There’s been some whinging about our late spring going around the cycling listserve in my town. To stop it in its tracks*, someone sent out a link to this photo this morning.
The caption for this photo (on http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/sur-la-plaque-rule-9/), reads “LOOK AT YOURSELF IN THE MIRROR. IF YOU DON’T SEE ICE, YOU’RE NOT AS BADASS AS GREG. PERIOD.”
That’s rule number 9.
Well, I’ve ridden in with ice on my clothing before, but nothing so solid looking as his helmet! On my coldest ride this winter (well below 0 F), the contents of my water bottle froze solid on my way to work. I frequently end up with a rim of ice around my headband and scarf.
But I think I can easily go ahead and say I am not as hardcore as Greg.
Also, if you’re a winter cyclist, you may have noticed that it seems tougher to ride in the cold (i.e. I get tired more quickly in the winter). On one of the coldest days this winter, I had a strong temptation to stop, curl up into a ball, and take a nap.
Anyway, here is an article discussing why it really is harder to ride in colder temps: http://velonews.competitor.com/2013/03/bikes-and-tech/technical-faq/technical-faq-why-is-riding-in-the-cold-so-hard_277626
I knew it!
*That’s a pun!
My weatherly predictions for spring were way off…It’s still well below zero and snowing here…Oh well! It reminded me of another time when a friend was famously mistaken about the turns of weather.
One year, during field season, I was working with an eclectic group of field biologists. It included a city boy who had never done field work before, an ornithologist from Arkansas, and an ex-sailor. I’ve told stories about the first two, but I was inspired today to talk about the third.
Her name was Emma, and she had just finished spending six months as a sailor on the high seas, doing whatever it is sailors do these days (I’m imagining climbing up the mainsail and swinging around on ropes, but she complained of having to shower in salt water and bad sun burns).
Emma used to brag that, as a sailor, she could predict the weather down to the minute.
One day, she and I were out weighing baby birds in the nest. The sky was ominous and dark, with roiling clouds and distant rumbles of thunder. I glanced at Emma, and she squinted at the sky. We were a good mile from the field vehicle, and not keen to get caught in a sudden downpour.
“I’d say we have a good 20 or 30 minutes,” she said confidently, giving me a sailor’s wink. We finished our work in a matter of seconds, put the birds back in the nest, took one step out onto the trail, and BAM! The heavens opened up and it just poured.
I’m not talking a drizzle here, either. We were instantly soaked, and buckets and buckets of water were streaming down from the sky. We had to shout to be heard over the sound of rain pounding the earth. “Twenty minutes, eh?!” I shouted at her.
She just shrugged, and we headed back to the field vehicle, shouting sailing ditties at in disharmony as we slogged through the mud.
With no wind blowing
It sifts gently down,
Enclosing my world in
A cool white down,
A tenderness of snowing.
It falls and falls like sleep
Till wakeful eyes can close
On all the waste and loss
As peace comes in and flows,
Snow-dreaming what I keep.
Silence assumes the air
And the five senses all
Are wafted on the fall
To somewhere magical
Beyond hope and despair.
There is nothing to do
But drift now, more or less
On some great lovingness,
On something that does bless,
The silent, tender snow.
- May Sarton
So, as usual, I jumped on the spring bandwagon a bit too early this year. I opened my arms wide to embrace the warming spring…and got hit in the face with a snow ball. *sigh* Oh well. I think there is a gif for this:
And speaking of lowering your expectations…I’ve come up with a solution for the size limits on my blog. In order to keep on writing, I have to remove the large photos from my media library (they are taking up the most space). I experimented with this yesterday, and you can still look at the photos, but you can’t look at the large sizes. So if there is a photo you want full size, you should let me know!
The archive photos from old posts will be the first to go.
Thanks for reading!
Sorry for the lack of posts lately…I am swamped!
I went running the other day when it briefly got above freezing, which I thought was heavenly until I realized that the trail was 10 cm of icy mud. 6 miles of trail running with my feet under icy mud is the exact opposite of heavenly. I’m hanging on gaunt dreams of spring, and speaking the dream before I see the fact. I <3 this poem.
Rain-glaze on snow. Mud and ice and snow.
Coyotes feed themselves on gaunt dreams of spring. Then
what comes slowly suddenly he sees.
Light hovers longer in the southern sky.
Brooks uncover themselves. Alders redden.
Grosbeaks’ beaks turn green. Chickadee finds the song
he lost last November, and blue jay abandons
argument and gluttony. He cranes his neck,
bobs his mitered head; he bounces on a naked branch
But, like all winter’s keepers
he speaks his dream before
he sees the fact.
Did you hear a phoebe?
And he out again and walking on the earth,
in the air, in the sun, ankle deep in mud.
- David Budbill
I’ve been commuting to and from work via bicycle for 5 years now. Through sleet and rain and bitter cold or sweltering heat I have hopped on my bike, tightened my backpack straps, and pedaled mindlessly into work.
On Tuesday, we had terrible weather here. There was a wintry mix of ice pellets, sleet, and freezing rain (the distinctions between which I am not entirely clear) and it was not the best riding weather. I check the weather radar obsessively and this is what it looked like at around 7 pm when I was looking to go home for dinner.
“Hm,” I thought, “Well, maybe I’ll hang out in the office until there is a gap in the storm.”
Yeah, well that didn’t happen (I eventually biked home (cautiously) in a few centimeters of icy slush while being pelted with tiny hail), but while I was hanging out, this did!
I drew these sugar gliders for my blogger friend over at Peace With My Life (her blog is super awesome, btw, so you should check it out!). Who knew that sugar gliders could be so cute!?
I like drawing animals on request, and black and white drawings take me very little time, so let me know if there is anything I can apply my (admittedly limited) artistic skills to.
A Calendar of Sonnets: January
O Winter! frozen pulse and heart of fire,
What loss is theirs who from thy kingdom turn
Dismayed, and think thy snow a sculptured urn
Of death! Far sooner in midsummer tire
The streams than under ice. June could not hire
Her roses to forego the strength they learn
In sleeping on thy breast. No fires can burn
The bridges thou dost lay where men desire
In vain to build.
O Heart, when Love’s sun goes
To northward, and the sounds of singing cease,
Keep warm by inner fires, and rest in peace.
Sleep on content, as sleeps the patient rose.
Walk boldly on the white untrodden snows,
The winter is the winter’s own release.
- Helen Hunt Jackson
I am not a big fan of snow. Mostly because there are no insects in the snow. But it sure is pretty! When I was in the southern hemisphere, I posted photos of flowers for folks in the northern hemisphere. Now that I am in the northern hemisphere, here are some pictures of snow for folks in the southern hemisphere.
This weekend Brisbane, and much of the eastern coast of Australia, got hit by massively impressive electrical storms. Yesterday afternoon, the city was hit by 25,000 lightning strikes and hail stones the size of softballs.
I feel like this dramatic weather is chasing me around the globe! I was in Pennsylvania for Hurricane Sandy, in Beijing for the massive storm that dropped the first snow and thousands of trees and powerlines, and now in Brisbane for this huge electrical storm! I think I’ve had enough dramatic weather for the season!
How should I sing when buffeting salt waves
And stung with bitter surges, in whose might
I toss, a cockleshell? The dreadful night
Marshals its undefeated dark and raves
In brutal madness, reeling over graves
Of vanquished men, long-sunken out of sight,
Sent wailing down to glut the ghoulish sprite
Who haunts foul seaweed forests and their caves.
No parting cloud reveals a watery star,
My cries are washed away upon the wind,
My cramped and blistering hands can find no spar,
My eyes with hope o’erstrained, are growing blind.
But painted on the sky great visions burn,
My voice, oblation from a shattered urn!
- Amy Lowell
In honour of Hurricane Sandy, which is causing *quite the stir* in the east right now, haha!
Lo, Lord, Thou ridest!
Lord, Lord, Thy swifting heart
Nought stayeth, nought now bideth
But’s smithereened apart!
Ay! Scripture flee’th stone!
Milk-bright, Thy chisel wind
Rescindeth flesh from bone
To quivering whittlings thinned—
Swept, whistling straw! Battered,
Lord, e’en boulders now outleap
Rock sockets, levin-lathered!
Nor, Lord, may worm outdeep
Thy drum’s gambade, its plunge abscond!
Lord God, while summits crashing
Whip sea-kelp screaming on blond
Sky-seethe, dense heaven dashing—
Thou ridest to the door, Lord!
Thou bidest wall nor floor, Lord!
- Hart Crane
Every field biologist I have ever known is obsessed with water in one way or another. Too much, too little…terrestrial ecologists sit and stare at the radar and chew their fingernails. It seems like we are always either praying for rain–or praying for it to stop!
Even marine biologists are obsessed with water. You wouldn’t think so, since they’ve got plenty of it, but even they are forced to study the tides, to be obsessed with the temperature and currents and flows of the waves.
I have a friend who once attempted to do a drought study. That summer it rained Every. Single. Day.
If you want engage a field biologist in conversation, any field biologist, anywhere, all you have to do is to mention the weather. Is it going to rain tonight/tomorrow? Have you seen the forecast?
Most field biologists can spin off a four day forecast without blinking. “Well, accuweather says there’s a forty percent chance this afternoon, but those clouds on the ridge look pretty dark.”
You see, there needs to be this perfect balance of water in life. Too much, and everything dies. Too little, and everything dies.
Still, it seems strange that I have been equally obsessed with water in a swamp and a desert.
When I have field assistants, they always dread going out in the rain. I can’t imagine why, and before you call me mean I will assure you that I always check to make sure they are not soluble in water before I hire them (what a mess that would be, hey?).
I remember one year where I had been checking the radar constantly. The forecast for the day was 20% chance of rain, which I felt was low enough for sampling insects. As we headed out, though, my assistants began to protest. “Standingoutinmyfield,” they cried, “It’s raining!”
“No, no, no,” I said calmly, “There is only a 20% chance today.”
“But it is raining RIGHT NOW!” they argued.
“There is only a 20% chance!”
“But…” eventually they gave up.
For my current field work, I have to haul water out by wagon to plots several kilometers out. It’s a lot of hard work: each of the three tanks I haul is 20 liters (about 5 gallons), and I have to drag them up a steep ridge. And, unless it rains, I must do this every day. (*flexes biceps*)
You might think, at this point, that I am praying for rain, but I cannot! For when it rains, there are no insects. And without insects, my experiment will fail.
Of course, the ideal situation would be for it to rain every night and be sunny every day.A stanza from Dr. Dolittle’s (1967) “My Friend the Doctor” MY FRIEND THE DOCTOR SAYS THAT EVERY TIME IT STARTS TO RAIN AND PEOPLE RUN INDOORS AGAIN IN SWARMS IF YOU REMAIN OUT IN THE RAIN, YOU’LL THINK YOU’RE DRINKIN’ PINK CHAMPAGNE! AND YOU’LL SPEND YOUR LIFE PRAYIN’ FOR THUNDERSTORMS!
Last night I raced a massive thunderstorm on my Dragon.
I live in an area where there is heaps of rain, and we’ve been seeing a lot of the wet stuff over the past few weeks. It is capable of pouring for days nonstop, so imagine my excitement when, yesterday afternoon, the sun peeked out behind some clouds and meandered surreptitiously into a little patch of blue sky.
I bounced down the stairs and right onto my bike and kicked off with a whoosh and a big grin.
The first ten kilometers were uneventful and pleasant. I meandered south and east, came back around along a river and up a hill (a 2 km climb at a 9% grade or so).
Now, my uni is nestled in the middle of an east-west ridge and valley system, so as I headed north, I was aiming directly at a ridge of mountains. “Haha,” I said to Dragon, “Look at how much it is raining on the ridge. Glad we’re not there!” (Dragon hates rain.)
But there was an ominous feeling building up in my stomach. After a few km, I took a hard left and started heading west, parallel to the storm. It started getting darker. “Um,” I thought.
I felt the temperature drop a few degrees and a cool, quiet wind started to blow steadily south. I could feel the sprinkling of the first drops of rain. The big clouds began to roll over the ridge and down into the valley like a herd of wild horses.
I took another hard left and started heading due south, the storm right on my tail. Swoosh! I sped up and over a steep hill, and then along a flat. I rode past a woman who was taking pictures of the storm; her hair was being blown about by the increasing winds. As I approached, she sprinted back to her car, not because of me, but because the massive thunderheads hot in pursuit.
As I flew by, she shouted over the wind, “Do you need a ride?!”
“No, no!” I shouted back, laughing giddily. I waved an arm at her and bent low over my handlebars.
Thrum, thrum, thrum, I was fully geared out and pumping hard on the pedals, leaning forward intently. For 10 or 11 kilometers, I stayed just on the fringes of that storm, pulling slightly ahead on flats and downhills, losing ground when pumping my way up steep slopes.
Then, suddenly, I had to turn west, parallel to the approach of the storm.
Those clouds rolled right over me with a melodramatic FLASH of lightning and a triumphant RUMMMMBLE. Well, there was nothing to do but put my head down, pedal hard, and belt out lyrics to bad music at the top of my lungs (and out of tune) as rain poured over the both of us (my bike and me), and the sky lit up with flashes.
It’s not the first time I’ve been caught by a storm. Nor will it be the last, I expect. But I thought it was a fun story for today.
Comayagua is a departmento in central Honduras, about a wild hour and a half drive north of the capital, Tegucigalpa.
Because it is tropical, the weather is very predictable. Sun up by 5am, sun set by 7pm, rain every day at 4:32 pm.
By rain, I mean bullets of water pelleting out of the sky, drumming so loudly on the corrugated tin roof that you have to shout to be heard. Rain that drenches you instantly.
But not enough to stop us from playing futbol!
This is my friend, Maria.
I had a hard time saying goodbye.
This fits the weather today…
These are the moments
before snow, whole weeks before.
The rehearsals of milky November,
when a warm day
lowers a drift of light
through the leafless angles
of the trees lining the streets.
Green is gone,
gold is gone.
The blue sky is
the clairvoyance of snow.
There is night
and a moon
but these facts
force the hand of the season:
from that black sky
the real and cold white
will begin to emerge.
- Patricia Hampl