Friday, January 05, 2007

Deep Winter

It has been two weeks since the winter solstice, and the small increase in our daily ration of light is already noticeable, and welcomed. It definitely helps when the thermometer is plunging. Wednesday morning's full moon was setting just as the sun was rising about 11 am, when I took this photo. It was a quick trip outside before the camera lens froze shut! A few minutes later I went back to get this shot of the thermometer so you wouldn't think I'm exaggerating.

Once you pass minus thirty, you're in the "pretty darn cold" part of winter. Life becomes survival focused to keep cars running and houses from freezing up. Frozen water and sewer lines make winter life much more difficult. Dutch and I are very lucky (knocking on wood here) that our house doesn't freeze easily; our only problem is with the bathtub drain when it is colder than -10F. The drain freezes shut between showers. Fortunately, the drainpipe is accessible from underneath the kitchen cabinets, so each shower requires a twenty minute session with a heat gun trained on the pipe to keep the water flowing. Crawling halfway into the cabinet with the heat gun is the challenge.

Sled dogs do amazingly well in this weather. They have pretty thick fur (most of them, anyway), and as long as their houses have plenty of straw and are faced away from the wind, the dogs stay warm. The Big Dog is both an indoor and an outdoor dog; he spends his days "on guard" outside the house. When it gets colder than -20F, I hate leaving him out. Dutch often takes him to work with him, where he is petted and adored by most of Dutch's staff, and particularly his administrative assistant. She feeds him Cheetos and potato chips (deep sigh). Big Dog doesn't mind.



Blogger always learning said...

brrrr! bathtub drain freezing? yikes!

I always wondered how animals survive out in the cold. yes, the fur helps, but what about noses and paws and the like? their eyeballs must get cold! And, as we all know, some of those winds feel like they cut right through down/wool jackets, right down to bone!

Friday, January 05, 2007 11:24:00 PM  
Blogger Coldfoot said...

That last picture was obviously not taken in Bethel.

Exhibit 1: It's in a tree.

Exhibit 2: The tree is tall enough to be above your head (unless you knelt, or were standing in a hole).

Saturday, January 06, 2007 1:23:00 AM  
Blogger always learning said...

You've been tagged! :)

Saturday, January 06, 2007 5:38:00 PM  
Blogger TheTundraPA said...

Wandering Visitor--most arctic mammals (esp. canids like dogs, wolves and foxes) have a thick undercoat of fur, and a heavy outercoat with stiff guardhairs that work together to keep them very warm. Noses and footpads are at risk, which is why many have thick bushy tails; when they curl up in a ball, their tails cover their noses and their feet are tucked into their bellies. Plenty toasty if they can get out of the wind. And if it is snowing, the snow simply covers them over and becomes an insulating blanket that helps keep them warm. The key is getting out of the wind. As you note, down and wool are no match for it, even with goretex. That is why the people here wear fur garments. Nothing keeps you warm like fur. Wind does not penetrate it.

Coldfoot--Bethel's well-kept secret is that we actually do have a FEW trees. Granted, not many, and not very tall. Plenty of willow and cottonwood, and even a few 30' tall firs.

Sunday, January 07, 2007 11:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Cathleen C. said...

You could think about "heat-tape" to wind around your pipes, it only turns on when it is freezing. the heat tape product is really easy to install, then you wont have to crawl around with a heat gun.

Monday, January 08, 2007 5:43:00 PM  

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