to me” Jane explained.

I broke in with a “Wow. Yup. She’s right, good memory Jane” (Because Otis is a little boy who moved across the country almost three years ago and the man who fixed it was indeed named Matt and she only met him that one night, and no matter how you cut it that’s a pretty good memory).

“Yeah.” says Jane with not a hint of modesty, “I’m the best at remembering.”

“Okay remembering girl!” I said, “Remember me this! Where are your snow pants!!!”

“Mom. I don’t remember stuff like that!”

 

They were at the ski place. She… forgot… them there. 

Winter Weather

Spring hogs the word ephemeral with it’s wildflowers, ponds and streams that are here one day and gone the next.

I never hear the word ephemeral applied to winter but it should be. Those delicate flowers of spring have nothing on the changing moods of a winter day.

Grey snow fall to brilliant sun.

Snow that bites as it flies out of the sky can turn to softly falling frozen glitter in the span of moments.

Hoar frost that melts away with even the lightest touch of the low winter sun.

And ever changing blue shadows that crisscross the woods.

Spring may have flowers that come and go and storms that are here and gone again but there is nothing that can compare with the ephemeral nature of a winter day.