Fall Hoarfrost – A Lens Full of Crystals

Our first ‘winter storm’ of the season was night before last. It didn’t drop that much snow, and the temperature didn’t get all that much below freezing. It wasn’t a big deal, unless you were one of the unfortunate ones who had to drive to work the next morning. People seem to forget how to drive on slippery roads, so the first commute of the winter is a nightmare.

I wouldn’t normally venture out in a car until well after the morning traffic had got to where they were going. Rush hour, darkness, and icy roads aren’t my thing. But The Car Guy had an appointment at a Doctor’s Office at 8:30 AM, and I’m still the designated driver, so at 7:30 in the morning we ventured onto the freeway for a trip that would normally take about 40 minutes. At 8:45 I breathed a sigh of relief that we had arrived at our destination, safe and sound and only 15 minutes late!

After the appointment, I faced another task I don’t enjoy – paying for the parking. (You probably remember my post called Give Me the Good Old Parking Meter, Please!)  At the entrance to the Parkade was a sentinel – an electronic ticket machine – daring me to figure out how to use it. Fortunately, The Car Guy speaks their language and all I had to do was remember on which floor I had parked.

Not all wintery days are so harrowing. Last week we had a Hoarfrost morning. I spent almost an hour taking pictures of a world filled with tiny crystals. It was magic.
Frost covered blades of grass.

A very close up view of a leaf.

Grass seed, with this year’s hay bales in the distance.

The Canadian Nature Photographer website has some excellent Hoarfrost pictures.

Winter of 2011-2012: Last Snow Day?

Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we’ve no place to go,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
– Lyricist Sammy Cahn, composer Jule Styne – 1945

Calendar – May 4, 2012 – The Car Guy mowed the lawn for the first time this year.
Calendar – May 5, 2012 – 4 inches of snow.

Also on May 5, the Hibiscus bloomed. It is an indoor plant with brilliant red flowers.

Green grass, Red flower, White snow – felt very Christmasy!

Cold Alberta Morning – What Minus 20°C Looks Like

American: We get an awful lot of cold waves from Canada. Can’t we weatherstrip the border?
– Author Unknown –

In Canada, 0° C is the freezing point of water (and exposed skin). So what is -20° C like? If you live south of me, you may soon find out, because that is what the temperature is here this morning and when the wind picks up it will probably head your way!! (And that merits two exclamation marks.)  I, plucky Canadian that I am, braved the cold to take some pictures for you. Then I tracked down some quotations that will explain what winter means to me.

The bird bath and the solar lights – they are all starting to list as the frost heaves them one way or another.

A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.
– Carl Reiner –

allium AlbertaEverything was coated with frost this morning and that was the only reason I went outside to take pictures!

Winter is the season in which people try to keep the house as warm as it was in the summer, when they complained about the heat.
– Author Unknown –

ice crystal macroIf it hadn’t been so cold, I would have set up the tripod to take photos of these spruce needles.

Antisthenes says that in a certain faraway land the cold is so intense that words freeze as soon as they are uttered, and after some time then thaw and become audible, so that words spoken in winter go unheard until the next summer.
– Plutarch, Moralia –

These are my tracks in the snow as I darted to and fro snapping photos. In any other circumstances, wouldn’t you say that  the maker of these tracks had had one drink too many!?

Skipping Stones across the Ice – When The River Freezes

I had no idea that Stone Skipping was a competitive sport. If you doubt this claim,  then head on over to the Mackinac Island Stone Skipping and Gerplunking Website!

Most people know what Stone Skipping is, but may not have heard about Gerplunking. “Gerplunk” – the sound a that a rock makes when it hits a body of water!

children fall ice

In 2009, winter weather arrived before we could close up the cabin. The water lines froze, making the shut down a challenge.  But a wonderful thing had happened at the lake and on the side channels of the river. A fairly thick layer of ice formed on the water, but there was also a large air pocket separating the ice from the water. Nature had created a drum, of sorts. We all spent a few hours skipping rocks over the ice. They made such an interesting series of sounds  as they bounced along the surface – “pock, tickety tock, tock, tock, tock, tock…” We counted the tock sounds, just as we would have counted the skips if they had been on water.

Of course, the grandchildren had to try to break the ice by heaving larger and larger rocks! Now and then they were rewarded with a satisfying “gerplunk”!

frozenElsewhere in the resort, immense icicles had formed on the trees from the spray of the water from the fountains.

frozenEvery little puddle of water had frozen into wonderful lacy creations, some so fragile they shattered with the least pressure.

It was a magical week-end – pock, tickety tock, tock, tock, tock…

Which Way do you Look When the Sun Sets?

Nothing interferes with my concentration. You could put on an orgy in my office and I wouldn’t look up. Well, maybe once.
– Isaac Asimov –

National Geographic is running a Series called Test Your Brain. The episode I recently watched demonstrated how adept our brains are at focusing on the task at hand, and how dismal we actually are at multitasking. By multitasking, I mean doing two tasks at the same time, both requiring complete attention.

This isn’t the same as ‘background tasking‘, where we are doing one thing mindlessly while doing another thing that requires attention (like eating dinner while talking to our spouse or cleaning the house while listening to music.) It also isn’t the same as ‘task switching’ where we are alternately doing several things (like typing a blog post and talking on the phone.)

This amazing ability to focus is why we accomplish the things we set out to do! We achieve our best work when we tune out distractions and concentrate on one thing.

There are times, however, when it is a good idea to check to see if the distractions might be of value to us. If we paid more attention to diversions, we would know how magicians do their tricks. We would be able to stop a pick pocket before they took our wallet. We would be good witnesses to what happened at an accident. And we would look both east and west when the sun is going down!

A Sunset – looking West
The same sunset – looking East

I suppose I could write more about multitasking, but my brain has headed off on the topic of diversionary tactics, and I fear it won’t be back before lunch time…

Winter White Means Snow and Ice

All of us have moments in our lives that test our courage. Taking children into a house with a white carpet is one of them.
– Erma Bombeck –

A carpet of white snow is slowly blanketing our part of the world. No one minds if children trod upon it, build snowmen with it, or slide down it. Children don’t seem to think winter is nearly as long as their parents do!

Across the street from the Red House, the Hay Bales got their first dusting of white a few weeks ago. The bales are looking more and more like frosted shredded wheat!

Our recent heavy frost briefly left a coat of white ice crystals on every surface. This tree stump looks like it has sprouted white feathers!

Cascade Mountain sports the first snow of the winter. It won’t be long before there is enough snow in the mountains for the ski season to start!

Rain Drops and Snowflakes – Wonder

I Wonder about many things.

twigI wonder how many raindrops it takes to fill a puddle?

winterI wonder how many snowflakes can fit on a stalk of grass seed? I wonder, is it even possible to count snowflakes?

I think I could fill an entire blog with ‘Wonder’ quotes! Here are a few of the best:

After you’ve heard two different eyewitness accounts of the same automobile accident, you begin to wonder about the validity of history. How do we know, for sure, what ever happened anywhere?
– Bits & Pieces Vol D #5 –

I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be without sponges.
– Variance on a quote by Stephen Wright –

People can be divided into three groups – those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened.
– John W. Newbern –

Capturing a Frosty Morning in Alberta

Frosty days and ice-still nights,
Fir trees trimmed with tiny lights,
– Jo Geis, Christmas Long Ago –

As elves go, Jack Frost is one of my favourites. He arrives without warning, but never stays too long. His artistry is magnificent, but fleeting – so I never tire of his work. He doesn’t play favourites – everything within his reach gets equal treatment. But best of all, he works at night, so that when I throw back the curtains in the morning I am greeted with a fairy wonderland. I truly feel sorry for all you people who live somewhere beyond the reach of Jack Frost!

You remember my story called A Grassy Path From Here to There?  That Path has matured now, giving  Jack Frost countless stalks to coat with crystal beads.

And the Allium Seed Heads that I showed you in Going to Seed? Coated with frost from top to bottom!

macro photographyJack’s true artistry can’t be appreciated unless I show you that each and every crystal is a masterpiece!

Now, don’t you wish you lived up here in the land where Winter is knocking at the door!  The land with only four months on the calendar: June, July, August and Winter!