Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Crystalizing Trees and other winter oddities


Climates can play tricks on a person. Canada is stereotyped as a frozen waste land and for at least part of the year this is true for the majority of the country. Huge areas of this nation are part of a polar desert. The old Discovery town site is near the souther edge of this climate. Souther edge or not winter is serious out here.

Here in a surreal land of stunted and twisted jack pine, naked rock waring a thin fig leaf of snow to hide its naked and possibly sinful geology, the temperatures have been for the last few weeks hovering around -20C or in more absolute terms 253 K. Kelvin makes every temper seem some what warmed with its ability to remind you of just how much colder it could get. In the last week the temperature too a drop down to the upper edges of the -30 domain. Down in that domain plastics become less so, synthetic fibers and linings can become stiff resulting a winter coat that feels brittle, gloves are traded in for mittens by the more sensible types and if you were not waring long johns before then you are now. Non of that is remotely surprising what comes as a surprise is two things beauty and temperance.

The beauty comes from the wonderful clear sky, the salmon sunrise/sets, the slowly crystalizing trees, the delicate patterns of snow drifts on the frozen lakes. There is the subliming beauty of the snow flakes themselves which through a quirk of this desert climate from large near perfect hexagonal crystals rarely seen out sided of text book illustration. All of this is in the process of being photographed.

Beauty as side the abuse of the work temperance stems from a recent warm day. The extended colder temperatures augment the feeling of what warm is. Yesterday was one such day the Hg rose to -8 C. Up in these temperate reaches, snow starts to have some stickyness, loosing its lighter then nanotech whipcream texture, naked skin can almost enjoy being removed form its gloves, beards stop farming icicles. The comfort of relative warmth comes at loosing sun light. With the sun rising at 10 am and setting not much after 3 pm any lose of sunlight is felt.