Thursday, March 5, 2009

Snow Day, 2009

I love Snow Days. I love to go out and see the countryside covered with snow. Usually, it is sunny and the colors are more intense than normal.

First, a walk around the field following the same route as the day before. The freezing temperatures had transformed the compressed snow by the cars into a treacherous ice field that had to be cros
sed with much care. Where the snow had not been compressed, a firm crust had formed. It was safer to walk on the snow than on the car tracks that were covered with slick ice. It took some effort to break through the crust but then my feet easily sank down to hard ground underneath and then considerable effort to pull them out again. A great workout.

The weight of the snow had bent the bamboo over completely. Culms that were normally 20-30 feet high were bent over and were barely 4 feet ‘high.’ The tops of the fence posts and bird nest boxes had 4 inches of snow perched on top of them. One of the Loropetalum bushes had snapped off; hopefully it will sprout again. The butterfly bush had also bent over flat to the ground.

Then venturing out to see the countryside. There is a practical side to going out. What are the road conditions like? Could I have gone to work or was the decision not to go a good one? What will the conditions be like the next day when I will go to work? Will there still be ice on the roads? What route will I use?

Our local road still had thick patches of ice that cracked loudly under the tires. The roads over to the local highway were mostly clear. A lone snowplow was still working clearing the edges of the highway. The back roads over to the main highway still had thick patches of ice that extended on to the road, leaving only a single car-width of clear pavement in some sections. A large pine tree had fallen across the road; crews had just cleared the road as we arrived around noon. Wouldn’t have gotten through on my usual route.

The Alcovy River was running high; it had flooded the river bottom just upstream from where I cross it. Guess this shouldn’t have been surprising given that we had had the equivalent of 3 inches of rain. The nearby reservoir on Beaverdam Creek was muddy from the fresh inflow of water. A lone pair of mallards was swimming and feeding close to the road. On the other side of the road a few small grebes were bobbing up and down on the waves.

A least half a dozen cars had been abandoned by the side of the road – testimony to the slippery conditions the night before or early this morning. Some appeared to have been driven off the pavement and parked deliberately. Others had obviously spun out and become stuck. One was sitting perpendicular to the road and straddling the ditch. That must have been an exciting ride.

Conclusion: The decision to declare a Snow Day this year was a wise one.

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