Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Short Cold Walk

The winter weather rollercoaster continues. After a (relatively) balmy Friday and Saturday, with temps stretching into the high 30s (F), Arctic winds came roaring through the state last night, gusting to over 40 miles per hour and driving the mercury downwards.

It's about 10º as I set out today, hatted and hooded and gloved and mittened and booted, wearing my warmest long underwear under snow pants and fleece shirt and jacket - all for a short afternoon walk. (It's such a chore to get dressed for outdoors at this time of year.) The wind is behind me at the start of my walk, so I'm deceived at first into thinking the afternoon milder than it is.

Over my head, the moon shivers and hugs herself in a cold blue sky dotted with clouds...


...while cattails stay warm in their fuzzy jackets at the edge of the marshy lake-around-the corner.


Just after I snap the cattail photo, I see an actual cat - with tail - go running across the ice. It's got a visibly thick fur coat, but how does it keep its paws warm? (And what is it looking for?)


As I work my way across the fields, clouds roll in to provide a dramatic grey backdrop for this favourite line of trees:


At the pond behind the high school, river birches too are wearing multiple layers (much more stylish than mine):


Splinters like the towers of a tiny ruined city stand up from a weathered tree trunk:


Another favourite tree under the winter sky:


At my feet a leaf lies spread-eagled in the snow, wondering what it did to deserve such a chilly fate.


Gratuitous shot of my custom thumbless mitten (cut and sewn from a felted thrift-store sweater and perfect for blocking the wind):


Speaking of the wind, my path has now turned into it, and it's COLD - making my eyes water and highlighting the air gaps between my hood and my cheeks. Good thing today's walk is a short one.

Just next to the path, a fence wire is clasped in a small tree's inexorable embrace:


(Which will win this slow struggle of years? My money's on the tree. It's growing and adaptable, while the wire can only bend so far and must eventually snap.)

At the other side of the field, I get my first shadow shot in weeks. (Marigold, this is for you.)


And the wind isn't getting any warmer. Just one more photo of the marshy lake as I pass it on my way home:


The ice looks blotchy, and rather sullen, as though it wishes winter would make up its mind and give up this tedious freeze-thaw cycle. No chance of a thaw in the next week at least - we're heading into several days of near- and below-zero temps with wind chills of -15º to -25º F.

Years ago, when we announced our decision to move to Wisconsin from Southern California, the response of friends and family was inevitably the same: "Don't you know it gets cold there in the winter?" Yes, we knew. And we moved here anyway. We tell ourselves that cold weather builds character - and it does make a change from heat and humidity. :)

Here's to a warm and safe week ahead. What's the weather like where you live?

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42 comments:

  1. So cold. I have trouble converting Fahrenheit to Centigrade but I can tell that it is very chilly! Juliex

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    1. 5/9(F-32). One of the few things I remember from math class. :) Or you can just let Google do the work - type in "-25 Fahrenheit to Celsius" and it will pop right up.

      It's funny but the lower the temps, the less dire they sound in Celsius: -25 F is only -31C - seems like it ought to be much lower than that.

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  2. 50 F yesterday, but heading down into the teens for the coming week. Brrr cold, guess I'll have to get the winter gear out. Love your mittens!

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    1. Thanks Deborah - the sweater had cute little embroidered pussy willows which I tried to include in the mittens. :)

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  3. Sitting here in air conditioned comfort it's interesting reading your post Sue........
    We've had hot weather, the garden is wilting and it was so hot and windy last Thursday when I walked outside I could smell eucalyptus in the air .......as if the heat was sucking all the moisture from the trees. Days like that are scary.....they mean one thing...bushfires!!

    Your photos are just lovely....the limited colour palette makes them so interesting.....great texture on the Birch tree.
    You must feel like the Michelin man with all those layers on!
    Sending warm wishes form Oz....

    Claire :}

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    1. Thanks Claire - we've got air conditioned comfort too, only it's outside. And not that comfortable either after the first few minutes. :)

      Hope you stay safe and fire-free.

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  4. Since last Tuesday we've had a lot of snow. The wind is cold and it's about -7 degrees Celcius. A normal winter :)

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    1. That sounds very warm right now - it's -19 C tonight and going to be colder before morning! :)

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  5. My favourite photo is that pretty cut-out leaf in the snow. Those thumbless mittens look great for the big freeze!
    I agree with you totally about the seasons: cold in the winter, changeable in the spring and warm in the summer stretching out to an Indian Summer if at all possible!
    California does not tempt me and I positively wilt in hot and humid conditions!

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    1. Actually California weather is fairly mild (at least where we lived) and almost never humid. But Wisconsin summers are very sticky - I'm sure I'll be griping about it in a few months. :)

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  6. B-rrr, to say the least of your weather! You are a brave one! In the 30's here but rather nice. We set off to our fabulous zoo which had weekend festivities including a penguin walk! It is so much fun to see these majestic creatures (accompanied by more caretakers than penguins) sl-o-w-ly waddle the walkway, between the gauntlet of visitors, stopping to stare at those who are eye-level. Great experience for all to enjoy. We LOVE our zoo!

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    1. It sounds like a ton of fun. Penguins are so fascinating, and kind of inscrutable but in a humorous way (if that makes any sense).

      I hope your winter stays mild. :)

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  7. I think of cold animal feet too when I see them. I really love your picture of the birch layers and especially the "ruined city."
    Down in the ATL here we didn't even wear coats yesterday, a hoodie was enough. (This is a town where people never put away their shorts.) Your pictures may be as close as I get to a snowflake this year.

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    1. That sounds rather like SoCal - when I was there last February I was wearing cropped pants and t-shirts and picking oranges off my dad's trees. :)

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  8. Your prose, and your photos, all lovely. -clapping hands- You are a Pro, my Dear.

    Here it's going down, down, down for a bit. Brrrrrrrrr... :-) But, it IS January! ,-)

    "Auntie"

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    1. That's right - warm weather wouldn't feel right at this time of year. And after last year's drought I am welcoming winter - if only we'd get more snow!

      Thanks, Auntie. :)

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  9. As always great pictures. People always wonder when you leave California, they think there's something wrong with you. When we left for Georgia they asked if we didn't know how humid it was there. And yes we knew, but it was time to leave California, we'd found it unlivable.

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    1. Yes - unlivable is the very word. My sister remembers what a great place it was when she was a child - much more open and with dairy farms still dotted about. Now it's just traffic and concrete and hurry, hurry, hurry.

      But they DO have In-N-Out - a distinct advantage. :)

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  10. Beautiful pictures, stay warm and cozy.
    Meredith

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    1. Thanks, Meredith! We're doing our best. :)

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  11. Oh my goodness Mrs. M winds at -15 F to -25 sound super cold, I feel pain just thinking about it! Your Winter photography has captured the landscape perfectly. I love the stark whiteness of it all and the silence, oh the silence of snow is my favourite thing.
    It's been snowing here but no where as much as at your home, I have driven quite happily over the weekend and today to and from work. I don't like the ice though, that just scares me if I slip about.
    Regarding my "grinding halt" statement, We need quite a few inches for this to happen I think I over exaggerated a little but there is usually a bit of a panic as schools may close and people go home early from my work if there is a severe weather warning etc. It just never ceases to amaze me how unprepared this part of England is if it does snow since it is associated with snow and being a cold country. I would have thought they would have known how to deal with it when it does happen! Growing up in South Africa I always imagined England to have tractors and road snow sweepers etc but I am yet to see this other than grit being laid out on some main roads! I can only speak for my little part of England, I should think the further norther counties are much more organised than us on England's sunshine south coast :o) x P

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    1. I suppose it doesn't pay to maintain snow-clearing equipment for the very occasional snows that fall in your area.

      Yes, the cold is now at the painful stage (when I took my walk it was still very bearable) - the kind that freezes your nose hairs and causes a headache in minutes. Good thing it doesn't last long! :)

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  12. Yay! A shadow shot, a shadow shot! How I have missed them! :) That cattail at the top looks like it has a Tribble on it. :)

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    1. It DOES look like a Tribble - or a particularly fluffy duster. :)

      And you can bet I snapped that shadow as soon as I saw it.

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  13. Love, love, love the "tiny city" shot. Stay warm. It's snowing, tonight in NY...

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    1. Lucky you! We could use more snow - a lot more snow. I see the Arctic winds were headed your way too - brrr! :)

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  14. Good for you for braving the cold! I think we were skiing in 26 degrees weather at the time you were walking. Incidently, the helmet helmet was not a chick magnet on the slopes. Po' NVO! ;-)

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    1. Ah, but perhaps that's because YOU were with him! The snow bunnies were scared off by the blonde and beautiful Viking bride.... :)

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  15. Brave you walking in the cold. That artic air has reached my neighborhood today. It was 6 when I went out this morning. I was going to walk but changed my mind quickly. I am a wimp.
    No snow here though.

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    1. We got just a dusting - not enough for me. This morning (Tuesday) it was -10 when I got up. A good day for crocheting! (And for mailing overdue packages to giveaway winners....)

      :)

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  16. Brrrr... we had a polar streak but not nearly as throttling as yours! (I had to giggle when I read they'd named it Gandalf!) I admire you for getting out there when it is so cold. I just love the layers on the trunk. And the solitary leaf on the snow. I hope you get some warmer air soon!

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  17. Oh my what long legs you have!!
    Love the photo of the peeling birch bark and the trunk splinter city. I never use this word, but I think these are 'cool'.
    Rosie xx

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    1. And they were very cool that day - well below freezing in fact! :)

      Thanks Rosie.

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  18. I am visiting from mereknits-love your beautiful photos here-congrats on the front cover too Kahty

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    1. Double thanks, Kathy! I'm so glad you dropped by. :)

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  19. Arrived here from Mereknits blog. WOw you show some amazing images on your posts. I will have to try the Zimmerman heel sometime soon.

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    1. Thanks, Kathy. The Zimmermann book is "Knitting Without Tears" and she also gives a couple other heel recipes. I used the very beginnerest one as this is my first sock. :)

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  20. Always nice to see your surroundings. But oh so cold. We are having such strange weather today. A fog that rolled in this morning, and then it was misty and by late afternoon, the sky started to drip. And I do mean drip -- like sweat falling from the sky. Very strange. Have a great weekend. Tammy

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    1. You have an amazing range of weather, there Tammy. :)

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  21. It really is a chore to get dressed this time of year! It's been in the 20s in DC this week, which is Very Cold to us. Tights, cuddleduds, socks over cuddleduds, pants over cuddleduds, boots, bra, cami, top, sweater, scarf, coat, hat, gloves. It's very annoying!

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    1. Ah, cuddleduds. I love those. Have you ever tried 100% merino wool baselayers like Red Ram or SmartWool? Very luxurious and comfy for much of the year, as the wool is super breathable. (I have one Red Ram undershirt and it gets worn a LOT.)

      :)

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