Jan 24– not quite cold enough…

Well, it snowed again last night.  Once again, not quite enough snow to do anything fun, just enough for a thin white smear over the frozen ground.  When I woke up this AM, this was my first sight outside my back door window:

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Maybe it’s just the mood I’m in, but I wasn’t even able to find much aesthetic delight in this snowfall.  Rather than ‘winter wonderland,’ the overall effect seems to simply be ‘cold & bleak.’  Given that the temperature has stayed below freezing for the past few days, I wandered down to the pond to see if there would be enough ice to walk out on the frozen surface.  This never happened last year, but in past years when we’ve had good solid thick ice on the pond, it’s been a lot of fun for old and young alike.  Here’s how the pond looked this afternoon, topped with a thin sheet of ice and snow:

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I walked out onto the dock and tested the ice, fishing a chunk off of the surface to see how thick it was, and discovered that it it had only frozen about an inch or so, not nearly enough to safely hold me up.  I enjoyed bobbing up and down on the dock, listening to the bizzare snapping and cracking noises rocketing around the pond as the ice shifted and broke.

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Icicles forming off of the roof of the sauna, glinting in the sunlight, a classic winter sight:

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It was still early, so I wandered aimlessly around the woods for a while, hoping for some sort of inspiration, something to catch my eye or imagination.  Truly, if there was any time where there isn’t much of anything going on in the Virginia forest, it’s the last week of January.  Still, just walking in the woods filled me with the realization that, even in this season of stillness and emptiness, even when the birds are silent, the trees and bushes have all gone dormant, and there are no mushrooms to be found, our forests are quite lovely and I am fortunate to live in the midst of them:

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As I turned to walk back home, I made this interesting observation– no matter where I was today, whenever I looked to the north, it appeared that there was very little snow on the ground, and whenever I looked to the south, there seemed to be a continuous snow cover.  I realized that the unevenness of the forest floor creates miniature ridges and ranges, allowing the sun to melt the southern-facing ‘slopes,’ and preserving the snow on the ‘north face.’  I took a couple of photos from a random spot, really could have been anywhere on the hike, that shows the view north and south from the same spot.  It looked something like this:

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