February 2006


Icicles

Since taking a slew of photos at Goose Pond on Sunday, I’ve taken only a quick handful of photos of these icicles on a roof edge along the Ashuelot River, where I walked Reg in the bitter, windswept cold yesterday. Today, I coaxed Reg to “do his business” in the yard while I waited, fully bundled yet still shivering; it was simply too cold (in my opinion, at least) to go walking.

When it’s brutally cold, I tend to walk with my head down, face buried in my scarf and collar: it’s not exactly a posture that encourages looking up. And since thick gloves don’t lend themselves to shutterbugging, taking pictures means taking your gloves off, which isn’t something you do lightly in these bone-achingly low temperatures. Now that March will be racing in like a lion, I’m looking forward to the lamb-mild days of spring, which promise to arrive eventually. In the meantime, it tooks like I might be reduced to posting pictures taken from the warm inside looking out.

Diamond Dust

The aftermath of this weekend’s snowfall has been nearly picture-perfect. The six-or-so inches of snow that fell on Saturday were light as powder, which meant yesterday’s task of shoveling sidewalks and driveway then brushing off my buried car was sinfully easy, like scooping spun-sugar. Since there’s nothing prettier than sunlight on snow backed by blue sky, it’s no surprise that I went wild with my camera at Goose Pond yesterday.

Yesterday’s pictures, though, didn’t capture the diamond dust: the purely magical sensation of being surrounding by crystal-sparkling air. Since the snow in trees was light as air, with every breeze, a puff of minute snow particles swirled in the light of slanting sunbeams. This picture gives you a hint of the shimmering effect of light on pulverized, wind-tossed snow, but you’d have to close your eyes to get the true effect, imagining yourself in a swirling snowglobe surrounded by infinitesimal bits of dancing diamond.

Walking today at Goose Pond, I went a bit wild taking panoramic pictures, both horizontal ones like the snowy scene above (click on the image for an enlarged version) and vertical ones like this:

I haven’t yet decided which of these pictures best captures the experience of hiking around Goose Pond the morning after a day-long snowfall. Is the experience best described through an image of wide white space? (Click on the image for an enlarged version.)

Or does the sight of sunlight sifting through snow-laden boughs best embody a wintery morning after?

Walking at Goose Pond this morning, I felt like I’d hit an aesthetic jackpot, with images of loveliness on all sides (click on image for an enlarged version)

…as well as towering overhead.

At the end of the day, I couldn’t decide which picture best captured this morning’s dog-walk at Goose Pond, so I’m sharing all of them, leaving it to you to pick the panorama you feel best captures the snowy scene. (Click on image for an enlarged version.)

Today after all her recent oddness, Mother Nature got down to business by delivering the sort of snowfall we’re supposed to have in February. The white stuff started to fall here in southern New Hampshire around 10 this morning, and by the time Reggie and I went exploring after lunchtime, the snow was already ankle-deep and still falling.

Tomorrow after the snow stops falling and the skies presumably clear, I hope to get better pictures. Today, wanting to protect my digicam from the elements, I used my pencam to snap some images of Snow In Progress…and learned in the process that a trusty pencam (unlike, I’m assuming, a digicam) will still function even after you’ve dropped it in a snowdrift.

In the meantime, Reggie is one Happy Puppy now that Mother Nature is finally delivering the snowy goods.

Today’s Photo Friday theme is Masculine, and although my first impulse was to re-post this picture from this post, in fact I didn’t take that picture; instead, I trusted my camera in the hands of a friend of a friend on his way to use the celebrated urinals at this comedy club. Given that he took several pictures in that busy restroom, Mr. Friend of a Friend is lucky that he (and my camera!) survived the experience without getting a thorough beating from masculine types outraged that their privacy had been infringed. I know I wouldn’t have been man enough to take that photo.

In lieu of Irish urinals, then, today I’m posting this picture of a member the mounted police unit from Dover, NH, snapped back in 2004 at Keene’s annual Pumpkin Festival. Although I’ve no doubt that women make fine mounted police, there’s something quintessentially masculine about a man in uniform on horseback.

I originally shared this picture of one of Dover’s Finest in this post, and it’s a good thing I did. This past year, due to energy costs and other financial considerations, the Dover Mounties decided not to truck their horses from the seacoast to work the crowds at the 2005 Pumpkin Festival here. In lieu of uniformed men on horseback, then, the closest Keene has recently come to boasting Major Masculinity comes in a slightly more Hollywood form:

    Yes, I’ve seen Brokeback here at the Colonial, and it was as good as everyone said.

Leaf litter

Yesterday, as is our habit on laundry day, Reggie and I walked atop Beech Hill between wash cycles. Devoid of snow cover, Beech Hill these days is topped with leaf litter, including a cast-off scrap from some botanist’s notebook: a schematic drawing of flower parts.

In other laundry-day developments, I discovered yesterday atop Beech Hill that the same software I use to make horizontal panoramas can be used to make oversize vertical pictures:

Tall tree

In case you’re wondering what’s been happening here in Keene while I’ve been regaling you with Ireland posts, it’s turned cold here in southern New Hampshire. I’ve been posting Ireland pictures partly because I have them to spare, but also because I’ve been largely un-motivated to wander around taking pictures with temperatures in the single digits Fahrenheit.

I’m usually not a weather-wimp: having a dog typically means you walk in all weathers and temperatures. This current cold snap, though, has thrown me for a proverbial loop: I don’t want to walk, I don’t want to explore, and I certainly don’t want to take pictures. These past few days, it’s taken all my will power and then some to get myself out of the house to take Reggie on the shortest walk possible…with half of that walk consisting of me hurrying Reg homeward to where it’s warm.

What’s most pathetic about all this whining is the fact that it’s not currently cold by typical New England standards: in February, it’s supposed to be in the single digits Fahrenheit. But because my body apparently got used to (read: was spoiled by) the unseasonably mild temperatures we had for most of the winter, now I feel almost genetically incapable of coping with a “normal” New Hampshire winter. In a normal year, by February I’d have months of cold and snowy weather under my belt: my body would have grown used to the usual winter routine. But this year, even normal winter temperatures have come as a rude shock: hey, I thought it was spring already, or autumn still. How did winter suddenly arrive as if through the backdoor, unnoticed?

So while I’d typically, in a normal year, have a “been there, done that” attitude toward February weather, this year I’m reacting with an air of “Hey! Who left the door open?” It seems unfair to say I’m sick of winter when we really haven’t had much of it…but here I am, already sick of cold temperatures that have only relatively recently arrived.

If nothing else, this current cold snap points to the fact that Mother Nature is indeed a mother, delighting in her own ability to mess with the minds of youngsters like me by subjecting us to her capricious moods: then warm, now cold, and still almost completely snowless. Ireland at least was predictably chill, damp, and green; New Hampshire, on the other hand, has been all over the meteorological map, regaling us this year with autumn floods, a warm winter, and this current cold snap almost as a kind of afterthought. They say you can’t fool with Mother Nature, but in New England these days, it seems clear that Mother Nature can quite happily fool with you.

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