Tuesday, February 14, 2006

How Cold Was It?

When people ask me about the coldest weather I remember, I told them this story...

I was up at the cottage one bitterly cold winter day. The cottage is heated by woodstove, so when one arrives, one starts fire and does other errands (shovel snow, chop hole in ice for water) for a couple of hours until the place warms to manageable levels. This particular day was -20 degrees. After about an hour of shovelling (and mouth breathing), I came inside for a drink.

I opened a can of coke and took a few sips. "Hmmn...are there floaty things in my coke?" I squinted into the can to see little clumps of ice floating up with the bubbles. The coke was turning to slush in front of me!

I now have another 'How cold was it?' story...
This weekend past, I headed up north to go skiing. I set -20 degrees as my cut off point. If it's below -20 I snowshoe instead because I can generate enough body heat to avoid frostbite. Saturday was -21 degrees. Snowshoe weather.

There is a river (apty named the Mad River) that bubbles through Devil's Glen. It churns and tumbles so much that the water temperature can be below freezing and it still won't freeze.

Saturday morning was cold enough to create a phenomenon I had never seen before. The water vapour in the air froze on trees and still objects to create a layer of hoary frost. But the mad river churned too quickly for the frost to cling. Conversely, the water temperature was below freezing so the frost wouldn't melt into the water either.

In an eddy in the river floated a cluster of white lily pads. But they weren't lily pads at all. They were made entirely of frost. I partly expected to see little white flowers pop up to accompany them, but I did not.

The icy pads bumped and laughed for the remainder of the day. I was loathe to leave because I probably wouldn't see them again.

Goodbye, lovely icy lily pads. Thankyou for revealing yourself to me.

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