Sunday, January 22, 2006

the melt

the snow gone nearest the warm south wall of the smaller barn

see the patchy snow? and this is on the north side of the large barn.

a rather fanciful window on the smaller barn's south wall. Manitoba maple seedlings are everywhere!

characteristic cedar-rail fences between fields . Trees along the fence row include maples, oaks, butternut, with the smaller buckthorn, hawthorn, & wild cherries. Wild grape often clambers over the fences and up the trees. Rocks cleared from the fields are often loosely piled along the fence line as well.

took this picture for the interesting lichen and algae on the rock, more than anything else. oh, and I love the dry curly grasses too.

in the shelter of the fence and tree, snow had all but disappeared

looking south-west across my alfalfa-meadows of the summer, you can see the trees that shelter the old abandoned house and our house. To the left is the big old barn.

As the Farmer's Almanac predicted, apparently, we are getting our mild winter. Although in our area, the snow did nearly disappear for a day off the grass on the island made by the circular drive to the east of our house, the snow in the driveway closest to the house, packed down by our traffic, remained a sea of ice made even more slipppery by the water-melt on top of it.

out our dining room window, our "skating rink" driveway is visible

Out in the more exposed areas around our home, a teeny skim of icy snow did remain over most everything. You can see from the photos I uploaded, from the 16th of Jan, that wherever there was more shelter or heat from the sun, as in a southern exposure, you can actually see the grass.

a bluejay is crazily perched under the feeder, and grass can be seen beyond the south wall of the greenhouse!

About 60-70 km southwards, in the cities by Lake Ontario, the snow was completely gone, except where it had been piled up by snowplows. There it was mounded up in ugly chunky icy greyness. The grass was a sickly green!

The ice made me think many times: whatever did I do with my skates, anyway? Lost in all my moves or lent out to the friends of my kids? I have no idea. But I have hopes of skating again on the pond I discovered the other day.

Some of my fondest memories are of learning to skate with my cousin Leena's hand-me-down skates on an outdoor city rink in Helsinki as a kid. A pot-bellied stove in a little shack outside the rink provided a warm place with rough wooden benches where you could change into your skates. The boots, tucked under a bench, staying back in the heated shack the whole while, were pretty warm to get back into after skating. A lot of the older girls stayed in the shack, smoking and talking about boys, never skating at all!

I never could tighten the laces very well myself. If an older girl-friend, or my Mom wasn't there, sometimes the rink attendant, a kinda scary, unshaven old man, with the perpetual cigarette hanging from his lower lip, would lace your skates for you, if he noticed you. More often, one of those older girls in the shack would kindly help the little girls with their skates. Quite often, being so shy back then, I hardly dared to ask for help. So, after a circuit or two of the rink, back I'd go to the bench to tighten the laces some more. The rare times my Dad was able to come to the rink were the best times, because then my laces were so tight, my ankles didn't wobble at all!

After we came to Canada, we skated outdoors on the frozen creeks in the woods or on the ponds that formed in low-lying pockets along the hydro-line corridors that cut through the suburbs of the GTA. Sure, there were man-made ice rinks too in indoor arenas, but I rarely enjoyed myself there as much as I did outdoors, with the changeable texture of the ice, ( strangle trapped air bubbles, cracks, waves, crystals) the weather, the wind, the early setting sun of winter. I would have missed all that indoors! Besides, there was more room outdoors to play any game you wanted. At the indoor rinks, it was crowded, there were bullies, and a loud announcer would dictate the direction of the skating! Quite often, after many hours of skating, when it came time to put the boots on to walk home, besides the boots being freezing cold, walking felt so odd one could have fallen on one's face! We would walk home in the dark for our supper.

Quite often, both in Finland and Canada, my feet would get so cold that unthawing when I got back indoors was agony! The tears. Oh My God, I remember that pain! But I'd be back outdoors the very next day, if at all possible!

Perhaps my favorite times were skating at City Hall in Toronto when our piano teacher took us there with her family. Her husband was a wonderful skater, who, no doubt played hockey in his youth, but still could make you feel like you were floating with the music, dancing around the rink. How my sister and I loved skating on his arm!

No. My absolute favorite skating was with my friend Dave in high school. The most gifted athlete I have ever known, also a Great and Gentle and Genenous Soul, skating with him was like flying. Skating with him, we zipped past everyone, making probably 2-3 circuits of the ice to each of their 1, all in beautiful rhythm. I sorta know where Dave is these days, but haven't been in touch for a long time. I would love to hear from him!

I'm hoping with a bit more snow, that since I do have my skis, I can do a bit of cross-country skiing. Weird: last winter, I wasn't sure where my boots were, sure my waxes were too old or non-existent anymore, not sure if the bindings were intact or something, never did get around to inspecting the ski situation, and so was satisfied to just go for my walks. Maybe I'm really settling in here for a while, actually gettting the skis into order!


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