Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Definitely Winter

It's like waiting for the other shoe to drop. You know it's coming, it's only a matter of when. Last night when we turned out the lights (around midnight) the thermometer read an almost-balmy ten above zero (-12C). My favorite winter temperature range is zero to ten above; not cold enough to be overly harsh, but plenty cold enough not to have to worry about melting tundra.

This morning we awoke to just about minus ten degrees (-23C), which is headed toward sharp. Minus 20 (-29C) is truly sharp. Your nostrils just want to slam shut and stick together to keep out the cold air. Understand that I am not whining (yet); Fairbanks has already been down to -40 this month.

Though a little slow to arrive, winter is definitely here. Daylight crept in around 10 AM and will fade away around 4:30. It is hard to believe that we are already so close to the winter solstice.

Today's day-off agenda includes a number of errands to run, so it is time to plug the truck in for an hour or so before starting it up. The plug connects to a block heater, an oil pan heater, and a battery blanket. An hour's worth of current before starting is a great kindness to the engine. Twenty minutes of warm-up with the heater going full blast is a great kindness to the driver, even at $4.65/gallon for gas! Money well spent, as far as I am concerned.

Cold hardening is a process that begins early in life among the Yupik Eskimos.

All photos by The Tundra PA



Blogger always learning said...

oy vey. My eyeballs are cold just looking at that thermometer. Am not sure what's worse - really really cold, or really really hot. Just hoping that I'll end up moving to someplace temperate... :D

Wednesday, December 13, 2006 6:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell us more about the process of cold hardening sometime.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006 8:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Cold hardening?" Never happen with guys! Once I was on the way out of Colorado Springs in a snowstorm. I had to pee so bad I just stopped in the middle of the right lane because I couldn't see the edge of the road. Hoping now one would come by soon, I whipped it out and started decorating the road. When I thought I had finished, I replaced my frozen lizard only to realize it was still going! I hate cold weather!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006 10:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's interesting, you only have about two hours less of daylight than we have here in northern Michigan. We are a bit warmer now though, which is unfortunate because the melting really makes a total
mess of things.

Thursday, December 14, 2006 5:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Leah in Fbks said...

Your hardening photo reminded me of my daughter and I ten years ago - but the time I'd drug her sled the mile to grandma's her fat little cheeks were hardening, indeed. My mother berated me and I never, ever took her out without a scarf again. Now, as a beautiful Native girl of 15, I occassionally see splotchiness on her cheeks when she's cold and I feel shame for being such a stupid young mother.

Thanks Tundra PA for your wonderful blog - your writing and photos are a wonderful treat!

Thursday, December 14, 2006 9:33:00 AM  
Blogger TheTundraPA said...

Always learning--my eyeballs get cold sometimes being out in it. I'll generally take really cold over really hot most times.

Anonymous 8:28--cold hardening is my own term for the process of getting used to the cold. I wrote about it in an earlier post in September called Waning Autumn.

Randall--ooookaaaay! Maybe TMI, but thanks for sharing.

Anonymous 5:51--melting in mid-winter is really miserable. Around here, the melting is usually followed by a hard freeze that creates arse-busting slickness. I hate it when it rains in the deep of winter.

Leah in Fairbanks--thanks for your kind words! I'm glad you enjoy the blog, and it is wonderful to know that it is appreciated.

Thursday, December 14, 2006 8:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are making me so glad that I am currently on elective in Malawi. I don't want to go back to winter in two weeks!!!

When I lived here before I went back to visit my sister in northern Alberta, so I had the fab experience of a dugout canoe under the full moon on tropcal Lake Malawi, followed a week later by my first view of the Northern Lights on a highway in Saskatchewan covered in snow.

It's a hard life.

Saturday, December 16, 2006 2:06:00 AM  
Anonymous mchebert said...

I can't imaging living in such conditions. I guess, however, everyone has his or her own tolerances.

For me, I'd rather be in 110F any day of the week.

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 21, 2006 10:45:00 AM  

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