Sometimes, even winter holds its breath and, in the cold stillness of a winter night, water vapor changes from gas to solid on contact with chilled surfaces, constructing crystal matrices resembling feathers that last until the sun hits them or somebody coughs.
The adjective “hoary” is sometimes defined as “gray or white, as with age, and in some cases worthy of veneration”. It can also mean “old, overused and trite” but with frost it supposedly refers to the appearance of an old man’s beard.
Old and overused, maybe, but trite?
Tomorrow will have one minute more light than today, and when tomorrow becomes yesterday there will be one minute more as we begin tilting slowly back toward the sun. Meanwhile, it is winter, and even winter can hold its breath.
Hoar Frost on a Fence Post
Hoar Frost on Poultry Netting
Hoar Frost on White Pine
Hoar Frost on Apple Twig
Hoar Frost on the Barn
Hoar Frost Crystal Structure
Yukon Jack, “The Black Sheep of Canadian Liquors” and purported to be the regimental liqueur of the South Alberta Light Horse regiment of the Canadian Army, claims a “taste born of hoary nights…” which probably means it was too dang cold out to go find some better whiskey, so someone mixed what they had with some honey in an old turpentine barrel and hoped for the best.
Something else born of hoary nights is the poetry of Robert Service. There are worse ways to spend the next nine minutes of your life than watching this video recitation of “The Cremation of Sam McGee”:
Months of quarrels and quandaries, intrigue and innuendo, distractions, misdirection and outright prevarication finally came to an end and I found myself, one November morning, strangely relieved it was over yet wondering what the heck had just happened. It seemed surreal and nearly beyond belief, but once sober enough for thoughtful reflection, I knew it was very real, indeed, believe it or not.
The adrenaline wore off, shock set in, and I had to sit in order to contemplate the new, horrible, sad reality.
That’s right, friends, another season had come and gone here at Fish in a Barrel Pond.
Fish in a Barrel Pond
The banshees of winter wail outside the door, the lake froze-over three weeks ago, and anything stuck to the ground now is stuck until spring. The camps are again empty and quiet, smelling only of cold air and anti-freeze in the drain traps. A little happy dance has been done, a nap has been took, and as I catch up on my reading I can’t help but notice that this job, once more, failed to make any major publication’s list of “Best Fly Fishing Jobs!” Continue reading
Categories: Humor, nature, politics, Vermont, Winter
Tags: fish in a barrel pond, Humor, macro photography, nature, photography, Politics, quill gordon, snow, snowflakes, Vermont, we're all little snowflakes, winter
A Hybrid of What, We Don’t Know, But It’s Got a Load On.
Part Chevy, part who knows what, that’s a custom rig right there, sitting on my ice-coated driveway toward the end of a winter that made me wonder why I bothered with marker stakes. There may well be pieces of more than two vehicles involved, pieced together with ingenuity, baling wire and spot welds, and when it’s not wearing a plow on its nose it’s perfect for hauling and spreading sand (or, in this case, 1/4″ chipped stone). It has also been spotted in the village, in front of the pre-school, dropping off kiddos.
The weather has been a bit of a hybrid, itself, these last few weeks. Booger-freezing cold one day, rainy and almost warm the next, there have been pieces of at least two seasons involved and their bastard child is ice.
Categories: Humor, Maple Syrup, nature, Rural Life, Vermont, Winter
Tags: fish in a barrel pond, Humor, hybrid vehicle, ice, maple syrup, mud season, nature, outdoors, quill gordon, Rural Life, Vermont, winter
When winter and spring duke it out they both end up looking silly, the dooryard fills with slush and streams jump their banks. Freezing rain gave way yesterday to sleet and ice pellets before turning to snow last night, which is when the lightning and thunder began. Another band of rain moved through with a shot of warm air and this morning felt positively balmy.
Fish in a Barrel Pond, February 25, 2016
Categories: Rural Life, Vermont, Winter
Tags: fish in a barrel pond, flood, ice, ice jam, mud season, nature, quill gordon, Rural Life, Vermont, winter
Going from a rainy 50°F (10°C) to -20° (-28.9°C) and back in a week must surely qualify as a Weather Event. Streams and rivers swelled, then froze, then swelled again. The ice sheet on the lake groaned as the water beneath it rose and fell but the spillway system functioned and the flow continued on its merry way downhill.
Not a Typical View in February
With dozens of tributaries flowing into the valley below, ice broke up on the river, churning in the current, banging its way downstream. Finally jumping its banks, the river fanned out on a floodplain and dropped its load. As on a conveyor belt, thousands of ice slabs piled in from behind and before you could say, “Robert is your father’s brother,” an old-fashioned ice jam had formed.
A Jumble of Slabs
Categories: nature, Vermont, Winter
Tags: flood, ice, ice jam, nature, outdoors, quill gordon, Rural Life, Vermont, winter
The so-called January Thaw allows a few days of relaxation before tucking back in to await winter’s worst in the weeks before its inevitable, sloppy death. Snow on the ground forms a crust as its surface melts and re-freezes, hyper-extending the knee joints of those foolish enough to think they won’t break through, while lake ice takes on a rink-like polish as puddles fill in the low spots. Some years the January Thaw waits until February. Last year it never came at all. This year there were two thaws in January and one so far this month alone, so it could well be the case that we’ve actually had four hard freezes in what’s otherwise been a mild winter.
The snow on the ground has amounted to darn near nil this year, forming that icy crust with nothing left over. Fortunately, there has been plenty of rain to smooth it out and create a glaze that, if nothing else, reminds us that gravity is not just a good idea. It’s also the law. Misjudging the trajectory needed to reach the gate of the chicken yard, for example, is a good way to crash into the fence but, by really misjudging it, one can miss the fence completely, drop into a ditch and hit a hemlock a hundred feet down the slope.
Following the contour, scrambling to not lose more elevation before reaching the road, isn’t so bad once one gets the hang of slinging one’s self from tree trunk to tree trunk like a gibbon, providing one’s shoulder sockets hold up for a few hundred yards of that nonsense.
Sometimes, the best strategy is to just hunker down and shelter in place.
Warm and wet turned cold and wet and then just cold this week, leaving plenty of ice behind. Never sure how to feel about pictures of running water, here’s something for everyone:
Categories: nature, Vermont, Winter
Tags: fish in a barrel pond, ice, nature, outdoors, photography, quill gordon, Vermont, water, winter
We’re usually pretty well conditioned to winter by the time the solstice rolls around, but not this year. The lake iced over in November, as expected, and up went the signs admonishing those who read to stay off, but the ice went away. The signs stayed up though, for surely the ice would return, which it did for a few days before melting again.
The signs are still there and I know where the long-johns are, just in case, but the unusually mild weather we’ve been experiencing has made both about as useful as white fur on a bunny so far. There’s no snow in the woods or on the hills but at least the roads are nice and muddy.
If winter ever does decide to show up, we’re ready.
Stay Off The Ice — if you see any.
Categories: Humor, Stories About My Good Friend, Eugene, Vermont, Winter
Tags: Eugene, fish in a barrel pond, Happy Holidays, quill gordon, Vermont, war on Christmas, winter
The curmudgeonly demeanor so essential to my charm nearly veered into the ditch of sociopathic behavior a few times this winter as the Shack Nasties made their annual bid for control. The Shack Nasties are terrible things, related to Cabin Fever but having nothing to do with the need to get outside. Cabin Fever is easily treated but the Shack Nasties are insidious and, once contracted, their cure consists mostly of endurance. Hundreds of blog posts and internet articles appeared this winter, with headlines like “Ten Quick Hacks to Beat the Winter Blahs” and I could almost relate, but my hacking was from working in the cold air and, on a good day, if I tried real hard, I could almost get myself worked up to “blah.”
When folks who are used to a lot of snow say, “That’s a lot of snow,” you know it’s a lot of snow.
Categories: Maple Syrup, Rural Life, Vermont
Tags: Bobo's Mountain Sugar, food, maple syrup, mud season, nature, quill gordon, Rural Life, shack nasties, spring, Vermont, winter
Winter Scene (In Color), Fish in a Barrel Pond
This ain’t my first trip around the sun and we’re passing through a very familiar stretch of orbit right now. Shrouded in snow, littered with snapped utility poles and downed trees, it is winter and we cope with the cold, brace against the wind and prepare for the occasional shredding of the network of power and communication lines that serve this neck of the woods. No one needs to be told to go home and hunker down until the storm is over, allowing plows, emergency workers and utility crews to do their jobs, and no one emerges from their shelter pissed off that they took cover from something short of Doomsday itself.
It is winter. Embrace it, endure it, or leave. Continue reading
Categories: +The Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society, Humor, nature, Rural Life, Vermont, Winter
Tags: fish in a barrel pond, Humor, ice, nature, outdoors, quill gordon, Rural Life, snow, Vermont, winter