Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A brisk two mile walk along the back roads with my hosts border collie was the adventure for today.  Temps are still low, and there are snow squalls in the forecast, so though there was little wind, what slight wind there was in places turned your head around (to borrow from J Taylor).

One of the things I never seem to hear from those traveling in the north concerns the difference in texture of the snow. Sure some refer to it as I have myself already in terms like "fluffy" or "powdery" but there is a texture difference underfoot as well that seems to be easily overlooked or perhaps left off because it does defy description to some extent. I found walking along the roads unlike any walk in or on snow I have experienced in the past. The snow had real grip, a cruchy yet soft foot feel to it, vaguely reminicient of coarse beach sand or extremely fine crushed glass powder.

To my own surprise, and I am sure to the surprise of all of my naysayers, even after two miles of walking out in the snow and cold, I was still good for a while yet. My furry companion however was reduced to biting at the ice embedded in his paws, so we returned home so he could thaw out his paws.

Having been one myself, I understand those who say that all snow is bad snow, or that if you have experienced it once you've seen it all, but I must admit that I, and those who express such a view, are/were simply mistaken. There is something qualitatively different between the snows of under a foot found in Kansas or Texas, and the look and feel of several feet of snow. Far more than the simple difference in depth, difference forces work on the snow, or perhaps better said the effect of forces such as gravity, friction, wind, and the like become very evident with the greater snowfall. Sure edges become rounded, and some recesses filled in, but then too the wind changes the roll of the landscape turning a flat field into hilly moor, a gentle slope into a sudden drop, and a rough swamp into a smooth meadow punctuated by the faint impressions of the water moving beneath.

The water still moving has been another surprise of sorts given the temperatures. I would have thought that the smallest of the streams, what I would certainly call mere brooks, would have succumb to the frigid temps, but to my surprise as far as I can tell they are still running, though often they are running under a thick blanket of snow only revealed by the occassional cattail or the unmistakeable gurgling of water moving downstream.

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