Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘cold temperatures

Cold Now

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If we thought winter was coming on a little quick and fierce last week, today it has moved to another level of harsh. Single-digit cold temperatures are not a very friendly way for winter to show up and say hello.

So much for getting to know her first.

We have entered the period when any mechanical device that may have functioned normally in moderate temperatures is now being taxed to the brink of failing to function at all. When I attempted to back out of my parking space like usual after work yesterday, my car protested with unexpected sluggishness.

Oh, yeah. It had been sitting out all day in the Arctic chill. I forgot it’s no longer business as usual outside.

The flurries of snow that fell over the weekend hardly stayed on the ground. There was a small corner patch of the driveway that was the first to freeze and collect snow. The rest of the pavement still held enough residual ground warmth to melt the flakes that landed there.

That won’t be a problem any longer. At these temperatures, the asphalt is plenty cold now.

Our landscape pond is solid ice. If it wasn’t so small, we could use it as a skating rink.

The leaves might make the surface a little rough, though.

The cold air makes for a beautiful evening sky. Cyndie took this picture when making a trip to the chicken coop to close the door for the night. We have the water tanks plugged in to keep them from freezing, but the hens have to fend for themselves to keep warm. They are all winter-hardy breeds and fluff their feathers up in comical poofs of a genuine down coat to stave off the cold.

The coop provides shelter from the wind where they can smoosh together on the roost overnight to share their body warmth. I never watched to notice if the ones on the end are given a turn in the middle at some point. Seems only fair.

The harsh cold we are getting blasted with today is a fine ‘how-do-you-do?’ from winter, but maybe we can look at it as a bit of tough love that will serve us well as the season progresses.

After this start, returning to normal temperatures for November will feel absolutely tolerable!

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Written by johnwhays

November 12, 2019 at 7:00 am

Not Subtle

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Mother nature wasn’t subtle about bringing on winter weather this year. The pleasure of warm fall days was a rare occurrence. Now it seems as though harsh, biting cold temperatures are the norm.

Our neighborhood was on the edge of accumulating snow on Tuesday night, which made the first 10 miles of my commute on Wednesday morning a little tricky. The ol’ Subaru didn’t want to stop at the first three intersections of my drive, sliding on the slippery layer of new-fallen snow. Luckily, at the early hour of my departure, there was little other traffic sharing the road.

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Delilah was thrilled with the new snow coating, dragging her nose to scrape up some of the precious white stuff. That double-layer coat she wears year-round is a lot more comfortable now than it was in the summer. No wonder she is so happy. It’s finally her weather again.

Last night there was a halo of ice crystals around the moon that evoked memories of the sun dogs that form on the coldest of winter days.

Cold like we are getting this year is a lot more intense when it shows up as quick as it has and we haven’t had time to comfortably acclimatize.

It’s beginning to look and feel a lot like winter. Brrr. Wish I could remember where I stashed my favorite cold-weather gloves the last time I used them eight months ago.

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Written by johnwhays

November 7, 2019 at 7:00 am

Getting Cold

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The weather at the lake this weekend is rather brisk, with filtered sunlight softly glowing through milky clouds. We headed to town for breakfast and a little stroll around yesterday morning. The briskness came across as downright flippin’ cold as we walked the short lengths of sidewalk between warm shops.

I am forever fascinated by how different a temperature of 39° (F) feels the first time it visits in the fall, as compared to the first time it is reached in late winter. Yesterday, the “briskness” was bone chilling. In late winter, temperatures above freezing lead us to lose our hats and open our coats.

We stepped out of the frigid fall air into a shop that sold puzzles. Cyndie encouraged me to revisit a long loved hobby of jigsaw puzzles, so I gave the weird variety of images a serious review. My choice was primarily focused on choosing an actual image, preferably of a landscape that appealed to me.

It was a pretty easy choice, because there was only one that met those parameters. I didn’t really process the note on the cover touting the large piece format, but it turned out to be a perfect choice.

“Easy to See & Handle!”

Why, yes, they are! Ideal for pulling off a one-day build before we need to pack up and head home.

Building a jigsaw puzzle in front of the warm glow from the fireplace while listening to our most memorable music from our dating years just happens to be a very comforting way to deal with that first cold blast of the season after summer ends.

I’m sure I’ll have many more opportunities to be outside re-acclimating my body to winter temperatures in the weeks ahead.

This weekend was focused more on staying warm, which I can report we happily achieved in luxury at this fabulous place on the lake.

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Written by johnwhays

September 30, 2018 at 10:09 am

Critter Tracks

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Monday night we received barely a half-inch of sticky snow, after which the temperature dropped steadily throughout the day yesterday. When I got home from work and took Delilah out for a walk before feeding the horses, there was a very clear display of fresh tracks in the snow that obviously had been created within the roughly 16 hours prior.

The vast majority happened to be easily identifiable as rabbits. I was actually surprised by the significant volume of activity attributable to the little rascals. What do they eat in the winter? Whatever it is, we must have a lot of it and they must be thriving this year.

I was about to declare rabbits as the only animals moving around yesterday until we reached about three-quarters of our travel to the barn and came upon some tracks from much smaller feet. I’m thinking they were probably squirrels or chipmunks.

Then we came upon some wonderful artistry from a little mouse or mole that was splitting time between treading lightly on top of the crust and burrowing some vivid designs through the snow.

I wonder what he was trying to spell out.

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dscn5675eAs we turned the corner around the back pasture on our route to the barn, I noticed how the sky revealed the departing weather system that had delivered the small amount of precipitation we received. Behind it are the clear skies that make way for our descent into very cold temperatures.

The next few days will involve single-digit highs and below zero lows.

It’s a little bit like what January is supposed to feel like around these parts.

I may have to start wearing a coat again.

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Written by johnwhays

January 4, 2017 at 7:00 am

Wilted Leaves

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IMG_iP1369eI heard on the radio yesterday that the local vintners suffered significant losses to their grape-vine crops because of the two nights of below freezing temperatures last weekend. Of all the plants on our property, the wild grape vines look the worst. Luckily, we don’t need to harvest any fruit from these vines. Ours are all volunteer plants spread most likely by the activity of birds.

Growing right beside the vine in that picture is a large poplar tree. It doesn’t look too good, either.

The first thing that stands out is simply the lack of healthy green color in the leaves. They all look too pale and are a little droopy, but a small portion are curling along the edges.

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I took a picture of a maple tree across the driveway from it for comparison. Does the difference in coloring show? Maybe not as obviously as the difference in number of leaves on each. The maple is way ahead of the poplar, and maybe that contributed to it surviving the freeze so much better than the other. New growth seems particularly fragile in the presence of freezing temperatures.

It’s sad to see how harsh this can be on growing plants, and frustrating to be so powerless to protect them all.

It has me feeling a little wilted, right along with the leaves.

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Written by johnwhays

May 19, 2016 at 6:00 am

High Standards

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DSCN2684eWe have a thermometer attached to the outside of our bathroom window that is my favorite, primarily due to the large size of the digital display. Unfortunately, it is probably the least accurate indicator of the actual outdoor temperature because it is mounted to a window that is likely much warmer than the air away from the house. Still, it serves the purpose of giving me a reference for comparing readings from other days.

It has been indicating all week that it’s cold outside. Not that I wasn’t already aware. When we get down to double digits below zero, the cool spots around the inside of our log home start to become much more noticeable.

I think this cold spell has zapped some of my zest for accomplishing things. I am growing weary of the 5-minute production to get into my outdoor cold weather uniform every time I need to step out the front door. I think Delilah finds me to be a comical gymnast as I wrestle the Carhartt overalls over my pants and heavy shirt, then try to bend down to get boots on without being able to breathe. After which, my face disappears beneath a neck-warmer pulled up over my nose to just beneath my eyes, and my hat gets pulled down to cover the neck-warmer so that only a thin slit remains from which I can see anything.

DSCN2675eBy this time, she has politely waited twice as long as she wanted, making my fumbling with getting the chopper mittens on my hands, but under the coat sleeve, a painful exercise in beyond-reasonable-tolerance for her. It’s exhausting, and I’ve been doing it way too many times a day for her this week.

The only real work I have accomplished outside has been the daily cleaning of the horse stalls —my least favorite task. It tortures my perfectionist tendencies and severely taxes my urge to be frugal. We use wood shavings on the floor of their stalls. We buy them by the bale, and I keep wanting to say, ‘these shavings don’t grow on trees,’ but, of course, they do. Still, they require that I make a trip to the store and pay money to get them. I don’t want to be wasteful.

Trying to toss out the manure and urine-soaked shavings without getting any dry, “still perfectly useable” wood shavings becomes a fool’s errand. And yet, that’s what I do.

The other failed proposition is expecting to get every morsel of manure separated from the shavings and scooped up. I have this sense that the horses must experience a certain amount of frustration when they step on the frozen nuggets that I have missed. Every time I think I’m done, and sweep the manure fork across the remaining shavings to spread them out, additional poo-cicles always pop up. There is an unending supply. It is exasperating.

On a positive note, the practice I have been getting this week is allowing me to become more reasonable about the precision I try to achieve, reducing the time I spend laboring to maintain my high standards. That’s important during these extremely cold days, because I’ve been starting out already pooped just getting dressed to go out for the cold-weather work. I could do with some improved efficiency.

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Written by johnwhays

January 8, 2015 at 7:00 am

October Cold

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It doesn’t always work to compare one year with the next, and I was doing just that last week, as we approached the 1-year anniversary of moving to this fabulous property in Beldenville, WI. A few days after we arrived last year, the temperatures were warm and we cooked dinner outdoors over the fire, then went to sleep with our bedroom window open.

Yesterday, I went outside with my usual work gloves on and rather quickly discovered they were now insufficient. It is time for insulated gloves again. I assumed the air temperature would warm up as the day went on, but it seemed to just get colder. Clouds blocked the sun most of the time, giving the day a classic cold October look. I ended up involved in more outdoor activity than I really wanted, and my body started to absorb the chill as the hours accumulated. Snow fell on and off, occasionally dense enough to start to collect on surfaces.

There is something to the adjustment of our bodies to the environment, and in October, temperatures in the neighborhood of freezing feel painfully more cold than they do in March. Yesterday the outdoors were harsh and bitterly uncomfortable. In 5 months, the same temperatures will have us opening our coats and basking in the relief from the deep freeze.

IMG_3078eHunterMaskThe horses have started to grow out their thicker winter coat of hair, but it isn’t quite full yet, and the cold rain in October gets right through to their skin. We brought them into the barn on Sunday because they were shivering.

Last week, before the rain, Hunter showed up with a mud mask on. It looked like he was getting ready for Halloween at the end of the month. I wish I could have seen him in action when he did it. The finished product looks so perfectly applied that I’m thinking he had a mirror or something. Probably, he was trying to improve the insulating value on himself, in preparation for the October chill that felt so wicked out there yesterday.

Written by johnwhays

October 22, 2013 at 7:00 am