Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Frosty Morning

Well, we had a beautiful winter morning here.

Ok, for all you pedants out there, it's not technically winter yet. Winter doesn't start until--what, the 21st of December or something like that? I always forget the exact day of the solstice. But while there's a certain logic to delineating the seasons by Solstices and Equinoxes, it just doesn't seem to fit. December just seems like a winter month to me, darn it! Somehow, the fact that two-thirds of the month are still autumn, doesn't compute.

Likewise, I think of June as a summer month and September as an autumn month. March--well, I've lived in enough cold places that the phrase "In like a lion, out like a lamb" is actually appropriate. Or if not that, it's "In like a lion, out like a wildebeest," or other creature that you can't actually comprehend. One year in Minot, North Dakota, we were joking that we'd celebrate the last day of school with a snowball fight. And in fact we did get a light dusting of snow on the last day of school that year, though it didn't stick.

But anyway: back to the beautiful winter morning. I've blogged before that I like snow a whole lot. Alas, the Central Valley of California gets enough snow to stick only once every two decades or so.

But we do get frosts here. And last night it got down to the mid-30's, which was enough to do the trick.

I happened to look outside just around breakfast time, and our backyard was absolutely lovely. Every blade of grass was outlined in gleaming white. The morning sun, shining through the fog, was almost pink in color.

So I grabbed the camera and stepped outside. It was quiet and cold, and my breath was clearly visible. Here are a few of the pictures I got.
This is a picture of the rising sun shining through the fog, over white rooftops and through the bare branches of our neighbors' fruit trees. The grass, as I said, was outlined in bright white and was downright crunchy under my boots.

This is one of our Japanese maples. Most of them are nearly bare by now, but this one still has most of its leaves, and for some reason the frost was particularly heavy on it.

Here's our strawberry patch, which will obviously be dormant until April or May. I'm not sure you can see it here, but I found the colors on the leaves--greens mixed with reds and browns-- were strongly accentuated by the bright, harsh white of the frost. Everything in the backyard had an intensified shape and texture to it that isn't normally there.

I felt alive. Like Calvin's Dad. ;-)

My wife, on the other hand thought it was just cold. Which it was, but for her that's a bad thing.

(Her: "Well, it's pretty, I just don't want to be in it.")


Well, we'll see what happens. This wasn't a hard frost by any means, so the orange trees and the native plants should be fine. However....

There's at least a decent possibility that a massive cold system is going to cover the western US--clear down to Southern California--sometime in the next two weeks. Apparently there are parts of Siberia right now that are at 81 below (Fahrenheit. 81 below Celcius would be enough to freeze the CO2 right out of the air), and this cold mass is heading our way. We'll see what actually makes it here, and whether it'll be cold enough to give us anything but rain. Rain is most likely what we'll get; but I'm still hoping that well get just a smidgen of the real white stuff.

From Russia With Love, indeed.


Wendy Power said...

Another use for Christmas lights - wrap them around the delicate plants and keep them on at night; they provide just enough warmth to keep them from turning to icicles.

Roger Z said...

Not only are you just like Calvin's dad, your wife is just like Calvin's mom!

My wife loves snow but hates cold, it's an interesting paradox. Her parents have never seen snow in their entire lives. An added goal for us to have children is to get her parents to come visit us during the winter, so they can get snowed upon. A person who hasn't had snow on their shoulders is a person who has not lived!!!

Timothy Power said...

Roger--Now that's got to be an interesting dynamic. You obviously love snow, as anyone who's visited your blog can tell. And you managed to marry a woman from El Salvador whose parents have never even seen snow.

Any chance you'll get one or more of your in-laws out on the slopes? :-)

Wendy--I honestly hadn't heard of that solution before, but you're right. If things are looking scary for the orange trees later this winter, I might just try that out. But so far the weather reports for next are only bottoming out at about 34 or 35, so we'll be OK for now.