Clearly Cold


Around here in the winter, a relatively warmer day will be cloudy or wet, while a clear day is almost inevitably cold.  For all the blather about wind chill, I am one of the old school that worries a lot more about the actual, absolute degree.  I, for one, do not stand around naked in this weather (nor any other) and don’t really care what the temperature would feel like if I did so.

Ice forms decorations on the infinitely varied tideline.  A visiting New York conceptual artist could do no better.  A New York conceptual art critic, on the other hand, might make a great deal of all this while seeking to enlighten you and me about the profound meaning of it all, and especially about the possible dollar value of the transient artifact, and even more emphatically about the importance of such critics to our world.

Now is about a dormant as things get in this relatively mild maritime climate.  Oh, there will be another month of hard freezes and deep snows, maybe the grass will brown a bit more.  But surprisingly, as the days grow noticeably longer, there are also increased signs of growth.

Already I can see the tips of bulbs pushing up from frozen beds.  A few pussy willows are almost open, and buds are noticeably swelling in some of the trees.  These things become more and more obvious as each thaw reveals a bit more life.  My problem is that I think because I see them happening that spring must be near.  It is not.


Snow arrived earlier than expected, with cold.  This is around eleven on Tuesday, temperature about fifteen, wind driving the snow horizontally.  The visibility has obviously been knocked down considerably.  Believe it or not, there are still some of us old regular walkers and joggers out here, pretending we are as hardy as our ancestors.

When heading back into the gale, I was grateful to be wearing a ski mask to take away some of the stinging as the flakes were driven into my cheeks.  Other than that I was incredibly warm, layered in wonderful modern materials.  Being retired means I can totally enjoy days like this, since I have nowhere to go and nothing to do.   The hard part, as it was all my life, is to make the effort to get out the door and experience the storm, instead of sitting on the couch listening to others try to describe it.

When I titled the week, I foresaw the polar air and the blue skies, but not the snow in between.  Well, we’ve got the blue skies and the frigid temperature and a blustery wind.  So we can just sort of ignore all the snow on the ground.

I’m not along the harbor this morning because I hate walking in this.  Oh, not the six degree temperatures _ my clothes can handle that fine.  The lack of shoulders along the roads, and the anger of the drivers who must be out and about, make me feel I am doing some death defying stunt every time I venture past the end of our driveway.  People have never been so independent of the weather, yet, no matter, they still resent any ruffle to their internal timetables.


All these nights below ten degrees, the harbor is finally starting to freeze over.  Looks like we may get a pretty thick cover this year, shifting and crushing, which means some of the folks who left
their boats in the water have lost their bet.  But, of course, anything can happen.

This view makes it pretty obvious why no reeds survive upright by the end of the winter.  Not even counting the snow and gales, the water does a pretty good job of pulverizing any organic matter on shore.  It’s all very beautiful if you are dressed warmly and can appreciate it.  Infinite diamonds sparking under a stark sky.

Maybe the geese wonder what happened to the water, maybe they don’t care.  I can’t get any closer because I would no doubt slide right down into a hole.

For eons, humans have attached their own thoughts and attributes to other animals, rocks, spirits and natural events.  Scientists tell us it is foolish, but making stories is after all how we form our real world-view.  I will let those geese think just what I think they should ….


There is still some low-hanging fruit around for birds that are adventurous enough.  When it gets below 10, you don’t seem to find many of the smaller creatures.  Probably takes more energy to look for food than it is apt to provide.

It’s always nice to find some unexpected natural color in the landscape.  Winter is brown and white and _charitably _ blue if we include the sky.  I know, I know, dawn and sunset break those rules. Still, these red berries at midday are oddly comforting. 


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