After weeks—nay, months!—of being wishy-washy and non-committal about it, Jack Frost has finally decided not to pass us by this year after all. We didn’t so much slide into winter as jump off feet-first into full immersion. Last week we were glad just to get below freezing so the mud would stiffen up. Snow fell with some promise, but melted as it hit the ground. A few days ago that changed.
This morning when I checked outside well before sunrise, the thermometer was reading minus 25 degrees. Brrr. That will get your attention.
One of the nice things about this much cold is that the dogs don’t require leashes for their periodic pee breaks; they will rush out, pee quickly, and come right back. That means Dutch doesn’t have to dress up in full Polar Bear gear every morning and evening for a fifteen minute walk down the road. Bear and Princess do spend part of each day outside on a chain while I am at work, but they have thick fur and snug houses with lots of straw, which is all they need to stay warm enough. The old girl, Pepper, who turned 14 last month, has unlimited house privileges and spends her days snoozing on the sofa.
We are two days from the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year. I went to the river’s edge this morning and took photos of the rising sun. It edged over the southeastern horizon at almost exactly 11:00 AM. That won’t change much by Friday. The word “solstice” actually means “when the sun stands still,” which it does for about two weeks around the day designated as the solstice (both winter and summer). Here at latitude 61 degrees north, we have about five hours of daylight now; the sun will set sometime around 4:30 PM, and twilight will be brief.
It is hard to imagine being overdressed at this temperature, but this morning I definitely was. With enough fleece, down, and fur, anything is possible. After walking around down at the river to find the photo angle I wanted, I stopped at the caselot grocery for a load of heavy stuff; next I went to the post office where Dutch and I had six packages waiting, half of them over 25 pounds each. By the time I hauled it all home and carted it into the house (many trips from truck to house) I was sweating in my layers of gear. I sat outside coatless for a few minutes to cool off.
One of Dutch’s foremen who watches the weather patterns closely, and is a better predictor than the weather guys on TV, says we have a low pressure system headed our way which will probably raise our temperatures by about forty degrees by the weekend. As long as we stay ten degrees below freezing, I won’t mind. Maybe Dutch and I will be able to get our snowmachines out at last. It is hard to stay outside long at 20 below, and machines are cranky to get started. Life is a lot softer at 20 above.
Labels: Tundra Life