Monday, January 28, 2008

It's Been Cold...

Take a close look at the shot below - small waves slopping between the rocks just a few feet offshore in Conception Bay. Now, look a little closer - about 2/3 the way up, to the right - that grey area?

That's salt water slush, Ma'am, yes, salt water slush...and that's cold!

Been nice, tho...lots of sun and good snow, not the heavy, wet kind, but light, dry sparkley stuff...pretty enough to entice us outside in -15, even with the wind blowing. A late afternoon, the sun hits the snow with this honey-tinged light, while dried grasses throw splintery shadows...

But it's about to get a cutting, if the laddies at Environment Canada's weather office are right - and they amazingly often are, considering the challenges of forecasting anything in the meteorlogical monkey puzzle of the North Atlantic that is Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula. It's going to get very moist (25mm) and very warm (+9) for the next few days, which should cut the nice base we have back to naught but ice when it cools down later the week. More likely to need salt and sand than snowshoes, skis and poles...

But what the heck - it's only January, after all - lots of time for snow yet, isn't there? In this neck of the woods, winter's a battle between Hope Springs Eternal and The Depths Of Despair where weather fit for outdoor stuff is concerned...we can get buried, or have bare frozen ground, or rain, sleet, and freezing rain, or cold and sunny with a wind that drives the cold thru the heaviest parkas- or else just perfect, cold and sunny and still, the kind of day when you first notice the sun's getting just the faintest hint of direct warmth in it again...

Monday, January 21, 2008

New Shoes, New Views

The purpose of any conveyance is, of course, to take us places. Be it a jet, a truck, a kayak or anything else equipped with wheels, wings or paddles, it exists solely to let us move thru our world. Thru space, thru the environment, thru new pathways in our minds.

I've always hated snowshoes. Last time I was on 'em, they were the old beavertails; heavy wooden frames with a mesh deck, an awkward width generating an awkward and tiring stride, sloppy bindings and a tail that felt like something dragging behind a dinasour...definitely not my idea of a fun time.

Ain't modern technology wonderful? Tried out a new style snowshoe today - can you say "Amazing...?" All molded plastic, very light, quite narrow, easy-to-adjust and secure bindings, no tail drag - just like walking, in fact, except for the absolute lack of the skidding and slipping you'd face in boots alone. That's thanks to a carnivorous-looking crampon system under each could almost climb a tree with 'em, or face a bobcat on pretty well equal terms :->))

What really matters, of course, is not the tool, but what it lets you do. The pix below were all taken within 15 minutes of the home we've lived in for the past ten years, but we'd never seen any of these views until yesterday. The trail is a bit twisty and tangled for skis, but a real cakewalk on snowshoes.

The Meadow

Bay View

And Yet Another...

Heading Home Time

Friday, January 4, 2008

Winter Interlude

It's that time of the year again - the fresh water's gone solid, and the salt is colder than Harper's heart; paddling is definitely on the shelf for the time being. So it's out with the skis, touch up the wax, and off we go.
Absolutely beautiful day, if -12C doesn't bother you, and you don't mind hard crusty snow that whips the wax off your skis faster than a scraper could. Climbing is challenging, but doable, and the very light dusting of fine snowflakes atop the crust glistens like a million diamonds in the sun.

And, of course, there's always lunch - ham sandwiches, some nippy old cheddar, pungent dark fruit cake, and tea hot from the thermos.Who in their right mind would want to be indoors, sitting at a table or in front of a TV, when they could enjoy a snack in this sort of setting?

That's the good news - the bad is that we're getting a mild spell for the rest of this week, and will probably lose the snow we have. Maybe it's time to dig out the drysuits and cold water hoods, find the neo mittens, and liberate the VKs from the snowbank...