Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Winter

Winter Slippers

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It’s about that time of year when I gush about my favorite boots for playing in the snow. For the most incredible comfort and warmth that I have experienced in a winter boot, I wear Steger Mukluks. It’s like going outside wearing slippers.

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That slipper-like comfort is actually one of the key reasons they keep my feet so warm. There is absolutely no constriction of blood flow in my feet because the boot surrounds my foot without compressing at any point. It almost feels like walking barefoot in the snow. Except for the part where my feet stay warm.

I’m also particularly fond of being able to just step into them and being ready to go. There is an adjustment strap at the ankle and a drawstring at the top, for occasions that call for additional constraint, but I rarely change either of them. I set them once and am able to slip my feet in and out with ease.

Wearing my mukluks to walk Delilah and explore off-trail is a sublime winter expedition through our woods.

Watching the sun fade behind the barn revealed the shiny frozen coating on the branches of our trees, a function of the frequent misty sleet that has been mixed in with our snowstorms of late.

A few hours after that picture was taken, we were out again for her last chance to pee for the night and I stopped on the high point of the driveway between the north pasture and the hay-field to stare up into the brilliant blanket of stars overhead.

Despite the clear night bringing the temperature down below 0°(F), I could have stood there for hours in my trusty old winter slippers, because my feet were perfectly comfortable.

It was Delilah who wanted to get back to the house. Too bad she refuses to wear doggie mukluks of her own. She does stand out on those bitterly cold surfaces with bare feet.

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Written by johnwhays

January 22, 2020 at 7:00 am

Fly South

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Cyndie made plans to spend a couple of weeks with her parents in Florida long before the details of the latest snowstorm had materialized and didn’t guess that her planned departure would be timed smack dab in the worst of the wind and snow. Luckily, the impending weather allowed for a no-charge rescheduling and she nabbed a seat a day earlier, right as the heavy weather was beginning.

That just meant a little delay while the ground crews worked frantically to plow runways and de-ice planes. Not unsettling at all for wary travelers, I’m sure.

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Cyndie is a seasoned airline passenger and has been through this routine multiple times, so I’m sure she was able to take it in stride. I can’t honestly attest to her level of confidence because I was not there. No, I am not in Florida today, unlike her and our two adult children visiting their grandparents over the MLK holiday weekend.

More power to them.

While they were enjoying the bocce courts under beautiful blue skies, I had a day filled with a fair amount of folly. I had hoped to swiftly plow, shovel, and rake snow off the roof so I could also entertain the pooch who was otherwise woefully neglected in the warm confines of the house. When I left her tethered outside with me where she could watch, Delilah just sat forlornly.

If I have to ignore her while I work, I decided she might as well be inside where I don’t have to witness her sad face every time I pass.

When I started up the ATV for plowing, I discovered one of the front tires had an audible air leak. It was spitting out some of the green sealer that had been an earlier attempt to solve the problem. All that did was delay the inevitable, it seems. Short of a quick fix to remedy the situation properly, I opted for frequent returns to the shop garage for added air from the compressor.

Worked well enough to get the main driveway open for travel. I would come back later to plow around the barn and hay shed.

After walking Delilah and eating lunch, I raked the valley of the roof over the front door and then unburied the steps. By leaving the rest of the roof for today, my hope was to quickly finish plowing before needing to tend to Delilah’s dinner.

Then the cable that lifts the plow broke in the middle of pushing a deep pile of snow at the edge of the driveway turnoff that drops toward the barn.

The hour before the dog’s dinner was spent rigging a way to lift the blade so I could drive back to the garage so I could work on reattaching the hook to the next section of cable. That’s a project that needs three hands, so with my two cold hands (and one bloody finger) I dragged it out long enough that dinner ended up being late.

Yes, I was thinking about my family who all just flew south.

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Getting Out

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I’m burnin’ daylight, what little there is today. I have a full day of work ahead of me clearing snow and entertaining the “every-hour-I-need-attention” canine. I need to make this post short and get outside to shovel, plow, rake, and shovel again. Oh, and I need to reattach the mailbox, as usual.

The plow had only made its first pass by the time Delilah and I made our way down to the road to find the mailbox tossed down into the ditch. I won’t bother reattaching it until the plow passes one more time to clear snow off the shoulder.

Do you think this will inspire me to install a “plow-proof” mount that swings away? Probably not. I’ve toiled seven years already like this, so I suspect the most I might do is take another crack at erecting a legal obstruction to deflect the force of the snow spray away from the vulnerable surface of the mailbox.

At least the plastic sliding grooves are designed such that the box just pops off the base each time, so it can be replaced again with relative ease.

Time to go outside and play!

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Written by johnwhays

January 18, 2020 at 9:54 am

Weather Coming

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We’ve been warned that a major winter storm is on the way, so after work yesterday I did some preparatory plowing. All week long we’ve been getting small amounts of snow. Too little to warrant clearing each day, but enough that by yesterday it had added up to deserve attention, especially if we could get almost a foot more in the next two days.

I needed to push the old snow back far enough to create room for the oodles of new snow the National Weather Service has been warning us about for days.

While the weather is coming, Cyndie is going. She leaves for Florida today to spend a couple of weeks with her parents.

Looks like she picked a good time to be flying south.

If the predictions are accurate, I suspect I will spend the first weekend of her absence clearing snow.

Ready, or not, here comes some weather.

 

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Written by johnwhays

January 17, 2020 at 7:00 am

Winter Walking

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Referring back to my recent post about feeling maladjusted to real cold, this morning’s walk was extremely refreshing at -1°(F). The big moon was low in the west and lit up brilliantly by sun rays that hadn’t crested our horizon yet. I hastily tried to capture a shot with the new Olympus pocket camera while standing on the trail down to the northwest corner of our property.

Nothing spectacular about the image, but that is not the camera’s fault. I didn’t do anything to contribute toward making it a better photo. It was a quick exercise in seeing how well I could pull the camera out of a deep pocket and get a shot with my bare hand while Delilah patiently waited to get on with the more important tasks on her mind.

The pads on her feet are calibrated for the indoor comfort of our house, so the bitter cold snow gets painful for her to stand upon. We made the morning jaunt a short one today, skipping to bother even opening the chicken coop until after the sunshine offers at least a suggestion of possible warmth.

Yesterday, in the bright light of midday, I took some pictures of the snow conditions we are stuck with so far this year.

The snow is crusty, not very deep, and rather uninviting for romping around. That’s not all bad, though. I’ve needed to do less plowing and shoveling, and walking the trails with Delilah can be done without putting on snowshoes.

On the bright side, there is at least enough snow to offer the classic sound absorption that creates mystical quiet in the great outdoors. Both yesterday and this morning the glory and wonder of a winter walk with just the sound of boots on snow were at a peak.

When I stop moving, the lack of sound slowly reveals the delicate notes of a single bird in the distance or the sound of Delilah breathing in the trace of a scent hanging in the still air.

We live in a winter wonderland, no matter how much snow we get.

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Written by johnwhays

January 11, 2020 at 10:28 am

Feels Colder

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We’re growing soft with all these above freezing days in winter. More than one person told me how cold it felt yesterday even though temperatures were in the upper twenties. That’s above average for this week in January.

It did feel cold to me, which just seems wrong. It’s as if our blood isn’t making the usual adjustments for winter with so many warm days.

Normally cold temperatures serve as the winter reference point such that we end up leaving jackets unzipped when it warms up to the 30s because it feels so warm.

The up and down toggle around the freezing point is messing with our snow cover. Cyndie gave me some pictures that look a little like the moonscape.

It was a result of the snow dropping off tree branches onto the ground below.

The snow gets soft during the day and the sun pushes down on any dark spots on the surface. Overnight, it freezes again to lock oddities in place. That keeps cycling until a new dump of fresh flakes smooths it all off and it starts all over again with a clean white coat.

Honestly, more snow seems to temper the cold. As long as there is fresh powder around, the chill seems less harsh. After everything melts down to a hard crust, the air seems to offer a more severe bite.

It’s a bad combination when our bodies remain calibrated to above-freezing winter temperatures.

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Written by johnwhays

January 8, 2020 at 7:00 am

Plowing Challenge

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Last Sunday, when we left home in Beldenville to drive to Edina for a few days, it was raining outside.

On Monday, the precipitation turned to snow. In Edina, the accumulation was about four or five inches. On Tuesday, Cyndie texted our current animal sitter and asked if she would stop by our place to check on the chickens and Pequenita. The answer was yes, but after she arrived we received a report that there was too much snow for her to drive up the driveway. She walked the quarter-mile up to the house.

That triggered me into action and I drove home to plow.

There was 6.5 inches of snow up by the house, maybe an inch more farther out in the open. It was the most snow at one time that I have needed to plow so far this year. Between the large amount of snow and the icy coating beneath it, I needed to get a little creative about plowing angles. There was a fair amount of time spent sliding sideways as the wheels spun when I attempted to back up after pushing snow all the way off the edge of the paved surface.

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It was a beautiful day to be outside working in the snow, but I needed to get cleaned up and drive right back to Edina so Cyndie and I could attend a New Year’s Eve party with friends who invited us at the last minute when they learned we were in town.

I had successfully managed to drive my Crosstrek all the way from the road to the house without getting stuck, but I didn’t think to clean the snow out of the wheels after I pulled into the garage.

The return trip to Cyndie’s parent’s house was like driving on a washboard because of vibration from the wheels being a little out of balance. On the plus side, it gave my voice a great vibrato when singing along with my music the whole way back to Edina.

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Written by johnwhays

January 2, 2020 at 7:00 am