Thursday, January 24, 2019

Winter Woes and Winter Delights

Help!  I am being held captive!  Not by kidnappers, of course, but by this terrible weather that won't let me out of my house.  First, we had nearly two feet of snow last Sunday.  Believe me, I love snow, and I couldn't wait to get out to enjoy it.  But then the temperature plunged to around 15 below.  With wind! Intolerable conditions -- especially now that my ailing lungs clutch up when I breathe really cold air.  And the cold continued all week.   Until today, with temps in the 40s and freezing rain ruining all that snow and covering everything with slippery ice. Just climbing down my front steps this morning to collect my newspapers lying in icy puddles, I slid and slewed and nearly fell with every step. (The above photo was taken after we managed to scrape off some of that ice.)

Not only is this weather intolerable, it's also embarrassing for someone like me, who always has rhapsodized about our winters.  Those clear blue skies!  That soft deep snow! That sparkling ice!   Ah well. . . .  Dream on!  But to prove to myself that winter really CAN be wonderful, I looked back over my posts from past years and found many that did make winter seem quite delightful.  Reading these posts again has helped me keep my spirits up.  Maybe they will yours, too.

Here's a post that proves I even had good words to say about 30 below!  But only if you're dressed  for it!

And I did enjoy standing alongside a roaring waterfall transformed by beautiful ice formations.  If only for a few minutes!

Here's a post that recalls when an arthritic knee hadn't yet dissuaded me from snowshoeing high up into the mountain ridges around Moreau Lake, in search of some caves where porcupines live.

I never would have known that porcupines lived in those caves if I hadn't climbed up that mountainside in deep snow.  Wth snow on the ground, it became very obvious where porky lived, and also where he went every day to climb one hemlock tree to dine on its bark.  Porcupines don't wander the woods each day in search of food.  Rather, they leave their dens each day to feed in the same tree they fed in before, littering the troughs they pack in the snow with quills and pee and poop.

Here's another post about climbing the mountains in Moreau Lake State Park in winter.  If we'd gone up to look for these big old Black Tupelo trees any other time of year, we wouldn't have been able to get close enough to hug them (as my friend Sue is doing here), because they grow in a swamp.  Swamps are usually impenetrable unless their water and mud are frozen solid enough for us to wander around on.

This particular Black Tupelo signifies its old age by the texture of its bark: deeply furrowed on one side and smoother on the opposite side.  Note that the trunk leans a bit to the right, which means that the furrowed bark on the right has been more protected than the smoother bark on the left, which has more directly borne the brunt of weathering over the decades (and possibly centuries) of its growth.  I remember that this winter hike found us in great spirits, most likely because of the fun of finding "real cool stuff in the woods, from tiny bugs with antifreeze blood to ancient, impressive trees."

This next post reminds me of the gorgeous colors I never can see except in winter, such as the deep blue of the sky on a day when sub-zero cold has driven all humidity from the air.

And this particular day was dazzling in more ways than one, for the sparkling snow was flashing all the colors of the rainbow. (Yes, I enhanced the saturation of this photo in order to amplify the colorful effect,  but I really could see all those colors with my naked eye.)  Be sure to click the link to this post to see some other colorful delights we found on this winter's day!

To judge by how many guys I often see fishing out on frozen Moreau Lake (and I hardly ever see gals!), I know I'm not the only person who celebrates the joys of winter.  I think these guys must be even more tolerant of the cold than I am, for I have often seen them sitting out on the ice, exposed to the wind, for hours.  As this post recounts, I love to stop by and chat with them and see what kind of fish they have caught.

Sometimes the guys sit there all day without catching a thing.  And sometimes they catch some real beauties!

As I'm sure my blog followers know, I'm much more of a plant nerd than an ice-fisherman, so a frozen lake offers me a different kind of reward than a couple of Rainbow Trout.  I especially recall the first time I was able to walk out on ice to the little islands in Lake Bonita , a recent addition to Moreau Lake State Park. Restrictions on boating would prevent me from paddling to them, so only in winter, when the ice was hard, would I ever get to explore them.  Granted access at last by winter's cold,  I discovered a treasure-trove of bog plants (such as these Pitcher Plants)  poking up from mounds of sphagnum moss.  Bog habitat is quite rare in Saratoga County, so plants like these and many other bog plants were quite a find!

Ice on the Hudson River is never really safe to walk on. Dam operations cause the water level to rise and fall several times a day, breaking the ice up close by the banks and causing weak spots, even back in the quiet coves where the rushing river current slows to a mosey.  But wild animals often use the river ice as their energy-saving highway, since the snow is usually much less deep out there than it is in the woods. And sometimes I just can't resist risking the sometimes-fragile ice out there, to follow the animal tracks. I would never know that so many critters lived in these woods -- coyotes, bobcats, fishers, foxes, minks, and more -- if not for their tracks in the snow. One of the greatest pleasures of winter is trying to decipher their stories by following their trails in the snow .

In this post from late February, 2014, I found many fascinating things along the river banks, but the best find of all was this trail of a River Otter, skidding along on its belly through the snow.

See what fun I have had in winters past?  I sure hope I can get out there again this year for similar adventures.


Woody Meristem said...

We have ice down here as well and it's certainly put cramp on my walks in forest and field. Having fallen on my camera four years ago and broken six ribs (and the camera) I'm really leery of slipping on ice again -- and I don't recommend breaking six ribs either.

The Furry Gnome said...

Great winter adventures!

threecollie said...

It is wonderful that you can stay so upbeat in this unfriendly season. Love your photos, as always.

Virginia said...

A beautiful look back. I did this once with fall, when I felt like I was missing the glories of fall foliage. Then I saw my gorgeous photos from years past, and could hardly imagine such color. I hope we both get some gorgeous rain-free snow storms this year!