Friday, January 13, 2012

Snow Shapes

A new type of Snowbird
While walking outside this morning, I came across a new type of snowbird.  This one doesn't head to the sun belt for the winter; indeed, it thrives in cold winters.  (I don't know who put this little snowfellow up in the tree, but it made me giggle this morning, so I thought I'd share it with the world.)

Ripples in the Snow

The other remarkable thing about our snowy world this morning was the beautiful wave patterns that the wind created on the snow's surface.  Solid water, reminiscent of liquid...

All told, by the way, I think we got about 4 inches of snow?  It's hard to tell because the high winds and dropping temperatures made for dry snow that blew everywhere, so there are places with exposed ground and others with huge drifts.  I'm thinking 4 is about average, but I didn't research it.  Not a terrible storm but we've got a white world for at least a while!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Winter, Interrupted

OK!  We can resume phenology observations... See, what happened there, was that after the Dec. 2 dusting of snow, nature apparently decided to put the seasons out of order, or maybe there was a break in the space-time continuum, or something... because it appeared that we had just skipped winter and went right to March.  Yesterday, Jan 11, the temperatures went above 50 deg.  And what's worse, that didn't seem abnormal, because we'd had several over-50 days in the past few weeks.

Seriously, some odd phenological events occurred.  I kid you not, a lilac bush in my neighbor's yard started leafing out.  (I do not know what will happen to said bush at this point.  I suspect that the buds that opened, which happily was not all of them, will die and not produce any leaves in the real spring.)  The maintenance staff at school was painting and power washing the building exteriors this week. Ducks and geese have still been congregating in the large open-water spaces of the lakes and ponds.

Winter resumes in northern Illinois
So that was just a blip in the phenology radar, and now we're back on track... maybe back where we should have been in mid-December... with our first winter storm of the year. Outside my window, the ground is turning white... still a few blades of grass poke through, but not for long... Snow already adheres to tree branches, giving the world outside a Christmas-card look, lovely, picturesque... it's the pristine white before the humanity induces the slush and the grey hue of exhaust by the roadsides.  I hear the insistent scraping of shovel against concrete, as the grounds get shoveled for the second time since snow started falling this morning.  That is what maintenance staff members should be doing in January, right?

And it's just in the air, you know, the way it isn't with flurries or a dusting.  We're all hunkering down, watching, waiting, hoping for the worst and hoping for the best all at the same time.  We're all in it together and yet we're all isolated by the storm.  I don't know, it's odd.  It just feels, in some intangible way, like a special day.
My boots in the snow!
ps -- I would like to preventatively point out... If anyone still bothers checking this blog after so long, I know there are those who will mention that when it's cold, I tend to complain about it.  And this seems like t turn-around.  But, see, the natural order of things is this:  the weather gets wintry, and I complain about it.  But that's because I want a trip to Hawaii, not because I want our climate to be like that of Arkansas.  Complaining about the winter is part of the fun of it.  AND, while the unseasonable warmth has been great for running, I'm excited about being able to try out my new xc ski boots this weekend.