Friday, January 15, 2016

Life in a deep freeze....

Well, winter has finally settled in around here and for real! First the temperature started dropping and we got the most wonderful hoarfrost. So much so that at one point it looked as if snow had fallen. And the air was so cold that any incoming moisture fell down as snowflakes. More then once there was snow in the air, while the sun was out too and that created strange, yet beautiful scenes and atmospheres.
The dark pictures are not taken at sunset, but during the days, when a cloud of snowflakes was blocking out the sun.

The temperature kept dropping and we hit -24C. Below -20C it becomes a whole new ballgame. This is cold that actually hurts. It bites you in your cheekbones, nips at your nostrils and make you squint your eyes involuntarily. It was just an incidental drop or so I thought. This morning we broke our coldest-yet-record since we moved here; -26C! Walking the dog in that is no fun. I decided to do a little experiment last night, during the late walk; No extra protective clothing, just the regular cityfolk clothes in winter; Jeans, a thick coat that makes you look like a balloon, knitted hat and scarf and mittens. And I learned the painful way that you do not stand a chance in that kind of clothing oúnder these conditions. Sheesh, my legs were painfully cold from the moment I stepped outside (big surprise here), but also the rest failed to keep me comfortably warm. The pants might have given some form of insulation if I had not moved, but not moving would be disastrous. And it only was -24C last night.This morning at -26 I did get properly dressed, but the cold was enough to make my fingers hurt through a pair of knitted gloves inside wool mittens (probably because of holding the leash) and Rex started limping within 500 meters, but that stopped pretty quick, once we were moving at a steady pace. I did notice him limping previously though, so we need to think protection for his paws, too. I pulled the long turtleneck kind of scarf out along my face, but still the cheekbones went numb fast. And, probably because I took up scale modelling and military history again, I wondered how soldiers can function under these conditions, let alone fight at even lower temperatures in layers of summer clothes... Hell is not a fiery hot place. It must be a frozen one like the Eastern Front more than 70 years ago.
But in between these 2 cold spells the temperature rose to around -10 to -15 and with that came more snow. Lots of it. About 40cm in less than 3 days. A very light, dry, powdery, feathery kind of snow. And with it wind. First from the east and later it turned to the north. That was not pleasant either.... but here comes the twisted me to the surface; I love this!!
I really do love it when it is cold, when it freezes and when it snows. Maybe not as much at -26 or in a freezing gale, but still....

It takes you back to the inner you, trying to stay warm if not on the outside, then at least on the inside. Huddling up, wearing warm clothes, breathing this stinging, fresh, clean air. Seeing amazingly brilliant and clear starry skies, looking at the astonishingly complex and beautifully shaped snowflakes, hearing the crunching and squeaking snow under your feet, but no other sounds.... It makes you really feel alive. Experiencing the world with all your heightened senses at once and it always leaves me in awe for the sheer cold beauty and instills deep respect for the world in which I live. Mother nature in one of her most dazzling guises, but mercilessly cold and ruthless to those not respecting her.
I took this one during the first cold period, when the moisture froze out of the air.
Perfectly shaped ice crystals, like stars.

We saw 2 strömstare or white throated dippers (Cinclus cinclus) this week. The first one was startled by Rex and we saw it shoot away, just over the water's surface of a stream that flows too fast to freeze... yet. The other one I saw when we crossed that same stream, but much more upstream, where it starts as a overflow from one of the nearby lakes. Never saw these before and now 2 in a row!

Now there's a little story to most of these photos. Most of the time it was too cold to take off the mittens and gloves to operate the cellphone. I do not leave home without it walks like this, because one wrong step, especially with a dog moving around like a loose canon on deck, might cause serious problems.... and there is so much beauty to see and share!!
All of the shown images are taken using a cellphone, either mine or my wife's. Last winter I "developped a technique" that enables me to snap shots without getting cold fingers.. I use my nose.

And thus this                                       

Is the result of this...

No I am not worshipping my cellphone..... 

                                                  Up close it looks like this:

This was today around noon; cold and moisture moving in. The air over the lake got hazy and the cold started to bite a little more.
I did notice that I have some softspots during this kind of weather; my cheekbones and the sinuses behind my nose. All the rest was warm and comfy, since I was trying out my outdoor gear once more in preparation for my trip to Norway soon. Now I need to find a way to protect those weak areas....
I paid more attention to Rex again, too. As long as he is moving, he doesn't seem to have issues with his paws, but if we stop for a short while, like when taking the first photo and others, he starts pulling up his paws and limps. I guess he has the same issue I have when I start out; cold fingers. But once the blood starts pumping when we move, the problem seems to disappear. When my fingers start to freeze, so do his paws, it seems. Good to know and a good reminder to check on him....
Maybe use some old socks on him or something?


  1. Some beautiful images there, especially #2 and #4. Pretty good shooting for a nose!

  2. Wow that is a really good description of cold beyond cold. I don't know if I've ever been in such cold. It was pretty cold in Iowa where I grew up but I don't know about that cold. When it was very cold we dressed all in fur. Michigan elk hide mukluks and fur coat and hat. I think I kept my hands in the pockets. You made me laugh out loud with the nose photos!

    1. I'd love a set of clothes like that. But than again I have my woolstuff and they keep me snug and warm too.

  3. Great photography/scenery, Ron. :) I haven't been able to get outside lately because of work, so you have provided me with my outdoor fix. ;) It has been dipping to almost -30 here, so I guess I shouldn't really complain about not being able to get outside, hehehe. Though I do often strangely enjoy that weather, too. Love your nose technique for taking pics. Will have to try it! How about two or three pair of old baby/toddler socks on each of the dog's paws to keep them warm?