Walking on slush that is frozen in the form of the last footprint or tire tread is way more difficult than walking on the melted stuff that squishes and slinks aside in displacement with the least little pressure. Just forty eight hours ago the cold permeated my thin boots at whatever level the liquid stuff reached past the soles. The temperature, well aware that it is now winter, drops to fit the season. No more liquid in site. Never having the luxury of time to seek its own level the slush froze in jagged peaks and valleys and became more treacherous than a smooth skating rink and since I was not on ice skates, it was just as well. I pick my way with care across the parking lot that has not been touched by plow or shovel. No arrogant strides, ice too rough, air too cold. Deep breathing will manifest itself in aching jaws when I retreat to indoor heat. I get thirty minutes of exercise in Richland Public Library. I stroll along the stacks of mysteries and none having caught my fancy, I look to the new books seven day checkouts the new label referring to the fact that they are new on my library shelves. I restrict myself to two two checkouts. I am also fussy about them being paperback books, easier to hold. Hold that thought while I ready myself for bed.
Archive for November, 2010
Thomas reminded me last night that I am to be in Everette over the holidays. The family is taking off for London on December 24 and I will arrive at the Sherer house several days prior to meet their new cats and become acquainted with their needs. I prefer to drive so I can visit Tim in Seattle and Nancy in Bellingham but if Snoqualmie Pass is not travel friendly I will fly and make different arrangements for visits. Toshiba will be my companion one way or the other because I will continue to write and/or edit on my November novel in between games of Yahtzee and Hand And Foot. The return date will be decided by weather conditions then, but for now it looks like January 3 or 4. Or maybe I will just hang out with Nancy and Jerry for a month. I can leave my heat on at home and feel confident that the house will be ok. I have nothing scheduled in the Tri-cities that cannot be shelved or canceled. Maybe. We shall see. Right now I am hunkered down with the new snow shovel at the ready when I do want to go out. About 12 inches of snow fell in the past two days that will require shoveling. Or maybe just slogging through. I have new 14 inch SOREL waterproof winter boots from REI, a reward from USFW staff for the hours of volunteer work I do in the Education Center at McNary National Wildlife Refuge. I do not expect much snow in Everette but the boots will keep my feet snuggly warm in the great outdoors.
Comatose clouds on November 27 are not merely settled in for the long run. Some serious big hands made fists and are kneading the clumped ice crystals up there, wringing out the liquid – except the temperature is just too cold for water so out comes drops of ice. I swept off the light dusting on the front steps to have a clean walk from which to judge how much snow is falling and how fast. I stepped inside and a white film settled over the swept space very quickly. Well I had my answer. Yesterdays forecast was appearing right before my eyes. Inches of snow. My bright yellow snow shovel is in my sun porch, handy to clear the steps when the snow gets too deep to sweep. Oh what an alliteration. Like poetry it fairly begs for repetition in a pitiful old slave spiritual sung to the rhythm of the hoe chopping holes to plant sugar cane. Too deep to sweep, you just bend and weep, not a weed to keep, hours before you sleep. That is too dreary to bear. The day is gray but not my outlook so off I go to story land to fancy up a more pleasant outcome.
Winter weather is expected to be cold. The lower Columbia river region is a desert and the dry air feels warmer than when there is high humidity. On November 26 the humidity is over eighty percent. Damp and chilly. Twelve inches of fluffy snow fell and it is being packed down under boots and tires on the traveled streets and sidewalks. Makes moving quite a challenge. I watched with envy how the neighbors shoveled paths to their cars and cleared sidewalks for the friendly postal carrier. I can only stand so much emotion. I braved the slippery sidewalk and streets in my Hyundai in search of a snow shovel. Regrettably the snow removers that were self powered posted dollar amounts that soared above my budget. A bright yellow shovel impressed me and felt light and manageable when I lifted it. Fine. On my sidewalk I pushed the loose crystals like a snow plow into my flower bed. I put the tool upright in the snow and leaned on it to catch my breath. I felt like a soldier boy holding a weapon. After I cleared a couple of feet of sidewalk I figured I earned a rest. I sunk into my lazy boy recliner and slept. Good thing it got dark so I cant work any more today. But I have my weapon and practiced with it. I can plow a clean walk. Tomorrow I will join the labor force and work once more in my winter wonderland.
While it was a lovely white day yesterday, this morning’s hoarfrost took me right into winter wonderland. Every branch, even the smallest twig was furry with tiny ice crystals. The humidity was high, up to 84 percent, the temperature was well below freezing, seducing the moisture into its crystal form. Wonderful is the scope of H2O from a liquid that escapes the upper clouds when it becomes too heavy to be held, to a mist that is difficult to see when the temperature is very warm. Steam turns into a fog on window glass and in my sun porch at 11 degrees the fog became an elaborate etching attributed to Jack Frost. Good for him! I’ve done etchings on steel plates and with a special procedure, I could reproduce an image over and over again. Not so with images produced by nature anywhere. There is no such thing as identical frosty images. They are wonderful individual renderings that just happen. No planned design. No master engineer. Nature at its finest. Although I prefer temperatures above 70 F, I welcome the outdoor fantasies which can only appear on cold surfaces when humidity and temperatures combine in crystals with pictures in the realm of Star Wars, Spock and Yoda. It is a distinctive type of frost. Why it holds a weird name like hoar, I can’t imagine.
The scene at six am November 22, 2010, is like an old fashioned holiday post card. Every surface is covered with five or more inches of snow. The air is still and big flakes are falling now. I noticed snow falling last night when I went to bed at eleven pm and by the looks of the depth it fell continuously and so far has not stopped. The tanned hunk in 404 brushed the then three inches off his car and went to work Safeway in Kennewick, I think. There is an occasional car passing on Abbot and the folks at 408 came in at five am. I decided that I would not drive anywhere today. I took some flash pictures for the record but in daylight I will take more. If these look impressive I will take them to WalMart and print them for my scrapbook. For now I will shake out my GorTex and prepare for a play in the snow.
Snowflakes fell overnight. Some still rested on roof tops at seven am but the ambient air sucked them right up. Clouds overhung above to hold the temperature below forty F degrees. Luckily the wind rested which helped me feel warmer but I still pulled my cap snuggly down over my ears. For an hour or so the sky lightened up in the west and I hoped for a sunny day but that did not occur. After the Freethought meeting I came home to manufacture paper snowflakes which I am not completely happy about. But I have a lot of perforated paper and will practice until they suit me. I found ants on my kitchen counters and I do not like little sugar ants, Sam I am. They are worse than green eggs and ham. I put ant bait in the kitchen and on the back porch. I understand they cant move nor can they find food in the snow. I however can play in the snow. I have just the kind of clothes to keep me warm and dry and playful.
Byran and Naomi returned from Las Vegas yesterday on the five-thirty flight. I left for home by seven-thirty and spent some time writing before retiring. Michael and June would return to Grand Ronde this morning. I guess that puts us all back into normal routines. I try not to get into a routine too apt to make ruts, deep ruts in the path. Ruts are tough to get out of once they become deeply entrenched. I will return several books to the library and remind myself not to take out any more until I have read, or at least renewed my acquaintance with those stacked in my own living room. I expect to give away those that do not have a personal message to me on the title page or those of which I am the author. I do occasionally give mine to special people. More than return to a routine I must work on my intent to write a fifty thousand word novel during the month of November. Already behind by sixteen thousand words I must work harder and longer when I return to the task. Moonlit nights are so bright and the air so clear they are very distracting. I can see the shadow of bare walnut branches on the sidewalk. Awesome. That I can expect to see until the winter fog returns.
Clear cool air sharpened in my nostrils as I walked around the back yard. I have no intention of dressing up to appear in public so this trek in my lounging pajamas will have to do. Evidence of rain having fallen during the night or early this morning lay in the dips of the yard. The eave spout over the back steps still dripped. I picked up more of the small branches blown off Douglas yesterday. The wind really pruned the tree. I don’t think the loss of small branches did any harm. The tree is healthy and remains lofty above the house. I estimate it to be at least forty feet tall reaching to the height of Wade’s huge cottonwood in the far southwest corner of their lot. My lodgepole pine is getting that tall too, although it isn’t putting on the girth of the Ponderosa pines in the shelterbelt. It, too, lost a small branch in the onslaught of the wind although any broken from the top would have blown over into the next lot to the east. A gentle breeze sends loose leaves skating down Abbot street. That will be the case all winter, at least until they get hung up on a fence or are blown into the river. My jaw aches from the cold air so I do not stay out very long. What a wimp! That gives me a good excuse to sit tight and write!
Easier to find the Cardinal residence in the daytime so I drove over early for enchiladas supper. Michaels directions helped as well. Naomi and Byran are off on vacation. June and Michael are babysitting little Nickolas. Kyle and Katlin need no supervision but do not qualify as babysitters. Nickolas attends a preschool and June picked him up around 3 pm He entertained me all through his favorite DVD game and then through supper which he was not inclined to eat. I had two delicious Enchiladas and a glass of Sangria, a red wine mixture that June favors with Mexican food. It had a fine sort of sweet taste, good as wine goes, but I am not a winer. Which reminds me I drank the last of my peppermint schnapps several days ago and must trek to the liquor store for more. That is the only reason I can find to leave the yard tomorrow and a good one that is. The wind has not completely stilled I noticed as I drove home because leaves raced across the road at me with a challenge. I imagine they will dance capriciously until captured against a fence or in a ditch. The wind seems to blow incessantly from the southwest but it could simmer down to a gentle breeze. I was concerned that the sangria would dance in my hinterlands but so far no problem. Maybe when I try to sleep. But that is hours in the future. I will go for 500 more words on my November novel. When I dove into it this morning all sorts of good ideas flowed through so I can hardly wait to get back to it. With a satisfied stomach and my head in the clouds I am set for another good chapter.